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Golden Globes winners Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book prove controversial

Sofia Lotto Persio January 7, 2019
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Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for 'Bohemian Rhapsody' winner Rami Malek (L) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for 'The Green Book' winner Mahershala Ali (R).

Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book are controversial Golden Globes winners. (Kevin Winter/Getty)

The films Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book have several things in common: they both tell the stories of LGBT+ musicians, they both won big at the 2019 Golden Globes, and they are both marred by controversy.

Bohemian Rhapsody won two of the evening’s top honours, receiving one award as best drama and one for lead actor Rami Malek’s performance as queer icon and music legend Freddie Mercury.

Green Book instead took home three awards—best film in the musical or comedy category, best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali’s performance as queer black musician Donald Shirley, and best original screenplay by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly.

“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and GREEN BOOK are definitely the best movies of the year unless you ask the communities those movies were supposed to represent,” writer and producer Louis Virtel wrote in a tweet that has since been shared more than 4,500 times and liked by 24,000 people.

Fired Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer was not mentioned in the speeches

Bohemian Rhapsody has faced numerous accusations of straightwashing for offering a “superficial” portrayal of Mercury’s sexuality—a criticism Malek said he understood.

The making of the film was also marred by controversy. Director Bryan Singer was fired in December 2017, as The Hollywood Reporter revealed, due to his “unexpected availability.” He was replaced with Dexter Fletcher—who is currently working on Elton John’s biopic Rocketman, but retained the director credit for the film.

“We are all still supposed to be pretending we dont know about Bryan Singer?”

— Evan Rachel Wood

The announcement of his firing came on the same week that Singer faced accusations of rape.

Cesar Sanchez-Guzman filed a lawsuit against the director in December 2017, alleging that Singer forced him to perform oral and anal sex aboard a yacht in Seattle in 2003, when he was 17. Singer denies the accusations.

Accepting the Golden Globe for best drama motion picture, Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King avoided mentioning Singer—but Twitter users noted the omission.

“So we just..we are all still supposed to be pretending we dont know about Bryan Singer? Cause it worked out really well with and ” actor Evan Rachel Wood wrote in a post, referring to disgraced actor Kevin Spacey and producer Harvey Weinstein.

Film critic Guy Lodge posted sarcastically: “Don’t worry, Bryan Singer will go on Ellen and she’ll forgive him and all will be well,” referencing tv host Ellen DeGeneres’ recent bid to return comedian Kevin Hart to his Oscars hosting gig after he faced backlash for past homophobic jokes.

Green Book screenplay accused of inaccuracies and white saviour trope

Green Book has also faced criticism both for the way it addresses its content and its portrayal of Shirley’s character.

The film is been billed as a “true story” because it was based on the experience of his bodyguard and driver Anthony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (played by Viggo Mortensen), who was screenwriter Nick Vallelonga’s father.

Green Book writers Brian Currie, Nick Vallelonga and Peter Farrelly of “Green Book” accept the Best Screenplay – Motion Picture award onstage during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
The irony of the award for best screenplay being accepted by three white men was not lost on Twitter users. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty)

But after the film came out, Shirley’s nephew Edwin Shirley III denounced several inaccuracies in the film in an interview with Shadow and Act. Critics have also accused the film of portraying the white saviour trope.

The irony of the award for best screenplay being accepted by three white men was not lost on Twitter users. “This is what it looks like when white men control stories of color and whitesplain our Black queer history on national television. Hollywood, do better. Give us our stories back” wrote journalist Ernest Owens.

Writer Sady Doyle tweeted: “Glad for the folks who felt ‘Green Book’ would be best served by the optics of three middle-aged, heavy-set white guys wearily accepting their award for the movie about racism.”

Related topics: US

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