Freddie Mercury and Toxic Masculinity
Freddie Mercury and Toxic Masculinity
January 17, 2019
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. . .”
“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.”
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.
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!
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