Zoolander 2 doesn’t hit theaters until February, but an online petition is already calling for a boycott of the sequel over Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, an androgynous model named "All" who, in the film’s trailer, is asked whether he is male or female.
When asked about the controversy, Justin Theroux, who co-wrote the movie, says that he doesn’t “know what to make of it.”
“It hurts my feelings in a way,” he told The Wrap. “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.”
WATCH: Justin Bieber Gets Assassinated in 'Zoolander 2' Trailer
The petition calls Cumberbatch’s character “an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery” of transgender/ non-gender binary people, referring to it as “the modern equivalent of using blackface.” So far, it has collected over 20,000 signatures.
“We went through it on Tropic Thunder with the ‘R’ word,” he continued. “The goal was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word.”
Theroux, who also co-wrote the 2008 comedy which earned Robert Downey Jr. a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Oscars, is referring to a protest by disabled groups over Downey’s character’s use of the word “retard” within the film.
WATCH: Justin Theroux Reveals He Nearly Died During Honeymoon
“I’m all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct,” the actor concluded. “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.”
Meanwhile, Kristen Wiig is basically unrecognizable in Zoolander 2: