Monday, November 26, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody (a movie review post)

To be honest, this is going to be less a review and more a reflection. Just so you know.

I was never into Queen when I was growing up. It wasn't my kind of music. I grew up in a house where almost all the music that was played when I was a kid in the 70s was 60s folk music. Until I was about 15, my musical world mostly consisted of Simon and Garfunkel; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Bob Dylan. With a little bit of Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, and "Believe It or Not" thrown in. It didn't help that the church we went to held to a view that rock music was of the Devil. I don't know that that was ever explicitly said (at least not until I was a teenager and started to listen to a bit of rock), but the attitude was pervasive enough that I didn't have trouble picking up on it.

That said, songs like "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" made me uncomfortable at best. However, it was "Another One Bites the Dust" that was the first of their songs that really entered my world. One of my best friends (who was a two grades ahead of me and someone I really looked up to) was really into Queen and that song in particular. A song that was the target of the religious Right as containing a secret backmasked messaged about the fun of marijuana. My friend had the album on vinyl, so we spent a not inconsiderable amount of time spinning the record backwards trying to hear it. Yeah, we never did.

Of course, that was only the precursor to the debate over Mercury's sexuality. One of many of similar debates including Elton John, George Michael, and, well, never mind... There was no debate over Boy George; everyone had already made up their minds, whether it was true or not.

Maybe if I had been more invested in the music of any of these people, then I would have cared more about the "discussions," but I didn't need to defend my listening choices against the attempted vilification of these people and their music by the "church." Not that I thought it should matter. Whether I liked the music or not had nothing to do with whom the singer (or members of the band or whatever) was fucking, and, if I liked it, I didn't much care what other people had to say about it, as was entirely apparent when I did discover rock music at 15. I didn't understand why it should matter to anyone.

But it did. To the point where my friend, the one who loved Queen, got into an actual fist fight over whether Freddy Mercury was or was not gay. It was very (very!) important to him that Mercury not be gay. The other boy was just taunting him over it. Imagine his surprise...

Needless to say, I have a much greater appreciation of Queen at this point in my life. Both for the band and for their music, even if "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" will never be among my favorite songs. I have an even greater appreciation for Freddy Mercury and who he was as a person. He may have been a musical genius, at least when he was in collaboration with his band mates, and he died too young. He was younger than I am now, which is difficult for me to grasp for some reason.

The movie was great. I won't go back to the theater to see it again (because there are too many movies we need to see coming out right now), but I am going to see this one again. Rami Malek was incredible. I'm not familiar enough with him to know how incredible, but he was outstanding. All of the actors playing the band members were great. By my standard of knowing a good movie by whether it makes my wife cry, this movie was great. I think she spent a solid 15-20 minutes in tears toward the end of the film.

I think this is one of those "must see" movies. If you like Queen, it certainly is. I think if you don't like Queen, it probably should be, too. There are too many struggles highlighted in the movie that we are still dealing with today for people not to see it. Of course, the people who probably ought to see it most, won't; because that's how that kind of thing goes. It doesn't mean they shouldn't see it, though, just that they are too closed-minded and uncaring to understand.

Oh, and I just have to say, the bit with Mike Myers over the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" was epic.

Here's my closing thought, one I had during the movie:
What if I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not but pretending to be someone I'm not yet.


  1. I do plan to see this eventually. I'm familiar with Malek in Mr. Robot. If he can play that character, he can play anything.

    I wasn't really aware of Queen until the mid '80s, I think. Although, I'm sure I heard them. My family did rock. I grew up turning down the stereo (I don't like it loud) when my mom had the Stones blaring. My dad was a fan of The Who. They had a massive record collection. I think my father might still have remnants of it somewhere.

    1. Liz: My mom had a pretty big record collection when I was a kid, but she gave at least 75% of it away to a friend of hers at some point because, you know, it was devil music, according to the "church." At some point after that, she had a change of heart, but her friend wouldn't give the records back (and good for her! because that was stupid of my mom to begin with), so they had a bit of a falling out over the situation.