Sunday 23 October 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch's transgender character in Zoolander sequel sparks call for boycott

The androgynous character 'All' has come under fire for making a 'mockery' of transgender people as a petition to boycott the film reaches almost 8,000 signatures

Helena Horton

Published 22/11/2015 | 14:27

Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of a gender-fluid model has angered some viewers
Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of a gender-fluid model has angered some viewers

The upcoming Zoolander sequel has come under fire as people claim Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of an androgynous model is a "transphobic joke".

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Some have called for a boycott of the movie, after seeing the trailer, which features Cumberbatch's character "All".

The character has been dubbed "the modern equivalent of blackface".

In the trailer, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are introduced to 'All', who has been dubbed the "biggest supermodel in the world".

“Are you like a male model or a female model?” asks Ben Stiller’s character Derek, to which Cumberbatch’s character answers “All is All”.

“I think he's asking is do you have a hot dog or a bun?” explains Owen Willson’s Hansel, followed by a light giggle and the word “Oops” from All.

A petition to boycott the film has almost 8,000 signatures.

Sarah Rose, the creator of the petition, wrote: "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.

"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."

Cis is short for cisgender, which means "denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender."

The sequel to the2001 film will star Stiller and Wilson, as well as Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, with appearances by Joe Jonas and Justin Bieber and other surprise star cameos.

The film is due to hit cinema screens in February 2016.

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