“I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.” Freddie Mercury
Mini Me goes to school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Long ago, when we were just visiting and falling in love with Nashville, we fell in love with a great little shop called Two Old Hippies. We shop there just about every time we are in town. They carry a line of sterling silver necklaces that have one or two bar charms with quotes on them. This one particularly moved me and even though we had just spent umpteen hundred dollars moving Mini Me into his dorm room, I had to buy it for him. On one bar, it said, I won’t be a rock star. On the other, it said, I’ll be a legend. I knew Freddie Mercury was the legend who made that statement, but I am sure I looked it up to make sure I was right. I found it humorous and yet a bit odd that I would choose a quote from Freddie Mercury — for no other reason than Mercury was a HUGE legend. It would be more like me to select someone more obscure. But anyway. What was another hundred bucks to let your kid know how much you believe in him as you are dropping him off at college for the first time, in this big, scary city where music is made? That whole experience moved me like none other, and maybe even broke me. I sobbed all the way home and for a month after, and I could never answer the simple question of “why?”, but other mothers understood completely.
I think that many people, myself included, like to immerse themselves into television shows or movies because it is an escape from everyday life. For a short time, one can forget about their own troubles and responsibilities. I wonder if it is the same for the actors and actresses? With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, we can now binge watch shows from beginning to end in a matter of days. I am sure that is not the healthiest thing to do. I cannot predict when a movie or a television show is going to move me. It happens at the strangest of times. Breaking Bad (a show about making and selling methamphetamine that left me rooting for the bad guys) and Sons of Anarchy (a show about a motorcycle gang in Charming, California, who happens to be presided by the smokin’ hot Charlie Hunnum as Jax Teller – also left me rooting for the bad guys) both broke my heart and I cried like a baby at the end. In fact, at the end of “Sons”, it was very late at night, and I woke up the children with my sobbing. I cry regularly while watching This is Us, but doesn’t everybody? The movies Pay it Forward and What Dreams May Come both tore me up in a way I did not know that I could be torn up. Infinity War even broke me down. There is no rhyme or reason for my breakdowns – they just happen. My family says I have an unnatural affection for imaginary characters. I suppose they are right in a way; however, I also have affection for characters who are not imaginary….
I thought nothing of it when I bought 5 tickets to Bohemian Rhapsody over the Thanksgiving holidays. We had been really excited about the movie coming out. The kids were all here and I managed to get 5 tickets together at Phipps Plaza, where the red leather recliners reign and the screen is so big that there is not a bad seat in the whole place. We were all so excited to see it as a family. I know how “like-a-mom” that sounds, but our kids have grown up around music and going to concerts (from very young ages). Our oldest child plays guitar (by ear) . Our middle child has been a first soprano with the Atlanta Young Singers since she was 8. Our baby plays the piano and the double bass. The movie was rated PG-13, so I would not be slapping my hand over The Baby’s eyes all night. Though knowing the subject matter, I must admit that I did wonder just exactly what was passing for PG-13… I don’t know what I was actually expecting from this movie. I guess it was to hear some of my favorite music and learn more about a classic rock and roll band and their legendary frontman. What could possibly be upsetting about that? I did not realize that I would be leaving with something that only I could obtain if I was willing to open myself up to it…and I was…..and it was all on a subconscious level.
There is a mysteriousness and a sweetness about Rami Malek that immediately captivated me. He became Freddie Mercury from the very beginning. I am pretty sure that I made it to the part when Freddie comes home from touring and there is obviously something wrong. He tells Mary that he thinks he is bisexual and she says, “no, Freddie, you’re gay”. The tears started rolling down Mary’s cheeks and Freddie’s cheeks, and, well…. my cheeks. Mary knew Freddie better than anyone. She knew that Freddie was happiest when he was doing what felt natural to him, regardless if he was not understood by society. Mary understood him and she could see the joy and the power that being his authentic self gave to him. The were truly best friends and soul mates. Once my tears started, they did not stop. It did not take me long to realize that my childhood view of Freddie Mercury was possibly of him in a long fur coat, dark sunglasses and boots, surrounded by an entourage and a police detail….protecting his perfect rock star life. What was unfolding on the screen before me was something I had not expected to see. It was a real life – one that was not perfect. One that was filled with heartache and hurt and insecurity. Who knew? How could somebody who was that famous, with that much money and that much talent possibly not be completely happy? My age gap was showing. I still saw Freddie Mercury through my 14 year old, non-jaded eyes.
“When I’m dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance”…Freddie Mercury
I have read complaints that the movie did not include enough of Freddie’s wild homosexual and heterosexual sex life. From all accounts, he did have relationships with both men and women, which would, indeed make him bisexual and not gay. If you are one of those people who was disappointed that there was not more information given about Freddie’s personal life, then you completely missed the whole point. Of what importance would it have been to make a huge issue of any and all casual, meaningless sex that Freddie Mercury had at any time? Zero. If you were to have the biopic of your life put into a film, would you like for your sexual escapades and one night stands to be the main topic? NO! I think NOT! Bohemian Rhapsody was not about the sex life of Freddie Mercury. It was also “based on” Freddie Mercury and Queen”, meaning that the script did not have to follow what actually happened 100%. If you were thoroughly pissed off that the script did not follow the truth 100%, then you completely missed the point.
It did not matter if Freddie Mercury was straight, gay, bisexual, polysexual, mono sexual, allosexual, androsexual, gynosexual, questioning, asexual, demisexual, grey asexual, perioriented, varioriented, heteronormative, erasure, cisgender, cishet, polyamorous, monoamorous, queer, or ally. I am NOT going to define all of those terms for you. You are invited to look them up just like I did, but I can assure you that it really, truly did not matter. It did not seem to matter to his friends or the band. The paparazzi wanted to know “what” he was, but it was none of their business. Can any of us really be defined by one word? Freddie Mercury loved who he loved. Just like I love who I love and you love who you love. WHY on EARTH SHOULD IT MATTER AT ALL? He was a sensitive, kind, generous human being. He wanted to be remembered for his talent and his music. The movie does an excellent job of tastefully giving us an idea of the wild parties, drugs, men, women and bars and things that we know went on because we have all heard about them or read about them over time. It is human curiosity for us to want to know the details of Freddie’s life; however, those details should not come from this epic film. The movie could well have been rated XXX. I don’t enjoy going to movies with my family when there are detailed sex scenes of any kind. I think that the general public feels this way. Movie producers want people to go to the movies! If they put too much of something that families cannot enjoy together into a movie, it will not sell. I think Bohemian Rhapsody has just enough. The rest is none of our business.
Perhaps Freddie Mercury was uncomfortable with himself for a long time. Maybe it was the religion that he was raised in – that had no room for gay people. Maybe he did not want to let his parents down. Maybe he wanted things to be different. It surely seems that if there had been any way that he and Mary Austin could have been together and made it work, they would have, and really, they did as best they could. They are the proof that a soul mate does not have to be someone you are married to. It really is true that we have to learn how to love ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin before we can be with another person. Maybe Freddie used meaningless sex, drugs, and alcohol as coping mechanisms, just as lots of people do. (Or, maybe he just wanted to have meaningless sex, use illicit drugs and alcohol!) There is evidence that after Freddie learned that he was HIV positive and then went into full blown AIDS, that his lifestyle calmed down and he accepted who he was. He seemed to always appear to be who he was. Maybe he was just not completely comfortable doing so.
It hurts my soul that he was so close to the discovery of medication that gives people with AIDS years to live. I knew that the movie was not going to cover his death, and by the end, with all of my crying, I was grateful for that. I walked out of the theater with my head down, tears still streaming down my face. I cried all the way home, and for about an hour after that. There is just something about Freddie Mercury that resonates deep inside of me. There is just something about Freddie Mercury….something about him that I “get” that I don’t think I got before. Maybe it’s that Freddie Mercury was an actual real person – something that is hard for a 14 year old to comprehend. I did not know Freddie Mercury. I never saw Freddie Mercury “in real life”, but I did live during his lifetime. I did know who he was. I did watch Live Aid as it happened. My mother remembers me singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the car as a little girl…. And for some reason….Freddie Mercury makes me cry.