Justin Theroux on Trans Community's 'Zoolander 2' Backlash: "It Hurts My Feelings"
Published Dec 08, 2015While the trailer for the forthcoming Zoolandersequel nicknamed 2oolander actually looked surprisingly funny, it also included a joke that many have deemed offensive. Benedict Cumberbatch appears as a non-binary model named All, and jokes around his character inspired some trans activists to launch a petition. Now screenwriter Justin Theroux has weighed in on the debacle.
Speaking with The Wrap, Theroux defended the screenplay he co-wrote with Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg.
"I don't even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way," Theroux said of the petition. "I take great care in 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. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on Tropic Thunder with the 'R' word."
Theroux is referring to Robert Downey, Jr.'s character in Tropic Thunder, who frequently used the slur "retard." The screenwriter clarified his intentions for that film. "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," he said.
"With social media and all the rest of it, people's issues need to be heard," he continued. "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."
Since it launched, the petition has raised over 20,000 signatures. Activist Sarah Rose called Cumberbatch's "over-the-top, cartoonish mockery" of trans people "the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority."