House of Hammer, the Discovery+ exposé of disgraced actor Armie Hammer, is the subject of even more press this week as Talos Films—the production studio behind the series—responded to feedback regarding dubious photographic evidence of Hammer’s abuse.
House of Hammer released on Discovery+ earlier this week, and documents the story of Hammer’s alleged abuse. Courtney Vucekovich, a woman interviewed who was the subject of Hammer’s abuse, disclosed the physical abuse she experienced during their time together and provided photographic evidence of a bite mark. While the evidence is certainly shocking, some viewers noticed that they thought the image looked familiar, and they were correct. Social media sleuths tracked the image to Pinterest, and discovered that it was actually a photo of a tattoo on an unknown person, and not a bite mark on Vucekovich.
Vucekovich said to People that she “received numerous messages including countless images and videos,” and that she “believed it to have been a photo of me given that I have dozens of photos depicting his abuse on my body.”
Talos Films did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment, but told Variety they plan to remove the photo. “We take seriously the responsibility of representing victims’ stories. When new information came forward about this series we immediately began investigating it and will make any appropriate changes as quickly as possible.”
The photo has since been removed from the first episode of the series titled “Love Bomb,” and was replaced with another image of a bite mark appearing on Vucekovich’s shoulder. The removal of the original photo is definitely evidence of sloppy journalism (i.e. you should obviously confirm your content is relevant before publishing a bombshell piece of content), but it is also a symptom of a much broader issue plaguing streaming services.
After the mixed reaction to “ME!”, the lead single off her 2019 album Lover, Taylor Swift made the executive decision to remove the widely loathed lyric “Hey kids, spelling is fun!” from all versions of the song on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music upon release of the album. Likewise, Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers confirmed that they have retroactively edited details of the hit sci-fi horror series that streams on Netflix, such as changing protagonist Will Byers’ birthday from March 22nd to May 22nd.
Given that streaming services exist in a completely digital medium, the post-release editing of various content is a double-edged sword. The correction of misinformation, as in the context of House of Hammer, is obviously paramount—especially in the wake of serious allegations of abuse and harm. However, the power to bend content to the will of public opinion, such as in the case of Taylor Swift and the Duffer Brothers, could prove a slippery slope as we consume art and media.