As criticism mounts against the portrayal of obesity in the new film The Whale, one man has defended it against its detractors.
In the movie, Brendan Fraser plays the reclusive English teacher named Charlie who is affected by obesity. He begins the film in a downward spiral both physically and emotionally as he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
One man, named Sean Crawford, has defended the film, as he found parallels between the film’s plot and his own life.
The father of one told the BBC that he cried when he saw the film’s trailer.
Crawford, who is from East Lothian, Scotland, explained that he rapidly gained weight after a close friend of his died. He now weighs 30 stone (190kg).
He says that the film has given a voice to people in his situation, noting similarities between his life and that of Charlie in the movie.
“[Charlie] instructs a class from behind a computer because he is ashamed of his weight, I hid away from things because I was ashamed of mine,” Crawford said.
“The main focus is making sure our daughters turn out to be good human beings just in case we aren’t there to see them grow up,” he continued, adding: “I think people need to realise big people are human beings.”
Fraser, who has been nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film, wore heavy prosthetics and a “fat suit” for the role.
Some critics have called out the casting of Fraser as a bigger-bodied person when they could have hired an actor who already fitted that description.
Meanwhile, Crawford said that the film raises awareness of people experiencing weight gain and mental health issues.
“I often get adults looking at me in disgust, kids stare and make comments – but I understand this is the innocence of youth.”
“I so often hear people talk about the likes of anorexia and bulimia with a degree of sympathy, whereas obesity is frowned upon,” he said. “Both are illnesses at the end of the day.”
Crawford gained weight rapidly after losing a close friend and takng voluntary redundancy from his role as a maintenance supervisor after 12 years of working. He said he put on 12 stone (76kg) in 18 months.
“I neglected my life and spent 99.9 per cent of my time watching TV, eating and drinking fizzy juice,” he said, adding: “I don’t sleep much so I have 18 to 19 hours a day to do this.”
When he got weighed at the hospital, Crawford found that he weighed 30 stone (190kg).
“It was soul destroying and I lost all my confidence,” he said.
Crawford said he is “desperate” to see The Whale.
“I couldn’t tell you the last time I wanted to see a film at the cinema but this one massively ties into my situation,” he told the BBC, saying that he “relates” to the storyline.
“I empathise with him [Charlie, Fraser’s character] and it also gives a voice to people in my position.”
“He is a teacher and is helping society. It shows people benefitting from his life, as normally overweight people are hidden away and are not given the credit they are due.”
The Whale is out now in UK cinemas.