A certain subset of the internet is currently pretty horny for Keanu Reeves, and as happens in the honeymoon phase of internet boyfriends, fans learn more about him each day. This week: Reeves’s sexiest quality happens to be that he maintains a respectful distance from women he’s being photographed with, floating his hand behind them instead of resting it on their backs.
The praise that this small gesture of mutual respect has garnered is the latest in a larger trend of portraying Reeve as the perfect man. This particular buzz started last week, when Tweet with four photos of Reeves posing next to different women—among them, Dolly Parton—with his limp hand hanging in the air went viral. (“Lol Keanu ain’t taking no chances,) read the text). Glamour, People, ET Online jumped on the fan reactions, running stories praising the “respectful king” for his previously unnoticed good deed. Reeves has said he does not understand the current collective fascination around him; this latest iteration of that obsession isn’t any easier to explain.
In the original viral tweet, Reeves’s hand does flutter open behind his companion in each photo, suggesting he might be considering their personal space and not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. See below:
Reeves is not on a high-profile redemption campaign and he wasn’t the one to publicly call attention to his hand-waving technique. But the way this tidbit has flared up into a full-blown news story, after weeks of coverage about what a great guy he is, is unsettling.
With all due respect to Reeves (who honestly seems...fine), respecting people’s boundaries by avoiding the small of their back is the bare minimum—a basic standard of polite human interaction. After all, even the most dedicated fan can still be creeped out having their body space invaded: as evidenced by the women have calling out Joe Biden for a pattern of unwanted touching or the freaked out viewers who watched the bishop at Aretha Franklin’s funeral grab Ariana Grande by the waist and slide his hand up to her breast. Just because it’s exciting to meet a person doesn’t mean you want to be touched by them; a floating hand is a no brainer.
Perhaps the media lights up stories like Reeves’ because the norm seems so dark and a semi considerate celebrity seems like a bright spot. Nonetheless, it’s weird to see how quickly “being nice” can become someone’s brand, and it’s especially jarring when that brand is projected on them by fans. Will we find out next week that Reeves recycles? Only time will tell.