Freddie Mercury straight-washed as Chinese site mistranslates Rami Malek’s Oscar speech
Freddie Mercury’s past was once again straight-washed — but this time by a Chinese website mistranslating Rami Malek’s Oscar speech.
A Chinese broadcast of Rami Malek’s Oscar speech is attracting criticism for translating “gay man” into “special group” in its subtitles.
This comes after the Bohemian Rhapsody team faced criticised for straight-washing Freddie Mercury in the movie.
The misinterpretation was posted online to mgtv.com—who are linked to popular Chinese broadcaster Hunan TV—on Monday (February 25).
Malek has since said he “totally understands” why people have accused Bohemian Rhapsody of straight-washinG.
Malek, collecting his best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, said “we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.”
But the website translated “gay man” into “special group,” causing immediate backlash on social networking site Sina Weibo.
One user asked the website, “what are you afraid of?”
Mgtv’s history of straight-washing
This is not the first time that the website has been accused of straight-washing.
In May 2018, mgtv.com was stripped of its right to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest after it removed a song that described a gay relationship, and blurred rainbow flags in the crowd.
Bohemian Rhapsody and straight-washing
But Malek, and the team behind Bohemian Rhapsody, may well be relieved that—this time—they are not the ones under fire for trying to avoid Mercury’s sexuality.
The actor has been criticised previously for declining to say that Freddie Mercury was a gay icon.
“If he’s an icon to one, there’s no reason it requires another adjective,” Malek said.
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Despite receiving the Golden Globe for best picture, Bohemian Rhapsody has faced criticism that it downplayed Mercury’s gay identity.
Wellll….I'm happy Rami Malek identified Bohemian Rhapsody as a movie about a gay man. I wish someone had told the screenwriters.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) February 25, 2019
Malek has since said he “totally understands” why people have accused Bohemian Rhapsody of straight-washing, and that he “would’ve loved to have incorporated more” of Mercury’s bisexuality into the film.