What Bro Culture Is Really About

I’m fascinated by bro culture, the bromance, even the brogrammer. Bros seem like modern day versions of the suburban office worker, only they don’t know it. This piece in the Times peaked my interested. It’s good writing on how adult men are portrayed in modern American culture:

The bro comedy has been, at its worst, a cesspool of nervous homophobia and lazy racial stereotyping. Its postures of revolt tend to exemplify the reactionary habit of pretending that those with the most social power are really beleaguered and oppressed. But their refusal of maturity also invites some critical reflection about just what adulthood is supposed to mean. In the old, classic comedies of the studio era — the screwbally roller coasters of marriage and remarriage, with their dizzying verbiage and sly innuendo — adulthood was a fact. It was inconvertible and burdensome but also full of opportunity. You could drink, smoke, flirt and spend money. The trick was to balance the fulfillment of your wants with the carrying out of your duties.

The desire of the modern comic protagonist, meanwhile, is to wallow in his own immaturity, plumbing its depths and reveling in its pleasures. Sometimes, as in the recent Seth Rogen movie “Neighbors,” he is able to do that within the context of marriage. At other, darker times, say in Adelle Waldman’s literary comedy of manners, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” he will remain unattached and promiscuous, though somewhat more guiltily than in his Rothian heyday, with more of a sense of the obligation to be decent. It should be noted that the modern man-boy’s predecessors tended to be a lot meaner than he allows himself to be.

The sociologist in me says bro culture probably stems from larger forces in society like changing roles for women, an aging population, and technology as a means of defining identity. It’s hard for bros to figure out how to relate to others, so instead they revert to adolescence, or get stuck.

The language could be a little simpler, but this is on point.

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture

via The New York Times

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