Pop Culture Musings: Maybe be a Little Nicer to Armie Hammer?

This is Armie Hammer. I imagine he has spent the last couple of days feeling kind of how he looks here. (filmexperience.net)

This is Armie Hammer. I imagine he has spent the last couple of days feeling kind of how he looks here. (filmexperience.net)

In case you missed it, last week/early this week, Buzzfeed published an article entitled “Ten Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen,” that took on the idea of white men getting so many more chances in Hollywood than women or men of minority status. I disagreed with the premise related to the man—it might be ten years, but Hammer has really only gotten a chance (LONE RANGER) and a half (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.)—but not the idea overall. I have, in the past, had my fun at the expense of actors like Jai Courtney, Sam Worthington, and Gerard Butler who seem to catch fire and be EVERYWHERE for like two years despite having little to no charisma and starring repeatedly in critical and box office failures. (To be fair, Courtney turned in a surprisingly fun performance in the kinda lousy SUICIDE SQUAD and Worthington and Butler both started their runs with box office smashes—AVATAR and 300, respectively—but were still about 90-95% dire.)

Meanwhile, Hollywood seems to run through supposed It Girls with alarming speed even if they prove to have box office and/or critical success—Gretchen Moll being the most cited example but you can see it in other case like Julia Ormond before her—or outright seeking to mock and rundown women for either difficulty handling fame or what we loved them for—see: Jennifer Lawrence, Lindsay Lohan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and so on.

So, fair game. Don’t know that I’d make Hammer the focus of it—especially as he seems to be on the eve of another critical success in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME—but the criticism of a general Hollywood discrepancy is well-founded for sure.

Hammer though, understandably I’d argue, did not really want to deal with the article or people tweeting at him about the article as he prepares for a massive press push for the above mentioned film, especially given that the film has already proven controversial and garnered him a fair amount of trolling online from random eggs all the way up to James Woods. So he deleted or suspended his account. Taking some time away, clearing his head.

His social media presence is supposed to be delightful, so some fans were understandably bummed. Nonetheless, social media is not a requirement of human existence so even actors who Hollywood have apparently been trying to make happen for a decade do not have to produce content for it with regularity.

Except, apparently, he does, according to Slate and writer Heather Schwedel who demanded he “man up” and get back on Twitter. Put a different but perhaps clearer way, “Dance for us monkey! Your life is not your own!” Even as she says he doesn’t owe us anything she insists he’s “better than this,” and does not have the right to leave social media just because something happened that made him “feel weird.”

The article is nonsense for so many reasons so I’m just gonna hit them hard and fast.

Toxic masculinity- The idea that men can’t be wounded by criticism or if they are it is because they are not substantially manly is ugly bullshit. Weird to see the usually progressive Slate assert that bit of nonsense.

He owes us social media stuff- He doesn’t. No one on Earth does.

He owes us entertainment- Again, no. Actors are people too. They get tired too. They get busy too. They get sad too. They get fed up with nonsense and want a break from it too. He did the work he was getting paid for and he didn’t even owe that to us, he just owed that to the people paying him. Similarly, he doesn’t have to entertain us via social media. Maybe he owes a social media presence via contract, but, again, that an issue between him and the organization named in the contract not between him and the public.

He's a significant figure- I don't mean this as an insult, but he's not. He has no bills in any federal or state legislature currently, holds no elected or appointed office, has no constituents. He is not arguing a case before the Supreme Court or heading up an activist nonprofit. He has political opinions for sure and I generally like them, but my dad also has political opinions I generally like and I have never felt the need to demand he get on Twitter. His lack of presences online is not such a loss in helping others that we cannot all pick up some of the slack.

This isn’t a good enough reason to leave Twitter- You know what a good enough reason to leave Twitter is? “I feel like leaving Twitter.”

In the same way any person should not be forced to “listen” to someone troll them about their experiences with sexism, sexual harassment, politics, parenting, or a myriad of other topics, no one should be forced to “listen” to people troll them about their lack of acting success. I acknowledge that most of what I listed in that sentence above effects women at a far larger rate than men, but it doesn’t diminish the point that no one of any gender or sex identity has to meet a mystical universal standard before muting or blocking someone or taking some time away from social media.

I have no doubt that Armie Hammer has a privileged life. For one thing, he is white, cis, a man, and, as far as I have read, straight. For another, he has money and he came from money. For a third, he has fame and the benefits that come from it. All true. Hence why I think the Buzzfeed article is fair game.

But there exists no level of privilege that prohibits you from making choices about keeping yourself sane and happy. Even though I am a straight, white, cisgender man with an upper middle class upbringing and current life does not mean I do not feel terrible about myself at times or need to walk away from something that makes me feel wounded and I leave approximately 0% of my life in the public eye. Hammer lives a large part of his life in public and his job is subjected to repeated scrutiny by experts, critics, and laypeople alike from the scripts he chooses to the choices he makes on set, to the final product viewers and critics get to see.

If some of that makes him feel terrible and his response is to say the article felt “bitter” to him and then take a leave, I think that is a pretty damn healthy response. He didn’t swear (which would’ve been fine too, frankly). He didn’t make threats. He didn’t make horribly bigoted comments. He didn’t harass anyone. He didn’t assault anyone. He just realized it made him feel not great, probably knew he wouldn’t respond well to it if he made himself, and took a breather.

Shouldn’t that be accepted? In  a world full of men making shit choices about how they exert their feelings over others, one man making the choice to work through his pain alone, with friends, with a therapist, with family, but not online and not in boundary violating ways, how is his choice at all a bad thing? He may not deserve a parade but he sure as hell doesn’t deserve to be told to man up and get back in there. He’s not 11, this is not 1992, and none of us are his Little League coach trying to get him to take his base after being hit by a pitch. Knock it the hell off.