Monday, June 6, 2016

Discourse Analysis: Bohemian Rhapsody

Hello, I haven't got the time to write, well I might've had, but I didn't. Well, these past few years I spent in the university has got my brain divided into branches. So much to think about, so much to do, so much to revise. Jeez, revision. How can you people even deal with it?

Anyways, this semester, we've got a lot of interesting subjects. I have just finished my Media Relations final exam. It was really cool we had to present our slide shows with pecha kucha method. Media Relations is one of my favorite subjects because I've always wanted to be a journalist, and it's one subject where we deal with a lot of journalistic stuff.

Another subject I am most interested in is, Media Research. Through this subject, we learn about what is written behind a writing that the press produced or what is told behind a photograph that the press captured. Yup, hidden meanings, semiotic approach, and stuff. We even had an assignment where we counted how many negative words and positive words written in an article to find out which side the related media is siding with.

For the final exam, this is getting very exciting, we have the honor to analyze something that was published through the media. People started to think about analyzing logos, magazine spreads, advertisements, and stuff. But I decided to analyze lyrics of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. This idea however was rejected by the lecturer, he said, "This is not your field, how can you connect your public relations position to the blatantly abstract meanings of the song? This, should be the work of those linguistics in the faculty of language studies."

Ouch, that was harsh as I was also accepted in French Literature studies back in 2014. So this is my sweet revenge as I couldn't get this idea out of my mind.

This song is quite confusing as the title and the lyrics, they don't have such a connection. First of all, we have to know what Bohemian Rhapsody means. Bohemian is a native people of Bohemia, Bohemian is a region in Czech Republic. By French people, they are also referred as Gypsy, Bohemian is also translated into "Socially unconventional people, especially one who is involved in the arts."

As we know, that the bohemians have always loved to produce art, all the circus, the artistic fabric, the clothing, decoration, even their little accessories have never been apart of artistic elements. In the other side, Bohemians were known as free-spirited people, who were nomads, and lack of wealth. 

Moving on, in the other side, rhapsody means an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling. So this song wants to tell a story about the feelings of a Bohemian. Who is this Bohemian in Queen? The writer of this song, Freddie Mercury. 

Freddie Mercury, whose real name is Farrokh Bulsari, was once a Nomad. He was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar, which is now located in Tanzania. When he was 17, he and his family had to move away to England due to Zanzibar Revolution where many indians and arabs were killed. He was rather poor as his father was only a cashier in a British Colonial Office. 

So in this song, the part "I'm just a poor boy" might refer to himself, Mercury, and it also refers to "Bohemian"/

This song has got so many people questioning the true meaning of this song. However, Freddie Mercury had never confirmed what it really meant, and none of us could ever agree what this song is about. This is just the way I analyze, some things might've come wrong as my opinion is quite subjective.

Okay, we'll start to divide this song into verses, and we'll see what each of them means. 

Verse 1

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

This verse probably means that the writer is questioning whether something that he's facing is real or just a fantasy. Though he eventually knows that what's happening is real, as written in "Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality." 

Landslide can mean something unpredictable, something inevitably bad happened to him.What is this thing, though?

Verse 2
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Anyway the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me.

When he finds out that this bad thing has already happened, he looks up and he sees people being pitiful to him, which is unnecessary, because he knows he will adapt as he's "easy come, easy go". In the end, what has happened to him, doesn't really matter.

Verse 3

Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead.
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away.

This verse, we can conclude that he has killed a man and he threw his life (which has just started) all away. But who did he kill? Who died?

Verse 4

Mama, ooh,
Didn't mean to make you cry,
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Now that he feels sorry for killing that man. This verse, he tells his mom that he feels sorry, and he didn't mean to do it. This verse also shows a goodbye as he says, "If I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on as if nothing really matters."

Verse 5 
Too late, my time has come,
Sent shivers down my spine,
Body's aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

In this verse he realizes that his time has come. But time for what, though? He feels bad about something that his body's aching all the time. But at first, he claimed that he was such an easy come easy go kind of person. So what is this ache? He also says, that he got to leave, and face the truth. What truth? Wasn't he already sure that he killed someone?

Verse 6
Mama, ooh (anyway the wind blows),
I don't wanna die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.

You might think that this verse is about him going on trials because he had killed someone before, but I don't think that's what it's about. Something in himself that he disagrees on that he wishes he'd never been born at all.

Verse 7
I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
(Galileo) Galileo.
(Galileo) Galileo,
Galileo Figaro

This is getting tricky. He sees a silhouette of a man, whom we don't know. But I'm assuming that he sees that person whom he killed. Scaramouche is s a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell'arte. Fandago is a spanish dance performed by two people. What weird is that, he wants the scaramouche to dance in a fandago, but scaramouche is a man, while fandago is usually performed by couple. Can this Fandago dance which performed by the scaramouches show an act of homosexuality? And then he adds, "Thunderbolt and lighting, very very frightening me." those two scaramouches didn't dance as they were afraid of the thunders. Thunders here, could be an allegory for "judgements" by the people when they see two men dancing. 

And then he screams "Galileo" who was a mathematician and also an astronomist, as he saw those thunders / judgement. Galileo probably refers to his dear friend, Brian May who studied astronomy. 

Verse 8

I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

This part, I see that he's trying to obtain mercy. Poor boy here refers that he's a bohemian, a poor boy, from a poor family (as his family lived as the minority back in the colonial days). He wants to be saved from this "monstrosity". Monstrosity means "odd thing". Now, we are questioning what is this odd thing he was dealing with? I think it refers to his sexuality, from straight to bisexual, as he started to like men. This shows that he wanted to do a fandago, as a scaramouche, and he saw a silhouette of himself, which he killed before, a person who was once, straight. 

Verse 9
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never, never let you go
Never let me go, oh.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

And then this verse tells us that he wants people to just let him go. But people again, are being judgy and they won't let him go in the name of Allah (God). Bismillah means In the name of Allah, in the name of God. It's such an absolute public opinion where religious people would reject homosexual people with religious reasons. But in the end, after asking for mercy, Beelzebub (a satan) helped him. This means that, he couldn't care less about people judging him for being bisexual.

Verse 10
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Anyway the wind blows.

This verse tells us that he's risen up. He has accepted himself as a bisexual and he agrees to continue his life as "nothing really matters". As in the end, he doesn't care what people think. In the end he lets people see himself just the way they want and he doesn't care at all. 

It's such a relief to be able to analyze this song. In the end, words aren't just words, and songs aren't just songs. We all have stories to tell, don't we all agree?

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