I think many of us have heard of the “Bro Code” by now. If not, do brush up on the 89 articles of the rule book. Or you can simply have the first 14 articles recited to you in true dramatic fashion here by Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Kuhn, two actors from the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. (Funny quote below:)
A bro never divulges the existence of the Bro Code to a woman. It is a sacred document not to be shared with chicks for any reason. No. Not even that reason. Note: If you are a woman listening to this, first, let me apologize it was never my intention for this book to contain so much math. Secondly, I urge you to take the Bro Code for what it is: a piece of fiction meant to entertain a broad audience through the prism of stereotypical gender differences. I mean sometimes it really is like we’re from different planets. (Dry, nervous laughter) Clearly no real person could realistically believe or adhere to the vulgar rule contained within. Those boots are adorable, B T Dub. Pssst. Hey guys, ignore what I said. The Bro Code is definitely not a piece of fiction. . .”
I giggled quite a bit listening to this video and you probably will too.
The positive thing about stereotypes is that they show us how far or near our thoughts and beliefs lie in relation to them. If our convictions match the gender cliche, we feel soothed and more secure in our beliefs. And if we viscerally sense our opposition to the stereotype, then we feel somewhat enraged, but simultaneously more empowered and secure in our contrary views.
Everyone wins. Bros and hos.
Are you a man? If so, do you know this man? I don’t mean Jared Leto, frontman for 30 Seconds to Mars, I mean THIS man, Jordan Catalano. If you don’t, you should. He ruined everything.
Maybe that’s too bold a statement. Jordan was (and remains in our hearts) the babe of short-lived ABC drama My So-Called Life. (Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can watch it all on Hulu.) He was the bad boy, in a band, and brushed his hair out of his eyes a lot. Angela Chase, the show’s protagonist, was in love with him. When they got involved (yes, obviously this is television), we didn’t balk at the fact that he kept their meetings in the boiler room a secret, or that as it turned out his head was full of rocks. He was damaged, he was a puppy, we could rescue him and make him into who we thought he should be.
The thing about Jordan Catalano is that he might have been a babe, but he sure as hell sucked. What many of us saw as him being shy was just him being withdrawn and unable to communicate. When we were sure he was singing “Red” about Angela, he wasn’t, he was singing it about his car. And when he and Angela had broken up and he slept with her best friend? We danced right along to “Blister In The Sun” when Angela got over him.
And, in a perfect world, Jordan Catalano withered away and Angela moved on. But she didn’t. When Jordan, with the help of Brian (who had a thing for Angela for, like, ever) crafted a letter explaining his (and Brian’s) feelings, she took him back. He picked her up in the musically-praised car, and they drove off into the sunset, probably to the nearest boiler room. When the show was airing, I thought this was beautiful – they were together in the end, and that’s how it should be, right?
As an adult, I think it sucks. Angela made so many excuses for him, and gave Jordan so many chances that he blew every single time. I understand that we’re talking about adolescent men, here, but the character of Jordan set a precedent for that kind of guy, even in real life. In a way, the ending of the show validated his shitty behavior throughout the entire series, and made it acceptable to an impressionable me (and I’m certain, other women) to take someone like that back.
Jordan Catalano made the withdrawn, jerk boyfriend desirable. His character gave women the idea that if you just love someone damaged ENOUGH, they’ll write you a beautiful letter and change. But they don’t. And those dudes need counseling. And those dudes need to understand that no matter how many shearling jackets you don, no matter how many goofy, rare (and for that reason glorified) statements you utter about your car, or Tino, you are toxic to women.
And maybe women like me need to understand that just as much.