Sunday, June 7, 2009
Is Bromance Really New?
Proof that Newsweek writers read Edge of Everywhere comes in the form of a short column from its latest issue called "Isn't it Bromantic?" Talking about The Hangover, a current movie in which three friends rescue their pal from a night of forgotten antics, Ramin Setoodeh declares that he can "officially declare that the bromance is the new romantic comedy". He writes, "Buddy comedies are nothing new, but the bromance shows us that straight guys, even without the aid of a high-speed car chase, can bond almost as strongly as heterosexual lovebirds."
Ah, that word almost. Until fairly recently, straight guys have always been bonding more strongly than male-female couples. It's funny that bromance is trendy, when male-male friendships have been the major relationship in our society throughout most of history. It's just not something that has been committed to film to any great degree. With some exceptions, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it's been male friends (and enemies) who have altered the course of world events, not heterosexual couples. It's a relatively recent development, men relying on their female partners for all their emotional support. In the past, men supported other men as they drank ale, smoked cigars, or did whatever else dudes did.
But our media hasn't really reflected that, has it? Nor has it given us anything but a pale reflection of the historical strength of female-female bonds. Where's the female equivalent of a bromance? Oh right...it doesn't exist. Can you imagine Hangover starring a group of female friends? I can, but it would never get made. Yeah, yeah, there's a few examples, like Sex and the City. But that's one isolated film, not a burgeoning genre. And while films like Sex and the City are described by newspapers as a movie "for women", stuff like I Love You, Man and The Hangover are apparently for everyone, male and female alike. It's that old "Girls will watch boy shows but boys won't watch girl shows" Saturday-morning cartoon dictum. Maybe so, but don't assume the girls aren't pissed off about it.
Netflix calls bromance the "equivalent of a rom-com". At the risk of sounding slightly insane (which kind of proves my point), male-female romance, as far as our media is concerned, is really the new opiate of the masses. The constant pursuit of romance can function to keep us stuck in our own little worlds instead of building community, ovethrowing the government, etc. It's no wonder people are finding bromance refreshing. I can't speak for asexual men, so I wonder what you guys think of this cinematic trend, especially guys who aren't necessarily interested in romantic relationships. Can you relate to bromance? Or is there a little too much "No really, we're heterosexual...really, believe it!" going on?