Critics were just too hard on Bohemian Rhapsody. They seem to all either be too young to have lived through it or wanting the movie to just be gay porn to Queen music. That last bit was my fear. I’m a big fan of “Torchwood” but in the “Miracle Day” mini-series they went waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too far with the gay boy erotic scenes. They also seemed dropped in gratuitously. When it comes to Freddy Mercury’s time living in New York, there’s really no way not to gratuitize it. Coming from a straight guy who has gay friends, we don’t enjoy the same porn or erotic scenes.
I’ve heard some in the LGTB community as something of a tribute to gay bashing and homophobia, mostly from the younger members of said community. They aren’t old enough to have heard Queen on the AM radio. They also didn’t live through either the excesses of the late 1970s or the abject fear caused by the discovery of AIDS. A disease for which there is still no cure today but then was a death sentence. The virus behind AIDS wasn’t isolated until 1984. By then it was killing millions. This was the story behind the female reporters incessant questioning about Freddy Mercury’s sexuality. Even if a person wasn’t homophobic there was a cultural sense you shouldn’t get too attached to a gay person because they weren’t going to live that long. Sadly this was true for Freddy and millions of others during that era.
One thing which was rather nice to see was the segment on MTV banning the “I’ve Got to Break Free” music video. Even today some would find the video a bit racy, but it was part of a boundary pushing era brought about by the rise of music videos which helped fuel a time of rock band and cultural excess. If you didn’t live during that time you cannot begin to understand the “on top of the world” feeling which prevailed in America. Ronald Regan had been elected in 1981 and by 1989 the Berlin Wall had came down. Memories of the 1973 oil crisis and gas rationing were fading. The computer tech industry was taking off and high paying jobs for people able to go to school were plentiful.
This was the backdrop for when Queen released their first album in 1973. It gave us “Keep Yourself Alive” which was spirited and appropriate for the time. In 1974 we got “Killer Queen”. In 1975 came “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Little kids today attend sporting events doing two stomps and a clap chanting “We will rock you” as if it is some ancient battle cry, not knowing Queen gave us that in 1977.
Today you attend concerts where well managed big name acts always add an audience participation segment to their show. That came about in large part because of Queen. Something this movie did a great job pointing out though I fear many missed it. Prior to the era of Queen attending a concert was much like attending a movie. The audience would cheer, hold up lighters and quietly sing along but active participation in the event wasn’t part of the cultural mindset. Today it is almost gone because you are all too damned busy holding up your idiot phones trying to record the show instead of actually experiencing it.
Yeah, the critics were too hard on Bohemian Rhapsody. It did a fine job achieving its goal. Perhaps it should have included a bit more bout the backdrop of the times, but it did a fine job none the less. The story of a father finally appreciating or at least coming to terms with a son was a nice touch as well.