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Reading the Bromance

Homosocial Relationships in Film and Television

Edited by Michael DeAngelis

Film Theory and Criticism, Gender, Masculinity, Popular Culture

Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Published: June 2014
ISBN: 9780814338988
Pages: 328 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 21 black and white photographs
Published: June 2014
ISBN: 9780814338995

In the middle of this century’s first decade, "bromance" emerged as a term denoting an emotionally intense bond between straight men. Yet bromance requires an expression of intimacy that always toys with being coded as something other than "straight" male behavior, even as it insists that such intimacy must never be misinterpreted. In Reading the Bromance: Homosocial Relationships in Film and Television, editor Michael DeAngelis has compiled a diverse group of essays that address the rise of this tricky phenomenon and explore the social and cultural functions it serves.

Contributors consider selected contemporary film and television texts, as well as the genres that historically inspired them, in order to explore what needs bromance attempts to fulfill in relationships between men—straight or otherwise. Essays analyze films ranging from I Love You, Man to Superbad, Humpday, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Hangover, and the Jackass films, and include studies of representative examples in international cinema such as Y tu mama tambien and classic and contemporary films of the Bollywood genre. The volume also examines the increasingly prevalent appearance of the bromance phenomenon in television narratives, from the "male bonding" rituals of Friends and Seinfeld to more recent manifestations in House, The Wire, and the MTV reality series Bromance.

From historical analysis to discourse analysis, sociological analysis, and queer theory, this volume provides a broad range of methodological and theoretical approaches to the phenomenon in the first booklength study of the bromance genre. Film and television scholars as well as readers interested in pop culture and queer studies will enjoy the insights of Reading the Bromance.

Michael DeAngelis is associate professor of media and cinema studies at DePaul University. He is also the author of Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves.

Contributors Include:
Ron Becker, Nick Davis, Michael DeAngelis, Ken Feil, Peter Forster, David Greven, Dominic Lennard, Murray Pomerance, Hilary Radner, Meheli Sen, Jenna Weinman

This anthology is a welcomed addition to media studies texts focused on gender. I will use a number of its well-written chapters in my undergraduate introduction to film studies course since I would expect most of my students would be conversant with the films discussed but perhaps not with the critical approaches DeAngelis and his contributors offer. The anthology challenges students to consider how the bromance operates in popular culture as the latest version of the bachelor machine.

– Daniel Keyes, PsycCRITIQUES

In this sharp, perceptive book--which fills a pressing need in current film scholarship---DeAngelis (DePaul Univ.) gathers excellent essays that trace the popular film genre "bromance" from its origins in the 1950s to the present. From Grumpy Old Men to Superbad to Scream to Y Tu Mama Tambien to Jackass to Batman to the television series House, with numerous stops in between, DeAngelis and his fellow contributors offer compelling insights into the attractions and hidden--or not so hidden--messages in the genre. With essays by such scholars as Hilary Radner, David Greven, and DeAngelis himself, the book fairly brims with original concepts, examining the homosocial contexts within which the "bromance" operates, as "bromosexuals" test the boundaries of conventional labels such as gay and straight, and work to deconstruct both genres and gender boundaries to create a new, Judd Apatow-ized cinematic universe. The volume even considers the Hindi bromance film, which most readers will not be familiar with. Considering a wide range of films, this is a solidly researched, evenhanded book.

– G. A. Foster, Choice

On the whole, Reading the Bromance is a fantastic collection of cogent essays that work well together to define the bromance genre and further the discourse of the subject. . . As DeAngelis and his contributors have demonstrated, the bromance genre is an important contemporary cultural site for academic analysis and discussion that demands greater attention. Reading the Bromance is an important introduction to the bromance genre that both summarizes and expands upon the current discourse and provides a solid base on which future bromance studies can build.

– Michael Rennett, The Velvet Light Trap

Everything you always wanted to know about the bromance, but were afraid to ask! This new volume explores contemporary masculinity, homosocial desire, and homosexual/homophobic knowing as it plays out across film and TV texts such as I Love You, Man, Superbad, The Wire, Jackass, and Humpday. In thoughtful and provocative ways, DeAngelis and his authors cover the history, forms, and multiple meanings of this curious phenomenon. Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary models of gender and sexuality.

– Harry M. Benshoff, professor of radio, TV, and film at University of North Texas and author of Dark Shadows (Wayne State University Press, 2011)

Reading the Bromance's remarkably sophisticated essays analyze the twisted generic complexity of a long history of representing male-male relations. Studying the formula's homosocial and heteronormative behaviors, these authors demonstrate how these texts permit fluid cultural and social adventures involving emotions, maturity, gender, taste, and physicality. A terrific collection.

– Janet Staiger, William P. Hobby Centennial Professor Emeritus in Communication and professor emeritus of women’s and gender studies

This lively and perceptive collection of essays posits the ‘bromance’ film as an ambivalent response to gay liberation and the women’s movement that allows for expanded representations of male intimacy even when operating within heteronormativity. Reading the Bromance is a valuable volume for those who want to understand the role of gender and sexuality in contemporary popular cinema.

– Mary Desjardins, author of Recycled Stars: Female Film Stardom in the Age of Television and Video and co-editor of Dietrich Icon