This year’s release of Bohemian Rhapsody describes the end of a tumultuous production, but the drama around the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic is not yet over. Television producer and scriptwriter Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) took to Twitter after this week’s release of the first Bohemian Rhapsody trailer, calling out what he saw as an overt erasure of Mercury’s queer identity, demonstrating scenes of the singer flirting with women but making no mention of his same-sex relationships.
Fuller is an openly gay professional with numerous critically acclaimed television credits throughout his career, and his work has often emphasized sexual themes and imagery. Starz Network’s 2017 series American Gods featured an intricate same-sex encounter between an Omani businessman and his Ifrit cab-driver, leading to one of the year’s most soulful, memorable, and explicitly erotic television moments.
While Fuller’s mentions on Twitter erupted with both support and derision, he articulated that his criticisms were fixated on 20th Century Fox’s marketing, and on the general awareness of Mercury’s sexual orientation among Americans. Somewhat ironically, Queen’s music has become a formative part of American sports leitmotifs, with “We Will Rock You” a favorite standard among stadium crowds. See Fuller's tweets below:
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
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
Bohemian Rhapsody’s production has been fraught from the start, including the eventual addition of a new director, with Dexter Fletcher stepping in to complete production and post-production after the termination of disgraced filmmaker Bryan Singer from the project late last year. Fletcher may or may not receive full director’s credit when the film releases on November 2.
Fuller’s criticisms seem especially poignant in light of this directorial switch; replacing an openly bisexual director - though, it should be noted, one accused of raping a minor - with a straight director may give some Queen fans immediate pause. Choosing to describe the singer's terminal battle with AIDS as a "life-threatening illness" in the YouTube description, which is likely pulled from Fox's official synopsis, does little to rally comprehension of the historically devastating and discriminatory syndrome. While Rami Malek - a straight actor - plays Mercury in the film, all accounts indicate that same-sex relationships will be featured in the script, with Aaron McCusker cast to play Mercury's long-term partner Jim Hutton.
Even if the film shapes up as a successful draw at the box office, the audience for the Bohemian Rhapsody trailer on YouTube will arguably exceed that of the finished film. Fuller made it clear that 20th Century Fox had an opportunity to circulate important details and educate audiences about a creative individual who was both an inspirational rock star and queer icon, but chose, in the end, to #HetWash their marketing.
Source: Bryan Fuller/Twitter
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