Saturday, July 5, 2014

Romance or Bromance?

I recently had a discussion with a female friend about stereotypes in romantic fiction. It started out innocently enough, with her asking about my upcoming romantic mystery, the third in a series. She gave her opinion of my main character, a footloose private eye who gets involved with a different sexy femme fatale in each story, and accused me of objectifying women. I tried to laugh it off by saying that’s what romance writers do when we concoct our dream object of desire that’s always too fantastic to be real. She broke off the argument by saying that she had to get to the gym to hook up with her girlfriend.

Hold the phone. My friend is straight, so why is she referring to one of her Aerobics partners as her girlfriend? I chummed the waters by pointing out that if I had referred to one of my workout buddies as my boyfriend, she might’ve thought I was gay or bisexual. She called me a Neanderthal but invited me for coffee later.

The whole thing brought up something I hadn’t thought about. How many bromances have there been in pop culture and classic literature?

Look at Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. These two lived together, traveled together, and solved cases together. It was the original buddy story – or was it something else? Neither of them was ever involved with a member of the opposite sex. Holmes was the Type A part of the duo, so one could easily assume that he was the dominant one. Before I got too far with this, visions of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce popped into my head so I moved on.

How about Batman and Robin? If ever there was a hint of too close for comfort, this was it. Why did this handsome single rich guy adopt this teenage boy in the first place? Was it because he thought he’d look good in tights? And what really went on in the Batcave, hmmmmmm? Of course, once they introduced Batgirl and Catwoman, the scenario changed. “Hey, babe, come on back to the cave. You can slide up and down my Batpole!”

Since we’re talking about men in tights we can’t forget Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. Why do you suppose they were so merry out there in Sherwood Forest? Maid Marian would put in an appearance but I suspect she was the wing person for Robin Hood when he went to the tavern. I won’t comment on the name Little John.

And there’s the Lone Ranger and Tonto. What about those lonely nights on the prairie under a full moon and stars, with no women in sight? Come to think of it, in all those old movies I only saw one sleeping bag anchored to the saddle.

Speaking of Superheroes, did you ever wonder if there was something cozy going on between Superman and Wonder Woman? Talk about breaking the bed! Someone once hypothesized that since Wonder Woman was from the Amazon, she might have been a lesbian. Probably explains why she hung out with Supergirl. And Batgirl, and Catwoman, and…

We can’t overlook the odd relationship between The Green Hornet and Kato, either. All of that martial arts stuff and the face masks were probably metaphors for BDSM. And what was up with the trench coat the Hornet wore? Possibly a Freudian reference to flashing?

Have you caught a rerun of “Bonanza” lately? Fifteen years on the Ponderosa and no females in residence! Johnny Carson once pointed this out on “The Tonight Show” and asked Michael Landon if it was because the Cartwright men were gay. Landon’s response was priceless – “No, but thank God Hop Sing was!”

Not long ago I saw “Casablanca” on the movie channel. If you recall, it ends with Rick and Louis walking along an airport runway into a foggy night. They’ve agreed to go on vacation together with Louis footing the bill. Rick says “Louis, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

They’ll always have Paris.

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


Tina Donahue said...

OMG, Tim - this is hysterical. I never thought of Batman and Robin that way - now, I can't get the picture out of my head. Funny and creepy.

jean hart stewart said...

GREAT column!!! My computer was down yesterday or I would have commented sooner. Playing catchup today.

Fiona McGier said...

You raise some interesting questions, Tim, in your usual tongue-in-cheek way.
The show that I caught recently and was shocked by was The Lucy Show...on the episode I was watching while I waited for Mission Impossible on one of the Me-TV channels, Lucy tells Desi about another of her schemes...he forbids her from doing what she wants. She attempts to defy him...he warns her that he'll take her over his knee...she says "you wouldn't dare"...then he does! He spanked her! In the next scene, her friend asks her if she'd like to sit down, and she rubs her butt, rolls her eyes, and says, "Not right now."

WTF?? I was horrified! As my husband reminded me the next day, Lucy was in charge of her show, so no one thought of it as domestic violence...just as "normal". Kind of reminds me how Ike Turner is supposed to have answered when Tina's autobiography came out and someone asked him if he did indeed beat his wife. He replied, "No more than any other man beats his wife." Sigh. Gets the ardent feminist in me riled up and makes me grit my teeth! This is why I can't really get into BDSM erotica...even if it's M/M. Still one of them is being hit by the other. To me, that's the farthest you can get from a loving relationship.