‘Hot Rodent Boyfriend’ is not the compliment you think it is


Have you heard it’s the summer of the “Hot Rodent Boyfriend”? No, me neither.

Sadly, Pizza Rat has not had a glow-up and found love in New York City. The latest internet trend is something far more insidious and gross. It seems that a certain faction of the internet has decided that the desirable male aesthetic for the coming months is… anthropomorphic vermin.

As a single man with shorter stature who has on occasion been referred to as “an annoying little rat”, I should be thrilled by this new trend. Lines of eligible ladies suddenly willing and eager to engage in a heady fling from June through September. I’d certainly be onboard.

But no, the “Hot Rodent Boyfriend” trend is the latest demonstration that we as an online society have lost our collective minds. In brief: a “Hot Rodent Boyfriend” is a conventionally attractive man, typically a celebrity, who, if compared to an animal, would fall into the “mouse or rat range.”

Harmless enough perhaps, especially when we consider such du-jour Hollywood hunks as Josh O’Connor or Tom Holland, with their angular faces and cutesy affability. It’s also hard to deny that Jeremy Allen White doesn’t embody certain characteristics of Remy from Ratatouille while scuttling around the kitchen in The Bear.

‘Challengers’ stars Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist are two du-jour celebrities who have been branded with the supposedly complimentary moniker
‘Challengers’ stars Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist are two du-jour celebrities who have been branded with the supposedly complimentary moniker (2024 Invision)

I’m sure, too, that some men wouldn’t mind being compared to choice fictional rodents, such as the suave, sophisticated, tuxedo-wearing Roddy, from DreamWorks’ 2006 animated masterpiece Flushed Away, or the timeless classic that is Stuart Little.

At the end of the day though, you are just describing men as rats – an animal that is historically associated with cunning, filth and a literal plague that wiped out around 25 million people across Continental Europe in the 14th century.

This is not to say that some men don’t deserve the moniker, exhibiting behavior that more than qualifies them as a dirty little pest and a scourge on society, but it’s a bit jarring that we’re suddenly flipping the age-old narrative and that being compared to a rat is now a good thing.

Other features on the various lists of “Hot Rodent Boyfriends” include: beady eyes, large sticky-out ears, and, as one outlet so candidly put it, “something going on with his mouth and nose”. How charming.

But who wouldn’t want to be compared to this true Hollywood icon?
But who wouldn’t want to be compared to this true Hollywood icon? ( Columbia TriStar)

Does the ideal man now also live, wiry-haired and dirty, among piles of trash and discarded vapes in the dark, nibbling on left-over, rotting food items? In the modern world, it’s a concept that wouldn’t be too difficult to realize.

The set criteria for this new fad are also ludicrously vague. In the 10 minutes I spent Googling (more than it deserves quite frankly) I saw lists of “Hot Rodent Boyfriends,” one of which included both Timothee Chalamet and Glen Powell – two men at absolute polar opposites of the straight, white, male scale. Willy Wonka vs Top Gun: Maverick!

We must conclude, therefore, that rats are as diverse as the men that are being compared. Any man can be a rat, so presumably any man can be another, less offensive animal – like a seal or whatever.

And how would it be if we carried over such animal comparison crazes to the other side? What if the internet started a trend that compared famous women to, say, anteaters? “Hot Anteater Girlfriend Summer.” There would be uproar.

Of course that’s an extremely facetious take and it isn’t like that in reality. Women face constant public scrutiny over body image, and beauty standards that men can’t even begin to comprehend.

We should probably count ourselves fortunate that even if we look like a weird, scraggly little goblin, we occasionally get a moment where the internet thinks we’re hot. #KieranCulkin.

Indeed, the viral X post that supposedly kicked off the current rodent-partner trend stated that: “Men are either eagle handsome, bear handsome, dog handsome, or reptilian handsome.” So still “handsome” in some way.

Whichever way you want to spin it though, comparing anyone to a rat or rat adjacent species is simply not nice. It’s actually quite mean.

The internet seems to be currently obsessed with comparing famous men, including Glen Powell, to anthropomorphic vermin
The internet seems to be currently obsessed with comparing famous men, including Glen Powell, to anthropomorphic vermin (Getty Images for Netflix)

It’s not as if the internet can’t come up with “nice” trends either. Last year, attractive male celebrities were described as “so babygirl”. I’m personally still not too sure what that means, but it seemed to be largely positive.

Before that, “Golden Retriever Boyfriends” were a thing, which appeared to celebrate men being goofy, loyal and having nice hair (albeit a bit dopey). Travis Kelce was classed as one of those, though perhaps that’s because no one would dare call him a rat to his face.

As with all internet trends, I’m sure that “Hot Rodent Boyfriend” will scurry away soon enough, and hopefully the next one will actually involve us going outside. Next year I’m pitching: “Hot Friends Summer Where We Get Off Our Bloody Phones And Do Fun Activities In The Park.”

Until then I guess you’ll find me down on the subway tracks, dragging a slice of pizza around and looking for love.



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