‘Zoolander 2’ Facing Boycott Threats For ‘Offensive’ Cumberbatch Character

The trailer for Zoolander 2 only arrived last week, but the film already finds itself facing threats of a boycott, over its alleged “cartoonish” portrayal of a transgender character.

In the trailer, Benedict Cumberbatch is seen as a character called All, billed as “the biggest supermodel in the world”, whose gender appears to be ambiguous. 
“Are you like a male model or a female model?” asks Ben Stiller‘s Derek, to which Cumberbatch’s character replies “All is all”.

“I think he’s asking is do you have a hot dog or a bun?” asks Owen Wilson‘s Hansel, to which All giggles in response. 

A backlash seemed inevitable, and now here we are, with a petition circulating to boycott Zoolander 2 for its “offensive representation of non-binary individuals.”
The petition reads, in part:

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.

The petition currently has just over 8300 supporters. Zoolander 2 is due for release on February 11, 2016.