Thoughts on A Bohemian Rhapsody

Art Work Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations

Sometimes I feel nobody gives me no warning
Find my head is always up in the clouds
In a dream world it’s not easy
Living on my own, my own, my own
Dee do de de, dee do de de. . .” —
Living on My Own (1985)

I know this film is pretty controversial for many reasons, but watching it gave me a lot to think about and I was especially drawn to one point in particular -

Although, first I just have to get on the Rami Malek obvious train — he was absolutely amazing. It was so surreal watching him because even if I am not familiar with Queen or Freddie Mercury, I didn’t think of Rami as Rami — but just Freddie. It was like the spirit of Freddie Mercury took possession of him and he was performing his own life. It was a weird, but fascinating experience!

So yes, Rami deserves all the awards!! — ahem — but back to what I was going to mention. Even though I am not a fan of Queen, watching this film did make me understand why Queen was (and is) so well loved by many. Despite my many issues with the film, it did give me a deeper appreciation and desire to know more about Queen, Freddie Mercury, and their music. Because in a lot of ways I could very much relate to Freddie and the band — on a creative level. It was that thrill of pure creation, that freedom of letting your muse take you where it will — and if that includes weird opera bits and six-minute-long songs so be it! Of how their music spoke to the outcasts, and to the creative outcasts, and I really sensed that aching, angsty artist spirit. This world is rough on the sensitive ones who walk another road and can hear music from another realm…

And for me, that is something that we should remember. This film seems to paint a picture that Queen’s success and audience resonance was inevitable, and maybe it was, but in real time, that isn’t how it is for the artist. As Freddie boldly states to that one studio manager, Ray Foster, that he would be forever known as the guy who lost Queen, we, as the audience, feel the crushing declaration of such a statement and happily watch as Queen victoriously and seamlessly create their musical hits and become one of the most successful bands ever. That confidence is admirable and I believe necessary for any artist, as we should all create with such tenacity and boldness as a blazing Freddie Mercury, but in reality there is no guarantee of having such success or that you’ll even speak to any kind of audience at all. Ray Foster’s objections to Bohemian Rhapsody are very real and practical objections that anyone in show business makes, as they hesitate to shake the boat and take those creative risks. The world is run by these people, and it is run by money, and nothing you do and create, no matter how deep and how true it is, is guaranteed to go any further than your own living room.

My point being. after my long preamble, is that if in any way Queen and Freddie Mercury’s story inspires you, please consider to remember the outcast artists — the people creating the weird, bizarre, uncomfortable things that look and sound like nothing else you have seen or heard before. Because executives and managers like Ray Foster are only thinking about profit and gain, and while it is easy to get angry at “the Man” (which I do A LOT), in many ways they cannot be blamed for only trying to keep the world going round. Instead we should ask ourselves, where is this source of “profit” coming from? Who are the Ray Fosters of this world considering when they judge which idea, song, film, visual style, etc, gets to be funded and put into the limelight?

The audience.

You.

We, and all of us who are “the consumer”. It is in our hands where the true power lies when it comes to giving the Queens of this world a chance to speak and resound throughout history. So, we all enjoy hating “the Man”, but have you ever considered how your own pocket book speaks to what gets the most attention? In the film Freddie Mercury felt that symbiotic relationship with his audience, and felt a deep connection to them, as a performer, wanting to become what they wanted him to be, or needed him to be — and in many ways, that connection between audience and artist is a very true and intrinsic reality. The artist does not create from the vacuum or into the vacuum, and the audience cannot experience the vestiges of that otherworldly realm that the artist straddles — one foot there, one foot in reality — which brings beauty and meaning into their lives. Both are necessary to allow art, in all its myriad of forms, to speak, to flourish, and to grow!

Now, of course, we all can love what we want to love, and enjoy what we want to enjoy. I’m not putting or wanting to put any kind of guilt or burden on anyone in this regard, but what I am wanting to do is to challenge you, and ourselves, to consider thinking outside our own boxes every now and again. Instead of disregarding something outright because it isn’t your usual thing you love, or you don’t understand it, or it looks strange and bizarre, maybe think about giving it a second chance? Pause, look deeper, listen harder, and consider. Be curious! Be kind! You never know what gems and beauties you’ll find if you do, and better still, you never know how deeply and profoundly this will speak to the artist who has just put his heart and soul into this created thing. Every artist is speaking to you, to us, to the world — and I do not see how there can be any harm — only supreme benefit — in stopping for just a moment in the busyness of our lives to just listen and look for awhile. You never know, maybe you’ll discover the next Bohemian Rhapsody!

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