North Texas Daily

Sia’s new movie is performative activism at its most egregious

Sia’s new movie is performative activism at its most egregious

Sia’s new movie is performative activism at its most egregious
February 08
12:25 2021

Not all social justice movements have gained an equal amount of traction in recent years. At first glance, it might look as though autism advocacy is having a moment, but in reality, those who prop themselves up as its mouthpiece are often doing more harm than good by neglecting to listen to what actual autistic people have to say.

Singer Sia is a prime example of this. The controversy over her new film “Music,” about a young nonverbal autistic girl taken in by her older sister, began when it was announced that Maddie Ziegler, who is not autistic, had been cast in the titular role. Instead of taking the opinions of actual autistic people into account and trying to rectify her mistake, or even just promising to do better in the future, Sia went on the defensive, lashing out over Twitter at the very people she claimed to be advocating for, cursing them out and even going so far as to snipe at one user that maybe they are “just a bad actor.”She later went on to say that she cast Ziegler because she thought an actual nonverbal autistic person wouldn’t be able to function properly on set.

This infantilization of autistic individuals is standard procedure for so-called advocates attempting to control the narrative around autism, and especially of Autism Speaks, the organization with which Sia partnered to create “Music.” Autism Speaks is quite possibly the most well-known autism centric organization in the United States, and yet it is almost universally despised among autistic people.

Its long list of controversies include, but are not limited to, propagating the myth that vaccines cause autism, plugging a facility that used electroshock “therapy” techniques later ruled to be inhumane by a court of law, and circulating a video in which a mom recounted having almost purposely driven off a cliff with her autistic child in the car. The one autistic member of their board stepped down out of frustration with the organization’s disdain for his disability.

Whenever autistic people call Autism Speaks out for its callous treatment of those it was supposedly founded for the benefit of, the organization retaliates by asserting the very beliefs that make it such a poor excuse for an ally, that all autistic people are too mentally impaired to know what’s best for them, and that they just can’t feel things the same way neurotypical people can. Sia is parroting these dehumanizing sentiments by dismissing the concerns expressed by autistic people outright and insinuating that she knows more about what might benefit them than they do.

These fundamental misunderstandings about autism aren’t harmless. “Music” sees Ziegler’s character restrained at one point in a fashion that has actually been known to kill the autistic children it’s been used on, such as 16-year-old Eric Parsa, who died after police sat on him for nine minutes to subdue him during a meltdown. (Recently, Sia announced that the restraint scene will be cut from the final film).

While I can’t stop anyone from watching this upcoming trainwreck, I can pose the question of whether stroking Sia’s ego is worth setting back the rights of a demographic who weren’t granted that many to begin with.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
DOSE: Welcome back to Daily’s Dose podcast. In today’s episode, join Jaden and Logan as they discuss their favorite underrated movies.🎙️@OberkromJaden & @lat2049 🖼️ @GishhyOrange https://t.co/A15uJCxEeS https://t.co/4kYSxHVqCm
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
The Last Draft Podcast: Another week, another great conversation with a Mean Green athlete — our guest this week is none other than C-USA’s Golfer of the Week, Audrey Tan. 🎙️@thereal_Suarez & @Tzac24 🖼️ @AustinBanzon https://t.co/eJK5KOKmcL https://t.co/X09Rx3MeNV
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
ARTS & LIFE: New Denton bar keeps afloat in the middle of the pandemic📝 @p_daijah 📸 Samuel Gomez https://t.co/1RaZk2LXza
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: Attacks against teacher unions uncovers anti-educator nature of Bloomberg and Republicans📝 @realBrettDavis 🖼️ @pastellivi https://t.co/zIR46RR2fw
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
Recap: Late free throw heroics from Jazion Jackson lifts women’s basketball over Marshall📝 @prestonrios_ 📸 @zachdelbello https://t.co/AxSedLuY9f
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad

Instagram