Here's Why That Joke In The 'Zoolander 2' Trailer Is Totally Transphobic
Look, we all know that Zoolander is a classic. That movie supplied some of the best one-liners in film history. You want proof? Walk into a room of millennials and reference the "center for ants" line. Even though it's 2015 (and the movie came out more than a decade ago), most of the people in the room will get the joke.
It's a completely ridiculous film that many, many people still love, which is why the the 'Zoolander 2' trailer including a transphobic joke is super disappointing. I don't know about you, but I expected more from Derek and Hansel.
The "joke" in question takes place about one minute into the trailer. Derek and Hansel, now labeled as "old" and "lame" in the world of modeling, have just met the newest big thing in fashion: a model named All, played by an eyebrow-less Benedict Cumberbatch in a long brown wig. Upon meeting All, both Derek and Hansel are confused. Derek asks, "Are you, like, a male model or a female model?" All responds: "All is all." Hansel then tries to make the question clearer: "I think he's asking, do you have a hot dog or a bun?"
It may seem like an innocent joke, and perhaps in the early aughts they would have gotten away with it—not because it wouldn't have been offensive but because many people who have a voice now didn't have one then. However, it's 2015, and making marginalized folks the butt of your jokes earns you the backlash it deserves.
Activist Sarah Rose has created a petition calling for a boycott of the Zoolander sequel, and has gathered more than 600 signatures. Even though I'm majorly side-eyeing the petition's assertion that Cumberbatch's character is "the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority" (because using one struggle to illustrate another erases the experiences of those with intersectional identities), calling out transphobia when you see it is always a good thing.
Because here's the deal. The joke is supposed to be that Derek and Hansel are out-of-touch with the fashion industry as it is today, with gender fluid and androgynous models being welcomed onto the runways. Hopefully when the final cut of the film hits theaters in 2016, it will come across as such. As it stands now, it's just another outdated, cheap shot at gender-nonconforming individuals and how darn confusing they are, which is about as old and lame as you can get.