In November I reported on the outrage from parts of the LGBT+ community for the Zoolander 2 trailer depiction of androgynous model 'All,' played by the beloved British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Although appearing only briefly in the original trailer, critics called the character an "over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals." This lead to Sarah Rose organizing a petition that has now been signed by 21,509 supporters in the hope that people will boycott the film.
Rose was clearly outraged with the production's lack of sensitivity around the androgynous character, highlighting the exchange 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?"
Now, actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux has spoken out about the controversy that's been attached to his latest film. The talented writer claims that the anger is misdirected, and emphasizes that he takes great care in writing his jokes. Speaking to The Wrap, Theroux highlighted the controversy:
“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."
However, this isn't the first time that Theroux has courted controversy due to his writing. Theroux previously teamed up with Ben Stiller when he penned the protest hit comedy Tropic Thunder. In 2008, disabled groups called for a boycott of the film due to Robert Downey Jr. use of the word "retard." Theroux said:
"The goal was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word. I’m all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct. With social media and all the rest of it, people’s issues need to be heard … at the end of the day people are looking for bandwidth. People are looking for places to inject their voice. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.”
Many have come to the defense of both the production and Theroux. Many have sighted the fact that Zoolander is in fact a satirical film, dripping with hyperbolic performances and over the top personalities. Like Tropic Thunder in 2008, Zoolander 2 is to be in cinemas as scheduled.
At times the Internet can feel like a place where people are continuously blowing things out of proportion, misinterpreting true motives and twisting the original meaning behind quotes. However, it is important to be sensitive in portraying minorities both on and off screen.
But what do you think... Have people overreacted or do they have a point?
The Ben Stiller lead and directed sequel lands Feb. 12, co-starring Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Benedict Cumberbatch and Will Ferrell.