Once king of the animal kingdom and the archetypical 80’s movie-villain, the classic college bro is now all but extinct. It’s hard to imagine, but way back when, when listening to Flock Of Seagulls wasn’t considered a bitch-move and dousing yourself in makeup and black leather was considered downright sexy, every man wanted to be a bro and every woman wanted to have a bro.
The seeds of the bros’ demise were first planted by a bitter, hoodie-loving, nerd, when he created Facebook, to get back at his ex-girlfriend. Or at least that’s what Aaron Sorkin would have us think. Quick maintenance note: please don’t believe everything that Aaron Sorkin tells you. Aaron Sorkin is also the guy who wrote the movie where the part of Nerd-Jesus and turtle-neck enthusiast, Steve Jobs, is played by sex-symbol, Michael Fassbender. So it’s probably safe to assume that the plot of Social Network is slightly dramatized.
America’s cults of personality aside, all Mark Zuckerberg really did was create a social media site with an interface that didn’t resemble R2-D2’s ass. That being said, Facebook did eventually change a lot of things, but those changes happened concurrently with other great technological developments such as YouTube, smartphones, and tamagotchis.
In all seriousness though, you know that people weren’t always able to find a video of literally whatever they wanted on the internet, right? You do realize, that it’s not actually a forgone conclusion that a homemade video of a cat playing the piano will be seen by an entire nation, either….right? Before Facebook and YouTube, only moments of real cultural significance, like Slick Willy lying or The Challenger Disaster, were worthy of going “viral”.
However, I digress. Kids were shaping the internet, the internet was shaping the culture, and as the youth digitally gathered its voice, Tom Cruise lost his mind, and two wars later-we were 8 years into the new millenia. Hungover from a night spent drinking too much Bush and snorting too much Cheney, America unexpectedly elects a young, black, Harvard-educated politician. He was the son of a Kenyan immigrant and a handsome idealist with a squeaky-clean record. However, more importantly, he was also a faithful husband and a dedicated father. Save for their race, the Obamas really were the epitome of the American dream that old, white, politicians loved to talk about during their speeches.
Like those relatives who you didn’t know were extremely racist until they’re watching a Miami Heat game with you, American culture immediately began to react to President Obama. The mere presence of a man like him, in a position like his, exposed parts of the American culture that people were content with never acknowledging. Barack Obama agitated both the bigots and the grandmas too old to wrap their heads around the idea of a black man on TV. He also inspired silent minorities to demand their place at the table of American society, and ignited a severely overdue case of white-guilt.
People were finally having real conversations about the American conceptualizations of power in accordance with race, class, and gender. However, in addition to Barack Obama’s election, there were also other cultural benchmarks signifying a changing society. For instance, the entrance of Hip-Hop into mainstream culture. Concurrently, smartphones could now record anything, and people were sharing everything on the internet. Which eventually lead to the now common phenomena of something going “viral”.
What would’ve simply been a slip of the tongue or nipple 20 years ago, could now ruin a career. Knowledge of this massive, 165 pound, Janet Jackson-sized elephant in the room has altered the way people act in public. Being “21st century literate” means being aware of what you say and where you say it. Now, in 2015, everyone is pretty much aware that it isn’t cool to be outwardly racist, homophobic, and/or sexist. However, like that security guard who won’t stop following you around the mall, people are still racist, homophobic, and sexist – they’ve just learned to be more covert about it.
Bear with me – the reason for that tragic attempt at a history lesson: one institution that had to learn this the hard way was the (Greek) fraternity system. There was a point last year when you couldn’t go online without seeing a new story about a fraternity drugging, hazing, or offending someone. Only now are the effects of all that bad press finally being seen.
A bunch of men, hanging out with other men, doing a bunch of men stuff, used to be the epitome of manliness. However in 2015, the Greek system simply looks out of place. What was once a “harmless bro culture,” has now been relabeled as rape culture. What was once a “treasured initiation ritual,” has now been relabeled as hazing. What was once “the best Cinco De Mayo party on the row”, has now been relabeled as racist. And what was once a “proud brotherhood,” has now been relabeled as a collection of over-privileged, alcoholic, douchebags.
Proponents of feminist and racial justice have ravaged the bro population, forcing the remaining bros to adopt new survival techniques to brave the modern social ecosystem. The 21st century bro is camouflaged and very cautious of his surroundings, however, if you watch him closely, you’ll see that he’s thankfully still the same old bro as before.
While he’s still proudly masculine, he’s also unabashedly sensitive. Even though he’s still hypercompetitive and overly confident, he understands that there are times when the bravado has to be toned down because it’s not the 80’s anymore, and USC isn’t the Helms Deep of “fraterdom” it once was. While everything is still made attainable to him because he was born into a life of insurmountable privilege – he has a new-found appreciation for the plights of others.
Yes, he can be distant during the week, but if you catch him on game-day, in his beer spotted button down, in-between posing for blurry Instagram pictures and handle-pulling Tito’s, he’ll pat you on the back like a long-lost friend while loudly exclaiming, “Why don’t we ever hang out!?” This is before he ditches you for the next pregame.
He watches football because he’s a good American and a goddamn patriot. However, he also loves the spine-shattering and helmet-cracking hits. That being said, he strictly asserts that there’s no place in the piously charitable NFL for players that hit women, break the law, or have aggression issues of any kind.
While, he also follows the USA women’s soccer team, he think’s that women’s basketball is a fucking joke. Yeah, he’d love to wear Alex Morgan’s thighs as earrings, but he also respects her as an athlete.
What can you say? He’s a modern man with modern tastes. He loves old-school hip-hop and think’s Kanye’s a total genius – but he’s not really sure why. You can find him at a party either shyly bobbing his head to a Macklemore song, or spraying spittle in some girl’s face, as he yells the lyrics to “Shout” by the Isley Brothers.
Despite his appreciation of the arts, he’s still a business major because he wouldn’t want to waste his parents’ money on an education that he “couldn’t use”. So it’s suffice to say that he’s more statistically or mathematically inclined. Specifically, he’s a big fan of ratios-and his all-time favorite ratio is the 10–1 girl to guy ratio at his frat’s parties.
However, that doesn’t mean that he’s not socially conscientious. Even though he’s going to Law School, he fantasizes about the Facebook-adoration that he would receive if he joined the peace corp. He’s like Henry Kissinger, but with abs. He sees himself as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative,” just don’t ask him what that the fuck that means.
His love for the literary works of Ayn Rand is only matched by his passion for shitty-sports blogs that exclusively deal in creepy videos of Jessica Alba and anything, I mean anything, celebrating Rob Gronkowski.
Trust me though, he has a serious intellectual streak. It’s just that debating politics isn’t that chill. He saves his inner-fire for things that really matter, like rush week and drunken-yelling matches over the theme for next year’s register (party).
While the 21st century bro hates police brutality and thinks Donald Sterling is a total dick, he doesn’t see the point of affirmative action. Yes, he’s aware that some demographics are better off than others-he just simply doesn’t believe in handouts. He firmly believes that college entry should be based on merit and hard-work alone – but between us– he’s actually just traumatized about being the only one in his family who was rejected from Stanford.
While the 21st century bro takes his studies very seriously, he still knows how to chill. He’s so cool that he even named his 300 dollar bong “The Professor”. He and his fellow bros love using it to chill, get high, and talk about all of the other times they’ve gotten high.
The 21st century bro simply loves life. He exudes passion in all areas of it-be it intramural basketball or beer-pong. Indifference is a useless sentiment that he reserves only for wearing protection and graduating on time. Don’t worry, that blotchy hickey on his neck clearly demonstrates that he still pulls bitches. Now he’s just more aware of his use of gender-specific pronouns. He loves sorority girls. He loves snapa. But fucking hates patriarchy.
That being said, when it comes to love, the 21st century bro is a hopeless romantic. He enjoys listening to his pop-pop tell the story about how he and his nana first met. He’s a sucker for those old love stories because they remind him of a simpler, better time, when being white and male meant you had all the power instead of most of it. He loves his mom and he loved Bridesmaids, but sometimes he gets caught up in the confusing pressures of “hook-up culture,”meaning that he’ll probably end up treating that girl he’s hooking up with like his 3 day-old orange chicken from Panda Express; he’ll forget about it until he’s drunk one night and he’ll lie about eating it in the morning.
All he wants-more than anything, is a cool girl. You know, that totally existing, all-American girl who loves eating pizza, drinking beer, and fellating him while he plays COD. She’s not too sluty, not too clingy, but always a 3:00 AM drunken-text message away.
So if you know a bro, give him a hug, because he’s trying his best to adapt to a new culture that won’t put up with his fuckery anymore. Empathize with him. Because going from being allowed to do whatever you want, whenever you want, to simply being “equal” would be a tough transition for anyone.