Bromance is a portmanteau of the words bro or brother and romance. Editor Dave Carnie coined the term in the skateboard magazine Big Brother in the 1990s to refer specifically to the sort of relationships that develop between skaters who spent a great deal of time together.
The contemporary circumstances of bromance separate it from more general homosocial practices and historic romantic friendships. Aristotle's classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of the bromance. He wrote around 330 BC, "It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends' sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality." Numerous examples exist of famous intense male friendships throughout most of Western history, and such relationships were likewise common. It has been posited that in the late 19th century, Freudianism and the emergence of visible homosexuality directed heterosexual men to avoid expressions of intense affection.
Research into friendship and masculinity has found that recent generations of men raised by feminist mothers in the 1970s are more emotionally open and more expressive. Straight men are less homophobic than in times past, and less concerned about being labelled as gay, so they are more comfortable exploring deeper friendships with other men. Research done in the United States suggests that the trend of rejecting "traditional views of masculinity" is most prevalent amongst men of Anglo-Saxon descent and lowest in those of African descent, with those of Hispanic descent falling in between. Furthermore, it was found that men who strongly endorse "traditional views of masculinity" are more prone to alexithymia (difficulty understanding or identifying with emotions).
Another factor believed to influence bromance is that men are marrying later, if at all. According to the 2010 US Census, the average age of a man's first marriage is 28, up from 23 in 1960. It was also found that men with more education are waiting until their 30s before getting married.
Friendships among men are often primarily based on shared activities. This can include playing video games, getting high, playing musical instruments, shopping, chatting by the fire, watching movies, fishing, camping, and other sporting activities, gambling, social drinking, smoking, pipes, and engaging in the use of psychedelic substances. Emotional sharing (which is common in women's friendships) is another such activity.
Portrayal of bromance
Celebrity and fictional bromances
A number of celebrities have engaged in bromances with fellow celebrities. Examples include Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, described as "perhaps the pioneering bromance in showbiz history," which led to a hit off-Broadway play called Matt and Ben. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine after the filming of the 2009 Star Trek film, have become a modern bromantic relationship, which has its own significance with regards to the characters they play on the film, i.e. Kirk and Spock, a legendary fictional bromantic relationship itself. The close friendship between George Clooney and Brad Pitt, is even described by some as "George's longest lasting affair" and Clooney's bromantic tendencies served as the basis for an episode of the animated series American Dad! entitled "Tears of a Clooney", in which lead character Stan Smith becomes bromantically involved with Clooney as part of an elaborate revenge plot. Brody Jenner, featured on MTV's reality show The Hills and the subject of bromance discussions for his relationships with castmates Justin Bobby and Spencer Pratt, debuted his own series on the network, called Bromance, on December 29, 2008. The six-episode series features Jenner selecting from amongst competitors to become part of Jenner's "entourage".
Bromance on television has also become more commonplace, with some critics tracing its origins back to such shows as The Odd Couple. In October 2008, TV Guide placed Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) on the cover, under the headline "Isn't It Bromantic?".
The tight relationship (both on- and off-stage) between Bruce Springsteen and the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons has often been described as one of the most fitting examples of bromance in Western modern music. This relationship is most notably depicted in Springsteen's song "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", from Born to Run (in which Springsteen and Clemons appear respectively under their pseudonyms Bad Scooter and Big Man), as well as in Clemons' autobiography Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales.
In fiction, what had once been called buddy films have to a degree been re-branded as bromance films, although critics do still draw a distinction between the two, noting that a buddy film tends to be more explicitly violent and less open about its latent homosexual content. The intersection between buddy films and what would come to be called the bromance film was noted comedically at least as early as 1978, when National Lampoon ran a parody ad for the football-themed buddy film Semi-Tough, renamed "Semi-Sweet" and featuring an illustration of stars Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson holding hands.
The Daily Show correspondents John Oliver and Wyatt Cenac perform together on the show. When they covered Chelsea Clinton's wedding in Rhinebeck, New York they wore matching outfits and Cenac joked, "We got here this morning -- it's a beautiful place. John and I were thinking we'd get married."
Though the original J. R. R. Tolkien novels predate what could formally be called a "bromance," the portrayal of the relationships between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took or Gimli and Legolas in the novels and the films may be characterized as a bromance.
Historical and political bromances
Politically, the relationship between Bill Clinton and Al Gore has been characterized as a precursor to the bromance. The relationship between George W. Bush and former press secretary Scott McClellan as told in McClellan's book What Happened was called by one reviewer "the tale of one long, failed bromance". The premiers of Ontario and Quebec, Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest, have been engaged in what has been described as a "burgeoning bromance".
While the term has generally been applied to straight relationships, mixed gay-straight relationships with no form of sexual intimacy have also been dubbed bromances. Examples of well-known gay-straight bromances (sometimes dubbed "homomances" or "hobromances") include Ronnie Kroell and Ben DiChiara from the Bravo reality series Make Me a Supermodel, in which the pair was nicknamed "Bronnie", the relationship on Survivor: Gabon between Charlie Herschel and Marcus Lehman, and American Idol's Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, which was given the name "Kradam".
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- Buddy film
- I Love You, Man
- Male bonding
- Man date
- Romantic friendship
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