all the non-weird guys seem to want to be weird. What happened to artistic masculinity? When did it become everything
The above quote is from Erik Stinson’s piece on HTMLGiant about “brohemia” and it immediately resonated with me.
There’s a definite culture shift that I think can be summed up with that word.
At one time, it was forbidden for everyone to express an artistic desire, it was uncouth, it was weird. Sure, people had their hidden talents, but that’s what they were–hidden. Not ready for public confession. The opposite seems to be true now. Bankers are afraid to admit they’re bankers. Real estate agents want to be musicians. People with totally legit jobs want to give it up for something that doesn’t pay as well. Now, everyone has an Etsy store ready to be discovered.
I don’t know the exact origin of this. I bet it was when lax frat guys started listening to Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend or something. When indie popped mainstream.
The person: Brohemian. The place: Brohemia.
The words “brohemia” and “brohemian” are so obviously spot on, I couldn’t believe this hasn’t been more of a thing. Well, I decided to see if it was a thing.
I started with Erik.
@erik_stinson is ‘brohemia’ for real not a trendsetting word, all i can find is some bar in austin, ™ that thing
— Josh Spilker (@joshspilker) May 30, 2014
Erik got back to me (I think he deleted the tweet…) and mentioned something about Thought Catalog. And I found this article written in September 2013 by Lance Pauker. Lance says a brohemian kinda feels left out of the sporting contests…
But as the collegiate years progress, the Brohemian will discover he’s identifying less with the alpha-male, slightly chauvinistic ethos of his fraternity and more with those kids who smoke outside the library at 4am and rip on articles from Pitchfork. Luckily, the Brohemian species has proliferated into such a “mainstream” sub-culture, like-minded media outlets have begun to champion Brohemian values. Grantland.com, for example, has emerged as the pinnacle of Brohemian tastemaking.
I tend to agree more with Erik’s definition (or the way I’m interpreting) that Brohemian is actually the sport-jock who wants to express his artistic tendency, even though his artistic tendency may not be any good. They could actually fit in with the sports credo, but they’re trying to be artistic. A fine line, sure. I decided to ask Lance via Twitter .
— Lance Pauker (@LancePauker) May 31, 2014
The setup? A new roommate moves in, but they can’t decide if he’s a bro or a hipster.
Key quote: “He’s either a bro or a hipster, he can’t be both. Because that’s not how stereotypes work.”
Though the words “brohemian” or “brohemia” are never used, it gets at the central tension between the two. How can a person be this complex? Can someone really have it “all” like this?
I keep going. A Twitter search reveals a “brohemian” and “new hipster” mentions in October of 2013 in the Chicago Reader.
Here’s that piece and the relevant quote:
People call you a hipster, but that’s not true. These new people, they’re the real hipsters, colonizing and commercializing everything that made the neighborhood so great, transforming it from bohemia to brohemia.
In the piece, someone named “Sarah Crawford” is credited with the term “brohemia” but that’s the only mention. WHO IS SARAH CRAWFORD.
Surprisingly, Twitter doesn’t have that many mentions. Neither does Tumblr, except for a few random blogs.
Okay, deeper, deeper.
A Google search reveals the New BROhemia vintage store in…surprise, surprise Austin, TX. Perhaps the home of brohemia with its football-obsessed culture and “chill” SXSW vibe. The earliest review I could see? 2008.
Is that the end?
Is that the origin point of “brohemia” and “brohemian”? My gut told me one more place to look….
Yep, that’s 2006. Snap. But guess what? There’s no “brohemia” listed…What?
PS Yes, there is the “Brohemian Rhapsody” put out by College Humor in 2012. It has the words, but it’s more of a play off the song and a parody of the “bro culture” rather than a mix of bro/hipster/bohemian as these other terms imply.