Homoerotic Parody and Heterosexual Masculinity

Media Example

The bromance between Seth Rogen and James Franco is nothing short of legendary, and with good reason. The two got their start on Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, and they have since collaborated on many projects. While shooting The Interview, they recreated Kanye West’s music video for “Bound 2” shot-for-shot. The result is a hilarious, unashamedly homoerotic parody that confronts viewers’ uncomfortableness and demonstrates the possibility of heterosexual masculinity in a homosocial relationship.

The well-known friendship between Rogen and Franco, who are both heterosexual, also eases viewers’ minds and allows them to enjoy both the parody and its homoeroticism as comedic elements. With Rogen imitating Kim Kardashian’s sexualized movements, “Bound 3” pokes fun at the original video (and at itself) while negating the “threat” of homosexuality by using an attractive woman as a model. Rogen is male, as made evident by the prominent display of his body hair, but he stands in for the female figure, which frames his performance of sexuality as a comedic imitation of feminine hypersexuality rather than an authentic expression of homosexuality. This can be seen as a variation on Hansen-Miller and Gill’s attractive woman device:

Homophobic humor serves consistently to disavow and deflect the homoerotic potential among the characters or between male audiences and those on screen. The use of humor for this purpose in cinema is well documented, alongside other standard ‘devices’ such as the presence of an attractive woman to ‘reassure’ viewers of the protagonists’ heterosexuality. (44-45)

Rogen and Franco substitute the defense of homophobic humor with the power of self-conscious comedy. Because they act within the context of a parody, there is no “danger” of any real homosexuality; instead, it emphasizes a genuine homosocial relationship that uses comedic irony to maintain heterosexual masculinity, but in a form which allows for close male friendships without homophobia.

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