Freddie Mercury biopic completely misses the point
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
When I first heard that they were making a movie about Freddie Mercury and his life, I was ecstatic. A biopic about an eccentric bisexual icon and music legend starring Rami Malek? Sign me up. Yet alas, my excitement was tarnished when I found out the film doesn’t delve deep into two very important details about Mercury’s life—his sexuality and his battle with HIV. If you ask me, you might as well not make the movie at all.
Many people have been quick to defend the film, stating that it should only focus on his music career, that it’s more of a celebration of him, and that Mercury was private about his sexuality. Even actress Lucy Boynton, who plays Mercury’s girlfriend Mary Austin, has had her say in the controversy. “The one thing that we’re so proud of with this film is that I don’t feel it ever steps over the line into any kind of expose or intrusiveness. […] They always ask about the darkness of Freddie and it’s like a celebration and an ode to [him],” she said in an interview with DigitalSpy.
I understand not wanting to offend or step over any boundaries when making a film about a prominent music icon, but I don’t associate Mercury with inoffensiveness or staying on the safe side. If you watch his concert performances and interviews, you would see he is unapologetically fierce. His music pushed boundaries. Furthermore, isn’t it possible that Mercury was private about his sexuality because he lived during a time when homosexuality wasn’t as accepted as it is today?
For years people have been waiting for a movie about Queen to come out. Freddie Mercury is such a widely beloved figure and hero to many, so it’s disappointing that it doesn’t go into detail about his personal life. From what I’ve read about the film, his sexuality and his relationship with his long-term partner Jim Hutton is reduced to a few short scenes. This is something even Rami Malek says he wishes could have been explored more. “It was something I pushed for, to be quite honest, as much as possible and repeatedly brought to the attention of producers and directors and everyone who would listen,” Malek said to USA Today.
Considering the political climate of our current society where people are fighting for more LGBTQ+ representation, and how many people idolize Mercury, I think focusing on his sexuality and death would have made it all the more successful. The thing is, everyone has already seen music biopics that only focus on the musicians’ careers. Mercury’s death was a complex tragedy that has never really been represented in film before. His battle with HIV/AIDS was a defining moment during the AIDS crisis of the ’80s’ and early ’90s. Representing these things would have been an honest testament to his legacy. Leaving these aspects of his life as an afterthought was a huge mistake.
Freddie Mercury was a brilliant musician and performer, there’s no doubt about that, and I get they wanted to make a movie that celebrates him. However, the fact that he was bisexual and died after being diagnosed with AIDS is pretty fucking important. Thus, to only focus on the “musical” part of his life is not a celebration—it’s a safe and lazy gimmick as well as a great disappointment to Queen fans everywhere.