Trebling—possibly quadrupling?—down on her commitment to making the controversy surrounding her casting choices for her upcoming film Music even more upsetting (and just generally worse), Sia gave an interview this week once again asserting, not just her right, but the moral good of her casting neurotypical performer Maddie Ziegler as an autistic person in the movie. This is per IndieWire, which reports on an interview the musician and first-time film director gave to Australia’s 10 News First, stating that “There is no way I could have used someone” of the character’s “level of functioning to play” the part that Ziegler plays, due to needing an accomplished dancer to play the version that exists in the character’s fantasy world. (Dear Sia: You’re aware neuroatypical people can still dance, right? Your pals, The A.V. Club.)
Anyway, Sia went on to say that she’s not sure why people are mad at her anyway, because Music—which will be accompanied by a whole new album of songs—isn’t “a documentary.” Speaking on co-stars Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr., Sia asserted, as though this was the same thing, “Kate isn’t a drug dealer and Leslie Odom Jr. [who plays Ebo] isn’t from Ghana.” (Dear Sia, sorry to write you again so soon. Wanted to ask, though: Have you considered cutting your bangs? It might help you to stop missing the point so much. - AVC)
As previously reported, Sia has not handled criticism from the neuroatypical community of her decision to cast Ziegler especially well, firing back in November with assertions that her film was being unfairly judged, that people saying they volunteered to try out for the part were probably just “bad actors,” and just generally asking the heavens why everyone’s being so mean when she’s just trying to make her movie, huh? The interview this week really dials into the central fuck-up here, though: From what we can tell, Sia decided—based, reportedly, on working with the neuroatypical person the role was originally based on—that working with any neuroatypical person would be stressful and unworkable for her film. And when people pointed out that that almost certainly wasn’t true, she did the “Don’t do this on the internet, please” thing of not listening to criticism, and instead getting more and more defensive and pissed-off. It’s a bad formula, pretty much always, and it’s made increasingly bad things happen here.
Anyway. Music (the film) is due out in February, while Music (the album) is expected to start rolling out in January.