All We Hear is Critical Ga-Ga

Ready, Freddie?

Ready, Freddie?

Dear Critics:

You were wrong about Bohemian Rhapsody. Why do you hate it so?

Yeah, yeah, yeah - formula. Adjusted timelines. Dramatic focus somewhere other than what you wanted. Too mass market

Maybe listen to this guy.

a film is a painting, not a photograph
— screenwriter Anthony McCarten

Beyond all the artistic license with the timeline, why all that hate?

To Kevin Fallon at the Daily Beast, it’s not only not gay enough, the movie is an attack on gays and on Freddie by the band because of his sexuality. People bitched about casting Rami because that was de-queering the movie because of his particular sexuality. We heard hints of this rhetoric before. I remember when the first trailer came out. People were bitching because they didn’t show him gay, but they did show Mary.

Now that the movie is a shrieking success, the criticism continue. Hazel Cills of Jezebel is frustrated. “The success of Bohemian Rhapsody is frustrating, given that, according to many critics, it’s not just a bad movie but an arguably homophobic one…“ Well, Hazel the audiences love it. How do you respond? Audiences are ignorant.”So how did this happen? Well, audiences are disinterested in the truth, for one.”

She’s not alone. According to Scott Mendelson in Forbes, “paying consumers just wanted to rock out to their favorite Queen songs.“

I hate to think that there is some sort of collusion amongst commercial reviewers, at least when it comes to some icon like Freddie Mercury. It would sadden me deeply to learn that there is a “right” way to portray characters with complicated sexuality.

Maybe they are just mad because they had hope for a story someone else was making about a larger than life person, but it wasn’t the masterstroke they saw in their mind’s eye.

Sorry. Make your own movie then. I read one review that wanted an art house film that dove deep into the offstage experience, and carried an R-rating to tell the sex bits it in granular detail, which the PG-13 mass market version couldn’t. Well here’s the thing: Queen’s music evolved from the hipster art prog-metal of Death on Two Legs and The Prophet’s Song to Radio Ga-ga as a concert experience. To most of the world, your vision is the sort of thing a fanboy would blog about. No one’s interested, but you go ahead and make your art. Let’s then see what the critics think of it.

For me, I wish there was more 1970s Queen, when I thought I was part of a secret fraternity of music geeks that had stumbled onto the Holy Grail of cool smart pre-superstar musical gold. I would have also liked a couple sentences of the post-Live Aid resurgence: the tour. The Highlander soundtrack. Otherwise, I am just fine with the show. And resurgently sad that it fell silent way too soon.

[And if only they could have fit this one in there somewhere too:]