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Male Nudity, Illicit Substances and Ill-Timed Professions of Love

Can black male characters hang in the era of the bromance? Or is the trend all about emasculation?


Welcome to the age of the bromance—a comedy, at times romantic, that showcases a deep-rooted, affectionate, borderline gay relationship between two or more white men. Lately, Hollywood has been packing and repacking the same successful recipe for male bonding on film: hijinks, dirty jokes and a handful of “hetero” man love sprinkled throughout.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express and the forthcoming Couples Retreat all follow the bromance formula with a mostly white cast.

But what happens when one of the bros is a brother? So far, nothing good. Bromanticism has been unkind to “the black friend.” We’ve seen plenty of funny moments, but most at the black buddy’s expense.

The ebony/ivory technique has obviously been used in films before, but until recently, interracial friendships among men have typically evolved within action flicks. Take Agent K in Men in Black. Here, “the black friend,” played by Will Smith, is one of a fearsome duothe unruly, ass-kicking other half to a white male lead:

On the plus side, the two characters do share roughly equal amounts of screen time, solid one-liners and a back story to overcome. (Ditto for 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard with a Vengance … etc.) But when they aren’t toting guns or blowing up things, the black friend is strictly relegated to the sidelines.