"My dog stepped on a bee..." as soon as the words left Amber Heard’s mouth, it quickly gathered millions of views, parodies, and 'interpretive memes,' which have now flooded social media feeds worldwide. And this is how the circus started.
Even if you ignored the Johnny Depp Vs. Amber Heard defamation trial, it tracked you down. Thousands of out-of-context 20-second snippets from the courtroom flooded TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter after the stream began on April 11, 2022, giving people the false entitlement of feeling like they understood everything about the trial without having seen a minute of it. It didn't help that most videos favored Depp while criticizing Heard with hashtags like #Amberturd and #JusticeForJohnnyDepp.
In this piece, we discuss what probably missed your eyes and ears- expert opinions on both the parties in question and the media trial that could have destroyed the "me too" moment. However, we are not here to pass judgment on the case because the verdict is unambiguous and binding on all parties (people who are rooting for either side of the team). The purpose of this post is solely to draw your attention to additional parts of the case that you may have overlooked.
Johnny Depp (a Hollywood actor famous for his character "Jack Sparrow" in the series "Pirates of the Caribbean) and Amber Heard (a famous Hollywood actress most known for Aquaman) met at the shooting of the movie "The Rum Diary" in 2009. At the time, when Heard and Depp were 25 years and 49 years respectively. They fell in love in 2012, and by 2015, they were married. Trouble arrived a year later, in 2016, when Heard filed for divorce and also a restraining order against Depp, citing domestic abuse. Pictures of Heard's bruises were extensively disseminated in 2017, and simultaneously, the #MeToo movement was gathering traction.
In the aftermath, Amber Heard wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on how she "faced cultural wrath by speaking out against abuse," without mentioning Johnny Depp once. Depp subsequently sued Heard for defamation based on the story, and Heard later countersued, claiming that Depp defamed her when his lawyer accused her of carrying out "fake abuse."
Previously, Johnny Depp sued UK newspaper The Sun for labeling him a "wife-beater" in one of their headlines. The court dismissed the case because Heard's abuse accusations were deemed correct at the time.
Many body language experts on YouTube gained millions of views and popularity overnight for giving their opinions on the Johnny Depp Vs. Amber Heard case. Some of them claimed that Heard's looking down while recalling incidents meant she made them up. Law commentary channels pointed out that her looking at the jury while speaking apparently indicated she tried to "bully" them into listening to her. Because social media algorithms are designed to reward following trends, there was plenty of motivation for obscure content makers to join the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp bandwagon.
New social media profiles have sprouted up to discuss the trial. A husband-and-wife legal team gathered thousands of YouTube subscribers overnight, pointing out the 'poor optics' of Heard sipping water in court while admiring fan edits of Depp grinning with his attorneys or sharing a box of candies. These videos received much more views than any in Heard's favor, and Heard became the internet's new favorite villain overnight.
Dr. Nicole Bedera, a researcher, described on Twitter how defamation cases are a legal instrument used by offenders to suppress and intimidate victims and divert blame. In India, former Indian Union minister MJ Akbar did something similar: he sued journalist Priya Ramani for defamation after her #MeToo narrative implicated him.
Another sexual assault researcher, Dr. Lily Kay Ross, noted how the public's perception of the 'perfect victim' is articulated by another researcher, Nils Christie, in 1986: one who is "meek, even Christ-like," and who "heroically embraces and overcomes hardship." In truth, a victim of sexual abuse is more likely to acquire coping mechanisms and abilities that will help them survive in dangerous settings, according to Dr. Ross.
This might include fighting back or choosing to stay with a perpetrator and self-blame. Unsurprisingly, neither conclusion is acceptable in our society: fight back, and you are in the wrong; plod on, and you are dumb for not quitting the relationship sooner. This is also why many women online who claim to be abuse victims refuse to trust Heard because she is not the 'ideal victim.'
Because of the pop-culture obsession with portraying Amber Heard as The Liar, most people have ignored the several witnesses who attested to seeing bruises on her arms and face. Her beauty makeup artist testified that she had a black eye and a wounded lip concealed for a TV interview. She has many images of bruises with information that corresponds to the claimed abuse dates from her statement.
Another weird common myth is Amber Heard defecating in Johnny Depp's bed, which a UK judge dismissed as implausible, especially because Depp wasn't even home for the following several days of the supposed occurrence. Depp had gone that night for his Sweetzer property. Heard, not him, was likely to be affected by the feces on the bed while he was away. As a result, it was a singularly unsuccessful way for Heard or one of her companions to “get back at Mr. Depp,” the court said. Depp was also recorded discussing leaving feces for Heard to uncover as a prank with one of his colleagues — something that has magically gone from the deluge of videos and information surrounding the trial on social media. It was also said that one of their dogs had incontinence and a history of uncontrollable bowel motions.
Another thing that came up in the Johnny Depp Vs. Amber Heard's trial, which Depp's followers cherish, is his severed finger. However, an orthopedic physician testified in court that Johnny's descriptions contradicted the damage to his finger. He is also heard saying, "the day I hacked off my finger” in one of the recordings.
Television trial is a uniquely American phenomenon. Other high-profile broadcast cases, such as the Ted Bundy and O.J. Simpson trials, drew massive popular support in favor of persons we now know to be criminals. The justification for cameras in courtrooms is that they help promote judicial knowledge among the populace and deter any wrongdoing by the plaintiff or defendant. In reality, the presence of a camera in the courtroom creates a reality TV-like spectacle that fosters sensationalized tabloid reporting rather than fair coverage, such as in the case of Johnny Depp Vs Amber Heard’s trial.
In this case, the multiple camera angles and calculated reaction shots of both parties caused the general audience to participate in the civil trial as if it were a movie, assigning titular roles to all the characters — Heard as the villain; Depp as the victim and self-sabotaging hero, his lawyer Camille Vasquez as the potential love interest, and so on. Because of the camera monitoring, there was also pressure on the witnesses to be on the 'right side,' with Depp's witnesses being lauded and two of Heard's witnesses being hounded online.
The jury voted in favor of Johnny Depp after a six-week trial and two days of deliberation, saying that Depp was defamed by Heard in her op-ed. It's worth noting that the jury found both parties guilty, creating a middle ground but simultaneously giving Depp the upper hand in the judgment, almost as if they were echoing public opinion. It is critical to recognize that the legal system in the United States differs from most of the world. The jury members are ordinary individuals chosen to participate in and deliberate on a trial. Because this was a civil matter, the jury was not sequestered — that is, they were not kept away from the outside world in a safe area until the trial was completed. As a result, the jury, like the rest of us, was most certainly subjected to the full force of social media algorithms.
In the last days of the trial, Heard's attorneys also asked the presiding judge to keep the identities of the jury members secret for at least a year to shield them from the death threats and social ramifications that she and her witnesses were receiving online. A jury can be more easily swayed by celebrities than attorneys and judges who are educated to evaluate evidence. This is likely why Depp lost in the UK but walked away with $10 million in damages in the US.
Many unknown men's rights groups have made the Heard-Depp case an important talking topic. The majority of the hatred aimed against Heard stems from our society's internalized sexism. The message is clear: it is simpler to suspect a woman's intents and agency than to believe a man's flagrant offenses. Many have claimed that this verdict marks the end of the #MeToo movement. Still, Tarana Burke, one of its creators, responded on Twitter, saying that "the #MeToo movement isn't dead; however, in contrast, the #MeToo movement is still strong and helps numerous abuse victims."
The case between Depp Vs Heard is unique in that it was a highly publicized defamation trial watched by millions — and both parties are professional actors and celebrities, so it is hard to judge which one of them is using their acting skills in real life; which one of them is a really good actor off-screen. However, survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other types of traumas testify daily in criminal and civil cases. Psychologists feel it is critical to educate the public and jurors on how the brain processes while under attack to avoid damaging assumptions. Keep reading WomenWire.com for the latest news and updates on what is trending in the world and where we -as women find ourselves in the ongoing scheme of things.