A fresh month and a summer packed with blockbusters and obsession-worthy streaming titles mean only one thing: there’s a new White Boy of the Month.
For the less Online amongst us, the White-Boy-of-the-Month is now a cultural staple. It’s a coveted moniker that — Presto! — turns actors into verifiable heartthrobs.
But what’s the deal with this phenomenon? And … is it problematic?
According to Urban Dictionary (the chaotic source for all things internet-slang): “Stan Twitter’s White-Boy-of-the-Month is when Stan Twitter crowns a skinny, attractive white boy as their king to obsess over for a month only then to drop him the next month when a new one rises.”
Rumor is, this viral phenomenon may have started in the depths of Stan Twitter, but the whole White-Boy-of-the-Month phenom belongs to all of us now. In fact, the White-Boy-of-the-Month is usually a celebrity who — for a brief and brilliant moment — transcends the confines of Stan Twitter accounts and hits the mainstream hard.
Even if you haven’t heard the term, you’ve witnessed the spectacle. Every so often, a fresh-faced celebrity is all over everyone’s feeds. Maybe they’re doing press for a film or series, and they manage to score a viral interview moment. Maybe they’re on the cover of a magazine in a gender-bending, media-enticing outfit. Whatever the catalyst, suddenly the entire world’s talking about them. And before they know it, they’re crowned the next White-Boy-of-the-Month.
While there’s no official arbiter of the title and no formal ranking system to determine who holds this standing, it’s social media that generally come to a consensus.
One Twitter user even tracked the White-Boy-of-the-Month for a full calendar year — it ranged from people you’d expect like Timothee Chalamet and Tom Holland to wild cards like Pete Davidson and Michael B. Jordan.
While the term refers to a white man, and the definition supports that claim, the idea has transcended those bounds. While yes, Hollywood is still Hollywood, so heartthrobs are usually white men, it’s more about the energy they inspire than the white boy himself.
Imagine the fervor associated with The Beatles, Justin Bieber, or One Direction in their prime. Those white boys epitomized an era.
But with social media and the ever-ephemeral trend cycle, our attention spans can only take one generic white boy for so long. So our fanaticism for this adolescent energy must be transferred to a new celebrity every month.
“At its core, Twitter’s White-Boy-of-the-Month represents the ebbs and flows of celebrity on the internet,” Teen Vogue asserts “The epithet reduces these young men to their alluring attributes while consciously parodying the fact that we go gaga over them; the internet is not oblivious to the fact that only certain types of boys are allowed to be the White-Boy-of-the-Month. The phenomenon symbolizes the continuation of a certain archetype (handsome, approachable, maybe a little sensitive) that’s been celebrated by Hollywood for a century. Only now it’s bolstered by the machine that is social media.”
And even if they don’t exactly fit the archetype, you get the vibe. They’re the object of the internet’s fantasies. They’re the current teen dream.
Actress Diana Silver was crowned White-Boy-of-the-Month after her portrayal of the hot but cool do-I-want-her-or-do-I-want-to-be-her lesbian love interest in Booksmart. After his portrayal of Killmonger in Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan was deemed White-Boy-of-the-Month.
But in some ways, the fact that it’s usually a bunch of white cis-actors vying for the title makes it funny. Although this epithet might place them on a pedestal, it also acknowledges how fickle the internet is, and how truly generic each white boy iteration is.
The White-Boy-of-the-Month may be the Prom King, but his reign only lasts through high school graduation. It’s whimsical, it’s humbling. But it’s transitory. Especially when used — as it often is — in social media’s BIPOC circles.
“A white cis-male celebrity is crowned the white boy to stan for the month by mostly BIPOC users,” says Purewow. “The award goes to a white guy who’s (hopefully) been a good, not horrible person, and it's decided loosely based on Twitter consensus (hey, no one said it was an exact science).”
This summer is so jammed with contenders it’s not clear who exactly the White Boy of Summer is. As the term was co-opted by the mainstream, it’s now exploited by PR teams desperate to manufacture a viral moment that catapults a project to the stratosphere.
\u201cNOT ON MY WATCH \u203c\ufe0f as creator of the white boy of the month 2020 awards im putting my foot down\u203c\ufe0f\u201d— cay (@cay) 1653841755
Austin Butler was recently accused of trying too hard to become the White-Boy-of-the-Month to promote the Elvis film.
Internet users have noted his exaggerated drawl — the boy is from Northern California … so why does he sound like Jackson Maine in A Star is Born??? His hair is constantly perfectly coiffed in “heartthrob hair”. And he’s dating Kaia Gerber, who always seems to date White-Boys-of-the-Month just before the internet gets obsessed with them — Pete Davidson, Jacob Elordi, now this … what does Kaia know?
Meanwhile … despite Butler’s — desperate, maybe? — efforts, the White Boys capturing the internet’s attention this month seem to be Miles Teller for his role in the surprisingly fine Top Gun film, and even some of the Stranger Things cast — including *** (whose WBOTM powers have even been the cause of the Doja Cat beef).
All this to say, the internet may be a lawless place, but this chaotic trend makes the bleak world of Hollywood politics so much more fun. No matter how hard they try, the powers that be can not control this — the whims of a Stan Twitter craze or the strange, sudden adolescent fervor for just another white boy charmer on the silver screen, or on those captivating screens we carry with us in our hands.