Santa Monica, CA — All across Entertainment, 2016 was the Year of the Bromance.
I just finished reading Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, Anne Rice’s latest entry in her uber-successful Vampire Chronicles. It’s pretty homoerotic stuff, and I don’t mind that one bit (pun intended). Most, if not all, of Rice’s vampires seem to be in same-sex relationships, but there’s no sex (per se), just lots of tension and lots of sensuality expressed in drinking another’s blood. Hence, the continuing popularity of vampire literature.
Not sure TV can adapt this material well enough to match and further the source material, though. It just may be too tame. (Note to Christopher Rice: Check out EPIX’s new series, Berlin Station.)
Similarly, I just read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling’s 8th book in the HP series (but it’s the script for a 2-part Play), wherein, two teenage boys admit their need for one another, but not their love. Their tremendous chemistry is never consummated which seems a tad cowardly in 2016.
Schoolboys (and Schoolgirls) have been crushing on one another since the Dawn of School. Just Go There. I can handle it. More importantly, the characters can handle it. The story remains the story, however, the characters could use some depth. Instead, they just sorta ignore the emotional undercurrents.
In film, Batman battled Superman to the death only to realize he loved his Super Friend in the End because both of them had a mother named Martha (a very quick turn, btw). There’s a reason this movie didn’t work, and one very big reason is Bruce Wayne’s inexplicable caring about Superman at the end. I didn’t buy it and neither did the audience. Don’t get me started on Doomsday, the Kryptonic monster created by Lex Luthor. Terrible.
In Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, Cap risks everything to save his childhood friend Bucky Barnes from capture by Iron Man inadvertently creating an Avenger Bromantic Love Triangle: Cap loves Bucky who can’t remember Cap which makes Iron Man completely jealous (among other emotions) because Cap would throw away the Avengers to save Bucky who has become The Winter Soldier. In Tony Stark’s defense, The Winter Soldier did murder his parents.
Damn, comic books are soapy! So much subtext to parse, so little time.
Steve Rogers clearly loves Bucky Barnes. It’s nice to see, and yet it’s not enough…after three films: Man loses Friend. Man fights Friend. Man risks life to save Friend. Cool. The love of Captain America’s life is clearly another man which makes perfect sense considering everything he’s been through. And, it doesn’t matter if that Love is sexual or not because it’s one of Life’s Great Loves. Now, can’t someone in this story talk about it?
In Star Trek: Beyond, J.J. Abrams third entry in the Paramount franchise re-boot, he boldly goes where Gene Roddenberry never went before: Sulu is gay and presumbably happily married. This seemed like a complete throwaway. Even original Sulu actor and activist George Takei even chimed in with an, “Um, no.” Audience reaction was more like “Meh.”
Colin Farrell creepily seduces (or grooms, depending upon your POV) confused young wizard Ezra Miller in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the re-launch of Potterverse setting up the eventual dual between Grindewald (Johnny Depp) and Dumbledore, who in the books, were best friends and very possibly, lovers. Summertime in Godric’s Hollow (and the living is easy)…Filmgoers are waiting to see in the next four films how far Rowling goes with this innuendo. I say, go already. Audiences can deal with it as long as the characters can. (They can.)
So this Trend of Bromance vs Queerness in mainstream Movies, Books and Theatre is good overall because it’s evolving a mass audience to the Nature of Human Beings: We are born to love one another regardless of Gender. Viva Bromance!
As an audience member, though, I am ready for a lot more Complexity and a lot less Innuendo.
My favorite film of the year, without a doubt, is LaLa Land, Damien Chazelle’s wonderfully wistful Ode to Los Angeles starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I really enjoyed the hetero love story especially when Chazelle surprisingly throws in a Sliding Doors-esque twist near the end of the movie.
Complexity. Depth of Emotion. I felt some Shit.
For Mainstream Hollywood Films to evolve, writers of Indie Films must boldly go where the major studios fear to tread. Create some multi-layered leading LGBTQ characters who are heroic, romantic and complex, and most importantly, who don’t get punished (Imitation Game, Carol, Brokeback Mountain).
The story must be there. If the characters demand that you go there, then bloody Go There.
Looking at you, future James Bond movies, however, I am willing to bet that the next Kingsman film beats you to it, ya old Dinosaur.
Family Comedies and Dramas are really trending this year in TV development.