Bromance for Biffs

The background, in two previous postings: about the tv show Teen Wolf, two of its central characters (Stiles and Derek, who start out antagonistic towards one another but become friends), the actors who play these characters (Dylan O’Brien and Tyler Hoechlin (pronounced like Hecklin), respectively), Stiles and Derek in Sterek slash fiction and art (where they are lovers / boyfriends), and the real-life (intense but non-sexual) bromance between O’Brien and Hoechlin as Biffs (bffs < best friends forever).

(#1) O’Brien and Hoechlin in a physical Biff moment

on 12/23, “they kitchen-kissed again”: #8 O’Brien as Stiles hugging Hoechlin as Derek in the kitchen; Wikipedia on Teen Wolf

on 12/26, “Sterek”: on Sterek slash fiction and art; Stiles as b to Derek’s t

On the actors, starting with the younger, O’Brien:

(#2) (ob-AMZ) Shirtless photo of O’Brien: an excellent swimmer-body type

Dylan O’Brien (born August 26, 1991) is an American actor. He first received attention as “Stiles” Stilinski in the MTV series Teen Wolf, and transitioned to film in projects such as The First Time, The Internship and Deepwater Horizon, and as the lead in the dystopian science-fiction adventure series The Maze Runner (Wikipedia link)

And on to Hoechlin (more meat, more acting experience under his belt):

(#3) (ob-AMZ) Shirtless Hoechlin, a darkly handsome major muscle-hunk

Tyler Lee Hoechlin (September 11, 1987) is an American actor. He got his big break starring as Michael Sullivan Jr. in the film Road to Perdition (2002). For television he is known for playing the role of Martin Brewer on 7th Heaven and the role of Derek Hale on the MTV series Teen Wolf. In 2016, Hoechlin was cast as Superman on the CW show Supergirl.

(#4) Hoechlin’s Superman, displaying the prominent package that’s now standard issue for superheroes on tv and in the movies

Bromances and Biffs. From my 3/8/15 posting “Bromancing the Bone”, on

the portmanteau noun bromance. From Wikipedia:

A bromance is a close, emotionally-intense, non-sexual bond between two (or more) men. It is an exceptionally tight affectional, homosocial male bonding relationship that exceeds that of usual friendship

This can then be verbed and (separately) sexualized, to refer to what are sometimes called brolovers (there’s a brolovers site on tumblr, which has sexy images, many with a definitely romantic cast to them…).

The libfix bro has now become deeply tainted by its use as a free-standing noun referring to combative, bullying, aggressively misogynistic and homophobic male bonding — frat boys on steroids — so I’m now reluctant to use the term bromance to refer to male-male relationships like O’Brien and Hoechlin’s (or Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s, Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio’s, or Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss’s). Instead, I’ll refer to the partners in these relationships as Biffs.

Biffs are emotionally attuned to one another, and they’re also physically close — engaging not only in the usual contact rituals of male buddies (buddy hugs, buddy pats, putting their arms around one another, doing such horseplay as mock combat and carrying one another around), but also snuggling up together, touching each other freely, maybe play-kissing. A fair number of men, both gay and straight, simply cannot believe that these physical displays aren’t sexual, but they aren’t: nobody gets a hard-on, nobody’s pressing on towards dick-rubbing, hand jobs, blow jobs, or fucking.

Some Biffs will kiss seriously, and that underlines the dual nature of kisses: as acts of affection, even love, and as sexual acts. Many MSMs (self-identified straight guys who have sex with men) won’t kiss — because what they do with other guys is for them “just sex”, while kissing is love-making, an emotional commitment that they’re not willing to make. Conversely, some Biffs will kiss, even deeply, because for them, kissing is “just love”, not sex.

Biffs will appear together as a couple, and celebrity Biffs — the only sort of Biffs I’m looking at in this posting, because they’re so open and available — will freely give interviews in which they talk about their feelings for each other (as well as about their shared enthusiasms and their work lives, which usually overlap). This talk is often playfully self-mocking.

(#4) O’Brien and Hoechlin in an interview

Some celebrity Biffs. One Biff couple I’ve already posted about is Wally Cox and Marlon Brando; details in my 12/29/16 posting on Cox, where I wrote:

Their close friendship included a far amount of horseplay and close physical contact, as many bromances do; it’s a guy thing.

and included this wonderful photo of Cox carrying Brando around on the beach:


More recently the Biff kings have been Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Here they are together in Good Will Hunting:

(#6) Affleck, Damon

And more recently, hanging out together:

(#7) Affleck, Damon

Then a Biff couple who’ve been buddies since childhood:

(#8) Teenaged Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio

And, from the cast of Glee, Biffs Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss:

(#9) Overstreet and Criss goofing

A few examples of straight Biffs. Close buddy relationships between gay men are of course quite common (think Will and Jack on Will & Grace), but in my experience they’re more like close female friendships (girlfriends, in working-class terminology) than like the Biff experience: lots of emotional support and sharing of feelings, not much romance or physicality. (Gay best buddies will sometimes refer to each other self-mockingly as girlfriend.)

Another brand of Biff: Biffs across the sexuality line. And then there are gay-straight Biffs. By most accounts, intense male friendships pairing gay and straight are a relatively recent development, which had to wait for widespread changes in attitudes towards homosexuality in general and gay men in particular. This development has brought us some remarkable friendships, among them: in the older generation, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (two knights of the theatre); and more recently, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine.

Back in March I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Ian and Sir Patrick in the National Theatre Ensemble’s production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land; see the posting of 3/6/17 here. They’ve given a ton of interviews and are happy to clown around in public too.

(#10) Stewart, McKellen, happy together

And for the Zachary and Chris show, see my 10/4/14 posting “Bromantics: Pine and Quinto, Kirk and Spock”.

(#11) Quinto, Pine, in mid-high five

2 Responses to “Bromance for Biffs”

  1. Ellen Seebacher Says:

    Wait. *Marlon Brando* is half of one of your “examples of straight Biffs”? Isn’t he pretty firmly established to have been bisexual?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Ok, more complex than I’d thought. Brando apparently said he’d had homosexual experiences, but never any lovers. Cox was apparently just straight. But they acted, and talked, like straight Biffs.

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