Amber Heard and the death of #MeToo

Amber Heard in the courtroom during a libel trial against her by her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, United States (Reuters)
Amber Heard in the courtroom during a libel trial against her by her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, United States (Reuters)

There are ambiguities in the sordid conflict between the divorced actors Johnny Depp Y Amber Heardbut some things are clear.

Depp sent a text message to a friend saying that I wanted to kill Heard and then have sex with her corpse burned to make sure she’s dead. There is a video in which you see Depp smashing kitchen cabinets while heard tries to calm him down, saying at one point: “All I did was say ‘sorry’!”. In an audio recording, she tells him to go turn hers off”cigarettes with another person”, and he replied: “shut up you fat ass”.

He admitted to headbutting him, although he said it was an accident. When heard went to court to get a restraining order for domestic violence against DeppShe had a bruise on her cheekbone from where she said he had thrown a phone at her.

In 2018, the British newspaper The Sun qualified to Depp from “handcuff beater”, and he sued him for defamation. Proving defamation is much easier in Britain what in USAbecause there the burden of proof falls on the defendant. Depp lost the case. A judge, evaluating 14 incidents of alleged abuse of Depp a heardfound that 12 of them had occurred and concluded that the words of The Sun they were “substantially true.

Now Depp has sued heard in Virginia for 50 million dollarsclaiming that she defamed him when she described herself, in an opinion essay of the Washington Post that didn’t mention DeppWhat “a public figure representing domestic abuse”. Her case seems absurd, for even if she were totally innocent, the British verdict was well known, and Heard was referring to what she symbolized, not what she supposedly suffered. (She is countersuing for $100 million.)

Yes Depp enforced in some way, similar lawsuits can be expected against other women who say they have survived abuse. The singer Marilyn Manson has already filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-fiancée Evan Rachel Woodone of several women who have accused him of sexual violence.

But Depp you do not need to succeed in court to achieve your ends. In a 2016 email to his former agent, Christian Carino, Depp wrote that heard was “begging for total global humiliation”. Now this televised trial has given rise to an explosion of hate and ridicule directed at her. The volatile actress – who was sometimes violent with Deppand who never kept a promise to donate his entire divorce settlement to charity- he is far from being a perfect victim. That made her the perfect object of a backlash. #MeToo.

On the internet, there is a level of industrial-scale bullying directed at Heard that puts all previous attacks on social media to shame.. In TikTok there are countless videos attacking heard; the member of ‘NSync, Lance Bassjoined the trend of recreating his testimony in a mocking way. A makeup brand even participated in the anti-Heard riotposting a video on TikTok to contradict his lawyer’s description of how he covered up bruises. Meanwhile, all platforms seem to be full of memes in favor of Depp. “Why does it seem like the whole internet belongs to Johnny Depp’s team?”, said a headline Vice.

Johnny Depp stands up during a recess in the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, United States (Reuters)
Johnny Depp stands up during a recess in the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, United States (Reuters)

But it’s not just the Internet. “Believe all women except Amber Heard”, he joked recently Chris Rock. An sketch from “Saturday night Live” from last weekend turned one of the most outlandish accusations of Depp against heard in a sketch, treating her as a ridiculous figure and him as a charming rascal.

This does not mean that the case is altogether simple. heard has admitted beating Depp, and has been recorded insulting and belittling him. The couple’s marriage counselor testified that they engaged in “mutual abuse”, saying of heard: “It was a point of pride for her, if she felt disrespected, to start a fight”.

Some domestic violence experts consider mutual abuse to be a mytharguing that although both members of a toxic relationship can behave in terrible ways, one tends to wield power over the other. But even if Heard is believed to have acted inexcusably, the idea that she was the main aggressor – against a much bigger and more resourceful man who was recorded cursing for daring to speak in an “authoritarian” way – defies logic..

In fact, one of the most salacious details of the trial – the one that has been used to mock heard in all media – could easily fit into a story of victimization. Depp, as you may know, accused Heard or one of his friends of defecating on his bed as an act of revenge.and her bodyguard said that she had confessed to a prank gone wrong. heard stated that one of his dogs, incontinent since eating marijuana from Depp when he was a puppy, he soiled the bed. “It wasn’t a really jovial moment, and I don’t think that’s funny, period.“, said. “It’s disgusting”.

If he’s telling the truth, one has to marvel at how much Depp and his team have tarnished his name.. When Depp testified, the hashtags #AmberTurd (Amber Defecated) and #MePoo (I pooped) skyrocketed on the internet. The picture of hearda woman whose trademark is being a blonde glam bomb, is now linked, perhaps permanently, to excrement. If she’s not a psychopath, she’s the victim of a truly sadistic reputational blow..

It is worth noting that in 2020, Sentinelbota group that tracks online misinformation and harassment, was hired by the lawyers of heard to analyze the social media campaign against her. “Everyone thinks that any activities against them are bots or whatever”, the founder of the group told me, Chris Bouzy. But in this case, some were: Bouzy estimated there were 340 “unauthentic” Twitter accounts dedicated to defaming Heard. and to amplify petitions calling for her to be fired from her jobs as an actress and model. “A small number of accounts can drive conversations on Twitter“, said.

However, although the trolls and the bot have helped fuel the craze against heard, it is evident that there are many real people who participate in it. Some are obsessive fans of Depp; as he wrote kaitlyn tiffany in Atlanticthere is a history of communities on-line that are set “on theories that the male objects of her fandom were being manipulated and tortured by less famous female romantic partners”.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a broader misogynistic frenzy, typical of the profoundly reactionary moment we are experiencing. “He’s going to hit the wall!!!“, wrote Depp in the email to Dear. It seems that he knew his audience.

(C) The New York Times.-


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