How bromanic!

The “bro-mance” is a new genre that has gained popularity in the last few years. The genre has been made popular by director Judd Apatow of Freaks and Greeks, Superbad and Pineapple Express fame. The bromance explores homosociality and male bonding through the medium of comedy. The film genre takes a look at masculine ways of bonding while using the trope of heterosexual romcoms, poking fun as masculine conventions all the while praising them.

I Love You, Man, a great example of the bromance ( and one of my personal favorites), is a story about a man, Peter Klaven, a guy who is not stereotypically masculine, who becomes engaged to his girlfriend, Zooey. She has a gaggle of girlfriends to be her bridesmaids, but Peter is virtually friendless. The film centers on Peter’s search for males friends, going on “man-dates,” and eventually finding a best friend, Sydney. I Love You, Man follows the plot line of the typical romantic comedy, portraying the development of Peter and Sydney’s friendship similarly to the unfolding of a hetero-romantic relationship: the unexpected meeting, the awkward first “date,” the montage of fun times which eventually leads to the inevitable falling out, and finally the emotional reunion and happy ending.

The interesting thing about the bromance is how it plays on heterosexual romantic comedy conventions, flipping them on their head by putting male heterosexual friends into the lead roles. There is always tension in these films, though, because the men’s friendship parodies hetero romance while exploring male bonding and the difficulties men may experience while trying to make new friends. The film portrays not only homosocial bonding but also masculine interest. Peter is fascinated by Sydney. In the scene where they meet at Peter’s open house, Sydney busts a prospective buyer as a fake and admits to Peter that he only goes to open houses to pick up rich women and eat the free food. Peter becomes interested in Sydney’s carefree masculine demeanor and bachelor life style. This draws him to call Sydney and to begin their friendship where they engage in stereotypical masculine activities of “snaking cold cruisers,” jamming to Rush, and yelling under bridges, and Peter, for the first time, starts to engage in these masculine behaviours.

Towards the end of the film, Zooey and Peter experience relationship problems because Peter is constantly bro-ing down with Sydney, but in the end (like all good comedies ;) ) they all make up. This points to some interesting tensions. How much is too much masculine bonding in the context of adult men in hetero relationships? To what extent does this movie praise masculine bonding and homosociality and how much does it poke fun at it?

And for your final viewing pleasure, Jason Segel and Paul Rudd giving tips on maintaining masculinity while bromancing:

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3 Responses to How bromanic!

  1. meinad8 says:

    Uh. Huh. See, it seems I’ve got the same problems with the bromance as I do with romantic comedies. People! Wake up! They’re TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND YOU’RE DOING IT WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT! These straight-jacket proscriptions for human behaviour. Do you not feel oppressed? Or does your need for approval run that deep that you’re willing to ignore parts of yourself? How will you ever become a full person if you listen to others tell you who to be and how?

    Sorry. This rant is NOT directed at the author of this post. It’s directed to a much larger venue. That isn’t here.

  2. natasharoses says:

    Hmm I understand your frustration. But – maybe what I’m about to say is too optimistic – isn’t there anything positive to be said for a film calling attention to masculinity? Sexist binaries hold a lot more power if we don’t talk about them. While the film isn’t a politically-charged, revolutionary gem of the gender liberation movement, it does play with the binaries of man/woman, gay/straight, heterosexual romance/homosocial bonding. I think it’s good that Hollywood actually admitted that the lines between these identities are not always straightforward, that sometimes a straight male friendship can share similarities with the script for heterosexual romance.

  3. tiamercedes says:

    When I see a movie like “I Love You, Man”, I see it as Hollywood taking a stab at changes that are currently happening in society in a comical sort of way because to look at it more seriously is too provocative for the average audience. By making a movie and coining it as “bromance” means that it’s something that is very much apparent in western culture today and are slowly coming to acceptance that the hegemonic definition of masculinity is not as rigid as previously believed. Sure they’re making fun of it the whole fact that they are able to talk about it so lightly which previously seemed taboo is definitely a start.

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