I'm just your everyday Autistic Artist.
An actually autistic person reviews Sia's movie Music
The three films that I had previously refused to watch were Cannibal Holocaust, A Serbian Film, and Music. I still refuse to actually sit through the first two movies, but I recently forced myself to sit through what I consider to be more disturbing than I Spit On Your Grave. Unlike the 70s classic about survival and female empowerment, Sia's directorial debut does NOT have a reason to exist. I had been telling people for months to not waste their money on this film because I could tell by the trailer that it woefully misrepresents autism. Of course, that didn't stop trolls from tackling me on social media and saying things like "dOn'T jUdGe It If YoU hAvEn'T sEeN iT". Now that I have seen it, I can judge the absolute s**t out of it.
Timothy Boykin: A Rising Star
TikTok isn't just a place for dance trends and dumb jokes; it's a place where people from different communities can express themselves and spread awareness about the issues that they face. Just about every marginalized group from the black community to the LGBT community has used the platform to speak out and spread proper information. Another group that has used the app to spread awareness is the autism community, which I just so happen to be a part of. Back in August of 2019, I came across a video of a black autistic guy dancing around while subtitles displayed some of the things that he struggles with like focusing and making friends. The video concluded with subtitles saying that he was still talented and intelligent even with all those struggles. I didn't know any other autistics on TikTok, so I followed him. He followed me back and he is now one of my best friends, even though we still haven't met in person. His advocacy for autistics and all-around good attitude has garnered him about fifty-five thousand followers, and he is loved by the autistic community for using his voice to advocate for them. For this story, I interviewed (via video chat) an individual that the world needs to know. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome singer, actor, author, activist, and living inspiration Timothy "Tim" Boykin to the stage.
Dear Hollywood, you're not meeting our special needs.
Award season is already here, and the Golden Globes just announced their nominations. While most people are upset by the lack of nominations given to Tenet, I and many other autistic individuals are furious that Music received two nominations. For those not in the know, this project was directed by Australian singer Sia and focuses on a recovering drug addict who is left with her nonverbal autistic sister in her care. It shines a light on autistic females, which is something that rarely happens, and it's now being recognized by one of the biggest award ceremonies in Hollywood. Why are we furious at this? Because this movie is the biggest piece of inspiration porn to come onto the mainstream movie scene since 1994's Forrest Gump.
A. S.imple D.ate review and interview with Rebecca Faith Quinn
They say that representation matters, so why are we still waiting for proper representation for autistic females? Plenty of autistic female writers and actresses exist, and yet filmmakers choose to omit them from stories about autism. Autistic women like myself didn't grow up seeing autistic females on TV, and the autistic girls of today shouldn't grow up the same way. My good friend Rebecca Faith Quinn is a fellow autistic who was also fed up with the lack of autistic female characters, so she decided to make her own. Her short film, A. S.imple D.ate, focuses on an autistic woman named Rachel who goes on a date with a guy she met online. It may be a short film on YouTube (channel name is YoungQuinn Productions), but it is undeniably a huge step in the right direction for autistic female representation.
Should autistic actors, you know, act?
Remember when film directors used to cast white actors in blackface and yellowface back in the old days? Remember when that was actually ok? In case you didn't know, big name actors like Laurence Olivier and John Wayne actually performed these kinds of roles during their careers. Laurence Olivier was, of course, a well-respected actor who made Shakespeare film adaptations and had the Laurence Olivier Awards in London named after him. Since he was an experienced Shakespearan actor, it made sense that he would be cast as Othello in a film adaptation of the iconic tragedy back in 1965. The real tragedy, however, is that Olivier was cast as an African character. He actually performed in blackface and developed a specific walk and voice for the role. Despite being Oscar-nominated for his work, this role has obviously aged poorly. As for John Wayne, he played Genghis Khan (yes, THAT Genghis Khan) in 1956's The Conqueror, and working on that film cost him his life. The movie was filmed in an area near a nuclear testing site that led to ninety-nine cast and crew members developing different forms of cancer. Wayne was one of those ninety-nine members, and he was sadly one of the forty-six who died as a result. As you probably already know, it isn't a good idea to cast white actors in non-white roles, especially since plenty of black and Asian actors are available to play Othello and Genghis Khan. Yes, it's acting, but it's also pretty discriminative to cast someone who doesn't fit the obvious description and can be seen as cruel mockery. We know better than to whitewash roles, so why are we still refusing to cast autistic actors as autistic characters?
A Special Thank You
It's that time of the year, my friends. This is that one day of the year where we ramble on about what we're thankful for and never post about it again for another year. Facebook and Instagram are bloated with pictures and statuses of the people and things that we're thankful for, and then we spend the next year building up a collage to post for the next Thanksgiving. Most folks I know would post pictures about their families or careers. Don't get wrong, I AM grateful for the things in my life, but I don't often feel the need to make a ginormous post about it. Today, I am making an exception, but I'm not going to boast about the usual things that I've been grateful for my whole life. Instead, I wish to project a spotlight on a particular group of people that have shaped my life in the past year.
Dear Sia, you broke my heart.
Dear Sia, I first started listening to your music when I was fifteen. I had to do a jazz routine to "Clap Your Hands", and I immediately fell in love with your sound. When "Titanium" was released, I was in a state of depression and the lyrics gave me the strength I needed to keep moving forward. "Breathe Me" was one of the songs that I would listen to right before I fell asleep, and it made me feel like I was falling slowly and gracefully. I've lost count of how many times I've seen the music video for "Chandelier", and it made me feel proud of my weirdness. "The Greatest" was released the year I came out of the autism closet, and it had the biggest impact on me. Not only did I use the song for a one-woman show about autism the following year, but I also once ranked it at Number One on my list of Autism Anthems. Heck, "I'm free to be the greatest" was in my Instagram bio for four years. I loved it so much and I didn't see the point in changing it until now.
Freaky: The Gen Z version of Scream
When Wes Craven released Scream back in 1996, he truly changed the horror genre. After over a decade of slasher movies being overdone and beaten like a dead horse (pun intended), this classic provided a fresh take by providing humor, wit, and self-awareness. While it certainly wasn't the first horror comedy to break the fourth wall, it was effective enough to create a slasher renaissance. The next five years saw a whole slew of Scream copycats that included I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends, and Valentine. Even though that hype train has since left the station, Craven's beloved love letter to the horror genre continues to influence some of today's horror movies. Last night, I saw what could possibly be Generation Z's version of Scream. I am, of course, talking about Freaky.