Feedback: ‘Walk in our shoes, Sia.’ The call to use actors with autism

Sia performs during the Wango Tango concert at the StubHub Center on May 9, 2105 in Carson.
Sia, seen here in 2015 during the Wango Tango concert at the StubHub Center in Carson, is known for performing with her face hidden. She’s now directed a new film that has upset some in the autistic community before its release.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

An untapped talent pool

Regarding the story “Sia Is Under Fire for How Her Film Portrays Autism. But She’s the One Feeling ‘FURY’” by Laura Zornosa [Nov. 11]: So Sia is feeling “the fury” that individuals with disabilities are upset with her. She’d like us to see the movie before we judge it.

I certainly won’t.

Sia has made the mistake of choosing a neurotypical individual to portray a person with autism. As she’s been informed countless times, especially on Twitter, there is an untapped talent pool of actors with autism. And our outrage is valid.

Sia has no idea what it’s like to be the parent of a teenager, or any child, with autism. She has no comprehension of what it’s like to struggle daily to get a child with autism a decent education (and that’s being hopeful) or social services, or to be an adult with autism who just wants a decent job and to live independently.


Walk in our shoes, Sia. A person with disabilities is not a character to be played. Have you seen “The Peanut Butter Falcon”?

Kathy Speer

It’s a cultural epithet

Regarding “Drawn to the Family” by Glenn Whipp [Nov. 24] and other coverage of the movie “Hillbilly Elegy”: As a native son of Appalachia and the Rust Belt, hard on the Monongahela River, I can tell you that the word “hillbilly” is quite pejorative and will never be a term of endearment.

Although not a racial epithet, you would be ill-advised to call someone in a grocery store in Morgantown, W.Va., a hillbilly to his face.

It exemplifies an unspecified atmosphere of mostly unknowing condescension.

Making a movie with the name in the title is another way to ensure that millions of people will always vote against those perceived to be Hollywood elites.

Kevin H. Park
Westlake Village


Lorraine Berry’s reading list [“A More Honest ‘Hillbilly’ Reading List,” Nov. 22] looks like it was assembled by Google. Where is Daniel Woodrell?

There isn’t a book on that list that comes within spitting distance of “Winter’s Bone.”

Lou Mathews
Los Angeles

Tell-tale glasses

Regarding “Jazz Deep in its Soul” by Sonaiya Kelley [Nov. 22]: Is it just a coincidence that the protagonist of the upcoming Pixar animated feature “Soul” wears eyeglasses that are identical to those worn by Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer?


Kirk Norenberg
Redondo Beach

Remembering a music maker

Thank you for Bruce Swedien’s obituary by Randall Roberts [“He Captured Michael Jackson’s Magic,” Nov. 20] and for mentioning his work with Michael Jackson. Jackson was an empathetic soul who connected emotionally with people worldwide in his songs, the magic.

Jackson deserved better than to be canceled by the media because of the shockumentary “Leaving Neverland.” It was a sad event that hurt Jackson’s fans and associates like Swedien and Quincy Jones.

Jeaneen Cafferty

How to teach literature

Regarding Dorany Pineda’s article “Off the Reading List” [Nov. 12]: Here we go again, removing classic literature while leaving materials of little value in the schools.

As a 45-year, now-retired teacher it’s appalling to me the “literature” that is being provided in our schools due to the rabble rousers and politicians. These authors were writing about their experiences during their life and times and how things were dealt with as a result. These are all things we can learn from in an effort to improve our lives and those around us.

I assure you no teen or preteen learned the N-word or other offensive terms for the first time in these books. That word and many others are bantered about openly in society, on the internet, TV, in the movies and often, unfortunately, in the home.

When I started teaching in 1962, I was quickly educated by my junior high students. Any young person today who feigns ignorance to this is putting on an act for whatever reason.


I would hope the Burbank Unified School District, which is just down the road from where I live, will come to their senses and retain these classic books that all can learn and benefit from. In so doing, the teachers can provide wonderful opportunities for open discussions and mutual understanding.

Linda Roberts