What Is a Film Bro?
Numerous individuals are deeply passionate about movies. However, some people may find themselves trapped in an echo chamber that supports only specific types of cinema. We all have our personal preferences, but it's important to note that not everyone's tastes are solely based on their likes. Instead, these preferences can be shaped by societal expectations and traditional conventions associated with certain film genres. A possible consequence of this echo chamber within the movie industry is the emergence of individuals often referred to as "film bros."
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What Exactly is a Film Bro?
A film bro is someone identifying as a film nerd with shallow knowledge and limited, singular taste when it comes to cinema. A film bro often considers themselves a cinephile — and they often use the term in everyday conversation — while having a singular preference for films overpopulated with toxic masculinity, gray morals, and some other key traits.
You know these guys: To them, a film made more recently rarely makes the cut (and when it does, it’s dark and gritty). This leaves out a lot of modern or diverse perspectives, narratives, and characters, limiting their ability to enjoy other types of film. As a result, their understanding of the art is relatively shallow and informed by a very narrow point of view.
Let’s learn more about what a film bro is all about below.
How Do You Know If Your Friend Is a Film Bro?
They likely watch crime movies religiously, as well as some of the best war stories. They probably swear by John Carpenter’s The Thing, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and other auteur works without knowing much about films outside these genres. But how can you be sure?
The truth is, movies like Apocalypse Now, Snatch, and Reservoir Dogs are all great. There’s a reason they live on and have earned critical acclaim even decades after their creation. But if your friend only sees films like The Dark Knight and Fight Club as “peak cinema,” they might actually be stuck in that echo chamber. Think about the following amazing films — and how, when used as the only slate a person watches, they can reinforce the film bro mentality.
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Popular Film Bro Movies
Here are a bunch of examples of movies celebrated and loved by "film bros."
- The Godfather
- Donnie Darko
- Pulp Fiction
- Fight Club
- The Dark Knight
- Apocalypse Now
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- Inglourious Basterds
- American Psycho
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Usual Suspects
- Reservoir Dogs
- The Big Lebowski
- Full Metal Jacket
- A Clockwork Orange
- Taxi Driver
Film Bro Movie Case Studies
The mafia and organized crime element is a common feature in the film bro slate. There’s a part of this that surrounds taste — there’s been a long-standing Hollywood agenda to reaffirm mobsters as “cool,” and it pervades when all people watch are films like Goodfellas and, similarly, The Godfather. Films like this are also male-dominated, a predominant trait in film bro films. Wanton violence also occurs in Goodfellas — yet another feature that identifies it as an eye-opening experience to teenage self-described cinephiles, which is how many film bros begin their existence.
The Wolf of Wall Street
There are people who get The Wolf of Wall Street — those who understand the dangers of what Jordan Belfort has done to himself. Then, there are film bros. Film bros tend not only to identify with Jordan as a character in a different way than most, but they see his lifestyle as something to idolize. Toxic masculinity, including gay bashing and charismatic narcissism, takes its toll on the narrative in a way that confirms the error of Jordan’s ways. However, a film bro tends to look at films superficially to reinforce their “ideal” version of cinema: Does it contain crime? Does it feature “heroes” who circumvent the law? Does it feature men acting on dark desires with little to no consequence? The Wolf of Wall Street features some attractive things to a film bro, but only at the surface level.
Mental health is an important subject, and it’s a great thing to know that cinema recognizes this. They even attempt to tell stories about mental health. While some fail at this, like Split clearly has, others showcase complexity and even some awareness of that complexity. Fight Club offers tongue-in-cheek commentary on mental illness, and it even plays out in a way that simulates revelations that come to people who deal with similar disorders. That said, a film bro looks at movies like Fight Club, American Psycho, or even Joker with the hope of romanticizing what mental illness really means for someone experiencing it. They idolize men whose battles with society and self are riddled with violence, doubt or anxiety, and vicarious fantasy indulgence.
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How To Keep “Film Bro” From Spreading
It’s not wrong to love good movies; the movies that film bros tend to like are celebrated for a good reason — many of them were made by the best directors of all time. They shouldn’t be the lone determiner of anyone’s taste.
It’s unhelpful to reinforce the idea that good cinema only consists of mostly men, gritty, violent worlds, dark humor, or stories rife with high-octane action. Instead, your film bro friend needs to expand their taste and understand why the movies they like are considered great films.
Show your film bro some films that stand out for other reasons: Whether it’s the same genre but from a new, diverse perspective, or it’s an auteur film that addresses subjects other than masculinity or violence, you can find “gateway” films to open the eyes of your film bro friend. Show them the complexity of the films they already know, and compare it to other films — something you know they’d like if they gave it a chance.
Suggest These Movies to Your Favorite Film Bro
Helping your friends broaden their horizons can start with a simple idea. For example, the themes of your movies can be a linking idea between a classic film bro film and something new. Some examples of this include the following:
If your film bro friend wants to see people take their own vigilante justice, show them something like Promising Young Woman to expand their perspective beyond Inglourious Basterds, Batman Begins, or V for Vendetta — all common film bro favorites.
For a film bro who likes to think about mortality, they don’t have to stay stuck with movies like Donnie Darko or Synecdoche, New York. Instead, open their minds with movies like A Ghost Story, Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, or even Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
If your film bro likes movies about greed, steer them away from just Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street in favor of movies like Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away or a film like Sorry to Bother You, whose absurdist humor tackles the capitalist powers-that-be.
For movies about power and its corruption, your friend might try to stick with The Godfather or There Will Be Blood — but instead, have them watch The Favourite.
Finally, if you’re trying to wean someone off of film bro films about masculinity, help them reexamine that lens with films like The Rider or I Love You, Man instead of Fight Club or Raging Bull.
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Film bro or not, a skipping record repeating similar movies and genres over and over doesn’t allow for growth as a movie lover. Whether you’re a filmmaker, a cinephile, or just dipping your toes in, you should keep trying new movies. Watch movies by women. Watch movies by BIPOC filmmakers. Watch movies by LGBTQ+ filmmakers.
Doing so helps you to better understand what makes good cinema — and why it resonates with people. Don’t let your film bros down by letting them stay in that echo chamber. Don’t stay inside your own echo chamber, either. Instead, share the experience of something new with a film bro friend today!