Actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux has responded to the critics of the Zoolander 2 trailer and how Benedict Cumberbatch’s character mocks transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals.
“People are looking for places to inject their voice. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone,” Theroux told TheWrap during an exclusive interview.
“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,” Theroux said.
Theroux is referring to the 2008 petition by disabled groups over the use of the word “retard” by Rober Downey Jr’s character in Tropic Thunder.
The online petition, which has over 20,000 signatures, on Care2 Petitions reads: “In the Zoolander 2 trailer, an androgynous character played by Benedict Cumberbatch is asked by Zoolander and Hansel if he is a ‘male or female model’, and if they ‘have a hot dog or a bun’. Additionally, 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.”
Check out the trailer here:
The petition also criticizes the decision to hire a cis-gender male to play a model who doesn’t identify with male-female gender binary. “If the producers and screenwriters of Zoolander wanted to provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry, they could have approached models like Andreja Pejic to be in the film. 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.”