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Bohemian Rhapsody criticised for straight-washing by American Gods’ Bryan Fuller

Jess Glass May 16, 2018
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Malaysian censors have cut out some gay scenes from the film

Rami Malek (left) starring as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The first trailer for the upcoming biopic of Freddie Mercury has faced sharp criticism and allegations of straight-washing by former American Gods showrunner Bryan Fuller.

In 2016, Queen officially announced the long-rumoured film based on the life of the singer, who became one of the most famous victims of the AIDS crisis when he died in 1991.

The first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody dropped on Tuesday, giving patient fans a tantalising glimpse into the film.

While many people enjoyed the sneak peek, others began to criticise the trailer for straight=washing Mercury and downplaying his identity as a bisexual man, including former American Gods and Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller.

(Neilson Barnard/Getty)

In the trailer, Mercury, played by Rami Malek, can be seen flirting with both men and women, though many have said the trailer skips over much of Mercury’s attraction towards men.

Fuller hit out at the trailer through a series of tweets on Tuesday.

(@BryanFuller /Twitter)

The 48-year-old wrote: “Anyone else mildly annoyed (enough to tweet about it) that the #BohemianRhapsody trailer features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?”

When it was suggested that the teaser trailer may be holding back some key parts of the film, Fuller hit back and stated it was a business-motivated decision.

“I disagree. It’s #HETWASHING (hetero-washing) for marketing sakes,” Fuller responded.

(Twentieth Century Fox)

Related: What is straightwashing and why does it happen?

Some people scolded Fuller for using the term “het-washing” instead of bi-erasure, noting that bisexual people aren’t heterosexual.

The Pushing Daisies writer then stated that the sneak peek was biased towards showing Mercury with women.

(@BryanFuller / Twitter)

“But they weren’t selling him as ‘bi’ sexual were they? If they were they would have spent equal time showing FM “romantic” with women as they did men,” he wrote.

Fuller then moderated his comments, stating that the trailer was erasing Mercury’s identity as a bisexual man by not showing him with both men and women, accusing the film of “hiding.”

He continued: “I feel what the trailer is doing is queer-erasure. If they were out and proud with his bi-sexuality they would have indicated he was bi-sexual.

“Showing him romantic with a woman, but not a man (3 frames don’t count) is not a celebration of bi-sexual identity. It’s hiding it.”

(Twentieth Century Fox)

He added: “There is a lot of queer erasure in general. And bi-sexuals are more often erased because many don’t understand sexuality, much less fluid sexuality.

“Make no mistake, the marketing campaign emphasized FM’s relationship with a woman to distract from his being a queer artist.”

The film has faced a series of setbacks throughout its eight-year production.

In 2013, Sacha Baron Cohen, who was previously signed on to star in the film, dramatically quit and lashed out at the band for micromanaging the project.

(Twentieth Century Fox)

The Borat star reportedly clashed with Brian May and Roger Taylor over the tone of the film, and their desire for it to focus on the story of the band instead of a gritty, honest account of Mercury’s life, struggle with HIV/AIDS, and death.

In 2017, director Bryan Singer was promptly dropped from the project after allegations of sexual harassment of a 17-year-old boy.

Bohemian Rhapsody will be released on November 2.

Watch the first teaser trailer below

More: biphobia, bohemian rhapsody, entertainment, Film Reviews, Freddie Mercury, queen, Rami Malek, straightwashing, Television

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