2018 was an incredibly monumental year for Queer and POC representation in TV and film. POSE featured the largest ensemble cast of queer and trans actors ever seen on mainstream television. Movies like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and Roma featured powerful stories about people of color TOLD BY people of color. Lesbian and bisexual stories were centered in The Favourite, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and Rafiki.
Last year was also a time of great momentum for the #MeToo and Times Up movements. Countless callouts and brave testimony exposed the cracks in Hollywood power structures. Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, and Kevin Spacey are just a few of the elite celebrities that have all been exposed of heinous crimes against their coworkers.
Since 1997, director Bryan Singer has also been accused of multiple sexual assault allegations involving minors. Despite all this, it was announced Singer would produce and direct Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic about one of the most beloved queer icons of all time, Freddie Mercury. In December of 2017, two weeks before filming was completed, Singer left production to reportedly deal with family matters. Two days later, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman filed a lawsuit against Singer, claiming that he was raped by the director in 2003, when he was 17 years old.
In the midst of all the controversy and relatively mixed reviews, Bohemian Rhapsody still dominated at the box office -- becoming the highest grossing musical biopic of all time.
Last night at the Golden Globes, the film took home the Best Picture - Drama prize, beating some of the year’s heavy hitters -- Black Panther, A Star is Born, BlacKkKlansman, and If Beale Street Could Talk. Rami Malek was also awarded Best Actor in a Drama for his portrayal as Mercury.
So why, in 2018, are we still handing out awards to accused rapists like Bryan Singer? For these type of top honors, the Hollywood Foreign Press should be considering not only the film’s artistic merit, but the integrity of its creators and the cultural value of its content. Remember when director Ridley Scott reshot huge portions of All The Money In The World in order to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer? When The Connors killed off Roseanne after her racist tweets? When it was announced that Transparent would continue without its lead, Jeffrey Tambor? That’s how you do it, folks.
By continually giving serial abusers like Woody Allen and Bryan Singer accolades for their work, we inflict irreparable damage on the survivors who fought like hell to make their stories public.
Let’s also just be clear that Bohemian Rhapsody is not a very good movie. Despite a strong lead performance by Malek, the film presents a sterilized version of a complicated and brilliant queer icon. There is an unevenness of tone, which is no doubt a result of all the reported on-set turbulence.
And why are we still awarding straight actors like Rami Malek and Darren Criss (who also won last night for his role as Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story) for their portrayal of queer characters? It’s become exhausting to watch.
Most people don’t give a fuck about award shows, and why is that? Because award shows do not accurately represent the cultural landscape that they are trying desperately to reflect. Looking back at 2006, does anyone want to remember Best Picture winner Crash? Hell no, 2006 was the year of Brokeback Mountain.
Despite all this, it was fabulous to see openly queer actors Lena Waithe, Billy Porter, and Nico Santos at the Globes. Actor Ben Whishaw pulled out a win for his role in A Very English Scandal. The cast POSE may not have snatched any golden trophies, but the cast completely stole the red carpet.
We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got so far to go.