Bloggers are arguing over whether or not Hill’s weight detracts from his performance, or whether it is an overdone gag. The consensus is that his performance is unquestionably funny, but that his weight, well, gets in the way.
Several actors with a few extra inches around the middle who are no longer with us have been mentioned in the same breath as Jonah Hill. All those named came to fame as comedians. Leah Rozen of The Wrap points out that while these other actors (John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, etc.) all utilized their weight and physical comedy as a part of their humor, Hill distances himself from physical gags.
Does the fact that larger actors are always cast in comedies a subtle sign of discrimination toward people struggling with obesity in our society? Perhaps the fact that Hill is distancing himself from this stereotype is a signal that extra weight is becoming more acceptable.
We do know that it is more common today than it was even 20 years ago. None of the blogs I found mentioned Jack Black’s role in the 2006 romantic comedy “The Holiday.” Is there room in Hollywood for all shapes, sizes, and colors in all types of films? Does the answer to that question reflect our view of the room available in society in general?
I hope Hill’s recent role is a precedent for a change in Hollywood. Although, we don’t want to ignore the fact that obesity is a danger, and that to encourage an actor to remain heavy for the sake of their fictional roles is not good. There is a danger in allowing an actor to use his (or her) weight as part of his (or her) career. All of the heavy actors that the bloggers compared Hill to have not lived into old age.
June 23rd, 2010