Freddie Mercury and Toxic Masculinity

Freddie Mercury and Toxic Masculinity

Freddie Mercury and Toxic Masculinity

When my husband and I were dating, back in the late 1970’s, Queen was the soundtrack of our courtship. We’d listen to Queen albums (vinyl, for you hipsters), such as Sheer Heart Attack, News of the World, Day at the Races, and Night at the Opera. Classics, every one. But little did we know that Queen and its frontman, Freddie Mercury, were flagrant promoters of “toxic masculinity.”

How could this be? How could you possibly use “Freddie Mercury” and “toxic masculinity” in the same sentence? After all, Mercury was the most flamboyantly gay rocker ever, and died in 1991 at age 45, a victim of AIDS. Plus, he wasn’t even a white man, who these days get blamed for all things socially noxious. Mercury’s birth name was Farrokh Balsara — hardly English — and he emigrated to the UK from Zanzibar.

He even loved cats. Certainly Freddie Mercury is high up on today’s intersectionality scale: gay, an AIDS victim, and an immigrant of color. And now the world has rediscovered Mercury with the 2018 release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody, which celebrates his talent and mourns his too-early demise. “One of history’s most beloved entertainers,” writes Fox Movies in an ad for the film.

No toxic masculinity here, right? A ‘beloved’ gay man cannot possibly glorify guns, violence, seduction, and objectifying women.

Not so fast. Check out the male aggression portrayed in the song “Another One Bites the Dust:”

“Out of the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat.

Another one bites the dust. Another one bites the dust. 

And another one gone, and another one gone. . .” 

Or these lines from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was written entirely by Freddie Mercury, and is now the most-streamed song from the 20th century:

“Mama, just killed a man. 

Put a gun against his head. 

Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.”

And then there’s misogyny, like in “Tie Your Mother Down.” Ooh, must be kinky, too!

Not quite — the song is not exactly Oedipal. It actually refers to a young man wanting a girl’s parents out of his way so he can . . . well, you know:

“Tie your mother down, tie your mother down

Lock your daddy out of doors, I don’t need him nosin’ around. . . .

Give me all your love tonight.” 

But that’s pretty mild compared to the balls-to-the-wall seduction and objectification of women in “Fat-Bottomed Girls.”

freddie mercury toxic masculinity

Credit: Gareth Williams @ Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Queen even throws in a bit of slut- and body-shaming, too:

“I’ve been singing with my band, ‘cross the wire, ‘cross the land,

I’ve seen every blue-eyed floozy on the way, 

But their beauty and their style kinda went smooth after a while, 

Take me to them lardy ladies every time.” 

Here’s Queen performing “Fat Bottomed Girls” in 1982, with Freddie Mercury seeming to hump a stripper pole:

The irony, of course, is that while MeToo feminists wring their hands about defining ‘toxic’ men, and a razor company shames all males for the behavior of some, a movie comes out that celebrates a rock band who sang lyrics that would curl the toes of the socially woke everywhere.

Could you imagine some poor college schlub using the words “floozy” or “lardy ladies” on campus? He’d get yanked before the school’s anti-harassment kangaroo court with his reputation in tatters. So what should the MeToo crowd make of Freddie Mercury’s legacy, especially since Rami Malek, the actor who portrayed him in Bohemian Rhapsody, just received a Golden Globes award for Best Actor? Where’s the sisterhood’s outrage?

This is the hypocrisy that results from identity politics and the elevation of victimhood. Our hypothetical college kid would be shamed for his “toxic masculinity.” But Freddie Mercury was a man who occupied the higher rungs of intersectionality: gay, an AIDS victim, and immigrant “of color.” So feminists give him a pass.

As for me, I saw Bohemian Rhapsody with my husband, and we loved it. Both of us have Queen playlists on our Macs and iPhones, and there’s no more energizing drive-time song than “Another One Bites the Dust.” Yes, I’m still a Queen fan.

To quote the Rolling Stones: “It’s only rock n’ roll but I like it!”


Featured image: Brand X Studio. 

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Ah, yes. “Another One Bites the Dust” was probably on somebody’s stereo 24/7 in my college days. If not that, “Whip It!” by Devo. (The video for that would almost certainly rid the world of the most insane SJWs. Not going to link it here, but as WikiPedia says, “An accompanying music video depicts these sexual themes; it features Mothersbaugh whipping clothing from a woman on a dude ranch.”)

    Some of us geezers were bemoaning the loss of the “old” Heavy Metal magazine the other day – anyone remember “RanXerox”? Another good one to show to your hateful Feminazi neighbor…

  • GWB says:

    Fat-Bottomed Girls also includes child molestation. I’m fairly sure “nursery” is a Briticism/literary license including all the way to adulthood. It’s still molestation of a minor.

    BTW, you left out Killer Queen. 🙂

  • SFC D says:

    1975. Bohemian Rhapsody hits the radio in my little Idaho town. I’m in 8th grade. We’re in band class, somebody in the trumpet section starts singing Bohemian Rhapsody. In seconds, the entire section is singing it at full volume, even a little harmony. Apparently, Mr. Marcum was not a Queen fan. 3 of us get kicked out of class because we won’t stop singing when he tells us to stop. I can still remember the look on my dad’s face and his response when I tell him why I got sent to the principal’s office. “You got kicked out of band for a week, for singing? You gotta be shitting me!”

    Good times

  • Dietrich says:

    “Another one bites the dust” along with other classics such as “”Stayin’ alive” are the perfect tempo for administrating CPR.

  • […] his time and who managed to carve the path for any artist who came after, Queen’s lead vocalist Freddie Mercury was a legend and fashion icon who was known for his bold fashion choices on and off stage. His way […]

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