My lovely fiance Katie surprised me the other day with a copy of Lego Lord of the Rings sitting on my big easy chair in my room. I’m glad she picked up on the hints that I wanted it, like when I tried to kidnap a homeless man to sell his organs on the black market to pay for it when it came out (FYI: Most video games when they first come out are about $60, but they drop down to about $20 after about 6 months). Because of this I’ve been thinking more about Lord of the Rings lately, and in particular about my favorite Hobbits, Sam and Frodo.
To me their relationship in the films is the most interesting, simply because it’s one we haven’t seen a lot of. Here are two males who in the course of the story become more than just buddies but actually show affection and love for each other, without it getting all Brokeback Mountain on us. What I find interesting is that before the Lord of the Rings films came out the term bromance didn’t exist, and any affection between males seemed confined into either father/son relationships or buddies. Afterwards though we get TV series like Scrubs and Community who actively explore male friendships, and films like I Love You Man showing the need for male to male connection.
One of the scenes that gets my little jaded heart melting is at the end of the Two Towers, where Sam is telling Frodo how one day they’ll write stories about Frodo the Ring Bearer.
“Frodo was really brave, wasn’t he dad? Yes, m’boy, the most famousest of Hobbits, and that’s saying something.”
“But you left out one of the chief characters. Samwise the Brave. Frodo wouldn’t have gotten very far without Sam.”
“Oh, Mr. Frodo, you should’nt tease. I was being serious.”
“So was I.”
This shows how much Frodo needs Sam, and how much he appreciates him being there with him. You would not see this in films before.
I’ve talked about friendship before and the importance it is in men’s life, and I think Frodo and Sam validates that. These two characters need each other, not just for protection but just for straight-up moral support. I think back to my mission and to Christmas in Missouri in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere. It was cold and wet and everytime it snowed more than a centimeter the entire town closed down and talked about eating the weakest family members, so work was slow. It’s times like this that even the most stalwart missionary starts feeling the pangs of homesickness. I remember though that despite all that misery I had a great time because of Elder Gotchy. As we wandered the empty streets looking for contacts (Our mission president didn’t like us tracting, he thought it was useless) that never came, we’d make up stories about super heroes and the wacky adventures they could get into. We must’ve been a sight to see, two missionaries talking like Batman and Robin and how Batman leaves Robin on Riddler’s death trap to get a burger. I don’t think I could’ve got through that month without Elder Gotchy by my side.
So between Frodo and Sam and the copycats they’ve spawned I have to say I’m encouraged by the media’s latest depictions of male friendships. I’ve seen the ideas of bromance and man-date become less taboo in Elder’s Quorum and among men in general, and the need for a man-cave and guy time being more acceptable to spouses and girlfriends. I don’t know if we can ever reach the idea of the “romantic friendship” that the Victorian era boasted (And before you say it, no it was NOT romance in THAT way. It means that the people had strong feelings for their same gendered friends), I think we are reaching a point where men can be dear friends and love each other without having to constantly spout “No Homo”.