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Brendan Fraser's film The Whale gets called out for its 'demoralising' 'anti-fat' storyline

Rachel Lang

| Last updated 

Brendan Fraser's film The Whale gets called out for its 'demoralising' 'anti-fat' storyline

Brendan Fraser's upcoming film The Whale has already been met with critical acclaim and two standing ovations at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

However, despite this early praise, it seems like the tide now turning against the movie.

Fraser takes on the role of a 270kg man named Charlie who is slowly eating himself into an early grave.

The film centres around his relationship with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink) and some people are struggling to get past the weighty issue that sits at the core of the movie.


That issue is how overweight people are viewed in our society.

Activist and author Aubrey Gordon has written volumes on weight, fat acceptance, and anti-fat bias.

She's lambasted the film on social media and pointed out that stigma is 'the core part' of the film.


"It is central," Gordon wrote on Twitter.

"When someone gushes about The Whale without saying one single thing about its staggeringly anti-fat premise, they’re telling me they’re not someone who can see even the most blaring anti-fatness.

"And that means they’re not someone I can count on in the face of anti-fatness."


The activist highlighted that when people talk aboutThe Whale, then they're also 'talking about very fat people' in general.

"And very fat people are listening. They’re hearing the way you celebrate media that posits their lives as small and inevitably tragic," she said.

"I certainly hear it."


She certainly has a point. Variety compared Fraser's character to Star Wars' Jabba the Hutt. The Guardian went one step further, dubbing Brendan's character as 'a giant pool of Jabba the Hutt-type flesh'. The BBC called it a 'body-horror movie'.

And it isn't just Gordon who is taking issue with one of the film's central plot points.

One user on Twitter said: "This whole thing with The Whale is such a mixed bag for me because I am thrilled that Brendan Fraser is getting so much recognition, but boy, do I wish it wasn’t for wearing a fat suit to play a 600-pound (272kg) man in a deeply fat phobic film."


A second added: "How is it ok that The Whale features a fat suit? I thought we stopped doing that? I can only imagine, given the title and the excited coverage of said fat suit, that the whole thing is super fat phobic too. Yikes."

A third chipped in with: "Why on earth are they making a movie of The Whale? Of all the plays that can be turned into provocative films they really picked the most fat phobic piece of art ever created."

Gordon capped her string of tweets on the issue with a point that hits home hard.

"It’s hard not to feel like this is a very basic litmus test of seeing fat people’s humanity," she tweeted.

"So many people seem so proud and happy to show fat people that they don’t even think of us when they think they’re watching fat stories. It just feels really, really lonely."

So there's a bit to mull over before you see the movie when it lands in cinemas on December 9.

Featured Image Credit: AGENZIA SINTESI / Alamy.

Topics: Brendan Fraser, TV and Film, Celebrity

Rachel Lang
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