Bohemian Rhapsody: Unconscious homophobic bias ... Posthumous revenge
Bohemian Rhapsody, with its unconscious homophobic bias, in no way pays tribute to its principal figure. Instead two former Queen members have taken a neo-colonial knife to the memory of a child of immigrants who became the quintessential British rocker. During his lifetime Freddie Mercury was made to feel humiliation because of his homosexuality. In his final months he faced an aggressive reaction to his illness lead by the tabloid media.
Today his life is projected through a heteronormative lens that distorts a life of artistic achievement into a barely-concealed, shameful act of posthumous revenge.
The man in this fiction is crippled by remorse for acknowledging his homosexuality and discarding his heterosexual facade with the woman he always described as being the love of his life, Marie Austin. Queen’s musical journey and the worldwide conquest are now slaves to a heteronormative vision that has been made fit, retroactively, to the lifestyles and sensibilities of the other three members of Queen.
In the movie Freddie Mercury almost appears as someone asking for forgiveness for being what he is. Like the real singer, screen Freddie also desires men but, in doing so, he “sins”. He does not understand, as a sequence in the film shows, that another member of the band (Taylor) does not have enough time for carousing because he has a family, a woman and children for whom he feels responsible. Screen Freddie lived out a sexuality that his time still considered mostly as deviant. This homosexuality, in the movie, leads him to make wrong choices, to damn his soul and come under evil influences.
Mercury’s excesses - drugs, alcohol, illness and physical and psychological assaults attributed to him - are all linked to his homosexual “distraction” which caused the other band members great suffering.
So too his heartless decision to abandon the pure, patient, almost virginal Mary Austin, projected through a patriarchal lens that objectifies the woman. This reaches a laughable low when Mercury is shown living alone in his London mansion, sending lamp signals to the woman of his life to keep her under his tyrannical control.
Airbrushed out entirely are the people who became his second family in this period: Dave Clark, David Evans, Joe Fannelli, Peter Freestone, David Minns, Peter Straker and Barbara Valentine from Munich (a former film icon who played in several productions by Rainer Werner Fassbinder). The only person who remains is Jim Hutton, one of his last lovers, presented often as a staff member. But it was Hutton, who died in 2010, who decided to avoid conflict with Mercury’s conservative Persian Indian parents by pretending to be what he effectively became later: the singer’s gardener.
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all