The Zoolander 2 Trailer Is Sexist and Transphobic, So That’s a Bummer

It’s 2015, people
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For those of us who use the line, “What is this, a center for ants?!?” to indicate that we’ve seen something small, or “It’s just hard being really, really ridiculously good-looking” upon producing a passable selfie, the possibility of a Zoolander (2001) sequel has seemed almost too much to hope for.

That sequel has now been released, but unfortunately, it looks like the humor in Zoolander 2—which will be in theaters in 2016—has stayed staunchly in the very early aughts. Within the first 45 seconds of the trailer, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson do a 10-second bit that’s one big transgender joke, at the expense of a character played by Benedict Cumberbatch. There are virtually no women onscreen until almost the one-minute mark, at which point Penelope Cruz—who we love!—is introduced with the line, “She’s hot. I trust her.”

Guys—this is tired. Let’s just be clear: Using women and LGBTQ people as punchlines is bigoted. But it’s also lazy, boring, and—you know—not funny.

The LGBTQ community has already taken issue with the trailer. Today, activist Sarah Rose created a petition called for a boycott of the film, which has already garnered nearly 700 signatures. The petition reads, in part:

In the “Zoolander 2” trailer, an androgynous character played by Benedict Cumberbatch is asked by Zoolander and Hansel if he is a ‘male or female model’, and if they ‘have a hot dog or a bun’. Additionally, 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…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.

It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that in Netflix’ newest series, Master of None, Aziz Ansari managed to make a whole TV show that’s populated with diverse characters—and he did it with no jokes at the expense of anyone’s race or gender or sexual orientation. A whole show!

This is a bummer, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Is it too much to ask for just another Orange Mocha Frappuccino montage without that creepy, wink-wink-from-one-bro-dog-to-another vibe?

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