Unlike many of the past ceremonies, this year's Oscars was full of surprises. One which really got the internet talking was the Academy's choice for Best Actor. The honor went to Rami Malek, for his portrayal of Queen star Freddie Mercury in musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
While fans loved the singalong cinema experience, Bohemian Rhapsody has suffered much critical controversy, not least because of allegations against the director, Bryan Singer. Trying to keep things light at the ceremony, Malek avoided this topic in his acceptance speech - but still managed to stumble into some contentious ground.
In his speech, Malek referred to Mercury as a "gay man" who "lived his life just unapologetically himself." But, as well-meaning as he was, many Twitter users took offence to the comment, and for quite a surprising reason. It seems Bohemian Rhapsody just can't stop offending people, no matter how hard it tries!
No matter who you are, you'll have heard of Queen.The iconic '70s band have an unbelievable array of hit songs, and a legacy of fans which remain incredibly loyal to this day.
So it's no surprise the biopic of Queen's front man was equally popular.
via: ShutterstockBohemian Rhapsody is one of the most commercially successful films of the past year, thanks to its high nostalgia factor and brilliant soundtrack.
Freddie Mercury was portrayed by Rami Malek.
via: ShutterstockMalek worked incredibly hard on the difficult role, and many think he deserves massive acclaim for being able to bring such a multi-faceted and beloved role to life.
Malek's performance has earned him much celebration.He's won many awards for his portrayal of Mercury, and even the film's detractors largely admit that Malek's performance was something quite special.
Playing Mercury is no mean feat.The Queen front man was both extravagant and private, both brash and vulnerable. Being able to portray these contradictions while still making the character believable deserves huge props.
Most Queen fans loved the movie.The film cleverly makes the soundtrack of the film almost an additional character. The story of the band is told through their hits, making it a joyful cinematic experience and an instant singalong classic.
In spite of its success, the film has faced controversy.Many took issue with the way it skimmed over many of the darker aspects of Mercury's life, including his drug use and eventual death from AIDS.
These weren't the only problems with the movie.The film played a little bit with the actual facts of Mercury's life, trying to fit events into a more natural story arc, rather than depicting things as they really happened.
There have been even bigger problems, too.The director initially attached to Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer, has faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault, tainting the film with darkness.
Many question how Mercury would feel about the movie.Mercury was proudly outrageous, and the minimizing of the wilder aspects of his life can be seen as problematic to his memory. Some believe Mercury's real life was cast aside in favor of making a more commercially viable film.
In spite of these issues, Malek has received much critical acclaim.
via: Getty ImagesThis week, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Mercury, in a surprise victory, beating out heavyweights including Bradley Cooper and Willem Defoe.
In fact, Bohemian Rhapsody was the most awarded film this year.Alongside Malek's Best Actor honor, the movie also women Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.
Rami had a tricky task with his acceptance speech.He did his best to avoid any of the controversies surrounding the movie. In fact, none of the Bohemian Rhapsody acceptance speeches made any reference to Bryan Singer.
Malek's speech was extremely heartfelt."I think about what it would have been like to tell little bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him, and I think his curly-haired mind would have been blown. That kid was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out." Malek said.
But this is where Malek stumbled into problematic territory.He continued, saying, "We made a film about a gay man and an immigrant who lived his life just unapologetically himself. And the fact that I'm celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this."
Although undoubtedly well-meaning, there's an issue with what Malek said.Because overtly referring to Mercury as a "gay man," is not just oversimplifying his sexuality - it may actually be plain old factually incorrect, too.
Because although Mercury did have same-sex romantic relationships, he also had a female partner.
via: Getty ImagesMary Austin, pictured here with Mercury in 1986, was incredibly close to the singer. They were engaged for a period, and remained, according to some, the love of Freddie's life.
As you may have expected, Twitter had some strong thoughts on the subject.Many thought the categorizing of Mercury as "gay" was massively problematic. At the very least, it's an overly simplistic view, and shows a lack of open-mindedness on the park of Malek.
Many wished he had called Mercury bisexual instead.
Freddie Mercury was unapologetically himself, as a bisexual man, yet Rami Malek erased his sexuality by calling him… https://t.co/c6TLxm23Fp— Himbo Depot (@Himbo Depot)1551068235.0
This problem actually has a name.
Rami Malek just said “We made a movie about a gay man” when he knows or should be knowing damn well Freddie Mercury… https://t.co/VqsL7OsnUy— Mercedes Griffeth (@Mercedes Griffeth)1551066804.0
People pointed to this fact.
I cannot think of a more poignant example of bi erasure than the actor who said the words “I think I’m bisexual” on… https://t.co/s26R37qpIp— Bryce Hammer (@Bryce Hammer)1551066739.0
Others made jokes on the topic.
Rami Malek: We made a film about a gay man... Freddie Mercury: Bi, bitch. https://t.co/5m1K84Lq2h— M.J. (@M.J.)1551092662.0
Some pointed out the contrast between the speech and the film.
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 (@Mark Harris)1551066641.0
Many thought Malek was trying to turn the film into something it wasn't.
Saw a comment from Rami Malek - who did a great job as Freddie Mercury - that they made a movie about a gay man who… https://t.co/lRAY48u2yv— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@Joe Pags Pagliarulo)1551074967.0
It seems the aims of Bohemian Rhapsody have been muddled.
It's probably safe to say that HIV/AIDS activsists, gays AND bisexuals *all* feel a little cheated by the chat arou… https://t.co/eNv62wVirx— Stewart Who? (@Stewart Who?)1551093149.0
Some drew attention to this fact.
You know what? We don't know what Freddie Mercury's sexuality was! We don't know. (I mean, obviously, queer as the… https://t.co/ZjCWtR7BqM— phenomenell (@phenomenell)1551090150.0
Basically, we have no way of knowing.
A reminder that Freddie Mercury never revealed his sexuality to the public so it’s not okay to spread things around… https://t.co/He1LXOT0nZ— kay🌟 (@kay🌟)1551078051.0
Regardless of Malek's speech, the social and cultural implications of the film are still under scrutiny.
bohemian rhapsody casting an egyptian actor to play a gay indian man althewhile erasing and misrepresenting his sex… https://t.co/e9MDbvYE03— thursday girl (@thursday girl)1551069705.0