Is Twitter now such a rough-and-tumble place that even a man as manly as Armie Hammer can’t survive there? On Monday, after calling a BuzzFeed piece about him “bitter AF,” Hammer peaced out of the social network. He’s hardly the first person to have fled the platform—the Twitter hiatus has been a certifiable Thing this year, the online equivalent of a juice cleanse—but his reasons for fleeing seem a little less admirable than the usual ones. You hear about the abuse from trolls, the toxic news cycle, interference with work, which are all reasonable excuses to step back from Twitter either temporarily or for good. Stacked up against those, “BuzzFeed wrote an article I didn’t like” is some pretty weak sauce.
I guess I expected more of Hammer. He’s supposed to be embody some kind of masculine ideal. Don’t forget, he’s 6‘5, 220, and there’s two of him. By the looks of him, he has definitely tried that Gaston trick of busting belts with his neck. Is he really this bent out of shape over a little article?
Hammer has a right to do whatever he wants, of course. Some celebrities seem locked in a perpetual cycles of quitting and returning to social media. Vulture noted that he stopped using Twitter for a while earlier this year because he was embarrassed a clip of him dancing had become so popular. That is some seriously thin skin. You can surely imagine him explaining that he’s not mad, actually, he thinks it’s all kind of funny, he just doesn’t want the distraction anymore, and that’s why he deleted it … which is code for the fact that yes, he’s extremely mad and the criticism is eating away at his soul.
Let’s take a look at the BuzzFeed article by Anne Helen Petersen that inspired this whole hullaballoo*. The piece, published Sunday, is a 5,000-word reading of Hammer’s career from a cultural-studies perspective that argues that privilege has played a greater role in his success—and repeated shots at success—than the image crafted by his publicity team has acknowledged (which seems true enough of many successful people) and that Hollywood’s attempts to sell Hammer to us have been part of a relentless 10-year-long full-court press (which seems far more debatable). The article inspired a range of discussion online, including a lot of dissent—though I didn’t personally see his mentions before he hit the delete button, it definitely did not feel like a case of the entire internet ganging up on Armie Hammer. If anything, his fans were cheering on the clapback. It’s part of artists’ jobs to receive criticism, to put work out into the world and let audiences do what they will with it, and storming off of Twitter in reaction to this one, of all pieces, is bordering on bizarre. Petersen’s essay is in part about the performance of celebrity, and right now all Hammer’s performing is that he dish it out—for (delightful) example, to James Woods—but boy can he not take it. I’m all for human moments, but not when they reveal that the truth is that as a human, you might kinda suck.
Armie Hammer, you’re better than this. Who among us hasn’t felt weird about something someone said about us online? The whole point of being Armie Hammer is that you’re supposed to be too rock-jaw handsome to care about such things. Even Miles Teller, who is no Armie Hammer (but is nonetheless great at being Miles Teller), has played off his setbacks with more grace on social media. Times like these present an opportunity for celebrities that social media is uniquely suited for, wherein they provide “unfiltered” (but actually totally filtered) reactions and shape their images as they see fit. Is quitting Twitter in a huff really going to help do away with the argument that he’s privileged? Armie Hammer, it’s time to get back on the horse. Fire up Twitter and do what a real man would do: Make a dumb joke that we’ll give you more credit for than you deserve because you’re just that handsome.
*Correction, Nov. 28: Due to an editing error, this article originally misspelled Anne Helen Petersen’s name.