Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dissecting the Bromance

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It’s present in nearly every television show or movie these days: two or more heterosexual males who demonstrate platonic love and affection for one another. Sometimes this intimate male friendship is referred to as “guy love” or even a “man crush,” but it’s more commonly known as the “bromance.”

Right off the top of my head, I could probably come up with a dozen examples. From television, we have J.D. and Turk of Scrubs; House and Wilson of House; Shawn and Gus of Psych; and the geeky quartet of Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard on The Big Bang Theory. In literature there’s Harry and Ron of the Harry Potter series, and Holmes and Watson of the Sherlock Holmes series. Perhaps the cinema displays the greatest number of bromances, from classics such as Star Trek and Lord of the Rings to modern-day Judd Apatow films. And you can’t forget real life bros of course: how about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who’ve known each other since childhood? Or, (and Dactyl will love this), Cameron and Damian from The Glee Project.

It’s easy to see why Hollywood loves to dwell on these male friendships.

In the ideals of classical society, men are to fulfill their traditional stereotype as stoic creatures. They are supposed to embody that “strong, silent” archetype which women supposedly desire. Thus, a man who shows warmth toward another man makes himself vulnerable to jeers of unmanliness or accusations of homosexuality, regardless of whether that is the case.

But today, a man who portrays such taciturn traits is like that pre-love-confessing Mr. Darcy- a cold and arrogant snob. Today, the media puts a different kind of straight man up on a pedestal- the single man, the family man, or even the “man-child” man- all of whom have a special, cherished connection with a special, straight, male someone. It’s not such a big deal for modern-day men to show their emotions, so it’s fine for guys to have close guy friends and express their affections toward them. There's nothing emasculating about it. In fact, I'd venture to say that it highlights a man's security in his own manliness that he can act in a traditionally effeminate, emotional manner. 

Plus, it’s kind of cute. And as we all know, Mr. Darcy was only interfering in Mr. Bingley’s love life out of genuine concern and protectiveness of his dear friend… and isn’t he all the more charming for it?

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