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The "#Cannibal" and the "Kitten"
From the moment allegations began swirling on the internet branding Armie Hammer a "#cannibal," red flags surfaced, and it wasn't the alleged cannibalism triggering them.
First things first: Armie Hammer is NOT a “#Cannibal.” If you’re here thinking you were getting a story about cannibalism and some prime (🥩) cannibal content, we suggest you look elsewhere, like this recent New York Times article that unironically claims “cannibalism has a time and a place,” apparently particularly in film and television, which keep turning to cannibalism for that picante dash of spice that adds a surreal, deliciously racy element to entertainment.
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If cannibalism had had this avant-garde quirkiness back in January, 2021, when the idea that Hammer is a “#cannibal” —one of the many outlandish allegations his accuser has worked very hard to make the world believe— first came to light, there may have been no need for us to be writing this now, but that’s not how things worked-out. Despite apparently being a trendsetter in media, when these allegations first came to light a year and a half ago, rather than earning Hammer a spate of new movie, television, and book deals (perhaps Hammer’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, should be suing for royalties), they landed Hammer on Hollywood blacklists, necessitating that the once steady-working actor drop project after project and largely disappear from public life.
Perhaps because, as we explained in our previous post, we had just confirmed that Amber Heard never “donated” the $3.5 million dollars she had for years claimed she had given to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, reminding us that talk is gloriously cheap and people lie, or perhaps because we are very skeptical, inquisitive, and critical by nature, even as these claims took off like wildfire in our climate-crisis-afflicted world, we weren’t quite ready to throw Hammer into the Fontanile Quarantina, the small lake in Italy where he and Timothée Chalamet frolicked in “Call Me By Your Name.” We wanted —no, needed— verification, we wanted to know why this was happening and who was behind these claims, and most importantly of all, we had to know: was any of this true?
Lurid stories on social media have a way of reaching unfathomable crescendos before the full facts of the allegations are known. Imagination and wild details, and the urgency of our culture of immediacy, often overtake having the patience to wait for the full tea to brew.
It’s in this space that the hashtag “#cannibal” began trending on Twitter starting January 10th, 2021; the at-the-time shocking nature of the allegations, a general pandemic malaise that guaranteed any remotely-interesting story would be amplified perhaps more than it merited, and Hammer’s Hollywood credentials ensured that media coverage would inevitably follow to amplify the claims and further fuel the Twitterstorm raging online. “Armie Hammer's Alleged Twitter DMs Spark Jokes, Disbelief and Derision,” read one headline from Newsweek; “Just How Common Is A Cannibalism Fetish, Anyway?” asked another from GQ. The New York Post even got “Cannibal Cop” Gilberto Valle to “pass the torch” to Hammer as the new Cannibal King of America; fans of Hannibal Lecter would disagree, even if Lecter is a fictional character.
As 2021 began, we couldn’t open our lap-tops or look at our phones without encountering some sort of cannibal reference or story, all in relation to or inspired by Armie Hammer and the accusations being made against him, a testament to how effective the social media ambush was. The fact that we’re still addressing these allegations today, and that Hammer still has not been offered another film, television, and/or theater project, speaks to how pervasive —and reputation damaging— these meteoritic social media narratives are.
Though the storm took off on Twitter, as seen above, everything began on Instagram, when a previously unknown account called House Of Effie started sharing what appeared to be screenshots of private communications from, and with, Armie Hammer. The images depicted his username and profile photos from various social media accounts on the screen captures of the still-to-this-day unverified conversations. With few exceptions, every screenshot shared in our Substack is an original, contemporaneous capture that we took ourselves, including of the various media Effie (the House of Effie account owner) has shared over time.
“I am 100% a cannibal,” read one screenshot of an alleged conversation, shared in full below. “I want to eat you. Fuck, that’s scary to admit b [sic]. I’ve never admitted that before.”
In yet another screenshot, also shared in full below, Hammer allegedly says, “You’ll need something strong to hold me back from you,” transitioning tone and tenderly adding, “I need to see my kitten. I will make this work. I feel like it’s a strong magnet. And I’m being pulled.”
There, at the bottom of this particular screenshot, in loud magenta pink letters, is an annotation added by Effie herself that reads: “This is about London Feb 2020. Need to see his kitten, he did. Unfortunately I misunderstood which kitten and got ghosted when he landed.” It stood out then, as it does still now, not only because of the bright-colored lettering and sullen tone of the text, but because it is one of the few instances of Effie’s voice appearing in these apparent communications, even if it is in the form of text commentary added several years after the alleged exchange was held.
In screenshot after screenshot shared to her eponymous House Of Effie Instagram account, save for a few exceptions, Effie’s entire side of these conversations had been tellingly removed, deleted from view so that when Hammer said “Oh my god. That just made me so hard and it makes me confused as to why,” clearly a reaction to something that was said and/or offered to him by Effie in the course of their alleged conversation, we cannot see and therefore we cannot know what that “something” said and/or offered was.
In truth, as a direct result of how they had been edited, the screenshots of alleged “conversations” between Effie and Armie Hammer from once upon a time read more like one-sided diatribes, purposefully meant to show Hammer in the worst possible light. But conversations, by definition, are exchanges in which two people contribute words, ideas, propositions, thoughts, and other gestures like emojis, GIFs, and images. We can see what Hammer allegedly said and contributed; what was Effie’s contribution to these exchanges, and why would she conceal it?
Others, it very soon became clear, had exactly the same question, and they publicly pressed Effie for answers. When asked about her choice to tamper with and manipulate purported evidence, Effie claimed she had deleted her side of the alleged conversation exchanges she had with Armie Hammer in an attempt to “erase [Hammer] and detach from his toxicity.” This, of course, makes no sense; if Effie wanted to remove Hammer from her life, deleting Hammer’s messages and words sent to Effie would have been the logical course of action to take. Deleting her own messages only while leaving those alleged to be Hammer’s untouched preserved Hammer’s words and therefore his presence in Effie’s social media and, by extension, her life. This is exactly the opposite of what Effie claimed she wanted.
This was our first red flag that, as shocking as these screenshots are —and they were shared with the awareness that they are— something was amiss, and that there could be —and indeed, there is— more to this story than what initially may tantalize the eye. We gave Effie’s allegations serious consideration nonetheless, because as women who have faced harassment, assault, and the suppression of our own voices, we are very personally and painfully aware of how culture can at times work to deprive us of our power and agency. Unfortunately, the glaring inconsistencies in Effie’s words, accounts, and actions would only grow in scope, frequency, and nature over time.
Still, in those early days when the “#cannibal” hashtag first took off, it was unclear to us what exactly Effie was accusing Armie Hammer of, if anything at all. The screenshots Effie shared through her Instagram stories were racy and risqué, but they amounted to sexts, and there was no apparent indication that they were unwelcome, especially when one realizes that Effie was responding to these advances (the block function on Instagram and Twitter is always there for us to deploy at any time) in a way that appears to have encouraged the purported communication to continue. There are many points throughout the alleged exchanges when, in fact, it appears Effie had encouraged new fantasies that only further aroused Hammer, as evidenced in the “That just made me so hard and it makes me confused as to why” comment; though the overwhelming majority of Effie’s words are gone, deleted by Effie herself, there is nothing in the remaining text to suggest a clear and forceful “NO!” or “STOP!” was ever given to let Hammer know his advances were not welcome.
There was also no indication and Effie provided no evidence that, for as shocking as Hammer’s BDSM-centered sexual fantasies were, Hammer had ever actually acted upon them. Having cannibalistic fantasies, while not everyone’s cup of tea and much rarer than, say, a foot fetish, does not itself break any laws, and policing what fully consenting adults share and discuss is an aberration of what #MeToo is, or should be, about.
It seemed instead that the entire purpose of the “#cannibal” campaign was merely an attempt to shame Hammer, an idea that Hammer appeared to echo in the only public response he has ever given to the allegations, though it remained unclear at the time what the purpose and intended outcome of this very public shaming was. Effie herself offered highly-contradictory statements on the matter.
“GO TO REHAB!” Effie admonished Hammer initially, as per above, adding defiantly that she could not be “scrub[bed]… off the internet” the way, she claimed, the actor had done with a woman with the handle Dominastya, also on Instagram. (We will discuss Dominastya in more detail in another installment, but it’s worth noting Dominstya still has her social media account, as it was never scrubbed and still exists, so this allegation is false.)
In still another social media message on January 14th, 2021, just 4 days after the “#cannibal” hashtag first began trending on Twitter (Effie stories, posts, Tweets, and is generally active on social media very prolifically), as shown in full above, Effie threatened that unless Hammer “own[ed] up to all the incomprehensible suffering [Hammer] caused [Effie and alleged unknown others], apologize[d] and [got] help,” 4-years worth of “dirt” on the actor that Effie purported to have would be dispersed on social media. “Yah we gon be here all year,” Effie added for emphasis.
Yes, you read that correctly: Effie claimed this was all originally over an apology, and attempted to blackmail Hammer into acknowledging her publicly, lest Hammer wanted years upon years of private conversations and personal details made public without his consent.
Threatening to non-consensually release the personal details and/or images of a current and/or former partner quid pro quo specific demands is known as blackmailing with revenge porn. This is illegal in California where most of these conversations, from Hammer’s end, were originally held. What Effie did is illegal and yet another red flag 🚩
We can attest to the fact that, indeed, Effie was not —and at times, still today, is not— done with her revenge porn campaign. What has followed for the next 18 months has been at times confounding, at others unacceptable, and often even more unsettling than the initial “#cannibal” allegations that first catapulted the Armie Hammer story to internet notoriety.
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