Depp v. Heard: What the trial and verdict say about our culture
Ultimately, Johnny Depp received what he wished. A jury discovered his ex-wife, Amber Heard, liable for defamation, and he proclaimed victory.
In the meantime, Depp’s supporters celebrated the trial’s conclusion as vindication of their hero. Never mind that a judge in the UK found evidence for Heard’s claims of home abuse and dismissed Depp’s libel lawsuit towards a paper that described him as a “spouse beater.” This time, a jury that hadn’t been sequestered determined that when Heard, with out even naming her ex-husband, wrote in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed about turning into a “public determine representing home abuse,” she defamed Depp, and did so with malice. The jury awarded Depp more than $10 million in damages.
To return to this resolution, the jury could have believed that Heard was the abuser and Depp the sufferer, as he and his legal professionals claimed, and Heard denied. The jury additionally discovered that Depp’s former lawyer defamed Heard in one instance and awarded $2 million for her defamation countersuit.
Nonetheless, the trial delivered a distinct, chilling victory for Depp, which had been years within the making.
“She’s begging for complete world humiliation,” Depp wrote in an angry 2016 text message. “She’s gonna get it.”
Depp was proper. The livestreamed trial served up every day humiliations for Heard, whose testimony was mocked and memed. The vitriol poured forth from Depp’s followers in addition to celebrities like Chris Rock and Joe Rogan. Varied hashtags grew to become repositories of cruelty, with spectators desirous to tear Heard down as manipulative and mentally sick. On TikTok, the hashtag #JusticeforJohnnyDepp has garnered practically 20 billion views. Disturbingly, web creators flocked to cowl the trial and cashed in. The Washington Post reported that some creators introduced in important earnings for pro-Depp content material. One creator mentioned that commentary supportive of Heard misplaced folks followers.
Unsurprisingly, the trend directed at Heard typically felt like payback. Loads of Depp’s supporters would describe themselves as supportive of ladies — simply not this one, who they’d describe with expletives. She’d ruined it for all the ladies who have been telling the reality, they argued, and must be appropriately punished. Heard grew to become a digital punching bag, a stand-in for the kind of lady that our tradition likes to detest: stunning, younger, aspiring, and seemingly concerned in a beloved man’s downfall.
The web loathes Amber Heard. That is horrible for home violence victims.
Heard was not the right sufferer, although no such factor exists. She berated Depp, hit again at instances, and was characterised by the couple’s marriage counselor as preferring to struggle with Depp moderately than see him go away. These are definitely troubling dynamics, and ones which can be finest left to domestic violence experts to analyze, not random YouTubers.
Those experts are already concerned about what the trial and verdict, and the general public circus round it, will imply for victims. Will they be sued for defamation? Will they by no means come ahead within the first place, anxious that they’re going to turn out to be a city laughingstock if their associate, or their associate’s pals, goal them on TikTok?
These victims cannot be blamed for declining to belief the authorized course of. After years of painfully gradual progress towards convincing victims they do not need to stay with abuse, or their abuser, this trial has revealed an unsightly cultural regression: If the jury or public do not consider a sufferer’s claims, she ought to count on each indignity that comes her approach. Depp’s supporters could someday sadly discover themselves or their family members on the opposite facet of this ruthless equation and marvel why such scorn is sanctioned.
Because of the judge’s high-stakes decision to televise the trial, this wasn’t an strange authorized continuing. It was a money-making public shaming of a lady who credibly claimed she skilled abuse. And none of us ought to be ok with residing in a society that celebrates that sort of humiliation.
When you’ve skilled home or intimate associate violence, you possibly can name the Nationwide Home Violence hotline at 1−800−799−7233. Extra assets can be found on its website.