LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Brendan Fraser attends "The Whale" UK Premiere during the 66th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 11, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Movies - TV
Brendan Fraser Deserves The World, But The Whale Deserved Nothing
While seeing Brendan Fraser win the Oscar for Best Actor feels akin to watching a fan-favorite underdog team win the Super Bowl, his triumph comes wrapped in Darren Aronofsky’s violent and grotesque film, “The Whale.” This story about a 600-pound recluse can easily be seen as a reinforcement of cruel fatphobic stereotypes disguised as an empathic tale.
Lindy West of The Guardian wrote, “People respond positively to ‘The Whale’ because it confirms their biases about what fat people are like (gross, sad) and why fat people are fat (trauma, munchies) and allows them to feel benevolent yet superior.” The film posits fat existence as a personal, moral failure and one that is worthy of harassment and mockery.
“The Whale” isn’t the story of an overweight person; instead, it’s the nightmare of a thin person coming to life, disguising a cautionary tale as one of humanity while dehumanizing the protagonist at every turn. Though there are many fatphobic aspects in the film, Fraser gives an outstanding performance as Charlie, portraying him as a deeply complex, traumatized individual.
The actor has always had a remarkable screen presence, but Fraser stepped back from the industry after coming forward about being sexually assaulted by former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk in 2003. Fraser has endured much over his career, and hopefully, this Oscar win will give him the confidence and freedom to be pickier with his future roles.