Skip to main content

Frodo, Hannibal and the Gay Elephant


When the movies came out, the jokes about Frodo and Sam
having a sexual relationship were not in short supply

"But I must go at once. It's the only way."

"Of course it is," answered Sam. "But not alone. I'm coming too, or neither of us isn't going. I'll knock holes in all the boats first."

Frodo actually laughed. A sudden warmth and gladness touched his heart.

-Fellowship of the Rings


Men can be close friends with men.

*Shock*

I’ve been writing a lot this year about the social challenges to male-female friendship. But the hyper-sexualisation of our culture is such that it hinders the formation of deep male-male friendships as well. This is one of the reasons many adult men are so lonely - after the age of 30 and especially after marriage.

Doreen Gellerello pointed out yesterday that – like the Lord of the Rings - the finale of Hannibal last weekend was akin to having 'a gay elephant in the room' (article here). So rarely are intimate male-male friendships seen in entertainment that viewers find the whole concept unusual and suspect an ulterior, Freudian motive. Gellerello points out (correctly)

The friendship between Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is, along with Hannibal, one of relatively few modern attempts to portray intensely emotional male homosocial relationships with absolute sincerity, and the number of gay jokes made about Frodo and Sam in the wake of the films’ release speaks to the fact that audiences weren’t (and still aren’t) quite comfortable watching straight male characters get emotionally intimate with one another.

The Hannibal finale had Will and Hannibal
die in each other's arms


This suspicious mind-set has not been present through most of human history. The Romans, the Greeks and the Hebrew people all celebrated the close, non-sexual and emotive brotherhood that two men can share in friendship. In the West, it was the public trial of Oscar Wilde for sodomy and the theories of Sigmund Freud that have made emotional and physical displays of affection between men so rare.

On the rare occasions when men do express love to each other, they jokingly add ‘no homo’ at the end or laugh about it being ‘bromance’. The things that a society jokes about shows you what they are uncomfortable with. Men often feel more comfortable doing some activity together while chatting - as the intimacy that can occur in a sit-down discussion over coffee can prove uncomfortable for many of them.

In 2 Samuel chapter 1 the warrior-king David mourned the loss of his friend in battle saying, ‘I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.’ If that line were delivered on TV today – the viewers would assume David was gay.

David may have been many things – but gay wasn’t one of them.

In other places, I have challenged how - past a certain age - men and women stop engaging in friendship for fear of misunderstanding. They don’t want to be seen by others as adulterers. I believe that’s an unrighteous phenomenon that should be challenged, particularly by Christians. But - perhaps even more important – we need men to develop and display bonds of affection with one another – without fear of having their sexuality challenged. This isn’t easy. I’m now passed young adulthood and am soon approaching ‘middle age’ - I feel how hard it is to reach out to other men. We lack protocol and vocabulary for this deeper bonding that we need in order to flourish. But I don’t want it to be that way for my sons' generation. They should have examples of David-Jonathan friendships to imitate.

Can we give it to them? Bro?
_________________________________________

Or my book on male-female friendship called Forbidden Friendships  (UK) 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend

[Response to the letter Dear Non-Affirming Christian]
Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend,
Thank you for taking the time to write me. Sadly, it seems you misunderstand why I met with you for coffee. Please let me explain my motives by defining the words in my salutation above. Would this be too terrible a way to go about it?
Let’s start with ‘friend’ shall we? You rightly question this term as an accurate description of our relationship. For now, let's simply say I mean it as an expression of good will - but will return to it again at the end of the letter. Then there's this term, 'pro-gay'. By this, I don't mean your personal sexual urges. There have historically been – and are today – countless godly leaders in the church who have deep sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same gender. In spite of their desires, they remain celibate and teach orthodox views of gender and sexuality. In your letter, you repeatedly refer to me as a ‘non-affirming Christian’, but I …

Where I Turn Down a Gay 'Wedding' Invitation

Dear Katie,
I hope this letter finds you well. You’ve been on my mind lately as it’s been a few weeks since we’ve met up. We’re overdue to grab a coffee – I hope we can soon. I also want to thank you for thinking of me as you sent out invitations for what I know will be a big day for you and Joanna. I’ve known you since before you met her (two years ago now, is it?) and I appreciate all you’ve shared with me about how meaningful that relationship is to you. It was especially kind of you given my Christian faith. You've never directly asked me my views on gender or sex in much detail. But I think our conversations must have touched on it enough times to at least make you a bit unsure of my reaction when you sent the invitation. I have to say 'no' to your kind invitation. You know that I care for you and that I value our friendship. You know I don't reject you because you are gay. So, would it be too much to ask of you if I explain why my faith would make attendance at your…

Driscoll Returns, ‘Christian Today’ Melts.

Sometimes in the course of events, a peculiar thing happens that then triggers a response more peculiar still. This is what we now see with the return of Pastor Mark Driscoll to the church scene.
For those unfamiliar with the drama, Mark Driscoll was a church planter and Bible teacher who made a big impact in the least churched city in the USA: Seattle. Thousands professed faith in Christ through his ministry. But he left the church that he had started under dark circumstances. No, it wasn’t adultery as is so often the case with some of these big-name preachers. Rather, it was heavy-handed leadership―resulting in many spiritually crushed church members―that drove him to resign.
Now, three years later, he is leading a new church and many are downloading his sermons once again. This is not without some valid controversy―for reasons we’ll mention soon. But what is most noticeable is not his peculiar return. It is the reaction among those who lean left of classical Christian teaching: the …