Back in 2020, in the wake of Johnny Depp’s failed libel lawsuit against the publisher of The Sun, which called her a wife-beater — and in the wake of Amber Heard’s 2019 op-ed in The Washington Post in which Heard described herself as domestic abuse Victims of – Culture turned against Depp.
E was dropped from the Fantastic Beasts franchise and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. And while he wasn’t suddenly destitute or imprisoned, he was shamed and denigrated on a global scale by a public that knew little about what really happened. I felt for Johnny Depp in that moment.
I am still dealing with the psychological trauma of the public embarrassment that I have endured. This is no small thing. I spoke in support of Depp then, not because I knew he was innocent of the abuse, but because it was clear to me that, regardless of the verdict of his defamation suit, he would be without a guarantee in a public court. was being punished. Proportionate punishment or right to appeal.
This was all after a messy 2016 divorce and a seven million dollar settlement. At the time, Depp and Heard issued a joint statement, stating that their relationship was “highly passionate and at times volatile”, yet it was “always bound by love”. But then #MeToo happened. Depp was then called a “wife-beater” and was heard to advocate for the rights of the victims. Was Depp just getting sweets, or was he caught up in the frenzy of a long-overdue but inexorable social justice movement? Was Hurd a victim or an opportunist?
These questions are currently being decided in an actual courtroom, but not behind closed doors. It’s a televised and hot-tech-fueled spectacle that the public won’t deny. And there’s a lot here to discredit both Depp and Heard. Depp’s text messages to actor Paul Bettany like: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I’ll heal her burnt corpse later to make sure she’s dead.” Or the fact that Heard’s 2019 op-ed for the Washington Post was ghost-written by the ACLU after he promised them millions of donations, a promise he never fulfilled.
But as much as Depp is maligned, there is a certain kind of rancor directed at women, and while #AmberTurd and #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser tags are trending, bot armies amplify pro-Depp stories, one re-shared 20,000 times . The more credible evidence has emerged in Heard’s favor, the more violent the rhetoric against him has become. But death threats aren’t just online.
Early in the trial, two men were cleared of court after it was alleged that they had previously made violent threats against Heard online. As someone who has received tons of death threats, I can tell you that, while it’s a fairly safe assumption that most are empty rhetoric filled with angry echo chambers, misinformation, and anonymity, you can never do not know. And that slim chance is terrifying.
No one wins in this kind of trial
Who wins in a lawsuit like this? Not Depp. did not hear. not us. But can’t we condemn the spectacle and still scrutinize the evidence to arrive at our own conclusions about the guilt and innocence of these two humans, whose trauma and pain and ugliness have been paraded before us? I’m not going to tell you my opinion on the Depp vs. Heard trial. My opinion is just that, an opinion, and it doesn’t matter. And to be honest, neither yours.
In his 2019 op-ed, Hurd wrote, “I felt as though I was on trial in a court of public opinion—and my life and livelihood depended on myriad decisions beyond my control.” I’m sure the feeling has only increased now, and I’ll bet Depp feels it too.
No one, even the privileged and wealthy, should face such an unforgivable and irresponsible decision. That feeling, and it’s not a good feeling, it’s the spirit of our collective vision. This cannot happen without speculating, accusing, slandering, intimidating, pondering and objectifying these men for our own moral crusade.
You can be forgiven for not knowing every twist and turn of this saga. Can you be forgiven for not knowing this?
As a student, American Amanda Knox spent four years in Italian prison after pleading guilty to the 2007 murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher, before she was acquitted and set free. He is now a writer, journalist and activist.