A rising tide sailed the Oscars away from controversy, but “The Whale” still rocked the boat

As host of this year’s Oscars ceremony, Jimmy Kimmel made a dedicated effort to keep everyone on their toes by wedging in jokes about last year’s big slap controversy and parading around with an anonymous person dressed in a Party City “Cocaine Bear” costume. But, try as he might, the night played out without a need for medics or mediation. 

The relatively sleepy ceremony all but washed away the sins of the 2022 Academy Awards, during which Will Smith infamously took to the stage to slap Chris Rock across the face for joking about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, but a few questionable choices left the night less than perfect.

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” lost the award for Best Animated Feature to spooky Pinocchio. Jenny, the donkey from “Banshees of Inisherin,” was an imposter. Anne Heche was missing from the in memoriam. All shocking. But most shocking of all was “The Whale” winning the award for best fat suit.

Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which stars Brendan Fraser as a morbidly obese recluse, has received a certain questioning side-eye since it was first announced due to it’s rather grim portrayal of overweight people.

In her New York Times review of the film, writer Roxane Gay describes it as “assiduous about conveying its gravitas and self-importance.”

“The disdain the filmmakers seem to have for their protagonist is constant, inescapable,” Gay says in her review. “It’s infuriating. To have all this onscreen talent and all these award-winning creators behind the camera, working to make an inhumane film about a very human being — what, exactly, is the point of that?”

For all of this disdain, “The Whale” was awarded two Oscars on Sunday: Best Actor (Fraser) and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which went to the fat suit that transformed the actor into the 600-pound character he played.

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While Fraser himself is a fan favorite, his role in this film and the awards given because of it made the win a difficult one to celebrate.

“Fat people are more than a fat suit,” one person tweeted. “We’re not here to be ‘inspirational’ or a ‘lesson.’ We are not good or bad or brave or lazy because we’re fat. Our stories are not fodder for award season.’

“I can’t believe #Oscars instead of hiring an actual fat person decided to award the film for making a fat suit,” said another person. You know fat people exist and are real right?!”

Turns out an Oscars without a slap still kinda stung.

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