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?

11 comments:

nekobawt said...

i think it's been mentioned once or twice in comments (possibly in articles, but i haven't read all your archives yet) on your blog, but does "romy and michelle's high school reunion" count for a girls' bff movie? been a while since i've seen it...

gatto said...

You should see the movie "Housekeeping", based on the wonderful book. It's about two sisters whose mother commits suicide, who end up living with their single aunt Sylvie, and the friendship between Ruthie (the older sister) and Sylvie, and the townspeople's disapproval of their situation, of Sylvie raising the girls with a missing husband (it's set in 1950's Idaho). It's one of my very favorite movies, sadly, never released on DVD, but you can find the VHS on ebay. Great book, too.

Miliarchi said...

In one of his stand-up shows, Bill Bailey asked the audience, "How many women are here tonight?" Cheering and applause. "Great!" Bailey continued. "And how many men?" Dead silence. "Ok... how many blokes?" Cheering and applause. As Bailey then observed, calling oneself a man carries a heavy burden. Identifying as a bloke is less pressure.

So is the bromance just another way for "blokes" to avoid confessing their feelings? It would seem that dressing up straight male relationships in silliness gives the option to later disavow anything that was said or done.

Ily said...

It's been a long time since I've seen "Romy and Michelle" also. Hmm, a movie not on DVD...I'll see what I can do :-)
And that's very interesting about the blokes. I think you make a very good point there.

Anonymous said...

You might also file classic Star Trek under this genre. It has always emphasized the friendship between the three main characters (McCoy, Kirk and Spock). The new movie continues in this vein - the centrality of Kirk and Spock's relationship takes center stage, not any of the romantic relationships.

heidi said...

Ok, so it's not entirely A, but this graph is made of win - http://graphjam.com/2009/06/08/song-chart-memes-cat-lady/ - it just needs a bit less "attraction" to fit!

edgeofeverywhere said...

"Proof that Newsweek writers read Edge of Everywhere..."

Haha...I wish! I stole the title from a TV guide cover story about House.

It is frustrating that shows/movies about female friendship are seen as chick fare, while ones about male bonding are seen as somehow more neutral/for everyone.

DJ DJ said...

Wait wait wait. The author of asexy beast is fanticizing about undermining romance to let loose a repressed urge for community building which leads to widespread social change?

There goes the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"The constant pursuit of romance can function to keep us stuck in our own little worlds instead of building community, ovethrowing the government, etc."

The irony is that if people spent time community-building or overthrowing the government instead of actively pursuing romance, they may actually have a better chance of finding romance, because it would bring people closer together in a natural rather than artificial way (i.e. dating), and offers perhaps a greater potential for deeper bonding experiences (platonic as well as romantic) resultant from the joint pursuit of 'meaningful' common goals. You might get this from working in particular 'worthy' vocations, but if your job is not particularly inspiring, in my experience you only bond with your colleagues over the fact that you are working in the same dull/tedious environment (i.e. you bitch quite a bit).

Ily said...

Anon, I think you're quite right. We should publicize that idea...everybody wins!

Claude said...

I wish they would have some male-female friendship sometimes. D: 'Cause you can be friends with the opposite sex.

I'd actually rather have a male friend than a female friend.