Of course, a teen discovering the music of Queen in 2019 faces an incredibly different media environment and fan ecosystem than a teen picking up an album in a record store in the 1970s. Besides the easy access of streaming platforms -- in December, Universal Music Group announced that the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" was the most-streamed track from the 20th century with more than 1.6 billion global streams -- teens also experience a band's history through the prism of YouTube k-holes, Reddit threads, TikTok videos, and Instagram posts. In the case of Bohemian Rhapsody, the interest in the band is also tied to the actors portraying them in the film.
That appears to be especially true in the world of Queen fan fiction, which you can find countless examples of on the community-based writing platform Wattpad. (Netflix's teen-favorite romantic comedy The Kissing Booth originated as a story on the site.) The "Bohemian Rhapsody" tag reveals many stories centered around the group's drummer Roger Taylor, played in the film by 28-year-old British heartthrob Ben Hardy. Somebody to Love, one of the most popular BoRhap fanfiction titles on the site, follows the story of Rebecca Jackson, a young woman with a dull life ("She goes to work, comes home, and that's pretty much it.") who, in the words of the synopsis on the site, meets "a very handsome blonde-haired, blue-eyed drummer named Roger and suddenly, her life isn't so boring anymore." It currently has 44 chapters. "I don’t know why I wrote it," wrote the story's author, Wattpad user STACEEEEERS, when reached via private message. "Thought it’d be fun."
The potential blending of the actor, the real-life band member, and the character of the film makes it especially ripe for fan-driven reinterpretation. (Some of the Roger Taylor specific titles on Wattpad have sub-titles like "A Ben Hardy Story" and they often feature Hardy's face on the covers.) One writer of multiple Queen tales, a Wattpad user going by the username "sebasstan," said they were inspired by how "amazing" the band's story was. According to sebasstan, fan fiction reading devotees of Queen are drawn to Hardy because of how he portrayed Taylor in the movie, specifically "his arrogant personality" and "how he was a womanizer."
"My readers are excited about my characters getting together," writes sebasstan, who was a Queen fan before Bohemian Rhapsody arrived in theaters. "I like to take my time on building the relationship of my characters and not rush it immediately. [Readers] also like the funny moments and the emotional moments in the chapters."
The internet is not the only place for Queen fans to express their excitement about the band. As part of its promotional push for the film, 20th Century Fox held sing-along screenings of the movie in select cities and even organized a karaoke bus tour in markets like New York, Austin, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. (A reporter for Jezebel attended the New York one and described the experience as "the bus to hell.") According to John Goehrke, the Director of Visitor Engagement at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, young fans increasingly type the band's name into the museum's "Voice Your Choice" interactive voting tool, which lets visitors take a stand on who they'd like to see admitted into the Hall of Fame. When the computer tells them Queen was actually inducted in 2001, they end up voting for Freddie Mercury as a solo artist.
"Freddie Mercury as a solo artist is now in the top five in our current 'Voice Your Choice' standing, among artists like Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, and Dave Matthews Band," says Goehrke in a phone interview. "And it's young kids who must've seen the film, maybe saw it with their family. Kids that are 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 years old, they're the ones who are submitting Freddie Mercury's name."