Don’t Die On Me, Buddy!

Posted: October 16, 2011 in Identity, Male Impersonators, Mark Simpson, Masculinities

This GMP article about the late Tim Hetherington, photojournalist (who died covering the recent civil war in Libya), reminded me of a chapter in Mark Simpson’s Male Impersonators.

I have shared this before but I am returning to it now. The caption at the top of the photo above reads: ‘The soldiers wrestle together, sing together, dance together. Die for one another. Love one another’. It might have been a line out of ‘Dont’ Die On Me, Buddy’, Simpson’s discussion of homoerotics and masochism in the War Movie. Male Impersonators  will be out as an e-book soon so you can read it in full. But here’s the extract one more time:

‘Buddy war films are gospels of masculine love that is ‘betrayed by a kiss’.  They are tales set in far-off lands in times past, about a band of boys who leave their families behind and create their own (homosocial) community. They live by love but one of them, the ‘queerest’, must die to save the others and the world from the practice of it, and also to demonstrate the proper way it should be sublimated: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man may lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). Like Moreland in Taps and Chris in Stand By Me, ‘Father’ sacrifices himself trying to save the life of others, selflessly accepting his castration: ‘Promise me you won’t tell him’.

Death in these films is a sacrement: it makes love between men eternal by removing it from the male body; by cancelling  forever the threat of its consummation it ensures that boyish love is immortal, and that queer love, transformed into a cadaver, is buried on the battlefield’:

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.’

-Lawrence Binyon, Poems For The Fallen

  1. paul says:

    Even though I commented on this essay before I can’t bear to see a 0 next to the comments here, so …!

    I was just remembering the film “Restrepo,” which I saw when it came out a year or so ago. (If anyone hasn’t heard of it, it is a well-made documentary which follows a US platoon in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan.) There’s a scene in there of the men playfully horsing around during off hours, and then one of them says to the other something along the lines of “you’re so hot I’d definitely be fucking you if we were back home.” Everyone laughs. There is no horror at that line, mock or otherwise.

    I’m also remembering another documentary about war, this time WWII, that I saw about 10 years ago while living in England. A veteran from that war was recalling his experiences and stated that literally everyone (I was struck by the fact that he emphasized the word “everyone”) engaged in same-sex sex.

    And finally I’m also thinking about the testimony of so many men regarding the bonds they’d created with each other while fighting, and how they’ve never experienced anything close to that since.

    Isn’t at least *part* of the perennial resort to war the perennial need to create an environment in which men are allowed to intimately share their lives, to truly love one another, without stigma? So then: isn’t at least *part* of the struggle to create a world *without* war a matter of dissolving that stigma? *Not* through strengthening a separable “gayness” but by deconstructing gayness’s supposed Otherness, so that a basic, human love that exists between men can be actually liberated.

    Men are only able to kill each other on the battlefield because they are *deemed* unloveable, unlike “women and children” for whom they say they are ultimately doing the killing.

    • Restrepo was by Tim Hetherington and others – the photographer featured above.

      So his idea that war allows men to love each other without it being sexual (a caption in another photo) is kind of hard to believe!

      Good points Paul. I feel a bit out of my depth. I need Monsieur Simpson’s wisdom here I think

  2. JP Tomo says:

    Wow~ SEXY!! GOOD picture!!!

    韓国 日本 ゲイ コミュニティ!

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