When Mercury appeared in front of an audience of 325,000 and started singing "I Want to Break Free", stones were thrown at him. He quickly realized that his female outfit was the reason and removed his wig and false breasts, which calmed down the audience - they did not wish to see the song about freedom which they interpreted as "sacred" mocked. This incident however puzzled and disappointed the singer.
The female characters played (in drag) by the band and the look of the house it is set in is an affectionate tribute of the long running British television soap opera 'Coronation Street' (1960). Whilst most British and commonwealth fans of the band recognized this as a tongue in cheek parody of a British institution, the joke was lost on the American networks who didn't recognize the gag or thought the casual viewer wouldn't be aware of it and most promptly refused to screen the video for fear of upsetting their audience and thus affected both it's U.S. chart position and overall perception of the band.
The song is largely known for its music video for which all the band members dressed in women's clothes, a concept proposed by Roger Taylor, which parodied the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street.