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Bohemian Rhapsody Another Flop for LGBTQ Representation

Image+via+Creative+Commons.
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Bohemian Rhapsody Another Flop for LGBTQ Representation

Image via Creative Commons.

Image via Creative Commons.

Image via Creative Commons.

Image via Creative Commons.

By Brooklyn Dennison, Editor-in-Chief

When I was a child, I used to take my parent’s old Queen CD’s and play them nonstop So when I began watching the movie about frontman Freddie Mercury, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the 2018 movie about Mercury’s life, did not meet my expectations.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was not a terrible movie. It had plenty of funny, heartfelt moments. However, to me and plenty of LGBTQ people, Mercury was a queer icon. Because of this, I was expecting much more and much better LGBTQ representation in the movie.

The representation that the film had was negative stereotypes and predatory behavior that only could have been done by director Bryan Singer, a man with multiple sexual abuse accusations.

Sexual Assault

There are multiple scenes in the movie where sexual assault is a plot motivator and the characters committing the sexual assault seem to face no immediate penalty for their actions.

In one scene Paul Prenter, the manager of Queen, aggressively kisses Mercury when Mercury very clearly does not want any type of connection with him. Later on in the movie, Prenter and Mercury have a relationship. It appears that Prenter’s actions have no consequences. Although Prenter is the villain in the Queen movie because he betrayed and lied to Mercury, his sexual assault does not seem to be vilified.

In another scene, later in the movie, Mercury gropes a member of a clean-up crew in his house. Later the audience discovers that the worker is Jim Hutton, Mercury’s real-life longtime partner.

In reality, Mercury and Hutton met in a bar, sans the sexual assault. The film makes the star predatory when he was far from it. It seems like Singer just reflected his own predatory behaviors onto an LGBTQ idol.  

Bisexual Erasure

Although Mercury never publicly came out, his former fiance and best-friend, Mary Austin, knew that Mercury was bisexual. However, the movie completely erases his sexuality.

In the scene where Mercury tells Austin he is bisexual, she replies with “Freddie, you’re gay.” Afterward, Mercury is only seen as having relationships with men. The movie perpetuates the idea the bisexual people are “just confused” or “just need to pick a side.”

AIDS Demonization

To give credit, this movie represents AIDS in a relatively positive light. However, the movie budges the timeline so it seems like Mercury is being immediately punished with AIDS after he gets into a fight with his bandmates.

In the movie, Mercury knows he has AIDS during the Live Aid concert in 1985 when he was actually diagnosed in 1987. The creators of the movie exploit AIDS for the purpose of storytelling. The movie seems to want to punish Mercury for his negative actions to complete a full story, but they use AIDS to do it.

Overall

This movie may be great to an average Queen fan, but to an LGBTQ Queen fan, there were many faults. Despite the faults, I would recommend seeing it after doing your research. There is a lot of heartwarming content in the movie; just the queer portrayal isn’t one of them.  

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1 Comment

One Response to “Bohemian Rhapsody Another Flop for LGBTQ Representation”

  1. Anonymous on November 21st, 2018 1:40 PM

    Before I include my real comment, I would like to say that I am an LGBTQ member in 20’s: so no one gets the wrong idea and thinks that I’m some old, bigoted, heterosexual male

    I recently had the opportunity to watch this movie myself and must say I am strongly upset about this review. First, with the topic of sexual harassment, Paul just kisses Freddie and for a moment, Freddie kisses him back. This is not sexual assault. Then, in terms of when Freddie gropes Jim, he is yelled at and is reminded of how inappropriate that is. Whether this is an accurate representation of how they met or not, let’s not forget that it is a movie. Movies change plot from the original inspiration.

    Then, as for the portrayal of Freddie’s sexuality, of course it is going to focus on his male relationships because the only woman who the public knew about was Mary. Sure, it’s possible that Freddie dated other women, but only few people would have known.

    Lastly, the false claim of AIDS being Freddie’s punishment is the most troublesome. Yes, the film inaccurately depicts the timeline of when Freddie got the virus. But, it does this to improve the idea of how Freddie overcame adversity in his life. In the film, Freddie gets AIDS, finds out Paul has been using him, and is trying to make up for what he did to the band around the same time. And despite all of this, Freddie still put on the greatest performance in Queen’s history.

    I apologize for the long comment, but I get disheartened when seeing someone take these topics too far. Instead of focusing on these parts of a movie, we need to worry about these parts in real life.

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