The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial: A hall pass for misogyny and bigotry

By Nadia Urbina, May 17, 2022

Initially, I wasn’t looking for it until it was stuffed down my throat. Celebrity gossip: It’s everywhere no matter where I look online, and I’m suddenly in a deep hole knowing every single detail about a public figure’s life and their doings.

Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard is the first celebrity trial that I started following after coming across scandalous headlines and seeing clips from the trial. The case sparked my curiosity since I’ve grown up with and loved the characters Depp has played from Jack Sparrow to Edward Scissorhands.

Though the case is ongoing, the public has made its decision on who is at fault and has sided with Depp. The accusation of domestic abuse made by Depp against Heard and his renowned roles, has shielded him from scrutiny and has opened a back door for misogyny.

On April 11, 2022, Johnny Depp’s case against former spouse Amber Heard started in Fairfax, Virginia. The case took over Twitter and countless news outlets. Depp is suing Heard for an op-ed piece she wrote in 2018 published by the Washington Post. Heard’s op-ed talks about her past experience with sexual violence and domestic abuse within her marriage with Depp that ended in January 2017. Though Depp wasn’t directly mentioned in the article, he filed for a $50 million lawsuit alleging Heard defamed him in her article and denied any allegations made by Heard in past statements.

Courtesy of Tingey Injury Law Firm

In the span of three weeks, every detail of their relationship, private conversations, text messages and recordings, have been highly publicized. The shocking statements by Depp, Heard and witness testimonies are constantly replayed and discussed on social media. Though both have accused each other of abuse and violence, it is Heard who is mocked and ridiculed for her demeanor in court, what she wears, how she looks and what she says.

Her emotional testimony on May 5 alleged gruesome details of occasions where Depp was intoxicated and showcased violence toward her. Today’s society is conditioned to show sympathy to victims of abuse, but this sentiment is abandoned when it comes to Heard. Her testimony is scrutinized and made it as a trend on TikTok for content creators to use the audio from Heard’s testimony and do a satirical reenactment of her recount of being hit by Depp.

The lack of sympathy toward Heard isn’t constituted without fault. In an audio recording played in court, Heard admits to hitting Depp and belittles his claim of being a domestic violence victim and asks him who will believe or side with him.

Unlike Heard’s tearful testimony, Depp’s testimony made headlines for presenting himself as charming and even garnered some laughs from the courtroom while being crossexamined. Him being outspoken about the abuse and being an example of how men can be victims of domestic abuse, helped him gain the public’s trust. Support for Depp is apparent in the courtroom as fans from all over the world traveled in support of him to attend the trial and the trending hashtag on Twitter #justiceforjohnny.

Whether or not he’s the representation of domestic abuse in men, his iconic roles certainly play a major role for the public’s sympathy. Lack of recognition for Heard is a common factor used when others discuss her. She’s accused of being a bad actress when she takes the stand and is called over the top for crying during her recounting of being sexually assaulted. Where Depp is discussed as brave and vulnerable, she’s described as manipulative, fake, crazy and a bitch.

The sentiments are clear, both share similar stories, both have been recorded admitting to violence toward one another, yet that’s forgotten. Sexist remarks and victim blaming are acceptable to use on a woman when it comes to a man alleging abuse. When the same allegations are made of him, his fame and charm lead others to believing him and dismissing her as an attention seeker and liar.

The ongoing case resumes on May 16. Past court dates and live streaming of the case can be found on YouTube.

Feature image courtesy of Tingey Injury Law Firm. 

  • Show Comments (1)

  • J Hempstead

    Depp is the MANIPULATIVE type of abuser – turning everything around and crying victim, skillfully turning the tables and getting enablers on his side, until everything Heard does is viewed through the lens of “cold,” “crazy,” “lying” or other negative terms. Then, those who believe him see everything through that lens, and talk endlessly about painted-on bruises and years-long hoaxes. It’s exhausting. He seems to want to still control her and have a relationship with her through the courts. Let it go and leave her alone.

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