Golden Globe Nominated Autism Movie ‘Music’ Will Get Warning Label
Under pressure from advocates, changes are in store for a forthcoming movie about a girl with autism that picked up two Golden Globe nominations this week.
Australian pop singer-songwriter Sia reportedly will remove scenes and add a warning to her directorial debut “Music,” which is scheduled to be released at some IMAX theaters Feb. 10 and on demand Feb. 12.
The move comes after months of controversy surrounding the film about a newly-sober woman who becomes the guardian of her half-sister named Music who has autism.
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Originally, the backlash focused on the casting of Maddie Ziegler, who does not have autism, to play a character on the spectrum. More recently, disability advocates were alarmed by scenes in the film depicting physical restraint.
Officials with CommunicationFIRST, a nonprofit that works to protect the rights of those unable to communicate by speech alone, said they were in touch with Sia’s team and recommended that the restraint scenes be cut from the film after a group of nonverbal individuals and people with autism were invited to screen the movie, but that talks with the moviemaker fell apart.
“Because many autistic people have experienced restraint, some will be traumatized by watching the film. The movie also irresponsibly suggests that people experiencing meltdowns should be restrained, which could not be further from the truth,” said Tauna Szymanski, executive director of CommunicationFIRST. “By not removing the restraint scenes or even providing a warning, those behind the movie are promoting a traumatizing and potentially deadly form of restraint that is illegal in over 30 U.S. states.”
Now, however, it appears that Sia intends to heed the concerns.
“I promise, have been listening. The motion picture MUSIC will, moving forward, have this warning at the head of the movie,” Sia reportedly posted on Twitter, shortly before deleting her account. The now-unavailable tweet was followed by the warning: “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 meltdown safety.”
“I’m sorry,” Sia tweeted.
“I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings,” she added. “I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.”
The film “Music” was nominated for two Golden Globes this week, one for best picture in the musical or comedy category and another for best actress in a musical or comedy for star Kate Hudson.