Homosocial Desire in the Films of Kevin Smith

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Homosocial Desire in the Films of Kevin Smith

In present society, any man who loves another man is labeled a homosexual. If a man is not a homosexual, then he is not allowed to display any form of affection for another male. If a man does go beyond the boundaries of showing affection for another man, that man runs the risk of being labeled a homosexual. However, there are those who see the error of this and want to change this societal viewpoint. Two examples of individuals who have strikingly similar views on this issue believe that there can be a balance between homosexuality and heterosexual male bonding. In relation to this balance, the term “homosocial” describes bonds between persons of the same sex. Even though these two individuals come from completely different ends of the spectrum, they both agree that “homosocial desire” allows desire between two men to exist in a form that incorporates love between men without sexual attraction. Writer Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and film director Kevin Smith both display through different types of media that homosocial activity can evolve from male bonding to exist in the same range as homosexuality.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes about the term homosocial desire in her book Between Men. The word homosocial is used in science to describe social relationships between persons of the same sex. While it shares the same prefix “homo” with the word homosexual, homosocial has different connotations in present American society.

Kevin Smith uses film to express his ideas about homosexuality and homosocial actions. Smith’s first film, Clerks, was shot in black and white and lacked talented actors and good cinematography. However, Smith’s smartly written script and flare for humorous storytelling soon turned this low budget, independent film into a cult classic. The movie revolves around the lives of two best friends, Dante (played by Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (depicted by Jeff Anderson). Dante works in a convenience store while Randal works across the street as a video rental store clerk. Their friendship is filled with stereotypical male bonding practices such as playing hockey together and reading issues of Playboy behind the store counter. However, while the two exhibit many jocular actions, their relationship is a good example of the notion of homosocial desire.

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