Home Entertainment Jokes Apart | Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and the battle for lost glory

Jokes Apart | Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and the battle for lost glory

Jokes Apart | Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and the battle for lost glory


I first met Johnny Depp and Amber Heard at Karan Johar’s backyard occasion in Sainik Farms. It was the summer season of 2016. Okay, I’m making this up, however the lie has some extent. Just about each fan, incel, males’s rights activist and feminist with an emotional funding, on this case, behave like they knew each of them so intimately properly, inside out and exterior in. The Depp case has additionally divided feminists. The hardcore Johnny loyalists have made an exception right here in favour of their darling Depp.

One of the stupidest questions I’ve heard about this trial is: Why are individuals ? People have been concerned about the lives of celebrities ever since the delivery of celebrities. The media follows. As Vinod Mehta used to say bluntly about salaciously controversial tales: Of course, I might have run it; it’s a rattling good story.

Besides, the real-life trial was the coming collectively of two film genres: The courtroom drama and the bed room drama, a compelling mix of non-fiction and fiction. Elon Musk, who additionally briefly dated Heard, refused to testify, though he had this to say on Twitter, “I hope they move on. At their best, they are each incredible.” He went on so as to add that they need to spend at the least twelve hours a day in the Tesla workplace and much less time in the bed room.

Jokes Apart  Johnny Depp Amber Heard and the battle for lost glory

Actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard fought a bitter defamation trial in the US. A jury on 1 June discovered Depp and Heard defamed one another however sided much more strongly with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star. AFP

The artwork of crying is usually a great tool in courtroom trials, particularly televised ones. In November final yr, Kyle Rittenhouse shed bucket-loads of tears and was acquitted on all counts. Rittenhouse was 17 when he shot useless two males and injured one other (all White; the killing wasn’t racially motivated) throughout the Black Lives Matter protests and opportunistic rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Depp, Rittenhouse now says, is “fuelling” his drive to file defamation instances of his personal.) At the time, liberal commentators dismissed Rittenhouse’s crying as “resorting to a tried-and-true strategy for White men in trouble.” (Vox)

When Depp’s followers accused Amber Heard of shedding crocodile tears, the liberals mentioned that this was prime proof of misogynist scepticism and typecasting. In 2016, in one other case that was broadcast dwell on information channels throughout the world, double amputee and paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sobbed uncontrollably (for days on finish) in a Pretoria courthouse, earlier than the Bladerunner was sentenced to 6 years in jail for killing his girlfriend.

As witnessed in the Depp-Heard trial, tremendous celebrities have legions of tremendous followers that do their very own factor, usually overshadowing what’s occurring inside the courtroom. In Britney Spears’ conservatorship case involving her father, her acolytes, many from the LGBTQ neighborhood, gathered exterior the courts for each listening to. They had been loud, festive and media-friendly. Fans work with a easy dichotomy of fine and evil. They drum up social media help; in Depp’s case TikTok was the medium of selection, exploding in a fireball of toeing-the-party-line creativity. These followers are the ones who actually create the story and direct it in a particular path—it’s not nearly being a “follower”.

Michael Jackson’s followers bathed London buses with posters and banners defending him from youngster abuse allegations. These had been later eliminated after a backlash by what the Economist known as, in one other context, “liberal mullahs”. When I made a passing point out of the youngster abuse allegations in an almost-fan piece revealed on Jackson’s 10th demise anniversary, I used to be trolled by Jackson followers for a month.

I’m not a brilliant fan of anybody. That type of blind religiosity doesn’t come straightforward to me, though I perceive it. I’ll take heed to somebody’s music even when she is a serial killer. I’m a easy shopper of artwork, not a cultural bureaucrat obsessive about scrubbing clear lit-fest levels and music streaming websites of an artist’s legacy. Let the courts determine if the people involved and affected determine to struggle it out, as in the Depp and Heard case. This is a vital level as a result of as I’ll argue, it was extra-judicial cancel tradition and its penalties that led to Depp submitting the defamation case in the first place.

Depp, Hollywood’s Salman Khan, is the final of the unhealthy boys in a sanitised period when unhealthy boys are frowned upon. There are those that consider they need to be exorcised from life and artwork, that the perfect couple wearing kurta-pyjama ought to, earlier than having intercourse, change consent types, bow and say, “Pehle aap”. Depp is unhealthy in an outsized type of means: He spent thousands and thousands blasting Hunter S Thomson’s ashes out of a cannon, owns just a few islands and at the least one village, performs guitar with Jeff Beck and is susceptible to passing out with ice cream on his crotch and potty in his denims. When Heard and Depp divorced, the joint assertion learn thus: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love.” As the trial confirmed, each events had been equally culpable of emotional and bodily violence, in addition to drug use.

The dwell proceedings swung between judicial tedium and moments that had been prime time gold, principally due to Depp’s good lawyer, the 37-year-old Camille Vasquez. During one spherical of questioning, she just about nails Heard’s lie about imagined cocaine breakfasts. The {photograph} in query, one Heard despatched her “best friend”, is proven to be staged and manufactured, completely organized to perpetuate a fantasy. Heard admits to snorting herself. The punkiest element that the layman obtained out of this was the presence of one thing known as a tampon applicator in the body. As Heard explains, it was her sister who taught Depp to make use of it to snort coke.

Jokes Apart  Johnny Depp Amber Heard and the battle for lost glory

Amber Heard

Let’s now get all the way down to the brass tacks of the case, which was not a prison however a civil one, principally to do with defamation. For this, we have to return and learn the unique Washington Post op-ed in query, ostensibly written by Heard and which didn’t point out Depp by title.

The op-ed was not authored by Heard, however by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a non-profit, to which Heard has pledged $3.5 million, half her divorce settlement quantity. The two are in a mutually useful relationship. In the ghost-written piece, Heard appears to be formulating a parallel profession, as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”. In two obscure sentences, she says “I was exposed to abuse at a very young age”, and “I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told.” The not so indirect reference to Depp is available in the line the place she says she “had the rare vantage point of seeing in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

As the Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple factors out in a current column, “Heard’s celebrity conferred standing at the ACLU, which then leveraged her name into a Post op-ed. The byline was accurate only to the extent that the ACLU tried to craft a piece consistent with Heard’s spoken views.”  Wemple additional goes on to argue that the op-ed was “an assault against journalism. It embraced a clichéd op-ed design, that of deploying public figures to braid their personal experiences with policy prescriptions.”

While Heard and ACLU thought they may get away by not naming Depp, the reference to him, though nameless, had a fallout. Cancel tradition, which works impartial of authorized conviction, meant that Depp lost out on work price thousands and thousands; the money-spinning franchises that he was earlier a part of refused to resume his contracts. He filed for defamation and received.


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Another attention-grabbing side of this case has to do with Internet lynch mobs that focused Heard unfairly. Writing in the NYT, Jessica Bennett argues that “this is a good old-fashioned public pillorying — only memes have replaced the stones.” This could be very true however the MeToo motion too may be accused of this. An allegation on the Internet, a recounting of a spurious anecdote, generally unsigned, was sufficient to wreck careers and lives. At its peak, the MeToo motion in India grew to become a free-for-all, which was solely tempered by a crude, organically-evolving jungle legislation. When everybody’s buddy, colleague, boyfriend, husband and father stood accused of a sexual misdemeanour of various levels of seriousness, the motion started to fragment, every fragment attacking the different vociferously whereas defending their very own.

Which brings us to the query: Should we consider all ladies? As Chris Rock joked, “Believe all women, except Amber Heard.” Writing about the Depp-Heard saga for Vogue, Raven Smith argues, “It’s time to believe women — all women. It’s time to believe Heard.”

Taking a extra nuanced view, Jessica Bennett argues, “The trial seems to have exposed some of the rhetorical weaknesses of #MeToo. ‘Believe women’ for example — a phrase that was meant to underscore how rare it is for a woman to lie about her own abuse — had somehow morphed into ‘believe all women’, which left no room for the outlier.”

In a well known case from 2014, Rolling Stone needed to retract a narrative headlined “A Rape on Campus”, during which a lady who recognized herself as Jackie had claimed that she was gang-raped throughout a fraternity initiation ritual. Like with the current case, there’s a Virginia connection. The police failed to search out any proof, whereas the University of Virginia fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, introduced a defamation lawsuit, which Rolling Stone settled for $1.65 million. The Columbia Journalism Review known as the story “a mess — thinly sourced, full of erroneous assumptions, and plagued by gaping holes in the reporting.”

When a pupil in England in 1999, I as soon as noticed a programme known as Battered Men on the respectable terrestrial channel, Channel 4. A beefy man employed as a safety guard talked about home abuse at the palms of his associate, “I’ve had broken ribs, lots of cuts, bruises, black eye. Clumps of hair would be missing where she’d pulled it out. She’s done damage to the other parts of my body with the saucepans. Kidneys have been damaged, passed blood through the urine. When you love someone…you’d die for them.” Domestic violence is horrific and impacts each genders. Believe each.

Finally, a phrase about the jury system. Critics of the US judgement have pointed to the incontrovertible fact that in the UK Depp had lost the same libel go well with towards the Sun. Across the pond, the ruling was made by a person decide, with a supposedly distanced and legally sound method, whereas it’s been argued {that a} jury — particularly on this occasion — could possibly be extra impressionable to and influenced by social media traits. But a system is a system; it’s an outdated debate in jurisprudence, which is why there are two conventional techniques — respect them.

I’ve at all times felt that the jury system is extra inclined to pure prejudices as a result of it makes judges of unusual individuals who carry their innate prejudices into the courthouse. We have seen this in numerous instances the place harmless Black males have been falsely convicted by all White juries, and all-White juries have allowed White perpetrators to go scot free, like in the Rodney King case. And but, responsible the jury system for Depp’s ‘victory’ is a bit like Hillary Clinton asking for the electoral faculty system to be abolished after she lost, or Trump being in denial blaming authorized postal ballots for his loss.

What I disagree with is the type of apocalyptic despair expressed by Raven Smith, though she says she doesn’t need to despair, “I spend a lot of time wondering if everyone’s lost the plot — if the erosion of empathy we see online has rendered us so inherently unkind as a species that there’s no return.” The MeToo motion was a mandatory corrective and will proceed to be a robust power for change. Mobs on either side have to reign of their natural instincts. Shrink the hole between the poles, and you will notice the seeds of empathy take root.

The author is the writer of ‘The Butterfly Generation’ and the editor of ‘House Spirit: Drinking in India’. Views expressed are private.

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