Nearly 10,000 Sign Petition Against 'Zoolander 2' Over Portrayal of Androgynous Model

Many perceive Benedict Cumberbatch's non-binary model character as problematic.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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Many perceive Benedict Cumberbatch's non-binary model character as problematic.
Photo: YouTube

Photo: YouTube

The first trailer for "Zoolander 2" hit the web last week, and it went viral almost as quickly as the news of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson's surprise appearance on the Valentino runway did back in March. However, the buzz surrounding the much-hyped clip isn't all positive; in fact, the LGBTQ community in particular is pretty heated about a scene involving an androgynous model, played by the generally well-loved Benedict Cumberbatch.   

In the trailer, Cumberbatch's character, simply named "All," seemingly serves to demonstrate how much the modeling world has changed since Zoolander and Hansel's heyday. It's left purposely ambiguous whether All identifies with a male or female gender, and the long hair, bleached eyebrows and painted nails certainly confuse the two dimwitted lead characters even further. Zoolander even goes so far as to ask, "Are you a male or female model?" And after the cryptic reply of "All is all," Hansel counters with, "I think he's asking, do you have a hotdog or a bun?"

Any moviegoers familiar with Stiller and Owen's shtick knows that very few groups of people are safe from becoming the target of a joke or two (no matter how insensitive), and that they're typically meant in good fun. However, nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition against "Zoolander 2" and Paramount Pictures over what they believe to be an offensive portrayal of a transgender or gender fluid individual. The complaint at the center of the petition is as follows: "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 signees also believe that if the film wanted to provide real commentary on the topic of gender in the fashion industry, the studio should have hired a transgender model like Andreja Pejic or Lea T.

It's still not clear how much screen time All will be given in the film, but until we see it in full, we're going to assume that there's more tongue-in-cheek humor surrounding that plotline than is seen in the short trailer. Take a look below, and if you're offended by Zoolander's portrayal of the trans community, please share your thoughts in the comments section.