Where Our Armie Hammer Obsession Went Wrong
Over the weekend, the celebrity gossip Instagram account Deux Moi posted a tip that a major media outlet was about to drop a bombshell story about Armie Hammer. It was hard to imagine what could be worse than what had been already alleged in leaked DMs, anonymous social media accounts, and a Sofia With An F podcast interview with Paige Lorenze—specifically, that Hammer subjected women to non-consensual BDSM, sexual manipulation, and emotional abuse. And, of course, the disturbing cannibalistic fantasies he allegedly messaged to women, and that gave rise to gleefully gory headlines and tweets. But a properly reported article would legitimize the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations that spread across social media—and were all too easy for some to dismiss as internet rumors.
Almost a week has passed, and no article has materialized. This shouldn’t be surprising. As Deux Moi itself acknowledged in comments from followers that it posted, journalism—especially journalism that has the potential to directly impact people’s lives, and, of course, risks lawsuits—takes time, and requires a degree of certainty it’s not always possible to reach. Case in point: a Deux Moi tipster claimed just last night that a Los Angeles Times story about the accusations would not be moving forward. The initial tip promised that an exposé from an unnamed outlet was imminent, and would contain information that hadn’t yet been made public. One of the survivors of Hammer’s alleged abuse who goes by @houseofeffie on Instagram said that what was going to come out was “bad. Really bad.” In the absence of any concrete information, the collective imagination ran wild. The same social media feeds that shared the initial accusations damaged their credibility spreading unfounded speculation that Hammer might have committed murder. Now, even the clumsiest of PR professionals can easily cast doubt on the online accusations as a whole.
This is particularly frustrating because the Hammer allegations have, in some ways, opened up a new chapter in the MeToo movement. It was survivors and their supporters, not journalists, who brought this story to the attention of the world and quickly exacted meaningful consequences. But without the type of journalists who worked for years to firmly establish Harvey Weinstein’s crimes, the survivors’ story became our story—more grist for the internet mill. The narrative shifted from “survivors speak out about Armie Hammer” to “public waits for juicy details of Armie Hammer bombshell.”
Deux Moi conceded earlier this week that the bombshell may never drop. Most likely, we’ll eventually get a reported piece that includes allegations we have already heard and ones that we have not. But the more time that passes between the surfacing of the allegations and the vetted report, the more we speculate about just how bad it it could be, the more memes we share on Twitter about how we’re all foaming at the mouth to read something even bigger and more scandalous—and the more we neglect the very serious accusations that are already in front of us.
Vaccine Armie Hammer— Lindsay Hameroff (@LindsayHameroff) February 9, 2021
Taking longer than expected
I’m standing in the Armie Hammer Big News Coming Great Pumpkin patch like I’m motherfucking Linus over here and it’s getting cold!!!!!!— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) February 10, 2021
when is the Armie Hammer tea dropping I’m on the edge of my seat pic.twitter.com/PwT2LnjGX5— Farris 💫 (@dollartreesteak) February 8, 2021
That’s a huge disservice to the survivors who first spoke out. With online speculation running so rampant, a story that could very well end up “just” being about the allegations we already know will likely not get the level of outrage it deserves.