Boycotters Threaten ‘Zoolander’ Sequel, Equate ‘Cartoonish’ Transgender Character to ‘Using Blackface’

Paramount Pictures

An online petition is urging moviegoers to boycott the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander 2, arguing that the film’s portrayal of a transgender model is the “equivalent of using blackface.”

A trailer for the Zoolander sequel dropped this week. Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch joins returning stars Stiller and Owen Wilson as a gender non-conforming model named “All” in the film.

Although Cumberbatch’s presence in the trailer is brief, his appearance along with his dialogue with other characters is prompting outrage. Refinery29 criticized the trailer’s “mockery of trans people” and Los Angeles Magazine called it “sexist and transphobic.”

A petition launched by Sarah Rose urges a boycott of the Paramount film and alleges that Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a trans character “endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large.”

“Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals,” the petition reads. “This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.”

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 7,000 people have signed the petition.

Zoolander 2 will debut in February.


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