One obese gay man’s take on Brendan Fraser film, The Whale

Congratulations to Brendan Fraser for his Best Actor win at last night’s Oscars! We have republished this article about his triumphant comeback in the role of The Whale, containing spoilers.

The depiction of Charlie’s weight problem is derogatory and exploitative. Many critics of the movie share this sentiment. Brendan Fraser, who is neither homosexual nor severely overweight, portrayed the role of Charlie, a severely overweight homosexual individual. It boils down to two concerns, based on my understanding. There has been a significant amount of controversy surrounding Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Whale.

In relation to this specific discussion, I have no additional comments. The film industry in Hollywood persists in excluding us from our own stories. It is an undeniable reality, so I do not have any problem with that criticism. There are numerous homosexual actors available who could have portrayed the character, as casting a heterosexual man for a queer role generates public outcry. I comprehend the reason behind the uproar concerning a heterosexual man taking on a queer role, especially considering Brendan Fraser’s portrayal of a gay man.

The fashion industry, with the potential exclusion of the entertainment industry, is the most body-shaming industry in existence; and that is because a larger-sized costume was always going to be included in this movie, regardless of the actor chosen for the role. What I mean is that there is definitely no professional actor I know of who matches the size required for the role, even if they did choose a ‘larger individual’. It goes without saying that there are very few overweight male actors in Hollywood. However, when it comes to Brendan Fraser portraying a severely overweight man, all I can do is raise the question.

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I am truly grateful for the representation provided by Sidibe Gabourey and I am not wrong to talk about roles like ‘one in a million’, but let’s not forget that Metz Chrissy is not the lead in Us, she is just a part of the ensemble. Even though I am pressed hard to think of any mainstream movies or TV shows where a person of size is the lead, I must say that this is not the case with Precious. Besides, these types of stories typically relegate fat characters to comic relief roles. Hollywood doesn’t typically choose actors from a pool of fat actors for these types of roles.

I have a question where their sentiment is coming from and I appreciate the allyship. The complaint about people who are not fat or obese being lodged is rare, but I still do not agree with the assessment that the movie was exploitive, even though I have read a fair number of reviews. I have struggled enough with food and weight issues to see myself in the character, and I am big enough, but I am not a 600-pound gay obese man like Charlie. However, I do have some thoughts on the contention that Charlie’s obesity was exploitive, and I respect the second point of that argument.

My experience with Life LB 600 has taught me that Charlie is not just a person who is morbidly obese, but rather someone who wants everyone to recognize the truth about him, which is that he is much more than his size. Through this informative and objective lens, I have come to learn that there are only a few people who truly know anything about Charlie and his experiences.

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Being overweight, the feeling of struggling to breathe, perspiring heavily, and moving with difficulty, his eating habits, on the other hand, only elicits astonishment. It contributes nothing meaningful and obscures his genitals, creating a cover over his pubic region and his sagging stomach while Charlie is in the shower. It’s just a shower scene, character, or story that doesn’t serve any purpose. The only scene that I perceive as potentially exploitative is the argument that can be made.

Considering his life and personal background, those circumstances just so happen to be his situation. I don’t believe the movie is attempting to imply that all excessively overweight individuals live in the same way as Charlie either. In my opinion, these particular scenes were not intended to exploit, but rather to reveal a shocking reality for individuals like Charlie. Consider how movies often depict drug addicts or alcoholics; it’s seldom portrayed as glamorous. In those moments, he is numbing his pain and satisfying an addiction. If he is indulging excessively to alleviate emotional distress, then his eating will likely be frenzied and somewhat chaotic. Some argued that his greasy mouth during the eating scenes was excessive, and that Charlie’s appearance was purposely made unappealing.

The Whale is the story of a morbidly obese recluse, Alan, whose impending death leads him to attempt to reconcile with his estranged daughter, Sadie, with the help of his caretaker and nurse friend, Liz. Alan, who is deeply rooted in shame due to his appearance and behavior, brought addiction into his life as a way to console himself over the suicide of his partner, whom he could not rectify his homosexuality with due to his religious beliefs. At the end of the film, Alan literally eats himself to death as a way to join the world and escape his physical inability to leave his home.

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All accolades are richly deserved by Charlie, whose vulnerability and complete commitment brings a rarely seen way of life to the screen. It’s an engaging but heartbreaking film, especially with strong performances from the entire cast, especially Brendan Fraser. What transpires is a psychological drama that explores themes of shame, addiction, authenticity, religion, and redemption, in a masterful script adapted from his original play.

I encourage you to take a look with an open heart and mind at these types of stories that often do not receive mainstream attention because not everyone will be able to look back at past issues mentioned here. The controversy and art inspired by the case of The Whale sometimes sparks debate and inspires Great.

The movie “The Whale” is currently screening in cinemas by A24 Films.

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