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Freddie Mercury straight-washed as Chinese site mistranslates Rami Malek’s Oscar speech

Charlie Jones February 26, 2019
Rami Malek at the oscars, his speech is about to be straightwashed.

Rami Malek at the Oscars, where his speech referring to Mercury as gay will not be mistranslated by mgtv (Photo by Matt Petit - Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

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.

Rami Malek accepts best oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, but subtitles straightwash
A screenshot of mgtv’s coverage of Rami Malek’s Oscar acceptance speech for best actor (mgtv.com)

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.

Freddie Mercury was not to be straightwashed IRL
Freddie Mercury, the Queen of British rock, was indeed a in a “special group.” (Colin Davey/Evening Standard/Getty)

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.

Despite receiving the Golden Globe for best picture, Bohemian Rhapsody has faced criticism that it downplayed Mercury’s gay identity.

https://twitter.com/starksdusts/status/1099880004752678912

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.

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