Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?
Four days ago, Paramount Pictures dropped the trailer for one of the most eagerly anticipated comedies in years, Zoolander 2.
Co-starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, the 2001 original became an instant classic, spawning numerous memorable lines and introducing us all to the majestic 'Blue Steel.'
Fans around the world have been patiently waiting for a sequel, quietly apprehensive but hoping that Zoolander 2 would be on par with the original. All seemed to be going great, with reaction the trailer largely positive... But not everyone was happy.
The film has come under harsh criticism from the LGBT* community for its depiction of androgynous model 'All,' played by the beloved British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Appearing only briefly in the trailer, critics have called the character an 'over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals' with the online outcry leading to a petition calling for a boycott of the film.
Sarah Rose, creator of the petition, was outraged at the production's lack of sensitivity around the androgynous character. Likening the depiction to the equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority, Rose called on the power of the internet to boycott the upcoming film.
Rose highlighted the exchange between Stiller, Wilson and Cumberbatch in the trailer, in which Stiller's Zoolander asks All, 'Are you like a male model or a female model?', while Wilson's Hansel ponders, 'What I think he's asking is do you have a hot dog or a bun?'
Although All is dubbed the 'biggest supermodel in the world' within the film, Sarah Rose still feels the film's producers could have done more to portray the trans/androgyne community in the modeling world, pointing towards Andreja Pejic as an example.
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.
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.
To date the petition has collected 7,644 supporters, with a total goal of 8,000. The aim of it is spelled out clearly and emphatically at the end; Tell Paramount Pictures, Ben Stiller, and Benedict Cumberbatch that mocking transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals is not okay - sign this petition to pledge to boycott the film!
Directed by Ben Stiller and a screenplay by Justin Theroux, Zoolander 2 hits theaters February 12, 2016. Stiller and Owen Wilson return as lovable duo Derek Zoolander and Hansel, with Will Ferrell returning as the eccentric Mugatu. Co-starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Penelope Cruz, the film will also see a myriad of celebrity cameos, such as Justin Bieber, Usher, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato.