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Sia Reveals That Music Backlash Led To A Relapse

Sia performing on The Voice screenshot
(Image credit: NBC)

One of the most polarizing topics within our society right now would have to be cancel culture, as many argue that it's starting to become a social norm when it comes to celebrities. Noted pop star Sia, who you may know from her signature exaggerated blonde and black hairstyle that’s used to hide her face, had her experience with it last year. This occurred when songstress was under fire for her directorial debut Music, a musical coming-of-age drama about a young girl who is autistic. The pop star-turned-director has revealed that the backlash from viewers led to a relapse for her.

In a recent article for , Sia was recently quoted in a The New York Times centered on comedienne Kathy Griffin. In the lengthy piece, while explaining that Griffin helped her through the Music backlash, she revealed just how it affected her:

I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab.

The backlash specifically came from those within the autistic community, who believed Music to be harmful, rather than helpful in their own depiction within film and pop culture. Based on past comments from the director and her cast, the intention behind the film was to improve representation of autistic individuals. 

Critics of the film were less than happy about more than one issue concerning its production. One such problem was the fact that the lead actress is not on the autism spectrum, and another is that it lacked neurodiversity in the making of the project. Those who take issue with the movie argue that representation doesn’t mean much if the community the movie is trying to represent does not include individuals who live with the experience either in front of or behind the camera. 

Apparently, Music originally cast an autistic actor in the lead role, but then recast a neurotypical actress instead after the original actress found production too stressful. Those in the community feel the recasting of a neurotypical actress instead sends the message that autistic actors are difficult hires, which is not only a generalization that is unwelcome by those on the spectrum but also one that is hurtful to autistic actors

The film also has a scene in which the main character is held down in a practice called prone restraint, which has been known to lead to injury or death. Since the backlash, the scene has been pulled from all future prints of the film. Sia has been vocal in that she did do extensive research for the film but has also publicly commented on the matter. She's said that more work could've been put into making the film a more accurate portrayal of the autistic experience and that she meant no ill-intent towards the autistic community. 

Music did end up on the Golden Globes nominees list last year, a move that was heavily criticized. As of right now, the film stands as the only theatrical feature Sia has directed.