a moment of clarity.
"There weren’t many major male pop stars who were openly gay back then. (Scarcely any are now. Elton John said he was bisexual in 1976, and officially stayed there for more than a decade. He could hold a pose.) Lots of men hinted. Lots of men messed around with masculinity, and not just the megastars. For every David Bowie or even Boy George, there was a Jermaine Stewart or a Good Question, many rungs down the fame ladder. And for reasons that make no cosmic sense, a few of those men — Prince, David Bowie, Prince Be of P.M. Dawn, and now Mr. Michael — died in 2016, a year in which dismaying ambivalence about aggressive, invasive male behavior was matched by the reinstatement of duller performances of masculinity in both our pop music and our politics. The Princes and the George Michaels seem as radical as ever.
...Last spring, Key & Peele’s stoner, shoot-em-up comedy, “Keanu,” came and went. But there’s a running gag that’s stayed with me. It’s just three Los Angeles thugs and one uptight bureaucrat named Clarence (Keegan Michael Key) pretending to be a thug (long story; a good one, though) chilling in Clarence’s minivan. To pass the time, they turn to the fake thug’s iPhone for music, and up comes George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90.” One dude says, “That sounds kinda white.” And Clarence begins a quick defense of his taste, studded with the n-word, that also makes a flashy British pop star sound like a gangsta from Crenshaw.
The sequence culminates with their being oblivious to the shootout in the house they’re parked in front of, belting “One More Try” like a pack of wolves baying at the moon. For about 25 minutes, “Keanu” is smarter than the bad action comedy it turns out to be. And one thing it’s brilliant about is the partial meaning of George Michael.
Who knows if Mr. Michael found that annoying. Who knows if he was aware that “Keanu” existed. But the crush this movie has on him is the crush almost everybody did. At some point, Clarence takes a hit of some hot new street drug, and the first place his high takes him is dancing with Mr. Michael in the “Faith” video. He’s up where even Mr. Michael’s slowest, saddest music could take you. He’s in heaven."
THE NEW YORK TIMES: George Michael Mattered Beyond the Music