After the highly anticipated trailer for Zoolander 2 debuted last month, it was met with ambivalence by some fans. Although the cameos and one-liners should be enough to hold over audiences until the release, some armchair activists have already called for a boycott ahead of the movie's premiere.
One surprise celebrity addition to the sequel is Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays a hot new model named All. In the trailer, the character's gender fluidity causes confusion for Ben Stiller's clueless titular protagonist, Derek Zoolander, who asks, "Are you like a male model or a female model?" Cumberbatch responds: "All is all," and he later titters.
Out of protest of the seemingly transphobic undertones and a "cartoonish" interpretation of androgyny by a cisgender actor, a petition to boycott the film has gained over 20,000 signatures. Justin Theroux, one of the screenwriters of the film, responded to the backlash in an interview with The Wrap:
"I don't even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way. I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. I wish people would see the movie first. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on Tropic Thunder with the 'R' word... The goal was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word. I'm all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct."
Theroux's argument seems to be in line with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone who have used this season of the Comedy Central show to eviscerate PC blindness, with a group who bully anyone who refers to the transgender reality star Caitlyn Jenner as anything less than "stunning and brave." Androgynous models currently dominate the catwalk, and we've seen an upswing in trans models in major fashion campaigns. Sources involved with the film who have read the script tell Out that the character of All has no gender--that's part of the joke. In the context of this Zoolander film, even the heterosexual cisgender characters are portrayed with a sense of ridiculous flamboyance. It calls out the need to label someone's gender as something an airhead like Derek Zoolander would do.
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