Maddie Ziegler in the film Music. Her mouth and eyes are opened wide, and she is smiling. On her head is a rainbow, with two clouds either side which look like earmuffs.

Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s new film Music.

Hanway Films

Disabled people have expressed their anger and frustration after the film Music, directed by Australian singer-songwriter Sia, was nominated at this year’s Golden Globes.

The film, which received a nod in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category, has received widespread criticism and accusations of “ableism” for its representation of autism.

Sia’s long-time collaborator Maddie Ziegler was in the main role as a non-speaking autistic teenager, despite being a speaking actress without an autism diagnosis.

Speaking to The Sunday Project, the musician responded to the backlash by saying she “realised 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 [Ziegler]. I don’t want to.

“I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her,” she said.

Alongside Sia’s initial reaction to the controversy, the film has also faced condemnation for featuring a scene where prone restraint is used. This technique has killed children when used in the past.

Shortly before deleting her Twitter account, Sia said in a series of tweets: “I promise, 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 w meltdown safety.”

She added that the restraint scenes will be removed from future screens, before apologising and saying she “listened to the wrong people”.

Critics have since taken to Twitter to respond to Music’s nomination, using the hashtag #NoGoldenGlobeForMusic to call for the nod to be rescinded. Some have described it as "dangerous" and "ableist".

Other nominations in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category include HamiltonThe Prom and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

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