I will try to make this short: China has vindicated me.
Last fall, I wrote a very short review of Bohemian Rhapsody, concluding that the film was "lifeless, a movie about a rock star who has bad sex," and that "the 15-minute-long shit I took during the middle of the movie was more nuanced than the straight-washed hagiography peddled in that movie theater." I did not think these words would really rock the boat, because I assumed most people would hate the film. It is objectively terrible; an ABC Family-retelling of Freddie Mercury's life, scrubbed of any sensuality, danger, or heat; a sexless movie about one of the world's most famous, sexy bisexuals. I thought everyone, except maybe rural Christians, would feel this way.
I was wrong. People loved the movie. Even fags! It became a Golden Globe–winning drama! It swept the Academy Awards! Honestly, I was shocked. I wrongly thought better of us. The film even inspired my gay colleague Christopher Frizzelle to pen a feisty response to my shit take. I ate crow. Whatever.
But today I have been validated by an unlikely ally: China.
Last Friday, the scourge of Bohemian Rhapsody was finally released onto the Chinese populace—but "minus the gay bits," as CNN pointed out this morning. This censorship is ridiculous and homophobic, but I would be lying if I said the news didn't sort of thrill me, because on further reading...
More than two minutes of LGBT content have been scrubbed from the biopic of British rock band Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody," for the Chinese audience, including scenes of two men kissing and the word "gay."
Let's look at that even closer:
More than two minutes of LGBT content have been scrubbed…
Oh wow, zooming in a bit:
…two minutes of LGBT content…
Wow, I mean, really, thank you, Chinese censors. I couldn't have asked for a better gift.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a whopping 2 hours and 15 minutes long, but the censors for "the world's second-largest movie market" have determined the film is essentially only 1.5% LGBT-related. Or, at least, only 1.5% of it includes LGBT content that is threatening. They removed a close-up of a male crotch, a kiss, Mercury coming out about his sexuality, references to "gay," Mercury groping his future lover, and the entire "I Want to Break Free" scene where Mercury dresses in women's clothing. All of that totals to… a little more than two minutes of content.
That's a feckless amount. Or, I could say, fuck-less. Snooze! But thank you, China, for strengthening my take.
Bohemian Rhapsody failed because it lacked sexuality, dignity, and eroticism. Freddie said it best himself:
He loved sex. The film didn't need to be porn, but God, it should have at least been sexy.