Why Is Armie Hammer trending on Twitter? Let’s investigate

Hammer is trending for reasons that would give any publicist that “Mondays, am I right?” feeling: Screenshots are circulating online from an account that claims to show the actor speaking to women in a way that is sexually domineering and violent.

Some of the messages, which Glamour won’t link to here, speak of drinking blood, describe scenes of sexual control, and reference cannibalism.

Armie Hammer is trending on Twitter right now, but not for any reasons you’d expect. Not because of a new project, or because of his friendship with Call Me by Your Name costar Timothée Chalamet, or because of his divorce with Elizabeth Chambers.

You’ve been warned.

There is no proof that the messages are real. Technology exists such that the average person can easily mock up a screenshot of direct messages or impersonate a celebrity online. The screenshots seem to have originated from multiple Instagram accounts, some of which have since gone private. The celebrity gossip Instagram Deaux Moi published a screenshot from one of the profiles that had published the messages, claiming that the account had faked its part in the scandal.

Neither Hammer nor his reps have made any reference to the alleged messages. But rumors like “A-list actor eats human women” are bound to explode the internet, especially in a cultural moment when every major news story seems to be about either mass death or the decline of democracy.

“Armie Hammer” trended on Twitter on Sunday night. Hammer’s Wikipedia page was briefly edited to read “Armie Cannibal Hammer.” Gossip blogs and tabloids published screenshots of screenshots and speculated about the fallout for Hammer, who spent the first week of the year in the Cayman Islands with Chambers and their two children. Comedians ran with the story, like an improv troupe given the suggestion “leading man” and “eating human flesh.”

“This is going to blow over,” says comedian J.P. McDade, doing an impression of Hammer. “Didn’t something just happen with…whoever the president is?” He adds: “What do you mean, unrelatable? America loves me-my ancestors threw all of the witches off of the Mayflower.” (Hammer is the great-grandson of the American petroleum tycoon Armand Hammer who, ironically, was named after the arm-and-hammer logo of the Socialist Labor party.)

It feels impossible-during a pandemic, the Monday after Americans witnessed an attempted coup in our Capitol-not to laugh at a rumour that a major heartthrob drinks human blood. But this drama lies at a dangerous intersection: humor, sexual kink, the rise of deep fakes, and the way we navigate allegations of sexual misconduct and rape around public figures.

Some of the alleged DMs refer to rape, though it’s not clear in the context whether it’s actual nonconsensual sex or consensual kink play that includes rape fantasies. Many have noted that a-much smaller, in retrospect-scandal in 2017 revealed that Hammer liked tweets about BDSM sex from his Twitter profile, though that doesn’t mean these tweets are his.

Writer Jessica Ciencin Henriquez tweeted on Monday, “If you are still questioning whether or not those Armie Hammer DMs are real (and they are) maybe you should start questioning why we live in a culture willing to give abusers the benefit of the doubt instead of victims.” On the other hand, if the DMs are real and describe consensual sex, doesn’t making them public reflect a serious breach of privacy that everyone, even celebrities, deserve?

Is this a grisly #MeToo story? Or another example of an actor’s private sex life regrettably becoming public? Or just an elevated trolling job by a fan of vampire sex who didn’t find the recent Twilight spin-off book very satisfying? The fact that we can’t know means you can expect to see a lot more off-color Armie Hammer memes in your next thousand or so scrolling sessions.

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