We’re highly anticipating the sequel to one of the funniest movies in recent years. The trailer for Zoolander 2 hit the web last week, and almost instantly went viral. It promised plenty of laughs and a stellar cast including Benedict Cumberbatch and favoured on-screen pairing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. But not everyone was united in positivity upon its debut; members of the LBGT community have deemed the portrayal of an androgynous model “offensive.”
In the trailer, Cumberbatch’s model character, simply named “All,” seemingly serves to demonstrate how much the modelling world has changed since Zoolander and Hansel’s first outing. It’s left purposely ambiguous as to whether All identifies with a male or female gender, and this serves to confuse the two rather dimwitted lead characters. Zoolander (Stiller) even goes so far as to ask, “Are you a male or female model?” Cumberbatch simply replies, “All is all” which prompts this response from Hansel (Wilson): “I think he’s asking, do you have a hotdog or a bun?”
Fans of the original movie will know that there are few in the film who escape the pair’s satirical jibes. However, it is generally taken that the jokes are made in good fun, rather than being straight-up offensive.
However, nearly 12,000 people have signed a petition against the movie and Paramount Pictures over what they believe to be “an offensive portrayal of a transgender or gender, fluid individual.” The complaint at the center of the petition is as follows: “By hiring a cis actor to play a non-binary individual in a clearly negative way, they film endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large.”
“Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority,” the partition added.
The signees also believe that if the film wanted to provide real commentary on the topic of gender in the fashion industry, the studio should have hired a transgender model to achieve this. While it is not yet clear how much screen time Cumberbatch’s character will be given, those in favour of the petition believe that such a joke in the short clip is insensitive and added, “mocking transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals is not okay!”
Paramount Pictures or any of the actors has yet to respond to the controversy.
See the partition here.