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Brian Till
27 Jan 2010
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Bromance and Barack


"Bromance" is a new show about to launch on MTV. Bromance, for those who haven't come across the phrase, is a term for fraternity-like relationships between young men. When I try to make weekend plans with male coworkers or talk about sports, it's common for girls nearby to make cracks about how "cute" our bromance is. My guess is that the semi-derogatory term was coined by women frustrated to not be receiving more attention.

But beyond the show — which I expect will savage the bromance the same way "The Bachelor" perverts marriage — is an interesting cultural dimension of Generation Y. And watching the show's trailer reminded me of my own friend-crush, one that's hardly unique.

Deep male friendships, which have traditionally given way in the post-college years, appear to be more resilient now than they were as our fathers grew up. I wonder if this generation, when confronted by the time in which most men replace friends with wives and children, might struggle to strike a balance. Pop culture, I would argue, has been gradually increasing the importance of intra-gender relationships throughout our upbringing. Family sitcoms hardly exist today, having been replaced by shows like "Sex and the City," "Entourage," "The O.C.," and "The Hills" — shows that dwell as much, if not more, in friendships as they do in male-female relationships. They're shows in which sex and love almost never come into play without a lens that includes same-sex friends. There's very little that remains private from the bros, or the female equivalent. Reality TV, too, I would contend, often focuses more on relations within the bounds of gender as opposed to across it.

Fantasy sports leagues, increased emphasis on personal health and fitness, and popular culture have all driven a new commitment to "male space." And stronger male relationships that are forged along the way.

That said, let me return to my own prospective bromance.

MTV's new show focuses on a group of friends trying to find a replacement for a guy that has left the crew. Now, I haven't lost any bros of late, but that hasn't stopped me — or many male members of Gen. Y — from wanting to add another member to the roster.

Most often people want to meet presidents. Overwhelmingly, though, I find young men of Generation Y want to kick it with, chill with, hang out with or just be friendly with Barack Obama. We don't want a handshake and a photo; we want concert tickets and the guard slot in the White House pickup game.

We want to watch "Sports Center" and talk about good ol' college days. I'm thinking about going out to work on my three-point shot and I don't even like basketball; I grew up in New England where hoops is for kids who can't skate.

I want to hit the weights and try to keep up with Obama and Reggie Love, his right-hand man who played football at Duke. Maybe we can catch some North Shore swells since you're spending the holidays in Hawaii, brah? I can kinda surf, too!

Assuming I don't get to pull the president-elect into my circle of friends, two things will remain. First, Barack Obama is a wildly dynamic figure. I find even conservatives friends admitting he'd be a fun bro to spend the weekend with.

Second, we've raised a generation of men cognizant of the perils marriage poses to their friendships with other men. While I don't think we're looking at death of marriage as an institution, it'll be interesting how the strains of the bro-code will weigh upon marriages of the 21st century.

Brian Till, one of the nation's youngest syndicated columnists, is a research associate for the New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington. He can be contacted at To find out more about the author and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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