Ben Stiller’s Zoolander sequel is facing calls for a boycott over an androgynous model character played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Zoolander 2 is a follow-up to the original 2001 movie, with director/actor Ben and Owen Wilson reprising their roles as two warring male models.
They are joined in the new film by Benedict, who plays an androgynous supermodel, but a trailer showing his character has sparked a storm of protest amid allegations the portrayal makes a mockery of the androgyne and transgender communities.
A petition calling for a boycott of the movie has been launched on Thepetitionsite.com, and it had garnered almost 9,000 signatures as WENN went to press.
A message posted alongside the petition reads: “Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority…
“(The) film endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large… Tell Paramount Pictures, Ben Stiller, and Benedict Cumberbatch that mocking transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals is not okay – sign this petition to pledge to boycott the film!”
Producers behind the movie, which is due for release in February (16), have yet to comment.
Zoolander 2 is set to be a star-studded affair, with pop stars Justin Bieber, Mika and Ariana Grande both making cameo appearances alongside country legend Willie Nelson and actors Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig.
During filming, Ben and Owen made an appearance at Paris Fashion Week in France in March (15). They took to the catwalk in character as Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald during a Valentino show.
Images posted on Instagram.com showed the stars walking the runway and posing alongside U.S. Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Ben shared a photograph showing himself pouting with Owen, alongside a caption which read, “Apparently Derek and Hansel have come to terms on #Zoolander2.”
Owen also recently revealed he took time out of filming while on location in Rome, Italy to spend time with his son, who enrolled on a course to learn all about ancient hand-to-hand combat.
“(My son) Ford, he was able to enjoy Rome,” he explained. “I tried to kind of think up little activities for him and I set him up with his mum to see the Vatican. I said, ‘Ford, what was your favourite part to see at the Vatican?’ (He said), ‘None of it!’
“It reminded me of how crazy me and my brothers (sic) must have driven my parents because you want them to get into it and it’s like, how do you get a four year old to get into the Sistine Chapel? They don’t care… So then we took him to gladiator school, which they really have over there…”
– Cover Media