The trailer for "Zoolander 2" dropped sometime November and, along with it, an online petition calling for a boycott of the movie for its "over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgynous/trans/non-binary individuals." Justin Theroux, who co-wrote the film, responded to this claim, saying that it was not and never was meant to disenfranchise anyone.
According to Theroux, the online petition, which has garnered more than 21,000 signatures since it was launched, hurt his feelings. It took the scene with Benedict Cumberbatch as androgynous model out of context and those who have signed the petition have shown their lack of understanding for satire, he said.
"I don't even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way."
Theroux said that he takes great care in the jokes he writes and the offense being taken against the movie is out of the scene's context. The actor and screenwriter wished that people would take the time to see the movie first before reacting, adding that satire is great for pointing out idiots.
He was in a similar situation in 2008 when disabled groups launched a protest against "Tropic Thunder" after Robert Downey Jr. used the word "retard" in the movie. Theroux explained that the goal was not to be cruel to or mock the mentally challenged but rather to revel in the stupidity of those who use the word.
Aside from its portrayal of an androgynous model, "Zoolander 2" is also under fire for placing Cumberbatch, who is a cis or one who has identified with their assigned gender at birth, in the movie. According to the petition, by hiring a cis, the movie has endorsed dangerous and harmful perceptions of the queer community in general. If it had wanted to offer a social commentary on androgynous or transgender individuals in the fashion industry, the movie could have instead tapped Andreja Pejic to take part.
Aside from Cumberbatch, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell and Penelope Cruz will star in "Zoolander 2." The movie is scheduled to hit theaters Feb. 12.