As criticism mounts against the portrayal of obesity in the new film The Great Whaleone man has defended him against his detractors.
In the film, Brendan Fraser plays a recalcitrant English teacher named Charlie who is affected by obesity. He begins the film with a physical and emotional spiral as he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
One man, named Sean Crawford, has defended the film, as he found similarities between the film’s plot and his own life.
A father-of-one told the BBC he cried when he saw the film’s trailer.
Crawford, who is from East Lothian, Scotland, explained that he quickly gained weight after a close friend died. He now weighs 30 stone (190kg).
He says the film gave people a voice in his situation, noting similarities between his life and Charlie’s in the film.
“[Charlie] he teaches class from behind a computer because he’s ashamed of his weight, I hid from things because I was ashamed of myself,” Crawford said.
“The main focus is to make sure our daughters turn into good people in case we’re not there to see them grow up,” he continued, adding: “I think people need to understand that they are great people they are the people.”
Fraser, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film, wore heavy prosthetics and a “fat suit” for the role.
Some critics have claimed that Fraser is being cast as a celebrity when they could have hired an actor who already fit that description.
Others, however, have written off the film as fatphobic “trauma pornography”.
Meanwhile, Crawford said the film raises awareness for people with weight gain and mental health issues.
“I often have adults looking at me with disgust, children staring and commenting – but I understand the innocence of youth.”
“I often hear people talk about things like anorexia and bulimia with a level of sympathy, while obesity is frowned upon,” he said. “At the end of the day, both are illnesses.”
Crawford quickly gained weight after losing a close friend and taking voluntary redundancy from his role as a maintenance supervisor after 12 years on the job. 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 didn’t sleep much so 18 to 19 hours a day to do this.”
When he weighed himself in hospital, Crawford found he weighed 30 stone (190kg).
“It was soul destroying and I lost all my confidence,” he said.
Crawford said it’s “desperate” to see The Great Whale.
“I couldn’t tell you the last time I wanted to see a film in the cinema but this one has a lot to do with my situation,” he told the BBC, adding that it is relevant.
“I sympathize with him [Charlie, Fraser’s character] and it also gives a voice to people in my position.”
“He is a teacher and he is helping society. It shows people taking advantage of their lives, because usually people who are overweight are hidden and not given the credit.”
The Great Whale out now in UK cinemas.