After last night’s Golden Globes 2021 nominations, musician Sia’s debut film Music picked up two noms…and solicited an apology from the singer/filmmaker. Music has been nominated for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy for Kate Hudson, which took some by surprise. Ever since Sia, full-name Sia Furler, announced Music, much controversy has swarmed around the film, specifically around her casting choices.
Music tells a story about a teen girl named Music, who is non-verbal and on the autism spectrum. Her deep love for music helps her adjust when she falls into the custody of her older half-sister Zu (Hudson), a former addict struggling to maintain sobriety. The dominant issue that viewers had upon viewing the film’s trailer, released in mid-November 2020, was the casting of neurotypical dancer/actor Maddie Ziegler (Dance Moms) in the title role. Sia’s casting choice of Ziegler, whom she frequently features in her music videos, sparked major backlash from viewers and fans alike. One online user went as far as to create an online petition urging against the film’s release. The petition has since generated around 18,000 signatures in concurrence.
Since November, Sia defended casting Ziegler and her portrayal of the autism community. For months, she had taken to twitter to respond to criticism, but after last night’s nominations and wave of backlash, she deleted her account. Besides tweeting, Sia made an apology on the radio program “Fierce: Women in Music” for SiriusXM’s Volume channel on January 28th. She said, “I have to admit to being ableist to a degree; I’m not proud of it,” and “I’ve learned my lesson.”
Before her departure from Twitter, Sia tweeted “I’m sorry,” and informed her followers that a scene depicting the character Music being restrained will be removed and the film will include a warning that reads: “MUSIC in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help w [sic] meltdown safety.” Within a few hours, Sia had deleted her account.
On a brighter note, Kate Hudson has put on an enthusiastic display via Instagram after her best actress nomination. On February 4th, she posted “Right now I am beyond speechless! Thank you @siamusic for your art and vision! Love you so much! Thank you HFPA for the @goldenglobes nominations…A labor of love and we put our all into it. Can’t wait for everyone to see #music.” Hudson’s gratitude for Sia and support of Music suggests a contrasting stance on the film compared to Sia’s apologetic one.
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Music’s U.S. release will be in IMAX theaters on February 10th for one night, then an on-demand release on the 12th. The film has already been released in Sia’s home country of Australia, premiering January 24th by StudioCanal. The 78th Golden Globes are scheduled for February 28, 2021 on NBC.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna