Justin Theroux responds to ‘Zoolander 2’ Cumberbatch outrage: ‘It hurts my feelings’

12.07.15 2 years ago

As we reported previously, the “Zoolander 2” trailer stirred up a mini-controversy late last month over the reveal of Benedict Cumberbatch's androgynous character, who at one point during the trailer is asked by Owen Wilson's Hansel: “Do you have a hot dog or a bun?”

The scene in question so offended viewer Sarah Rose that the activist went so far as to start a petition calling for a boycott of the film, in which Rose charges the makers of the comedy sequel with using “the modern equivalent of…blackface to represent a minority.” Rose took further umbrage at the hiring of a “cisgender” (non-transgender) actor to portray the character.

Now “Zoolander 2” co-screenwriter Justin Theroux — who played a minor role in the first film — has responded to the outrage in a new interview with The Wrap. During the sit-down, Theroux states that the Cumberbatch scene was being taken out of context, and moreover charges the petitioner with missing the satirical intent of the scene.

“I don”t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way,” said Theroux. “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.”

By “R”-word, Theroux is referring to the controversy that swirled around 2008's “Tropic Thunder” — which Theroux also co-wrote — for its heavy use of the word “retard” and its depiction of people with mental disabilities. That film led to a widespread protest by the disability advocacy community.

“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,” Theroux continued. “People are looking for places to inject their voice. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.”

Rose's Care2 petition has so far racked up over 20,000 signatures.

“Zoolander 2” is slated for release on February 12.

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