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Sia film ‘Music’ criticized for ‘irresponsible’ depiction of autism



Sia film 'Music' criticized for 'irresponsible' depiction of autism

Sia’s directorial debut “Music” is being panned by the autism community for what it says are inaccurate and dangerous depictions of the condition.

The criticism of the Golden Globe nominated picture has caused the Australian singer to apologize and reedit the movie, according to USA Today.

The streaming film features a scene where a character with autism is being restrained to calm her down – a practice advocates have blasted.

In the movie, Music is a young non-verbal autistic woman who is being cared for by her half-sister Zu, played by Kate Hudson.

Some critics have taken issue with the casting of the lead role, saying she should have been played by an actor with autism, not Maddie Ziegler.

“I don’t even know where to start,” Camille Proctor, executive director and founder of The Color of Autism Foundation, told USA Today.

“I don’t like the portrayal of the young autistic woman. I feel like (Ziegler) was doing parody,” she told the paper.

“The autistic community has been fighting for decades to end the use of restraints that traumatize and kill,” said Zoe Gross, director of advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, in a statement.

Communication First, an advocacy group for the disabled, echoed the same concerns.

“Had the filmmakers chosen to meaningfully involve autistic people from the beginning, we could have told them how catastrophically irresponsible it is to encourage viewers to use the kind of deadly restraints that killed Max Benson, Eric Parsa, and many other members of our community,” the group said.

Benson, 13, died in 2018 after being restrained for hours at his California school.

His mother reached out to Sia, calling for the scenes to be removed, according to the Washington Post.

Parsa, a Louisiana 16-year-old with severe autism, died after sheriff’s deputies sat on him in an effort to keep him still, the New York Times reports.

In the wake of the criticism, a disclaimer will be added to the movie, reading: “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 (with) meltdown safety,” according to Variety .

Sia has apologized to advocates and said she “listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.” 

The freshman director deleted her Twitter account following the controversy, and said the restraint scenes will be deleted from future versions of the movie.

Sia also said she now regrets brushing off early critics and doubling down on her choice to cast Ziegler, who starred in her “Chandelier” music video.

“Looking back, I should have just shut up; I know that now,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite its detractors, “Music” has won acclaim, receiving two Golden Globe nominations; for best motion picture, musical or comedy, and best actress in a musical or comedy (Hudson).

Some advocates have called for boycotts of any award shows that honor the film.

The National Council on Severe Autism’s president Jill Escher gave the film a positive review, saying “I realize some in the autism community profess to be offended by the portrayal, but why? Perhaps it wasn’t perfect, but it was a beautiful performance on many levels.”

However many more disagree, including Will Lasley, an autistic man from Tennessee, who talked to USA Today.

“While I know there are people on the spectrum who act similarly to her, it doesn’t justify how ridiculous she acts,” he told the newspaper. “It doesn’t really look like she’s attempting to portray a real person.”

Others have blasted the lead character.

“Music has no character arc to speak of and, aside from some pretentious interpretive song-and-dance numbers meant to put us ‘in her mind,’ we never get a sense of her personality or perspective,” Salon reviewer Mattew Rozsa wrote.

Proctor, of The Color of Autism Foundation, said Hudson’s portrayal of “a callous relative (of an autistic person) who is selfish,” is the one thing the picture got right, according to USA Today.

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Barasso slams Biden for pushing through $1.9T ‘liberal wish list’




Barasso slams Biden for pushing through $1.9T 'liberal wish list'

​GOP Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday hit President Biden for ​pushing his $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package through Congress despite pledging to work with Republicans — calling the bill a “liberal wish list”

The relief bill passed the Senate on Saturday and the House last week without one Republican vote.

“Ten Republicans went to the White House and said, ​’​Al​l ​right, let’s work together.​’​ Instead, the White House chief of staff said this is the most progressive, the most progressive piece of domestic legislation in a generation​,” Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” referring to Ron Klain.

“​This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us. That’s where it should have been focused.​”​

Instead of enlisting Republican support for a bipartisan bill, he said the president and Democrats passed “a liberal wish list of liberal spending just basically.”​

Even though the Biden package had strong support from the American public, Barrasso predicted that will soon diminish.​​

“When people find out what’s in this bill, they’re going to lose a lot of any enthusiasm they may have for it right now,” he said.

“Because this was not really about coronavirus in terms of the spending. This was a liberal wish list of liberal spending just basically filled with pork. It didn’t need to be this way​.”

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‘Full faith’ in AG Cuomo probe, mum on resignation




'Full faith' in AG Cuomo probe, mum on resignation

US Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday said he has “full faith” in the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual-harassment allegations against embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo — although he refused to say whether the governor should resign.

Schumer’s comments came after two more Cuomo accusers stepped forward Saturday.

“The allegations of each of the women have to be taken seriously,” the Senate majority leader (D-NY) said of the now five women accusing Cuomo of harassment.

“They’re deeply troubling,” Schumer said of the accusations. “Women have to be listened to. I’ve long believed this, I’ve said this for a very long time, that sexual harassment is never acceptable, can never be tolerated.”

New York state Attorney General Letitia James said last week she was launching an independent probe into the allegations surrounding the governor.

“The investigation of these women’s allegations – as I said, they’re serious – they’re being investigated in the very capable hands of the New York State attorney general,” Schumer said during an announcement of how New York will benefit from the COVID relief-bill funds.

“I called for that type of independent investigation, and she is doing it. I have a lot of faith in her. I believe that she will turn over every stone, and I believe that she will make sure there is no outside interference – political or otherwise.”

But he wouldn’t say whether Cuomo should resign.

“I have full faith in the attorney general’s investigation,” Schumer would only say.

In the latest round of accusations, Karen Hinton, a former gubernatorial press aide, told the Washington Post that she struggled to free herself from the governor’s constant hugging in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000.

And Ana Liss, who worked for the governor from 2013 to 2015, said Cuomo’s behavior left her feeling like “just a skirt,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Liss and Hinton bring the number of Cuomo accusers to five, joining Charlotte Bennett, 25, Lindsey Boylan, 36, and Anna Ruch, 33.

The governor’s office denied Hinton’s claim, saying it “did not happen.”

Liss’s claims that he kissed her hand and touched her lower back are just a reflection of the usual behavior at public receptions, Cuomo’s camp added.

“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” said Rich Azzopardi.

The growing scandal has prompted calls for Cuomo to step down.

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White House COVID official admits vaccine inequality is ‘unacceptable’




White House COVID official admits vaccine inequality is 'unacceptable'

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients admitted Sunday that it was “unacceptable” that people of color have received the vaccine at lower rates around the country.

“That is unacceptable. Communities of color have been hit disproportionally hard by this disease, suffering death rates twice the average,” Zients told NBC anchor Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” when confronted with showing the disparity in Washington, DC.

“So it’s really, really important that when we come to vaccine distribution that we do it in a fair and equitable way, the situation that you’re describing is not fair and equitable.”

Zients said that federal programs have been established to ensure that vaccines are more easily accessible in these communities in the future.

“We need to bring vaccines to people where they are, which is why community health centers are so important they serve over 30 million Americans,” he said. “Two-thirds of those that use community health centers live below the poverty line, 60 percent come from communities of color. That’s why the president established a program to send vaccines directly to community health centers.”

He said that the feds are also using mobile units to “reach people where they are” and designed the pharmacy program to focus on giving the shots to “disadvantaged” areas — but said states had to be “accountable.”

“We are holding states and governors accountable for fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine.”

Zients said the US is currently averaging about 2.2 million shots administered per day.

He added that the US being on track to have enough COVID-19 shots for every adult American this spring is “really big progress” from when President Biden entered office.

“It’s really big progress to have enough vaccine supply for all adult Americans by the end of May,” Zients said.

“When we walked into office, six, seven weeks ago, there was not enough supply and it was pushed much further out.”

Zients credited the Biden administration for invoking the Defense Production Act to enable drugmaker Merck to ramp up its facilities in order to help rival Johnson & Johnson with vaccination production.

“Thee actions by the president, including using the Defense Production Act and bringing Merck and Johnson together into a historic partnership, have accelerated our ability to have enough vaccine by the end of May for all adult Americans,” Zients said. “That’s progress and that is really important.”

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