Justin Theroux who co-wrote and directed the model satirical comedy ‘Zoolander 2’ defended his side of depicting Benedict Cumberbatch as a transgender model.
It was after a lot of years that Ben Stiller had decided to reprise his role as the model Zoolander in the movie of the same name in its sequel, Zoolander 2. The official trailer for the movie was premiered on electronic media recently and it immediately caught some negative attention.
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The trailer featured a new storyline, some new characters and some more characters that coaxed a reaction out of people. One of those characters that received the most attention was the depiction of Benedict Cumberbatch as a transgender model.
The model in the trailer is named ‘All’ and is supposedly the most famous and exclusive model in the world. Upon introduction to the two protagonists of the movie, they ask if All is a male or a female model.
To make it clearer, Hansel rephrase the questions as whether All has buns or a hot dog. The depiction of a transgender has received a very severe backlash. A petition to boycott the movie has already been signed by over 21,000 people. The target is of 25,000 people and as more days go by, more and more people are signing the petition.
The online petition states that Cumberbatch’s character was clearly a portrayal of an over-the-top, cartoonish mocking of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. The petition stated that this was the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.
This petition also states that if the production had reached out to an actual transgender model like Andreja Pejic instead of using a cis-actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, then it would have also made sense.
It was time for Justin Theroux to defend his work and his movie. Justin Theroux co-wrote the screenplay and directed the movie while Ben Stiller served as the producer. Justin said that he was very hurt when he heard that people were boycotting the movie.
Justin said that the scene in the trailer with Cumberbatch was taken out of context for its comedic value that went totally misperceived. He said that he takes great care and pride in all the jokes that he writes and if the people actually saw the movie, they would know that the character is in no way what it is being claimed to be, ‘over-the-top, cartoonish mocking of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals’.
“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. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on ‘Tropic Thunder’ with the ‘R’ word,” Theroux told TheWrap.
He gave the example of his movie Tropic Thunder which also starred Ben Stiller along with Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. supposedly playing an African American.
The movie received a backlash for using the word ‘retard’ to define the mentally incapacitated individual. Justin said that even then the use of the ‘R’ word was not meant to poke fun at someone but to define the degrading and harsh use of the word and to express its negative impact. He said that if uttering the word and showing its harshness keeps people from saying it, he was glad that he had done it.
He said that same was the case in Zoolander 2. People assumed the worst by seeing a part of the trailer and they are not giving the movie a chance to explain the whole thing.
Zoolander was a revolutionary movie in its own regard when it tweaked the biasness and stereotypes associated with modelling and especially male modelling in 2001. The movie did not depict perfect characters but characters who overcame their flaws to defeat evil.
According to Justin, this movie is also intended to explore the stigmas and stereotypes that are associated with the modern-day fashion world and transgender models are very much a reality today.
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Zoolander 2 is set to release on February 12th in the coming year and stars Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Benedict Cumberbatch and Justin Bieber. Only time will tell whether Justin’s point of view was correct or the petitioners were right to call out to his negative character depiction.