Justin Theroux on the ‘Zoolander 2′ boycott petition: ‘It hurts my feelings’

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘It hurts my feelings': Justin Theroux responds to boycott campaign of Zoolander 2 due to portrayal of androgynous model.

The 44-year-old actor and screenwriter wrote the script for the upcoming sequel starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and shared his response to the boycott campaign with The Wrap. ‘I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene.After the Zoolander 2 trailer dropped last month, a scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s character faced backlash and a petition to boycott the film.When the trailer dropped back in late November, an understandably horrified shockwave was sent across the internet, with Cumberbatch’s appearance sparking an online petition which clocked over 20,000 signatures.

Zoolander 2 director Justin Theroux has defended Benedict Cumberbatch’s role in the film, following criticism of his character and calls for a boycott. The Sherlock star was briefly featured in the recent trailer for the comedy sequel playing an androgynous model called All, who thoroughly confuses Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and model buddy Hansel (Owen Wilson). Theroux also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 satirical action comedy Tropic Thunder and it too was criticised by advocates for the mentally disabled. Robert Downey in blackface portrayed Kirk Lazarus in the comedy and his Australian method actor character famously advised Ben Stiller’s character Tugg Speedman to never go ‘full retard’ in an acting role. ‘The goal was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word.

Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on Tropic Thunder with the ‘R’ word.” Theroux co-wrote Thunder, a movie starring Stiller as an action hero whose star is fading. The November trailer showed Stiller and Wilson as washed up male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald as they were introduced to All – the ‘biggest supermodel in the world’. Boycott organizer Sara Rose wrote in her petition: ‘Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals.’ The sequel revolves around Zoolander and McDonald rejoining the world of high fashion to find the person assassinating the world’s most beautiful people. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.” It’s clear Theroux’s intentions were never consciously malicious, but it’s a retort that doesn’t really address the core problems of Cumberbatch’s character. Yes, the trailer’s line ““I think he’s asking is do you have a hot dog or a bun?” is poking fun of Derek and Hansel’s general backwardness in the modern world; but let’s not pretend like Theroux’s not intending audiences to have a little giggle at the very existence of Cumberbatch’s genderfluid model All.

If the joke was really meant to be entirely about Derek’s idiotic inability to recognise transgenderism (which, really, bigotry is the least fun form of stupidity there is); then why isn’t the role, as the petition points out, played by an actual transgender individual like Andreja Pejić? Opinions will always differentiate, but the conversation needs to move towards addressing when and how harmful stereotypes are being reinforced within the media, and how more meaningful insight into matters can be made in the future.

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