I’ve been a fan of Billy Eichner for a long time, so I’ve been supporting Bros from its inception. It exceeded my expectations and I enjoyed it, despite not really enjoying rom-coms in general.
There are two movies packed into Bros. One is a traditional rom-com that just happens to feature a gay couple. The other is a comedic look at the LGBTQ+ community, our internal struggles, and a message of hope for us on the other side. When it comes down to it, I’m a bigger fan of the latter film. Rom-coms just aren’t my thing. But I admit even my cold anti-rom-com heart got a bit misty-eyed seeing these two fools fall in love. They really are a good match.
Despite a disappointing box office debut, Eichner is proud of the film, and he absolutely should be. Seeing niche gay jokes on the big screen is an entirely new thing for me. I’m glad we broke that boundary, even if it didn’t bring tons of people to the theater. A nice box office result would have proven to the studios that queer people deserve having our projects backed, and it’s sad we didn’t get to deliver that message, but the film made history regardless.
You should be proud, Billy. Don’t let the numbers get to you. Please keep doing awesome things. The world needs it.
The LGBTQ+ Community is Diverse
Bros is very self-aware. The lead character is a cis white gay man and makes references to this several times. Eichner’s character, Bobby Lieber, runs a podcast called ‘The Eleventh Brick,’ which is a reference to Stonewall. A cis white gay man probably threw, like, the eleventh brick at Stonewall. Black trans women were first.
The board of the LGBTQ Museum helps flesh out the representation that the film would have otherwise lacked, including numerous POC, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people. These aren’t just throwaway characters for diversity points. Their inclusion is important to the message of the film: we are a diverse community who often disagrees, but we’re better when we have each other’s backs.
The board of the museum fights a lot. Honestly, when I first saw the trailer of the film, this was the most relatable thing in it. We have our own struggles and often can’t agree on things. This makes us look like a messy, dysfunctional family that can’t get things done. At the end of the film, though, the board comes together and has each other’s backs. While our disagreements are often quite important, the message I took away is that being able to support each other through all of this is perhaps our most valuable trait.
As a side note, though, I really want the scene of them brawling with a pride flag as a reaction gif. Because let’s be real, that is us. Unlike Bros, though, we can’t always come together at the end of the day. The divisions in our community are real and can be exhausting. I prefer Eichner’s world, though. It’s much more upbeat than what I’ve been experiencing in the community lately. But that’s perhaps a topic for a completely different article.
The Niche Queer Humor is On Point
My favorite part of the film is the incredibly niche queer humor. Yes, this may alienate heterosexual fans, or queer fans that aren’t super well read up on LGBTQ+ history and culture, but that’s fine. Those audiences have the rom-com part of the film to enjoy. People like me have this.
The two jokes that got the biggest laughs from me are the aforementioned ‘Eleventh Brick’ podcast title, and the Gay Trauma Coaster. A large part of the film features Bobby searching for a sponsor for the last exhibit in the museum. When they find someone willing to fund it, their idea of an exhibit is basically a dark ride that explores historically traumatic gay moments. It gets dubbed the ‘Gay Trauma Coaster,’ and honest to god, I’m still laughing at it many days later.
The hilarity of the situation is enhanced by Bowen Yang’s over-the-top portrayal of a wealthy gay Hollywood producer. The entire sequence of events that lead to him agreeing to sponsor the exhibit is one gay-cliché-turned-up-to-11 after another. If this had come from a straight writer and actor, it would have been insulting. But it’s from our community, about our community, and we can laugh at it accordingly.
We can and should laugh at ourselves sometimes. It’s healthy to step back and not take ourselves too seriously on occasion. Otherwise, well, we’re just stuck on our own little Gay Trauma Coaster for all eternity, and that’s not fun.
Bros: The Rom-Com
Rom-Coms bore me. Two people meet each other’s eyes across the room (a loud, flashy, dance club here), fall for each other, encounter problems, but then come back to each other in the end with valuable lessons learned. It’s not a template that particularly appeals to me. The ‘problem’ with their relationship, though, actually had some valuable commentary about the queer community, and I can appreciate it.
Bobby is a man that knew he was gay from a young age. He ended up hyperfocusing his life on the topic, which can seem weird to some people. At one point he talks about how his parents were concerned he was talking and writing too much about gay life and culture. They worried it would limit him in life. He does manage to make a career of it, though. With a fairly successful podcast and his position on the board of the LGBTQ Museum, his hyperfocus on the gay community actually led him to great success.
Luke Macfarlane’s character, Aaron Shepherd, is very different. He doesn’t talk about the gay community all the time, and isn’t up on the history of it all. He’s more interested in working out and having sex. He’s no less, gay, though. Aaron is just different.
Despite my anti-Rom-Com sentiments, I did get emotional when these two very different, but no less-boneheaded men, finally admit that they love each other. I can’t help it. They are very cute.
If you’re curious, I’m more of a Bobby Gay than an Aaron Gay. But the fact that I run a website largely devoted to analyzing media through a queer lens was probably a dead giveaway on that front. But I digress…
Go See Bros
Bros had a disappointing opening weekend, and that will never change. You should still go pay to see it in theaters anyway. Even if the opening weekend is largely what studios look at when considering future films, what it pulls in over its full run is still a factor. If we want more queer cinema, whether it’s rom-coms or something else, we need to let studio executives know that’s what we want by actually going and seeing these films in theaters. Similar arguments are made about women-led films and POC-led films, and there’s definitely merit to it.
If at the end of the day you still don’t think this film is for you and don’t want to spend money on it, that’s completely your prerogative. I do, however, fear that executives will point to these box office numbers as a reason to pass up future queer films. If you don’t think it happens, please remember that former Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter literally did this exact thing to suppress women-led superhero films for over a decade. It’s the sad reality of the situation.
But hey, we did manage to push past that and get woman-led superhero films, so maybe we’ll have some luck here, too. Still, please go see the film if you can. Every little bit helps.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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