Should Bohemian Rhapsody lose nominations because of Bryan Singer?


Bohemian Rhapsody is no longer nominated for a GLAAD award, and we think that this is the right call given the allegations against director Bryan Singer.

Queen is a beloved band that holds a place in so many fans’ hearts. Freddie Mercury is an especially iconic figure who has been an inspiration to many over the years, especially to LGBTQ youth looking to make their way in the world as artists and creators.

On top of that, Queen songs are well-known and loved by millions of people and are just so damn catchy and enjoyable to sing along to. It is no wonder that so many people enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody, largely because of how beloved Queen and Freddie Mercury are along with the success of the musical performances in the film.

Now, the film has received mixed reviews from LGBTQ fans and critics, many citing it celebrates Freddie Mercury as a performer but feared telling his story as a gay icon. Nonetheless, it’s made over $700 million at the box office and achieved an 89 percent Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite all of the film’s success, director Bryan Singer has cast an exceptionally dark cloud over it. Last October, Singer faced allegations of sexual assault that were set to be published by Esquire. This isn’t the first time for Singer, as he has faced reports of sexual abuse and misconduct for decades.

Singer denied the allegations last year, stating the story was “making assumptions that are fictional and irresponsible.” The story was later killed by Hearst executives, according to the investigation’s journalists Maximillian Potter and Alex French.

This week, The Atlantic finally published the results of the 12-month investigation originally meant for Esquire. The investigation reveals four more men who accuse the Bohemian Rhapsody filmmaker of sexual assault and rape. All of them were underage at the time, one as young as 13 years old. These are serious allegations, and we believe strongly in supporting victims.

In response to the allegations and to show support for victims, Bohemian Rhapsody has lost its best original film nomination at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards. However, Bohemian Rhapsody is still nominated for Best Picture for the 91st Academy Awards and already took home the award for Best Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes.

It’s always difficult when something that is enjoyable and beloved is attached to someone who has likely done horrible things. What has made matters worse for the film and for fans who would like to support is not just what Singer has allegedly done, but also how he has responded.

Singer continues to deny these allegations, stating The Atlantic story is “a homophobic smear piece.” 

This is extremely reminiscent of Kevin Spacey’s statements to allegations made against him. As Out explains, “Both Singer and Spacey have used their status as a sword to fight and to debunk allegations and subsequently used their queerness as a shield against their accusers.”

People of all sexualities commit crimes, and it should not matter whether the perpetrator is gay or not. Sexual assault is sexual assault regardless of the sexualities of the perpetrators and victims. Reporting about these allegations and taking them seriously doesn’t make the journalist or publication homophobic.

GLAAD released a statement to Variety about its decision, saying the following:

"In light of the latest allegations against director Bryan Singer, GLAAD has made the difficult decision to remove Bohemian Rhapsody from contention for a GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category this year. This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded.Singer’s response to The Atlantic story wrongfully used “homophobia” to deflect from sexual assault allegations and GLAAD urges the media and the industry at large to not gloss over the fact that survivors of sexual assault should be put first."

GLAAD also noted in its statement that it is a shame for the film to be tainted in such a way by Singer, saying the impact of Bohemian Rhapsody on the LGBTQ community is undeniable.

Still, GLAAD feels it must “send a clear and unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth and all survivors of sexual assault that GLAAD and our community will stand with survivors and will not be silent when it comes to protecting them from those who would do them harm.”

While this situation is undoubtedly hard for most people to read, including fans of Queen and all of the hardworking cast and crew of Bohemian Rhapsody, we have to remember the victims who have been hurt the most in this situation.

It is important to stand with them and take these allegations seriously. While there were many people who worked on this film who likely knew nothing about Singer, and many fans who understandably enjoyed the film, taking away this film’s nomination sends an important message.

Time’s Up expressed it best in its statement responding to GLAAD’s decision to remove Bohemian Rhapsody‘s nomination. The group, which came about in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall and is dedicated to supporting accusors and gender unity in Hollywood, said:

"We are in the midst of a cultural reckoning. Though there was once a time when business as usual could continue amid credible allegations of sexual assault and violence, that era has ended forever. The recent allegations regarding Bryan Singer’s behavior are horrifying and MUST be taken seriously and investigated."

Bohemian Rhapsody has received mixed reviews from LGBTQ fans and critics, with many reviews citing the film celebrated Freddie Mercury as a performer but feared telling his story as a gay icon.

What is truly upsetting, despite GLAAD’s decision to revoke the film’s nomination, is that Bryan Singer is still getting work in Hollywood. Despite new allegations, Singer is still on board to direct Red Sonja. Millenium Films is behind the film, and its chairman and producer Avi Lerner reportedly isn’t even interested in The Atlantic‘s reporting. Lerner told Variety, “I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America, people are innocent until proven otherwise.”

It is unfortunate to see time and time again how sexual assault allegations and even convictions don’t actually hurt the careers of powerful men in Hollywood. It’s a repeating pattern that shows how far we still have to go as a society.