Bohemian Rhapsody has a new trailer, which seems a direct response to the latest wave of backlash against the rock biopic.
On a long road through its creation, Bohemian Rhapsody has already faced a string of controversies, involving Sacha Baron Cohen quitting over creative differences with the surviving members of Queen, questions about the appropriateness of the casting of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, and the firing of director Bryan Singer. Then, with the film’s teaser trailer came renewed concerns that this biopic about the heyday of Queen would downplay the lead singer’s queer identity, and potentially ignore that Mercury died from complications of AIDS.
Perhaps the most vocal critic of the first trailer was American Gods co-creator Bryan Fuller, who accused Bohemian Rhapsody of “hetwashing” the bisexual rock star. While that trailer had a single shot of Mercury seemingly seducing a man, it was of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety. In the new trailer, that moment is standout and proud.
What defines a film’s “queerness” is an ongoing debate by cultural critics, and often speaks to the intangible. But there’s nothing ambiguous about Mercury scolding a raging bandmate by proclaiming, “There’s only room in this band for one hysterical queen.” Beyond that, when a reporter begins, “Freddie, concerning your private life,” the film cuts to the aforementioned scene where a mustachioed man struts toward the singer, and his thigh is stroked. (See header image above.) Yes, it also features him flirting with a woman, but that’s also key to his queerness as Mercury was a “self-confessed bi-sexual.”
Even the plot synopsis from 20th Century Fox has gotten a powerful punch-up.
The teaser trailer’s description eschewed any mention of AIDS, by saying Mercury faces “a life-threatening illness.” The new one states frankly, “While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.”
The first trailer may have shied away from Mercury’s sexual orientation. After outcry from Queen fans and the LGBTQIA community, came the latest trailer, which says proudly, “He’s here. He’s queer. And he will rock you.” And it’s about damn time.
Bohemian Rhapsody opens November 2nd.