As an extremely online gay man with two older straight brothers, I spend an inordinate amount of time litigating the selfie choices of my siblings. They look better in blue. They don’t know what to do with their hands, so waist-up shots only. And always, always lift your chin.
Over the years, I’ve learned most straight men fit into one of several selfie archetypes. There’s the fish guy on Bumble holding up a trout he caught between Natty Lights on a trip to Floribama. There’s the newly single dad, using two hands to snap a picture from too high an angle, showing too much forehead and an expression of someone who has lost his zest for life. We also have the bathroom selfie, which is usually a safe bet… unless you haven’t cleaned your mirror and have toothpaste all over your counter.
The worst, though, is the guy who bites his lip.
The lighting can be flattering, the angle perfect and the background scenic. But guys will go and ruin it by munching on the corner of their mouth.
While you may think it’s wry, biting your lip is not giving off the Joseph Gordon-Levitt–in–500 Days of Summer quirkiness you think. (That character was always an asshole anyway.) Lip-biting is not cute. It is not going to get you laid. And it’s not what the country was founded on. If anyone should know that by now, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Last week, the acerbic Gen Zs on TikTok came after their latest Old: the Hamilton guy. User @okayelisabeth posted a screen recording of her phone, showing dozens of the same selfie of Miranda, in costume as Alexander Hamilton, biting his lip.
Shortly after, Hamilton superfan Parker Foster, 19, put his video editing skills to good use, exposing Miranda’s egregious history of lip-biting in selfies. In Foster’s video, stock footage of a softball player at the batting range hitting a ball straight into the camera spurs a slideshow of 16(!) images of Miranda biting his lip. Miranda bites his lip backstage on Broadway, he bites his lip while visiting what appears to be Stonehenge, he bites his lip live on late-night TV and he bites his lip in the cab with his morning coffee.
While lip-biting can be flirty, all Foster sees is cringe. “I personally love Lin. He’s so amazing and talented, but it made me laugh. It’s kind of an odd pose,” he tells me.
Biting your lip connotes arousal, like you’re trying to physically hold back from talking dirty. It’s like a creepy asterisk in the flesh. And it’s more off brand for a Hollywood family man — Miranda, star of Mary Poppins Returns and icon to theater kids — would be thirsting on main.
Worse, he’s not even thirsting correctly. Miranda, baby, if you’re gonna go horny online, give us a shirtless selfie. Call up Daveed Diggs if you need tips.
Miranda eventually addressed the TikTok jabs on Twitter last week in a freestyle rap video, saying “Bit my lip. Aw shit. TikTok hates when I do that.” Miranda, word of advice: When teens come for you, it’s best you get on board and take it like the acclaimed professional you are.
Just under 20 minutes after posting his rap video, Miranda tweeted that he was taking a break from Twitter.
Some Gen Z users quickly took credit for bullying him offline.
To put it gently, Miranda’s had a rough time on the internet recently. In April, he began selling $79 framed selfies on his online store, because nothing screams “stress-shopping in a pandemic” like a portrait of Miranda going to town on his own mouth. Then, earlier this month, a filmed version of Hamilton debuted on Disney Plus, which cued a call to cancel the play for romanticizing founding fathers and slave owners.
Straight men, if you’re still reading this, let Miranda’s bumpy quarantine be a lesson. Biting your lip doesn’t mean you’re gonna get canceled or bullied off Twitter by stans. But there’s a good chance it’ll make securing a date off Bumble about as likely as scoring cheap Hamilton tickets.
What flirty pose can you pull off instead of the Miranda gnaw? Parker has some advice: “I’m always just a sucker for a good smile,” he says. So if you want to get in the room where it happens, you better show us your teeth.