By Sarah Clayton
On Feb. 3, the 78th Golden Globe nominations were announced with a good line-up of nominations.
Netflix’s “Mank” lead with a total of six nominations, including Best Picture in the drama category. The lately deceased Chadwick Boseman was nominated for Best Actor in a drama for his last film credit “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and many fan favorites such as “Lovecraft Country,” “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” were also nominated for awards.
Along with good nominations came problematic nominations. This included Sia’s directing debut with “Music,” James Corden’s nomination for Best Actor in “The Prom” and the drama involving how HBO Max’s “I May Destroy You” was not nominated.
“Music,” directed by singer and songwriter Sia, has faced backlash since the release of the first trailer last summer.
“Music” is about a woman named Zu, played by Kate Hudson, a struggling drug addict whose world is turned upside down when she has to take care of her autistic half-sister named Music, played by Maddie Ziegler.
The movie has faced backlash from the autistic community because of Sia’s choice of casting Ziegler, who is not autistic, to play the non-verbal autistic titular character.
Sia stated that at the beginning of the project she casted an actress on the spectrum but deemed working with her was “too difficult,” which was when she fired the actress and hired Ziegler.
With all the backlash happening, Sia has been actively responding to people’s angry tweets with how she is going to fix the film as well as defending her choice of casting Ziegler.
A tweet from Sia about her decision to not hire an autistic actress read, “I’ve never referred to Music as disabled. Special abilities is what I’ve always said and casting someone at her level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community.”
This tweet contradicts Sia’s message of wanting to represent the community. If she really wanted to represent the autistic community, she would not have fired the autistic actress and hired Maddie. I am not autistic, but I work in the entertainment world and representation matters, especially now.
The film also promoted restraining autistic children. In the scene, Music is having a meltdown and she is restrained in the prone restrain position, which is when the child is being restrained in the face down position. This position can be triggering to some people and can be extremely deadly. The fact that Sia approved of this scene, which promotes this kind of action towards someone with autism, is irresponsible.
Sia has also been called out for working with Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization who has spent years shining a negative depiction on what living with autism is like as well as promoting eugenics.
Sia just comes off as insensitive and the movie comes off as tone deaf, and with a 19% of Rotten Tomatoes it’s safe to say the Music will not be the game changer Sia thought it would be.
Shifting away from “Music,” I move onto James Corden’s nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical for “The Prom.”
Since the Netflix film directed by Ryan Murphy has aired in December, Corden has faced backlash from the LGBTQ+ Community for his offensive performance.
Corden’s performance was mocking in a way, putting on a lisp and attempting to be more feminine when playing a gay character. The issue with hiring straight actors to play gay characters is their interpretation of what gay means and will most likely fall into more stereotypical choices.
Actors need to be true to a character without being offensive in their choices. I’m not saying that straight actors should only play gay characters or gay characters can only play gay characters. There just needs to be more conversations about representation, and what is and is not okay to showcase on screen.
HBOMax’s “I May Destroy You,” which revolves around a Black woman who is facing the aftermath of being sexually assaulted, has gotten praise since its release. However, the British TV drama was not nominated for any Golden Globes, which sparked a lot of controversy considering its story and themes.
The show also focuses on mental health, trauma and feminism. With “Promising Young Woman,” also a story with these themes, being nominated for multiple Golden Globes, it seems odd that “I May Destroy You was not nominated.
I think the reason why is because when we look at stories about sexual assault on TV and in movies those stories still revolve around white protagonist. “Promising Young Woman” has a white protagonist and “I May Destroy You” has a black protagonist, but both revolve around the protagonist’s assault.
It seems that the entertainment industry still believe that certain stories can only be told by certain characters when people from all walks of life can share the same experiences. It’s important to see someone who looks like you represent you. No matter where they come from or what they look like, someone can experience sexual assault and it is important to be open to conversations like that, and it starts with what we watch.
It hurts me as a performer to see these types of stories being praised when they cause more harm than good. What these nominations prove is that there needs to be more conversations within the entertainment world when it comes to telling certain stories. It’s important is to share stories and our opinions about the issues around us.
Sarah Clayton is a writer for The Alabamian. She is a third-year senior theatre major who enjoys all things theatre related. When she is not writing for The Alabamian or busy with classes she enjoys listening to music, reading, making TikToks, watching movies or TV shows she has already seen and hanging out with friends.