Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have opened a portal to hell

And we’re all tumbling via it

Well, you understand what they are saying – you both die a hero, otherwise you stay lengthy sufficient to see sexual assault and home abuse being mocked on TikTookay. Except, really it’s not simply TikTookay. The final fortnight has proven that if there’s one factor with the facility (learn: PR staff) to unite content material creators of all stripes with males’s rights activists, make-up model social media managers, middle-aged white girls, true crime stans, and grown adults who assume cinema begins and ends with Disney motion pictures, it’s the trials of Johnny Depp. Which, in case you’ve been residing in blissful ignorance, is what the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial has morphed, mutated and been memed into. 

Across each social media feed, the trial is being portrayed as a recent retelling of the biblical trials of Job. In this state of affairs, Johnny is a innocent and righteous man. Johnny misplaced all his cash, his mom died, and he suffered nice bodily agony. In the midst of his struggling, the world turned on him, and accused harmless Johnny of sinful transgression. Amber Heard, in the meantime, is being painted because the manipulative, deceitful girl par excellence. A liar, a gold digger, a bitch. For anybody with any consciousness of gender stereotypes, the script actually writes itself. In this world, Amber is a rapacious harpy and Johnny’s been via hell.

I’m not right here to mount a grand defence of Amber Heard, as a result of, actually, I’ve no clue what actually went on of their relationship (and but someway I nonetheless want I knew much less). I’m not saying Depp is the perpetrator and I’m not saying he’s the sufferer. I’m definitely not saying that males can’t be gaslit and topic to abuse. What I’m saying, although, is that issues are getting very, very bizarre on the market, in a method that’s more and more deeply worrying.

Despite attempting to avoid the trial as a lot as attainable at first, daily Youtube would throw up clips, response movies and what can solely be described as Depp propaganda onto my house web page. One day it was ‘Captain Jack Sparrow visits patients in hospital’ and ‘Johnny Depp complete penthouse tour’, the next it was ‘Johnny Depp Best Bloopers’, ‘Johnny Depp talking about the birth of Lily Rose’ and  ‘Amber Heard Forgetting Her Lines On The Witness Stand’. YouTube channels not too long ago devoted to maths and engineering tutorials have pivoted into devoted ‘funny court clips’ accounts (“Amber Heard Exposed With An Instant Mood Shift”). Looking at these channels’ skyrocketing view counts, it’s clear there’s a poisonous mixture of clout and cash to be made out of leaping on this notably fucked-up bandwagon. One Twitter consumer identified that girls are doing their make-up to imitate Heard over sound clips from the trial of Depp calling her a whore. There at the moment are numerous movies of individuals performing sexy over sound clips from the trial of Heard speaking about being sexually assaulted by Depp. After realising they “could dress up as Wish versions” of Heard and Depp (in Captain Jack Sparrow garb, in fact), a pair on TikTookay acted out a ‘scene’ from Heard’s testimony, describing Depp slapping her throughout the face (over sound clips from the trial, in fact). That video has now been considered over 22 million occasions.

It’s nearly as if the final 5 years – and #metoo – by no means occurred. Treating an ongoing defamation trial, that includes graphic and distressing testimony about bodily violence, coercive management, and sexual assault, just like the leisure love-child of a brand new season of Love Island and Netflix’s newest true crime documentary sequence is, at greatest, distasteful and, at worst, actively harmful.

Lucia Osborne-Crowley, creator of My Body Keeps Your Secrets and authorized affairs reporter for Law360, informed me how she was “terrified by the jokes and memes” she has seen making mild of the Depp/Heard trial. “The jokes about Heard’s rape allegations – including jokes about her descriptions making people want to have sex with Johnny Depp – are really disturbing and lay bare just how far we have to go in terms of taking this kind of violence seriously,” she continued. “To make matters worse, Amber Heard hasn’t even presented her case yet – so the TikTokkers and Instagrammers have decided to write her off before they’ve even heard her side of the story. Jokes about rape and domestic violence are never okay, and they are particularly disturbing when they are being made halfway through an ongoing trial when she hasn’t been given a chance to present her evidence yet.”

Ultimately, probably the most worrying factor about how all that is taking part in out is what it probably units the precedent for. If it is proved so extremely simple for folks to get swept up in a highly-orchestrated, seemingly money-no-object PR operation, changing into public ‘defenders’ of a rich and influential male superstar on the expense of a youthful, much less well-known girl, it’s not a stretch to think about the identical mannequin being rolled out time and time once more – the #metoo motion and its long-overdue teachings about energy dynamics and trauma responses floor into mud.

Apparently unable or unwilling to know the advanced nature of abuse allegations, some within the ‘Justice for Johnny community’ at the moment are taking what they imagine about Depp and Heard and making use of it to different public allegations. Marilyn Manson – Depp’s long-time buddy and ingesting buddy – not too long ago filed his personal defamation case in opposition to Evan Rachel Woods. Manson intends to say, very similar to Depp has, that her accusation of sexual assault, rape and abuse is “a malicious falsehood that has derailed Warner’s successful music, TV, and film career.” Already, a concerted marketing campaign to ‘Stand With Marilyn Manson’ has kicked into gear. “Keep helping your buddy #EvanRachelWood falsely accuse a man like you did to #JohnnyDepp,” one tweet addressed to Heard in response to the assist she has proven Wood. “In the world of showbiz there’s always two toxic friends who decide to put Regina George to shame and that’s Amber Heard and Evan Rachel Wood,” one other acknowledged.

The tragic factor is that none of that is new. Did you understand The Sun was poised to publish a narrative uncovering Jimmy Savile as an abusive paedophile in 2008, years earlier than his demise? The newspaper’s legal professionals suggested in opposition to it, as a result of they knew Savile would sue for libel, and if he did, they knew he would in all probability win. He might name on a community of highly effective folks to defend him, whereas the weak younger folks he molested would, within the legal professionals’ view, be deemed untrustworthy – out to become profitable from tarnishing the repute of a charitable and honourable man.

As Osborne-Crowley says: “Johnny Depp won’t see your posts turning Amber Heard’s graphic rape allegations into a humiliating meme, but your friends who have survived sexual violence will.” Looking at video after video of individuals laughing at abuse testimony, it is arduous to shake the sensation that the message is similar because it’s ever been: by all means communicate up, however we gained’t take it critically.

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