Is The Queen Biopic, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', Hetwashing Freddie Mercury?
After a rocky road through development and production, the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody finally debuted a trailer. And while many were giddy over the inclusion of the group’s most iconic songs and Rami Malek in Freddie Mercury mode, American Gods co-creator Bryan Fuller was unimpressed. More precisely, the openly gay writer was annoyed at what he sees as the “hetwashing” of a queer icon.
ANYONE ELSE MILDLY ANNOYED (enough to tweet about it) THAT THE #BohemianRapsody TRAILER FEATURES GAY/BI SUPERSTAR FREDDIE MERCURY FLIRTING WITH AND TWIRLING WITH A WOMAN BUT NO INDICATION OF HIS LOVE OF MEN?— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) May 15, 2018
Some of Fuller’s followers took issue with “gay/bi,” which began a thoughtful exchange all too rare on Twitter.
My point is for marketing people at Fox. FM is a queer artist. Showing him only romantic with a woman is erasing a huge facet of what made him a queer artist. You may know FM was bisexual, but most of America doesn't. They see a man romantic with a woman. That does not say "bi."— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) May 15, 2018
Can you help me understand why Gay/Bi (gay leaning bisexual) is offensive? When I worked at LA Free Clinic as a Human Sexuality Counselor, there was no offense indicating what gender a bisexual may lean toward in terms of attraction. Gay/Bi, Straight/Bi were not uncommon terms.— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) May 16, 2018
Well-said. Thank you. That's helpful.— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) May 16, 2018
And some argued that there are scenes of Mercury flirting with men.
You mean….other than the scene at 30 seconds in the trailer where a dude is standing in-between his legs and seductively looking down at him? Seemed pretty clear to me. pic.twitter.com/3VraNLzswW— Steve Adams (@SteveEAdams) May 16, 2018
However, it does seem like Bohemian Rhapsody will be shying away from another major element of Mercury’s life.
Last summer, Pink News reported that it is unlikely Mercury’s battle with AIDS will make the cut. This aligns with comments Sacha Baron Cohen made after walking away from the lead role, over disagreements with the band’s surviving members. EW reported that—according to Cohen—Queen wanted the movie to be a glorifying and PG affair that would glamorize and cement their legacy, while the Borat star wanted to embrace the whole of Mercury’s life, including the sex, drugs, and presumably his tragic death from complications related to AIDs, at a time when the disease was still considered by many to be a gay plague.
While the Star Observer’s 2017 article based on the Pink News post is making the rounds on Twitter, there’s nothing new to report. We don’t know how Bohemian Rhapsody will portray Mercury’s personal life, sexual orientation, or death. But 20th Century Fox’s ambiguous “illness” in the plot description gives little hope. And considering bi-erasure has been a long tradition in Hollywood that’s recently hit subplots of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, this bi reporter wouldn’t be especially surprised if even a movie about one of the world’s most famous bi stars was washed over with a heavy hetero tint.
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