The internet is often a cruel place, one that relishes in the embarrassment and downfall of others. Just as often, though, it’s warm and kind, a welcoming space where successes are celebrated and triumphs are encouraged.
For Brendan Fraser, it’s been both. While some fans rallied around him in 2018 after he went public about being sexually assaulted in 2003 by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, memes still proliferated that made fun of his appearance, implied that he’s dumb and labeled the gaps in his career as the failings of a Tinseltown has-been. Fraser certainly isn’t the first celebrity to come out about their assault and receive backlash for it, but he was — and still is — one of the few male celebrities to do so. He never got any kind of retribution for his assault either, with the Hollywood Foreign Press ruling it as a misunderstanding that was meant to be a “joke.”
Lately, though, on TikTok, Reddit and elsewhere, Fraser is suddenly being discussed with adoration and empathy, with fans old and new clamoring to reassure him that he has their support. The message even seems to have reached Fraser himself.
The Fraser love reached a fever pitch last week when the hashtags #Brenaissance, #PraisetheFrase and #brendanfraserdeservesbetter started trending. (They’ve been on TikTok since at least last September, but they’ve only exploded in popularity over the last few days.)
Driving the growth of FraserTok are two videos that show a meet-and-greet with Fraser himself. In one, @littlelottiecosplay (who regularly cosplays as characters from The Mummy and makes TikToks about Fraser) talks about how excited she is to meet him as she prepares for a video call with him. Shortly thereafter, Fraser appears on camera with a rose for her, a sweet gesture that falls in line with his kindhearted reputation. In the second video, Fraser details his upcoming project with Martin Scorsese and how nervous he is about it. @littlelottiecosplay reassures him, telling him how supportive and loving his fans are. “We’re rooting for you, and we can’t wait to see what you do next,” she says.
“Shucks, ma’am,” he replies, appearing to get choked up.
Many #Brenaissance vidoes aren’t just stanning him or swooning over how hot he was in The Mummy; they’re also citing his bravery following his sexual assault and the physical and mental hurdles that came with it. They stick up for his appearance, too, pushing back on all the people who have given him shit about becoming less attractive with age.
The affection continues over on Reddit as well. On Friday, positive Fraser-related posts were the highest rated on r/MadeMeSmile, r/Entertainment and r/OutoftheLoop, primarily in reference to his video with @littlelottiecosplay. “His attention perks at the mention of the internet, which I thought was really interesting,” one redditor commented. “As someone who has spent many years of his career as a recluse due to misfortune, it must’ve been a little alarming to hear that people are talking about him on the internet [again]. I get why he would be under pressure and worry about what the internet has to say. But to know that fans are supporting him and love his work, was enough for his heart to be moved, and you could see that anxiety disappear instantly. It was so wholesome, and he should be told those things more. He deserves it.”
Considering what Fraser has experienced, all of this love feels more than deserved. His honesty about his traumas and contemporary anxieties, combined with his willingness to put himself back out there in the limelight despite them, is commendable. But more than that, #Brenaissance feels like a correction — a way to right the wrongs of the past. As one commenter on @littlelottiecosplay’s video wrote, “We didn’t protect him. He got hurt. Now we have to do our best to make it right.”