Zoolander 2 Co-Writer Justin Theroux Responds to Film's Transphobia Controversy: 'It Hurts My Feelings in a Way'
Protesters are calling Benedict Cumberbatch's character an "over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals"
After the trailer for the highly anticipated sequel dropped last month, a scene featuring Cumberbatch’s gender-ambiguous character received backlash, and a petition was created to boycott the film when some fans found it to be transphobic.
Theroux, 44, said that the scene was meant to be viewed as satire and was taken out of context in the trailer.
“I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way,” Theroux told The Wrap. “I take great care of the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. I wish people would see the movie first.”
He continued: “Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on Tropic Thunder with the R-word.”
Indeed, this isn’t the first time the actor has come under fire for his writing.
In 2008, Theroux was criticized by a group of protesters who objected to Robert Downey Jr.‘s repeated use of the word “retard” in the film Tropic Thunder, which he also co-wrote.
“The goal was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word. I’m all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct,” Theroux told The Wrap. “With social media and all the rest of it, people’s issues need to be heard … at the end of the day people are looking for bandwidth. People are looking for places to inject their voice. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.”
The petition, which has garnered more than 21,000 signatures, called Cumberbatch’s character, an androgynous supermodel named “All,” an “over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals,” and that including the character in the film is “the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.”