The evolution of ‘Bro’: how a good word went bad
By Alex Moore,deathandtaxesmag.com – Bro. The word probably sends a shiver up your spine. Probably conjures up images of backwards baseball hats and bottom lips distended with chewing tobacco. Or mall security guards. (“Can’t skateboard out here, bro.”) Or a college meathead trying to antagonize you into a fight. (“You think you’re a tough guy, don’t ya bro?”). Or white guys listening to rap. (“Dude, the RZA is sick, bro.”)
Believe it or not it wasn’t always like this. Before it became a symbol of male officiousness and all-around stupidity, Bro started out as a good word with positive associations, meant to bestow good feelings to everyone. But history has not been good to Bro. What happened?
The Youngbloods released their version of “Get Together” in 1967, which became their only Top 40 hit. Adapted from a tune written earlier in the ’60s, the Youngbloods’ timing was perfect: Tensions over Vietnam were mounting and the backlash hippie movement that would culminate in the Summer of Love two years later was just starting.
The song’s lyrics, “smile on your brother, everybody get together and try to love one another right now,” struck a chord and became something of an anthem for the young generation.
Stemming partly from the song, the word “brother” became a way not only to show respect and empathy to peers, but to defang the hippies’ confrontations with authorities. Addressing a riot cop as “brother” was a way of reminding him that you were both human—you’re both in this together.
Etymologically speaking, this is where our modern Bro comes from. Not a bad start, really. Until… Read more…