The long awaited sequel to the hit Zoolander is planned for release in February 2016. However, the release of the film’s trailer last week was met with disdain and has been slammed for poor taste.
The main characters, Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) have a disturbing interaction with a new androgynous model named “All.” The character is played by Benedict Cumberpatch, appearing to be a plastic, goofy representative of the transgender community. His character is asked by Zoolander if he is a ‘male or female model’, and after clarification that “All is all,” Hansel clarifies “I think he is asking if you have a hot dog or a bun’.
This scene is in the trailer, which questions Paramount’s motivation for its inclusion. It begs of hyperbole and grandstanding, yet the seeming mockery paints an uncomfortable picture. The LGBTQ communities worldwide are having such a negative response, that a petition is circulating to boycott the movie on “Care2 Petitions” at Zoolander 2 Boycott Petition with almost 10K signatures. The movie is being snubbed as “All’s” character is seen 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.”
Hardly a glowing reception.
Again it seems the question is what the screenwriters’ motivation was, and why the studio decided to put the scene in the trailer. Looking at trailers in their primary function, the purpose would be to draw in viewers to the theater for opening week. Evaluating this issue – it seems they believe the scene’s shock value would be acceptable to the masses, and it would be found humorous. In this respect, it seems to be using our communities, and a satirical mockery of binary people everywhere.
If the purpose of the scene was to voice inclusion, perhaps they could have offered the role to a transgender person who is well known and respected, such as trans model Andreja Pejic, thus fostering a positive statement. However, the Cumberbatch’s portrayal of “All” in a negative fashion is potentially destructive to the LGBTQ community at large.
Activists feel Cumberbatch’s character instills a “transphobic” attitude, and a poor role constructed by ignorance and stereotype. Advocate Sarah Rose has polarized reactions by initiating the petition for boycott of the movie.
The question of intention still remains. Having seen Zoolander, we know that Stiller and Owens’ characters are mockeries of modelling in general, and were not the brightest stars in the constellation. Viewing the trailer, it is easy to take offense. However, if one views the scene thinking they intended to poke fun at the ignorance and idiocy of the original characters, it carries less impact on our community. Reacting to this material produces much more angst and will drive the average advocate for LGBTQ equality to sign the petition.
If one analyzes the whole scenario, the heterosexual man looks equally ridiculous. You decide!
Watch the new trailer of the film ‘Zoolander 2’: