Monty Python legend John Cleese apparently has decided that to hell with it, he’s going to get himself canceled, and he doesn’t give a damn if he is. The tweet above was part of a long string of them tweaking transgender activists, J.K. Rowling haters and more, but his “woke joke” was especially apt.
The Australian singer Sia (never heard of her—you?) wrote and directed an soon-to-be released movie titled “Music” about a young woman with autism. Music is played by actress Maddie Ziegler, who is apparently not on the autistic spectrum.
The cyber-mob, almost all of which have never directed or cast anything, were outraged, with reactions like this from Irish actress Bronagh Waugh:
“Hi Sia, can I ask why you didn’t cast a disabled actor for this part? It’s pretty offensive the way you’ve chosen to portray this character? People with disabilities are not broken and don’t need fixing. Many of my friends have different disabilities and they are some of the coolest, most talented, funny, kind, intelligent people I know. They are also the most under-represented and inaccurately represented group in our society. This kind of inaccurate, offensive representation causes so much pain.”
Wait, so now an actress says that any portrayal of a character by an actress who doesn’t actually have all of the traits of that character is “inaccurate” and “offensive”? I guess Waugh can only play Irish idiots.
Another critic fumed,
“Incredibly disappointing to see yet another misrepresentation of neurodivergent people. What an incredibly wasted opportunity to showcase autistic talent, and share an authentic story from that community. Will not be watching this.”
Neurodivergent! Is there a machine that grinds out euphemisms for words that don’t need euphemisms? What’s the matter with “autistic”? Again, since when did acting become misrepresentation?
The American Association of People with Disabilities joined the mob, saying, “Don’t watch the Sia video.” That’s a classic example of how bias makes you stupid.
Foolishly, Sia attempted to reason with the mob and initially responded, “I actually tried working with a a beautiful young girl non verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.” Gee, what a surprise. Performance art productions are difficult and stressful even if you aren’t autistic, and the director’s job is to minimize obstacles to a successful result, not add them to gain political correctness points. Special needs performers, whether their problems are physical, emotional or behavioral, threaten a project and its budget, employees and stakeholders.
Eventually Sia efigured it out, tweeting, “Fuckity fuck why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.” Why? Because her attackers couldn’t care less about the film or Ziegler’s performance, that’s why. They are just trashing Sia and her creation to advance their own agendas. The eventual result may be, of course, that no one will produce any movies about autistic individuals.
[As an aside, this is something else the Trump-Haters endorsed when they voted Democratic in 2020.]
The Sia episode tracks with the now dead “Rub and Tug,” which perished because Scarlet Johanssen withdrew from her starring role in a film about a real life transsexual. What I wrote then applies here:
It’s pretty simple: this door swings both ways, or it doesn’t swing at all. Limiting the casting of a character who was a biological woman identifying as a man to trans actresses is a step away from unbiased and creative casting, not toward it.
I also suggested what Johanssen should have said, instead of withdrawing from the project with some ambiguous snark. I also recommend an equivalent response from Ziegler to offended alleged actors like Waugh:
“I’m a professional actor, and I can play a wide range of characters who are completely unlike me in every way. If you are actors, you should be able to do the same. If I can play you better than you can, then I might get the part, and if I am offered it, I’m going to take it, just as you would if you were cast as me in “ The Maddie Ziegler Story.” The only limitations to what roles an actor can play should be their ability and talent, not their DNA or life choices. That’s what you should want too, assuming you have the ability and talent to succeed in this business. Be a professional, and grow the hell up.”
It’s certainly better than “fuckity fuck.”