Armie Hammer Explainer: What Is Going On?!
It’s safe to say that the whole Armie Hammer scandal has gone mainstream. Kenan Thompson, after all, mentioned it in last week’s Saturday Night Live cold open, which is about as mainstream as you can get. However, there are still some of you out there who may not know or may not understand the deal. If that’s the case, then here’s an Armie Hammer Explainer for you. (CW: This will include mentions of abuse of various kinds.)
The Armie Hammer Explainer: Start At The Beginning
Some of y’all might not know much about the ongoing scandal because you barely know who Armie Hammer even is. So, here’s a brief summary, or at least, one that’s a bit more elaborate than just “he’s an actor.”
First of all, let’s just get this out of the way–he has nothing to do with the baking soda company, whom I’m really sure would like to be excluded from this narrative. He was named after his great-grandfather. While his businessman great-grandpa did once owns shares of Church & Dwight, the parent company of Arm & Hammer, they’re not actually related. Got it? Okay. Now onto his career.
image via The CW
I first became aware of Hammer around the time he appeared in a 2009 Vanity Fair article about rich kids. In retrospect, that article, which also featured blurbs on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, was a canary in a yikes mine. At least Dasha Zhukova seems to be doing well. And Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo would go on to marry Jessica Chastain, so good for him.
Anyway, tucked into the very end of the slideshow is Armie Hammer. At that time, he was recurring on Gossip Girl. It’s a testament to his dazzling screen presence that I, once a devoted GG viewer, completely forgot he was on the show.
Okay, But Where Do I Know Him From?
Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, image via Sony Pictures Classics
Yeah, funny thing about that. He would keep–should I say it? I’m going to say it. Over the years, he would keep hammering away at a movie star career. There would be highs, like his dual role as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, and lows, as when his turn at being a new Batman, like Pattinson, would be scuttled. Actually, there would be a lot of lows–The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Lone Ranger, etc.–enough to prompt culture writer Anne Helen Petersen to examine how and why he got so many chances.
That piece was similar to Petersen’s other work, in that it was more of an examination of a phenomenon rather than a personal profile. Hammer, though, in a move so ill-advised it now seems like foreshadowing, took it personally. He tweeted that the article was “bitter AF,” for instance, before huffing off of Twitter for a while.
As the article came out around the same time as Call Me By Your Name, arguably Hammer’s most acclaimed work, his commentary attracted a lot of attention. It also activated some of the more unhinged corners of the internet, who did things like threaten to kill Petersen’s dog. (By the way, Petersen has also recently written about the whole experience, including her updated thoughts.)
And Now There’s This Mess
Rebecca, image via Netflix
Last year was relatively sedate for Armie Hammer. Rebecca came out on Netflix, but made little noise. (It was watched a lot, but it certainly didn’t enter the cultural chatter like Tiger King or Borat.) In fact, Hammer mostly made the news last year for his relationships. (Foreshadowing again.) That is to say, he and his wife separated. Hammer then dated a succession of women, both famous and not.
On January 1st, he tweeted, “2021 is going to kneel down before me and kiss my feet because this year I’m the boss of my own year.” Less than two weeks later, an anonymous Instagram user, houseofeffie, would come forward. Through the account, she shared the correspondence she had exchanged with Hammer since 2016. (Note: Direct messages Hammer had sent had been pinging around social media for a while, but it wasn’t until last month that it became a thing.)
“Effie” was not the only one, either, and the correspondence–screenshots, photos, and audio recordings–these women shared was shocking. That Hammer was into kink was relatively known–people had spotted bondage accounts in his Twitter likes, for example. But this was something far beyond.
And that’s what I want to emphasize. Some of the reporting on this story has focused on kink-shaming, so-called cancel culture, or cast the story as being about those wacky Hollyweirdos. But while there are some wild kinks here (see also: cannibalism fantasies), this isn’t a story about ethical perversion. People do fantasize about weird shit sometimes. This story, though, is about abuse. These women aren’t claiming that he sent them disturbing messages; they’re saying that he hurt them physically and emotionally. It’s important to make that distinction.
So What Comes Now?
Hammer has left at least two projects he’d planned to start this year. His publicist and his agency have dropped him. The latter has been used as evidence that something worse is coming. To wit, there have been rumors that a big story is in the works, similar to the ones Ronan Farrow or Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke about Harvey Weinstein. There have also been rumors of a darker nature, ones that suggest even more shocking revelations are imminent. To date, though, all of this remains just rumors, so it’s pointless to discuss.
There is, however, the future to talk about. Will Armie still have a career? Should he? Well, if you believe these women–and having seen the photos and heard the audio, I have no reason not to–then no, I don’t think so. I’ve always been relatively medium on him and his career, never feeling that strongly about him in any direction. But now? I’m pretty sure I can’t watch him in, say, a romantic role or a comedy, and forget the things I’ve read.
I would like to see it. (image via DeuxMoi)
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter how I personally feel, because I have no control over who hires him or not. I do have control, though, over what movies I see, what TV shows I watch. So I’m good, love. And I hope all of you are, too.
And if you need to talk to someone about sexual violence, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. If you would prefer to talk in text, you can also chat on their site. Please take care of yourselves.
As always, share your thoughts with us on our social media or in these comments.
featured image via 20th Century Pictures
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.