'zoolander 2' facing boycott over 'cartoonish' representation of trans model

Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a transgender model has been called the 'modern equivalent of using blackface.'

by Wendy Syfret
23 November 2015, 2:31pm

Last week's release of the first trailer for the Zoolander sequel may have dominated the internet, but many people weren't laughing. The trailer included an interaction between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson's characters—male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel—with a trans model called All, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Despite the success of breakthrough shows like Transparent and lauded films like Tangerine, there is still very little trans representation in the media, so it sucks to see any role not being given to a trans performer. On top of that, the film presents Cumberbatch's character as a cartoonish caricature of transgender models. Cumberbatch's All is presented as an abnormality whose very existence confuses the film's stars.

If that wasn't cringe enough, Owen Wilson's character proceeds to ask them if they have a "hotdog or a bun," a comment so offensive it begs belief. In response to the trailer, a campaign has been launched on Care2petitions to boycott the film. At the time of writing, the call to action had over 8,500 supporters. Petition writer Sarah Rose compares the portrayal as the "modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority. The petition page has been flooded with comments from people all over the world sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

Neither the actors, nor Paramount has commented on the response. 


Text Wendy Syfret
Photograph via Care2Petitions

Zoolander 2
Benedict Cumberbatch