August 20, 2011

The King's Speech - A Beautiful Bromance

Every now and then there comes along a movie which recalibrates my whole being. This year The King's Speech was such a movie. I saw it for the first time in Renoir Cinema in London in January. Later I have seen it five more times, I think.

The movie has been characterized as a bromance - a compound word of "brother" and "romance". I had not heard the term before. So I did a little reading around the term. A bromance is a close, but non-sexual relationship between two (or more) men, a form of homosocial intimacy.

I remember when I first arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1995. There were many strange smells and scenes, but one of the most startling sights was the widespread physical contact between males. Everywhere I walked I saw men touching, holding hands, piggybacking, and walking together with arms crossed behind the back of his friend, a hand placed in the other's back pocket - if I didn't know better, I might mistake it to be a homosexual metropolis. However, it was just a beautiful expression of the close relationships males can have in Asia.

Fast forward a couple of years, I am studying in the Pirate University of Norway and have several fellow students from Nepal, among them Tiger (whom I have written about before here). One day we had a new arrival from Nepal - Thompson, also known as Snow Leopard (read more about him here). As we were having tea after dinner, Snow Leopard was sitting next to Tiger, his arm wrapping around Tiger in that comforting way males touch in Nepal. "Snow Leopard, you should be careful", Tiger smiled. He then proceeded with acquired wisdom: "If you do this in public here in Norway, people will think we are homosexuals!" Snow Leopard bounced away as if electrocuted. "Homosexual!?! That is horrible!" Snow Leopard  had just been expelled from paradise, and I had witnessed it with a sad heart. How perverted we Westerners are, I thought to myself. I felt ashamed.

One common view is that the fear of homosexuality "broke out" in the West in the late 19th century with the emergence of Freudianism and more visible homosexuality; heterosexual men began to fear expression of intense emotions.

Luckily, it seems that things might be changing. Boys who grew up with "feminist mothers" from the 70s onward are apparently more emotionally expressive and responsive than previous generations who grew up with "traditional views" of masculinity. In fact, research has shown that men who have these traditional views of masculinity have trouble understanding, identifying, and relating to emotions. It is a disturbing thought in itself - that there might be a large part of a generation consisting of men unable to have close relationships with other human beings. Personally I am happy for this emerging more flexible view of masculinity and the "new man" who can relate to feelings. It seems to bode well for better relationships between people, and for the health of men themselves.

In the King's Speech the main character Prince Albert (who becomes King George VI) is a man deeply conflicted largely because of the loveless relations to his father and his brother, and his lack of any close friends to confide in. His main obstacle in his function as a prince is his persistent stuttering - an impediment he has had since he was a little boy. In the movie we see how he is introduced to the speech therapist Lionel Logue and how the relationship unfolds. A most beautiful bromance.

I think the official movie trailer was OK, but I have found a trailer made by a young woman, Lolilie, who makes alternative movie trailers as a hobby. I hope you enjoy, and if you haven't seen The King's Speech, well - do. I am sure to post more regarding this movie in the future, but this is my first take on it.


  1. That is a wonderful recap and thank you for taking me to this movie. Really wonderful, emotional and a fine relationship that touches the heart. I say too, to the Indian male consultants - one of the dont's when here is to hold hands :-). That was never even an issue one would think in our part of the world :-)

  2. I'm glad you could confirm my account :-)