Benedict Cumberbatch's character in the new Zoolander film has been branded "transphobic" by some critics, according to the Telegraph. Cumberbatch, 39, plays an androgynous model in the sequel of the hit Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson comedy film about the fashion industry.
But some critics have rounded on Cumberbatch's performance as the character All, describing it as a "cartoonish mockery" of transgender, androgyne and non-binary individuals, and even going as far as calling it "the modern equivalent of blackface".
In the trailer, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson's characters are introduced to 'All', who has been dubbed the "biggest supermodel in the world".
"Are you like a male model or a female model?" asks Stiller's character Derek, to which Cumberbatch's character answers "All is All".
Despite the character only appearing on the trailer for five seconds, Cumberbatch's portrayal of 'All' has caused offence, with a petition to boycott the film gaining over 8,000 signatures.
The creator of the petition, Sarah Rose, wrote: "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.
"If the producers and screenwriters of Zoolander wanted to provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry, they could have approached models like Andreja Pejic to be in the film.
"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."
Cis is short for cisgender, which means "denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender."
Some social media users have agreed with the accusations. Twitter user @bleezeblocks said: "benedict cumberbatch is gross and this movie is transphobic ew." While @cxxrys wrote: "benedict cumberbatch's zooland character is a transphobic joke and u can bet fandom tumblr's gonna say it's 'brave and "representation'."
benedict cumberbatch is gross and this movie is transphobic ew
— ronald mcdumbass (@bleezeblocks) November 21, 2015
benedict cumberbatch's zooland character is a transphobic joke and u can bet fandom tumblr's gonna say it's "brave and "representation"
— cerys (@cxxrys) November 19, 2015