Based on his new reality show, Bromance, it would be all too easy to call Brody Jenner a psychopathologically self-absorbed and self--indulgent, hedonistic, superficial idiot, the latest blight on a culture that has already been trivialized and perhaps fatally diminished by the triumph of meaningless celebrity over substance, intelligence, talent and art.
But something else is afoot with Bromance that transcends the sexist gaffes, the sophomoric frat house humor, the hot shirtless--and sometimes naked-- dudes and the oddly frequent glimpses of Mr. Jenner's delicious ass crack.
Young, pioneering, culture-defining Brody may be in the vanguard--consciously or unconsciously--of carving out new ground rules for what defines a neo-heterosexual man as the up and coming generation struggles with the increasing murkiness of straight-acting, macho, real men, dudes and jocks.
Twentieth Century straight guys could rely on the swishy stereotype to identify themselves as "not gay." But as increasing numbers of politicians, actors, athletes, businessmen, blue collar workers, military men and cops exit the Closet, pushing aside the old stereotypes, straight men are now having to work for a new identity. These days straight men do more than eat quiche, they invent new quiche recipes; and gay men can be found farting and belching for no good reason.
And then there is the metrosexual and Queer Eye legacy. Straight men, like Brody are waxing and shaving their bodies, even their balls. Just try to find a straight boy without product hair. And the days of the straight man's iconic trademark, white Jockey briefs have been Ginch Gonched into oblivion.
These days the big burly sweaty beer guzzling, belching rugby stud is more likely to be gay than straight.
Furthermore with so many men these days falling out and sometimes kicked out of the closet, everyone is under scrutiny. No straight man is safe from innuendo, rumor and misinterpretation by media, bloggers, wives and girlfriends. Broadcasting heterosexuality has become daunting. Men like Larry Craig and Howard Stern are obliged to file lawsuits to prove and defend their heterosexual orientation.
So what's a straight boy to do?
Brody to the rescue.
Straight men need new rules. And Brody, the perfect celebrity straight man, is ready to deliver.
Each episode of Bromance is more concerned with defining boundaries between male bonding and homosexuality than it is with finding a new Bro bro. Bro bro is the new straight equivelant of Boo Boo.
In case, you've been smart enough to not watch this show or it's promos, the premise is simple. Brody is a young sugar daddy looking for a trophy boy aka BFF aka Bromance aka Bro bro aka kept boy aka subservient bottom.
A studly but brainless crew of sycophantic, mouth-breathing, high school drop-outs compete to climb up Brody's adorable butthole and live out eternity as Brody's pet dude. The winner will give up his life, his friends, his family, his possessions and his job in exchange for a multi-million dollar Bromance love nest and the right to follow Brody around as Brody pursues a relentless lifestyle of DUI, Playboy Bunnies and The Hills.
By any surely out-dated definition, the winner of Bromance will become a kept boy.
But according to the new rules--as they are being forged by Brody Jenner, this is Bromance, that special and unique brotherly love that can only exist between two straight boys, one of whom is rich and pathologically self-centered while the other one is an obedient lap dog. It's kind of like the way Michael Jackson used to buy boys as playthings--except Brody's playthings are of legal age.
But the real joy and instructional value of this show is watching the Bro competitors ever so carefully test the shallow waters between appropriate bro behavior and questionable gay behavior. In fact, Bromance is something of a master class in young heterosexual male sociology, anthropology and herd psychology.
In one episode we learned that a hot tub full of straight men wearing nothing more than their boxer shorts and boxer briefs is a truly awkward moment with all arms folded and knees clenched, but throw in just one bikini-clad big breasted bimbo and its turns into a raucous party with straight male limbs intertwining and uninhibited degrees of skin on skin contact. Context is everything.
We also learned that straight men can hug during an emotional moment as long as their fists are clenched and there's some shoulder punching thrown in. Open handed hugs without the follow up dude punch are gay gay gay and cause Brody, our Zen Master of neo-heterosexuality to look askance at the camera, one eyebrow questionably raised. (This guy has to go; his hug lingered into gayland.)
We learn that it's OK to wear women's underwear, as long as it's on your head. Opening up about your true feelings is cool, especially if it makes you cry...but through the blubbering you MUST make a pussy joke at least every ten minutes.
Otherwise, it's gay.
For the gay viewer who can get past the outrageous sexism and patronizing straight boy attitudes, it is surely fun to watch the crew struggle with the tight bonds of what "straight-acting" used to mean.
Brody is unquestionably straight, in fact, he's the picture perfect version of 21st Century straight. His father was an Olympic hero, he's stepbrother to Kim Kardashian, Hollywood's most famous new piece of fat ass, he's best friends with Lauren Conrad and boyfriend to playmate Jayde Nicole. Now that's a resume!
Brody also likes men … a lot. But, not in gay way. He makes that clear every chance he gets.
Brody understands bromance. He claims to have invented it!
By Brody's definition, a bromance is "A bond between you and your go-to guy. Somebody that just keeps it real with you." Of course Brody's world is about a real as a movie set at Universal.
And within this world, Brody is searching for a new best friend--someone prepared to give up his life, identity, self-respect and dignity to live as an indentured servant and as a kept boy. You can't get more real than that!
The other fascinating aspect of this experience is the humor in male bonding.
In Brody's world the line between Bromance and queer romance is a never-ending source of off-color jokes, ribald remarks and all-around frivolity. Tons of nudity and hot-tubbing in your undies. Apparently over-crowding a bubbling hot tub with nearly naked men and no women and not being gay is as funny as funny gets.
I'm not sure why this is funny, but apparently The Hills generation, Brody Jenner and Kim Kardashian fans can't get enough of it--dudes being as gay as they can be without being gay. Real men do it all--and Brody is redefining "all"--but gay boys cross the line. It's macho to slap each other's butts, whip out your dick and wiggle it in public, even slap a dude on the head with it; but just don't put one in your mouth--well, at least not willingly and with enthusiasm. And it's OK to get a boner around dudes, as long as you emphasize that you were dreaming of Lauren Conrad and not last night in the hot tub with Brody.
One might be concerned that Bromance will strip gay away from gay, leaving us with nothing but cum guzzling and fudge packing. Brody seems to be leading a straight boy charge to redefine male bonding in a world gone gay. I think I liked it better when real men didn't eat quiche.