Sia Apologizes, Deletes Twitter Account over Woke Backlash to Her Debut Feature Film

NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Singer SIA performs onstage at Virgin Megastore Union Square on January 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Pop star Sia has apologized and deleted her Twitter account in response to woke backlash over her debut feature film Music. The Golden Globe-nominated film features a scene in which an autistic girl is physically restrained. Controversy also kicked up over the casting of Maddie Ziegler, a non-autistic actor, who plays an autistic character in the movie.

“To every #ActuallyAutistic person who is rightly devastated to see #Sia”s ‘Music’ nominated for a Golden Globe, I am with you,” tweeted actress Ruth Madeley. “Disabled people are needed in the industry now more than ever to help change the narrative we’re all so sick of,” added Madeley, along with the hashtag, “end ableism.”

“Can someone pls with a bigger platform talk about the fact that the golden globes nominated music, sia’s horrifically ableist movie, twice?? and the implications of that for autistic people ?” commented another Twitter user.

“by nominating Sia’s Music in any capacity, the Golden Globes condone using restraint on autistic individuals and casting neurotypical actors in roles not made for them. this is a major act of violence against the autistic community, not a celebration,” wrote another.

“in case y’all haven’t seen, sia’s EXTREMELY ableist film ‘music’ has been nominated for best picture in the golden globes. the film contains super misleading information that if applied to real life could end up killing autistic people,” noted a fourth user on Twitter.

The scene in question refers to a type of restraint that is used on Ziegler’s character, which can reportedly result in death.

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“MUSIC doesn’t just promote harmful stereotypes about autistic people — it shows restraints that have killed members of our community as necessary and loving acts,” said Zoe Gross, Director of Advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in a statement. “This film should never have been made, and it shouldn’t be shown.”

Sia responded to the scrutiny by stating in now-deleted tweets on Thursday morning that she has “been listening” to the criticism, and will add a warning label to the restraint scene in the film, according to a report by Yahoo Entertainment.

“I promise, have been listening. The motion picture MUSIC will, moving forward, have this warning at the head of the movie: MUSIC in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people,” she said in a statement. “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 meltdown safety.”

In a follow-up tweet, Sia said that she intended to delete the restraint scenes, adding that she had been listening to the “wrong people” while conducting research for her film.

“I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printing. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough,” tweeted Sia. After that, the singer deleted her Twitter account altogether.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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