Bryan Fuller Accuses ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Biopic of ‘Hetwashing’ Freddie Mercury’s Life
It's usually best to try not to infer too much about a movie's quality or overall direction from a trailer, but Bryan Fuller, a producer and writer who's worked on various Star Trek series and created TV shows like Hannibal, has some things to say about the upcoming Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Shortly after the Bohemian Rhapsody trailer arrived yesterday — following the release of a teaser clip and a countdown featuring behind-the-scenes imagery — Fuller weighed in, offering his impressions of the footage on social media. He was fairly critical about what he saw.
Specifically, Fuller -- who is gay -- took issue with what he saw as a deliberate de-emphasis on the non-heterosexual aspects of frontman Freddie Mercury's love life. Asking Twitter followers if anyone else was "mildly annoyed" by the trailer, he pointed out that it "features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men."
Fuller received a variety of responses, including some from users who suggested the trailer could have glossed over Mercury's sexuality for a number of reasons, but to the director, it's clearly "hetwashing" — and done solely for marketing purposes. (Fuller has used this word before to describe changing a gay character to a straight one.)
"I feel what the trailer is doing is queer-erasure," Fuller added. "If they were out and proud with his bi-sexuality they would have indicated he was bisexual. Showing him romantic with a woman, but not a man (3 frames don’t count) is not a celebration of bisexual identity. It’s hiding it."
In a subsequent tweet, Fuller posted a screencap of the studio's Bohemian Rhapsody synopsis, highlighting the way it mentions the "life-threatening illness" that ultimately killed Mercury without specifically naming it. "Dear 20th Century Fox,” he wrote. “Yes, it was a life-threatening illness, but more specifically it was AIDS. From having gay sex with men. Do Better."
While addressing the departure of actor Sasha Baron Cohen (who was at one point slated to portray Mercury) from the movie prior to its production, Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King denied that the group had final control over the film's script. "The annoying part is that all the press about Brian May wanting control – that was never the case," he told Empire Online.
In December of 2017, director Bryan Singer was fired from the project while it was still being filmed, amid rumors that the production had devolved into "chaos." He insisted that the real source of conflict was the studio's refusal to allow him to care for a sick parent. Dexter Fletcher was soon installed as the new director for Bohemian Rhapsody, which is scheduled to open in the United States on Nov. 2.