On Sunday night, I stumbled upon the kind of tweet that lives in Twitter infamy, right up there with that tweet about not being sad about a two-year-old getting eaten by an alligator because of something something white male entitlement something something. The tweet deduced that the term “himbo” is “ableist” because it fetishizes someone’s lack of intelligence, a move the tweeter called predatory. “I find fetishizing someone’s supposed lack of intelligence to be predatory,” the tweet read. “Why would you desire someone who seemingly has less power than you? Why is that sexy? Why is that different from praying on underage kids? It’s not.”
For those wondering what a himbo is, it’s an obvious play on the less savory word, “bimbo.” Urban Dictionary defines a himbo as, “Generally, a large (broad, tall, or buff) attractive man, who tends to be not very bright, but usually extremely nice and respectful. Think Kronk from The Emperors New Groove, or maybe a golden retriever.” Though the term is having a renaissance in 2020, it’s not entirely new. In 1995, CNN reporter Sherry Sylvester asked men in Hollywood what they thought of the term himbo, which was more on the nose about its sexual objectification of men than its current iteration. While brawny Sylvester Stallone didn’t care for it, affable Keanu Reeves had a more positive response.
“There’s a great word,” he said. “I love that word. I read that and laughed my head off.”
Keanu today? Not much of a Himbo. Early Keanu? Definitely a Himbo.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the popularity of himbo in the last several months to a specific cultural moment, because himbo fever isn’t restricted to any one subculture. K-pop stans, film snobs, and fandom nerds alike go on about their favorite himbos on Twitter, both real and fictional. “Imma need a himbo to scoop me up in the Audi their father purchased and take me to Matrix 4 opening night at Drafthouse DTLA [downtown L.A.],” a friend of mine tweeted back in March; she already has plans to win a himbo’s heart as soon as covid-19-induced social distancing is loosened. I wish her luck, she’s going to have to get in line.
It’s not as if an attraction to conventionally attractive, muscle-bound men is some new phenomenon. Chris Evans—arguable himbo—isn’t swoon-worthy for a large swath of the population for no reason. But the Himbo Rennaissance does speak to a sort of fatigue of the Smart Asshole™. You know, the wickedly clever piece of shit who is chronically sardonic and can’t stop himself from Well Actually-ing to save his life. You might have even met his equally insufferable brothers: the Brooding Bad Boy and the Cold Dickhead.
But maybe you don’t want to be on the receiving end of snide jokes from Chandler; you just want to play another round of foosball with Joey.
Maybe what you really want is a thick-necked hunk of a man with a heart of gold who doesn’t feel the need to get into a philosophical tête-à-tête to mollify his own intellectual insecurity (which, predictably, is masquerading as prowess). Know-it-alls can be exhausting; himbos are a breath of fresh air.
This could be the evolution of ironically embracing the Chad. Or maybe straight women are realizing that they just want a hottie who gets along with the cat and can help them install some goddamn floating shelves. Or maybe it’s not that deep and all of this sounds absolutely insane. Whatever the reason, golden retriever men are having a moment. And in these trying, uncertain times, we just need a dude who will mindlessly agree to do a TikTok dance video with us, and maybe take his shirt off in the process.
So without further ado, here is a list of some assorted himbos, real and fictional, that act as the blueprint to himbos everywhere:
- Channing Tatum
- Bongos-era Matthew McConaughey
- The Australian Chris as Thor
- Noah Centineo
- Klay Thompson
- Early Brendan Fraser
- Jason Mendoza
- Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
- Brad from Bon Appétit (Assuming he’s not canceled. Is he canceled?)
- Any character John Travolta played in the ‘70s
- Burt Reynolds
- Hercules from the Disney cartoon movie Hercules
- All the guys on New Girl
- Brad Pitt’s character in Thelma and Louise... kinda.
- Armie Hammer
- Charles Melton
- Kyle Kuzma
- Mr. Peanutbutter from Bojack Horseman, a literal golden retriever
- Bob the Builder
- Fred from Scooby-Doo
- Jason Derulo
- Terry Crews before he got kinda weird
- Harry Shum Jr
- Goku from Dragon Ball Z