‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Edited in Malaysia Due to Gay Scenes
Approximately 24 minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody have reportedly been cut for its Malaysian audience. The Malaysian Film Censorship Board removed content from the Queen biopic that involve frontman Freddie Mercury's sexuality in accordance with the nation's strict laws against homosexuality.
According to the Malay Mail, the edits range from the scene where Mercury (Rami Malek) tells fiancee Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) that he is bisexual to one dealing with the video for "I Want to Break Free," where the band is dressed in drag. Fans are arguing that those cuts greatly affected the plot, and they announced their displeasure on Twitter.
Human Rights Watch says that discrimination against LGBT people in Malaysia is "pervasive" and that its Sharia-influenced law prohibits same-sex relations and cross-dressing. However, they also note that in 2017 the Health Ministry reworded language from a youth video competition that appeared to affirm LGBT identities instead of stigmatizing them.
This is just the latest controversy surrounding the portrayal of Mercury's personal life in the film. When the movie's first trailer focused on Mercury's history with Austin, while only devoting three frames to his relationship with a man, producer and writer Bryan Fuller accused the production of "hetwashing" – a term used to denote the changing of a gay character into a straight one for marketing purposes. Fuller also took exception to the movie's official synopsis, which said Mercury died of a "life-threatening illness," without specifying that he contracted AIDS via gay sex.
Despite that, Bohemian Rhapsody continues to perform well at the box office, earning more $100 million in the U.S. after only 10 days. That makes it the third-most successful music-related biopic in American cinema history, after 2015's Straight Outta Compton ($161.2 million) and 2005's Walk the Line ($119.5 million). Worldwide gross for Bohemian Rhapsody is currently at $285 million.
UPDATE: Malaysia's Golden Screen Cinemas is denying the amount of editing done to the movie. "The runtime for #BohemianRhapsody in Malaysia is 131 minutes," they wrote on Facebook. "The runtime in the US is 134 minutes. So it's DEFINITELY NOT 20 MINUTES CUT. So (fill in the blank), get the facts right. Love, #GSCAdmin." They added in the comments that it was the Malaysian Film Censorship Board that was responsible for the censorship, not the cinema company.