In a snide and dismissive 11.26 article called “Ten Years of Trying To Make Armie Hammer Happen,” Buzzfeed‘s Anne Helen Petersen describes Hammer’s difficulty in launching himself over the last seven years or so.
Most of her observations are partly true, but here’s how I’d put it. Hammer happened in 2010’s The Social Network (i.e., the “Winklevii”), and it was just a matter of landing another role as good. I was a bit worried for him after The Lone Ranger, but I suspected he’d recover. He actually did half-recover in The Man From UNCLE but the film…not good enough. And then Luca Guadagnino came along and just flat-out saved Armie’s ass. In the immediate aftermath of the first-anywhere screening of Call Me By Your Name at last January’s Sundance ’17, it was obvious Hammer had been restored, redeemed and propelled onto high ground.
But Petersen also strolls into an unfortunate p.c. mindset. “Hammer [has] comported himself the way people who have grown up with money often do,” she writes. “With confidence and charisma, or, if you’re being less generous, like a little bit of an asshole.” Because Hammer happens to be really good-looking, she means. And because he’s white, of course, which translates as arrogant and entitled. Petersen is expressing a basic attitude about confident, broad-shouldered whiteys that has embedded itself over the last…oh, dozen years or so. Which is that there’s something vaguely dickish and socially toxic about these guys.
In a 7.30 HE piece called “When Ax-Blade Handsome Was Okay,” I asked “which upper-echelon actors in today’s realm are ax-blade handsome in that tall, broad-shouldered, WASP-ian way? Two guys I can think of — Armie Hammer and (when he’s not summoning memories of Ernest Borgnine) Henry Cavill. But that’s about it.
“Because ax-blade handsome isn’t trusted, much less admired. It’s even despised in certain quarters. Because it’s now synonymous with callow opportunism or to-the-manor-born arrogance . Men regarded as ‘too’ good-looking are presumed to be tainted on some level. Perhaps even in league with the one-percenters and up to no good. It’s been this way since Wall Street types and bankers began to go wild in the mid ’80s.”