White Christian nationalist Jerry Falwell Jr. might still be serving as president and chancellor of white Christian nationalist Liberty University if he’d kept his hands to himself.
Granted, the notorious court evangelical would still be facing a PR nightmare thanks to everything else that was going on in the photos and videos he recklessly chose to post to social media showing him and his family cavorting in a part on a private yacht. But that now infamous unzipped-pants pic with Not His Wife might not have been quite as disastrous for Falwell if he hadn’t been so handsy in it.
So before we get into a further discussion of Falwell’s cynical hedonism and the Mammon-worshipping hypocrisy that underlies so much of white Christian nationalism, we should first discuss Keanu hands.
Keanu Reeves is a mensch. That is his reputation, at least, and despite a multi-platform industry fueled by celebrity gossip, we haven’t heard a whiff of anything to suggest it’s not true. He’s spoken of fondly by his co-stars, and by crew who have worked with him, and — most tellingly — by waitstaff and ticket-booth clerks and other service workers who have encountered him far from the spotlight. I have no way of independently confirming if he’s genuinely as nice as all those stories make him out to be, but there are a lot of those stories and I want to believe they’re true.
One example of Keanu’s menschiness is something fans recently began noticing about their pictures with the movie star. There are a lot of these pictures, which in itself demonstrates a generosity with his time and attention — not all celebrities are quite so willing to stop to pose for pictures with star-struck fans.
But what stands out in those pictures of Keanu Reeves are the actor’s “hover hands.”
“People have noticed that Keanu Reeves keeps his hands off women in photos” Caitlin O’Kane wrote last year:
Photos of Reeves with several women — including Dolly Parton — show him avoiding making contact with his hands. Other photos for red carpets show the … star often keeps his hands visible, or in his pockets. The sleuth who first noticed Reeves’ “no touching” trend said the actor does it because he’s not taking any chance.
One Twitter user suggested Reeves is following an etiquette rule that is typical in South Korea: “Hover hands” is a sign of good manners there.
Reeves may have just been raised to be polite. In a 2011 BBC interview, Reeves said the one English trait he learned from his mother, who is from the U.K., was manners.
It is good manners. It’s also smart — a way of avoiding any accusations of what’s often euphemistically referred to as “inappropriate behavior.” The best way to avoid being accused of doing anything creepy is to make sure you don’t do anything creepy. And, to his credit, this seems to be what Keanu is trying to do here. He seems intent on making sure that he never does even accidentally what Jerry Falwell Jr. was trying to do on purpose.
Keanu hands should be the standard. This is what men ought to do when posing for pictures. That’s true whether or not those men are internationally famous movie stars.
Politicians should all learn the art of Keanu hands. So should businessmen. And athletes. And professors. And the administrators of white Christian nationalist universities.
And so should pastors. Hence the title of this post.
This is a prudent practice for pastors — a measure that would help them avoid any appearance of scandal. But, as Keanu says, it’s also just good manners. It is, in other words, a way of codifying respectful behavior, a practice that might even, possibly — due to the fake-it-’til-you-make-it Aristotelian notion of virtue — eventually lead some of those male pastors to begin actually respecting women. And who knows where that might lead?
Be like Keanu. Don’t be like Jerry.