Justin Theroux has once again found himself at the center of a heated controversy. This time around it’s for his work on Zoolander 2 which he co-wrote alongside Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg. After the first full-length trailer for the eagerly awaited film dropped last month, a scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as an androgynous model was quick to garner backlash – resulting in an online petition to boycott the film.
In the scene Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander asks, “Are you like a male model or female model?” To which All replies, “All is all”. Protesters have labelled the character “an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery” claiming that the character is offensive to trans people and that it is the equivalent of “blackface”.
While doing the press rounds for The Leftovers, Theroux opened up about the boycott in an interview with The Wrap, revealing that his feelings had been hurt. “I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way. 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 the controversy that surrounded Tropic Thunder, which prompted a boycott from mental disability groups for the now famous “full retard” scene. “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. 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”.