Renowned musician Sia revealed that she went suicidal and entered rehab after the extensive backlash she received over her directorial debut music in 2021.
The singer was profusely criticized for her decision of casting a neurotypical dancer and actor Maddie Ziegler for the lead role in her film. The role was of a teenage girl who appeared to be autistic as well as nonverbal.
The film garnered extreme criticism from all corners of life especially for showcasing scenes where the main lead was shown to be restrained with force.
The autistic community and support groups condemned the film. One of the critics stated that “the movie was a baffling and patronizing cringe-fest of ableist minstrelsy”. Another critic said the film was simply “harmful” for the autistic community.
Sia finally opens up about how she felt regarding the extreme criticism over her debut film. She stated, “I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab.” Sia gave credit to Kathy Griffin for coming out of her agonizing days stating “she saved my life.”
The Chandelier singer had defended her decision of casting Maddie Ziegler in the lead role during the backlash stating that the role was far more “compassionate” for an autistic actor.
Sia said “I cast thirteen neurotypical people, three trans folk, and not as f****** prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses, and singers. F****** sad nobody’s ever seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place. (sic)”
“I realized it wasn’t ableism. I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it’s actually nepotism because I can’t do a project without her. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her.”
She also said: “The character is based completely on my neuro-atypical friend,” Sia added. “He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother.”
The feature film music was nominated for 2 Golden Globe awards in February 2021.
“I promise [I] 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.
“‘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 with meltdown safety.’”
Sia then tweeted: “I’m sorry.”