Beijing – The Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will have all overt LGBT scenes removed for its release in China, it has been reported. At least a minute will be cut from the film in order to secure permission for it to be screened in Chinese cinemas, including scenes where Mercury (played by Rami Malek) kisses other male characters. Scenes of drug use will also be removed.
China’s reluctance to allow LGBT-themed films to reach cinema audiences was underlined when a domestic TV streaming service, Mango TV, was reported to have censored Malek’s acceptance speech for his Best Actor Oscar on February 24th, replacing the phrase “gay man” with “special group” in its subtitles. Although a major commercial success all over the globe Bohemian Rhapsody is likely to secure only a small-scale release in China – unlike Oscar-winners Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, which failed to be released there at all. However, the live-action film Beauty and the Beast, with its brief “gay moment,” was given a significant release in 2017, earning a reported $85 million.
Bohemian Rhapsody has already attracted considerable criticism for perceived “straightwashing” in its originally released form, with suggestions that it glossed over Mercury’s real-life hedonist persona. However, LGBT activist Gary Nunn argued in the Guardian that the film was “inspiring” and a “job well done.” (Philadelphia Gay News – Larry Nichols at Epgn.com/news/international/14362-international-news-march-8-14-2019)