Ben Stiller’s upcoming movie, Zoolander 2, has been met with a good deal of criticism following the release of the film’s first trailer. According to the Telegraph, many people were outraged with the introduction of the transgender character, All, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Specifically, people were angered by what they term as “the modern equivalent of blackface,” as the character is seen as a clear mockery of the transgender community.
In the video, Cumberbatch is seen being introduced to Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, and is referred to as the “biggest supermodel in the world.”
Stiller then asks Cumberbatch, “Are you like a male model or a female model?” In reply, Cumberbatch answers, “All is All.”
“I think he’s asking is do you have a hot dog or a bun?” Wilson’s characters follows up in the clip.
While this may seem like idle fun to some viewers, many fans took it as a serious mockery of the transgender community. In fact, so many people were angered by Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a transgender person that an online petition has been started to boycott the movie and has managed to garner some 9,000 signatures so far.
“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,” the petition, created by Sarah Rose, reads. “By hiring a cis actor to play a non-binary individual in a clearly negative way, the film endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large.”
For those who do not know, the term cis refers to someone whose gender identity and biological sex match.
Based on the amount of signatures the petition has gained so far, it is clear that many are viewing Cumberbatch’s character as transphobic in nature. At the same, the petition is not the only outlet fans have been using to voice their discontent. In fact, along with the petition, many fans have expressed their distaste for Cumberbatch’s character on social media.
“I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: #Zoolander2 looks pretty transphobic in regarded to Benedict Cumberbatch,” on Twitter user wrote.
“Really wanted to like the Zoolander 2 trailer but the seemingly transphobic Benedict Cumberbatch character left a bad taste,” another user posted on Twitter. “Also Bieber.”
At the same time, other Twitter users were more candid about their feelings. “Benedict Cumberbatch is gross and this movie is transphobic ew,” one fan wrote.
Meanwhile, the film is the sequel to the 2001 hit movie, Zoolander, which also features Stiller and Wilson as the male leads. Along with Wilson and Stiller reprising their roles, the film stars Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Penelope Cruz, and Justin Bieber.
Although the plot details are still vague at this point, the movie will center on Stiller and Wilson coming out of retirement and reacting to all of the changes that are happening in the fashion industry. Apparently, this includes the introduction of transgender models in a not-so-flattering light.
Although the first movie was met with considerable success and a cult-like following, it is unclear how the transphobic elements in the sequel will impact its success in the box office. If the amount of signatures the petition has gained and the outcry on social media is of any indication, then there will be many people who decide to sit this one out.
Zoolander 2, directed by Ben Stiller, is set to open in theaters on February 12, 2016. Fans can view the petition online at Care 2.
Tell us! Do you think that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Zoolander 2 character is being transphobic? Let us know in the comments below.
[Image via Village Roadshow Pictures]