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‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ — political style

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18.02.2019

Watching the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” on a long-haul flight last week, I was reminded that brinkmanship was the way Freddie Mercury lived his life — not only his bisexual love life, but also his musical life.

It was brinkmanship that led to the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a single. The movie casts Mike Myers as a stereotypical record label executive. “What on earth is it about?” Ray Foster rants incredulously. “Scaramouch? Galileo? And all that Bismillah business. It goes on forever — six blood minutes!” To overcome this kind of resistance, Queen simply handed a tape of the song to the DJ Kenny Everett, who “accidentally” played it on his show.

This was true musical brinkmanship. It must surely have breached the band’s contract with EMI. But, of course, it worked, forcing the record company to release one of the biggest hits in its history.

The big question of 2019 is how far the Freddie Mercury approach can be safely applied to politics.

Brinkmanship is a word with a long political history. In 1956, Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, gave an interview in which he described “the ability to get to the verge without getting into the war” as “the necessary art”: “If you cannot master it, you inevitably get........

© Boston Globe