‘Zoolander 2′ shredded for Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘cartoonish’ androgynous model

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 world of “Zoolander” — which features the madcap adventures of less-than-ingenious male models played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson — doesn’t seem suited to a gender politics dust-up. 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.Actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux has spoken out about the controversy surrounding his latest film Zoolander 2, claiming that anger is being misdirected.

Angry viewers launched a petition against Zoolander 2 after its first trailer showed Cumberbatch playing an androgynous character named All, who is asked if they have “a hot dog or a bun.” “I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way,” he says. “I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. 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. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.” “If the team were really so invested in making any sort of point about transphobia (even one so banal as ‘don’t do it, kids’), they would have felt confident in hiring a transgender actor or model for the role — Andreja Pejić, perhaps — and writing for Cumberbatch an alternative part,” Lexi C.M.K.

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’. Turner wrote at the Independent. (Turner also pointed out the petition’s comparison of Cumberbatch’s performance to blackface wasn’t really legitimate: “To have a modern equivalent of anything requires the original comparative to be no longer relevant, and sadly that’s not the case.”) Cumberbatch — Sherlock Holmes on TV, Hamlet onstage, and Oscar-nominated for his turn as persecuted gay mathematician Alan Turing last year in “The Imitation Game” — is a big target. Not only does he have a devoted following of self-proclaimed “Cumberbitches,” but the actor is well-known for his liberal politics and feminism. “I’m very flattered, but has this not set feminism back a little bit?” he said earlier this year. “Empower yourselves if you’re going to get silly about a guy with maybe a little bit more of a sort of, you know, a high-regard, self-regarding name!” Yet, Cumberbatch is not infallible. 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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