TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of sexual assault and abuse.
Actor Armie Hammer, famous for his roles in films such as The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name, has recently faced controversy regarding his emotional and sexual abuse, sexual fantasies, and supposed cannibalism. Jokes and memes about Hammer’s alleged cannibalism fantasies are flooding social media, some labeling him as Hannibal Lecter while others refer to him as a vampire or zombie. By turning the serious situation into a light-hearted joke, the media’s response hasn’t been focused on Hammer’s victim’s stories or their detailed recall of his abuse but has rather poked fun at his sexual kinks.
The rumors started on Jan. 10, when the Instagram account @Houseofeffie leaked her and Hammer’s supposed conversations from 2016. These messages were filled with Hammer’s disturbing sexual fantasies, which involved detailed scenarios of rape, violence, and cannibalism — all allegations that should be taken seriously. Although there is no way to know if these messages have been manipulated in any form, that hasn’t stopped others, such as Hammer’s former girlfriend Jessica Henriquez, from siding with the owner of the Instagram account. “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,” Henriquez said in a Twitter statement.
Because of Henriquez’s statements, many on social media also began to side with the victim. After all, who better to comment on Hammer’s sexual abuse allegations than a former sexual partner?
As the screenshots spread, a production spokesperson announced that Hammer would be leaving his upcoming Lionsgate movie, “Shotgun Wedding.” The spokesperson did not refer to Hammer’s growing controversy, but it can be assumed that Hammer dropped his role in the film to preserve the little positive reputation he had left. “In light of the vicious and spurious online attacks against me, I cannot in good conscious now leave my children for four months to shoot a film in the Dominican Republic,” Hammer told Variety and Deadline on Jan. 13.
Just a week or so later, Hammer was further criticized for posting a video to his private Instagram account in which he refers to a woman dressed in lingerie as “Ms. Cayman,” an affectionate term for the winner of the Miss Cayman Island Universe pageant. In his caption, he writes that he will have sex with her.
After the videos and photos spread throughout social media, the official Miss Cayman Islands Universe committee responded on their social media, saying they were “disturbed” by the post. The committee also clarified that the woman in the video was not Miss Cayman, but rather another unidentified woman who has no affiliation to the Miss Cayman Islands Universe Pagent.
The committee also reported the incident to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIP).“…the depiction of the woman in the video goes against all that our organization stands for and the committee is consequently requesting that Mr. Hammer immediately remove all references to Miss Cayman in from his social media channels,” the committee posted on their official Instagram account. Later, Hammer clarified that the woman in the video was not Miss Cayman, but rather another unidentified woman, and apologized for his post. By publicly humiliating a woman and sexualizing her without her consent, Hammer proves that he has no boundaries in regard to his sexual fantasies.
Courtney Vucekovich, another one of Hammer’s ex-girlfriends, revealed to Page 6 that Hammer said he wanted to “barbeque and eat her.” She also detailed the emotional abuse she suffered while in the relationship, but these allegations were overshadowed by the jokes and posts about Hammer’s “cannibalism.”
According to Vucekovich, Hammer was prone to sexual and emotional coercion and manipulation along with being emotionally abusive. “He kind of captivates you, and while being charming, he’s grooming you for these things that are darker and heavier and consuming,” she told Page 6. After Vucekovich and Hammer’s relationship ended, she endured frequent panic attacks and later checked herself into a 30-day partial hospitalization program to treat her PTSD. Vucekovich’s trauma has not been addressed nearly as much as it should be.
On the other hand, celebrities such as Bella Thorne have come forward to defend Hammer. In an Instagram story post, Thorne says, “I honestly can’t believe this. This poor guy and his kids like leave him alone.” She goes on to call the screenshots “fake.”
At this point in time, there is no way of knowing whether the screenshots portraying Hammer as a cannibal as well as a sexual predator are real or not. However, in a generation where the phrase “believe all victims” has gained lots of popularity and traction, in this particular instance, social media is not helping the alleged victims as much as it could. In fact, joking about serious matters like this only harms sexual assault victims and further invalidates their experiences.
The primary public takeaway of the controversies surrounding Hammer has been to make jokes about or mock his sexual fantasies and his victims instead of holding him accountable for his sexual and emotional abuse. The problem lies in the fact that Hammer manipulated his partners and forced his sexual fantasies on women without asking for consent; regardless of whether the screenshots and multiple allegations are truthful or not, Hammer should be investigated and held accountable for his actions.