Seriously, We Need to Talk About ‘Rocketman’ and Hollywood’s Representation
Hollywood needs more LGBTQ representation and directors
The first trailer for the Elton John biopic, Rocketman, has blasted off. Yes, I think the trailer is impressive, and as a fan of Elton John and his music, I am tremendously excited for the film to be released in May of next year. However, there are some issues with the film that we need to discuss.
Rocketman is being produced by Rocket Pictures the Elton John headed production company behind the films Gnomeo and Juliet (2011) and Sherlock Gnomes (2018). This is the reason why the film appears to be much more surreal and extravagant than a typical music film. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to note, just as the actor Taron Egerton, who is taking up the mantle of Elton John in the biopic, also starred alongside an elderly Elton John in the 2017 film Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I believe that Egerton has the capability of portraying Elton John due to this connection. He is charming and has only grown as an actor over the past few years.
The REAL problem here is that Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody share the same director, Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher directed the excellent Eddie the Eagle, which was the first standout picture for Taron Egerton who played the titular character. Therefore, Fletcher was a safe choice for the Rocketman picture but I believe there should have been more of an opportunity for new directors who are in the LGBTQ community to helm the film. Also, because both pictures are directed by the same individual there will always be some comparison of the two and that’s an issue since they’re meant to be different films. Bohemian Rhapsody is rated PG-13 and will focus more on the concerts whereas Rocketman has an R rating and will focus more on sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.
Both Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman are films about prominent Gay icons who brought about change in the 1970s and 80s. However, there are still some mainstream issues with representing gays in films.
Fletcher took over Bohemian Rhapsody from director Bryan Singer last year after he was fired in December. Singer will remain the sole director credited for the Freddy Mercury/Queen biopic and that’s problematic for the feature as the director has been embroiled in a sex scandal involving an underage male teenager. However, Singer is one of the few LGBTQ directors in Hollywood and Fletcher is not. Leading me to question why he was chosen as the director for both of these films? And I believe that is has to do with convenience and Hollywood not wanting to take risks.
Paramount should really take a lesson from The Walt Disney Company and trust relatively unknown visionary directors for their projects. This is why James Gunn was offered the job of directing Guardians of the Galaxy.
Initially, and justifiably so, there has been critical blowback to both trailers from the LGBTQ community for “straight-washing” both Elton John and Freddie Mercury. Is this another case of studios marketing to straight audiences, or will both pictures stay true to the characters lifestyle?