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?

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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.

The Root 100 People's Choice Awards  
Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM