Bohemian Rhapsody Has Somehow Become the Highest-Grossing Music Biopic Ever

Illustration for article titled iBohemian Rhapsody/i Has Somehow Become the Highest-Grossing Music Biopic Ever
Image: IMdb

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering every time I go to karaoke, I hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” probably 27,890 times. But Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury biopic of the same name is now the highest-grossing music biopic of all time.

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All. Time.

Deadline reports that the movie has brought in over $600 million at the global box office, taking the place of the previous highest-grossing music biopic Straight Outta Compton, which brought in over $200 million worldwide.

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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 that portrays Mercury’s sexuality as one of the reasons for his death. The film also includes factual inaccuracies, which could be forgiven in most biopics, but in this case makes it seem like Mercury’s HIV diagnosis was one of the reasons for Queen getting back together for Live Aid (when he did not know his diagnosis until a few years later.) That is one sick change to make to his life story just to film a more compelling movie.

So how did this happen? Well, audiences are disinterested in the truth, for one. But maybe Malek was so compelling as Mercury, with his comically oversized teeth, that people just couldn’t look away.

I mean, I certainly can’t look away. Have you seen those teeth?

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

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Honestly, I think people are being harsher on Bo Rhap than they would on most other biopics purely because it’s about a beloved celebrity. Most biopics are filled with inaccuracies or change timelines, but no one gets worked up over those because they tend to be biopics about people who aren’t celebrities.

I can overlook almost all of them from Bo Rhap - and honestly, I understand why they moved up Freddie’s AIDS diagnosis because they needed to have it in the film or else people would have complained about the film erasing it. And I’d much rather they move it up by two years than actually show him dying of AIDS, which I know a lot of people complained about (and look, if you really want to see that, you can watch some videos online. They’re painful to watch and I don’t need to see that recreated in a movie, and I think it’s pretty problematic if you say you wanted to see it). It wasn’t supposed to be a movie about AIDS, for which I’m grateful.

As a fellow bisexual, I understand some of the complaints about how Freddie’s sexuality was portrayed, but I also think WAY too many people are looking at it from a modern lens. There’s this tendency to want pure, idealized views of sexuality in media these days that erases what queer life was like in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Let’s face it, a lot of the critics yelling about homophobia have been straight dudes who think the movie needs to show queer sexuality in a certain way. Freddie had a hedonistic lifestyle. No one can deny that, and the people who come away from the movie thinking that AIDS was a punishment for his sexuality are the people who would’ve thought that regardless.

The movie was always going to have trouble showing us a life story of someone who was pretty private about his personal life and who never wanted to be a political or social icons, and wanted to be remembered for his music over his sexuality or AIDS diagnosis. Bo Rhap is definitely not an amazing movie, but I thought it was fun and it made me remember why I loved Queen and Freddie.

Bryan Singer is a jackass and I hate that he was involved, but I also think it’s unfair to punish an entire cast and crew for one person. And look, I don’t care, but I’m just relieved this movie was made today and not 10 years ago when they would have whitewashed Freddie and probably made a joke or stereotype of his sexuality. Because look, that convo with Mary about Freddie being gay instead of bi was painful, but it also happened in real life and sometimes real life is painful and homophobic and you can’t erase that.