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“Bohemian Rhapsody”: brushing Bryan Singer under the rug

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“Bohemian Rhapsody”: brushing Bryan Singer under the rug

Bryan Singer was also conspicuously absent from the set of X-Men Apocalypse.

Bryan Singer was also conspicuously absent from the set of X-Men Apocalypse.

Photo Provided

Bryan Singer was also conspicuously absent from the set of X-Men Apocalypse.

Photo Provided

Photo Provided

Bryan Singer was also conspicuously absent from the set of X-Men Apocalypse.

Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

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On most counts, the 91st Academy Awards ceremony was a success, in spite of rushed runtime decisions and the lack of a host. There were good speeches and bad speeches, baffling wins and frustrating snubs, but this is all par for the course for the increasingly maligned awards show.

Although the Academy is receiving its fair share of flak for handing the coveted Best Picture award to Green Book, fingers are also being pointed on account of the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody, the lowest-rated film among any of the nominees, took home four awards, beating out the critically acclaimed awards favorite Roma.

The four awards in question are Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Actor for Rami Malek. While most cinephiles agree that at least the former three awards were wholly undeserved (the film was nearly universally regarded to be poorly edited), the Academy’s decision to award a formulaic and mediocre music biopic can hardly be described as startling.

Whether the film’s quality warranted this recognition is debatable, although ultimately unimportant, as it only illustrates the well-understood fact that the Academy is neither in touch with the average film-going audience at large nor with the arthouse crowd, and has yet to balance the two. Unfortunately, the issue at hand is more dire and problematic than Bohemian Rhapsody simply not deserving the awards it received.

Much like Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody was more or less consistently beset with a bevy of controversies, among them the film’s refusal to flesh out Freddie Mercury’s sexuality in a meaningful way, its revisionist attitude towards events and Bryan Singer’s erratic behavior on set.

While Bohemian Rhapsody’s storytelling flaws call their own criticisms by name, and Singer’s history on the production is well documented, the film is still just a film, a problematic piece of popular entertainment that manages to divert your attention for a little over two hours. These things are certainly worth discussing, but there is more in life that demands our outrage. The sexual assault allegations against Singer are some of those things.

The allegations against Singer predate the MeToo movement, an alarming fact considering he found work directing films after sexual assault and harassment had begun to be treated with more seriousness within Hollywood. They are severe, and there are enough of them to constitute a trend, which in turn indicates truth.

This brings us back to the 91st Academy Awards, the night we learned that in spite of the cultural upheaval we have endured in order to make our world a better place, things are much the same as they used to be. White America would rather treat historical racism as an easily remedied misstep, and those in power will continue to distance themselves from those who have abused it in the hopes that we will all forget they ever sat at the same table. We continue to pray for change, but it seems there is still much to do.

In the four acceptance speeches for Bohemian Rhapsody, not a single mention was given to the film’s director, even from longtime Singer collaborator and friend John Ottman, who took home the award for Best Editing. To call the situation strange would be an understatement. Nary an award was given in which a filmmaker did not thank their director. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find another anomaly alongside Bohemian Rhapsody.

It must be said that Malek has spoken out against Singer, both on account of his behavior on set and the allegations against him. It seems clear that the cast and crew of Bohemian Rhapsody are not entirely accountable for brushing Singer’s involvement under the rug, as they seem to treat the film as not being made by Singer but in spite of him. (Ottman, of course, is likely an exception to this.)

The blame rather lies with 20th Century Fox and the Academy for their lack of any statement on the matter. It is reflective of a disconcerting practice amongst film studios in which they hide their collaborations with perpetrators of despicable acts in lieu of confronting issues head-on. Amazon Studios has done something similar with Woody Allen, quietly severing his unfinished five-picture deal only after cultural pushback came to a head and forced them to do so.

Much like the bystanders of racism would rather pretend as though it never happened, so too do the powerful in Hollywood prefer to erase the history of abuse from cultural memory. After all, the issue was already addressed at length. Can’t we just move on?

Unfortunately, we are not granted that blessing until the final nail is driven into the coffin of institutionalized abuse. If we are to move past this, truly move past it, the least that we can do is give it the attention it deserves. It cannot be ignored, because to be ignorant is to be complicit.

Contact Trey McCabe at [email protected].

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Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

Trey McCabe is a senior this year at Edmond Memorial, and this is his second year on staff at Ruff Draft. He has won two first-place awards at OSSA for...

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“Bohemian Rhapsody”: brushing Bryan Singer under the rug