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The $50 million defamation case that Johnny Depp has aimed at Amber Heard for labeling him as a physical abuser is now currently underway. The trial is revealing bombshell information about the true nature of their mutually toxic relationship. Both sides have been the instigators of abuse but Depp has taken the clear position that he was never “physically” abusive towards the actress, at any time. Heard, contrastingly, is directly opposing this claim and now has revealed that Depp was allegedly sexually abusive towards her.
The issue with this legal dispute ties directly to perceived societal opinions of who is being truthful and who is lying as well as how both parties’ professional lives have been affected as a result of their accusations against each other. Depp stated that he initiated this trial intending to clear his name as a result of Heard’s 2018 op-ed which bashed the actor and made harrowing claims directly about their relationship and Depp’s treatment of her. The case is ongoing, but it now brings up questions surrounding the issue of the court of public opinion and the morality behind supporting someone’s claims without any certifiable evidence to support them.
Amber Heard’s 2018 Washington Post Op-Ed
On December 18, 2018, Amber Heard penned an “opinion,” editorial that was published by The Washington Post and was titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence- and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” Throughout the article, not once does Heard mention the name of Johnny Depp, but it is ever clear, and would amount to one google search to find the target of this “opinion,” piece. Heard, in this short essay, jumps between multiple contrasting thoughts and relations. She connects her struggle directly to the #MeToo movement, and claims that she is a similar victim to the abusive predilections of just another rich, powerful, and evil man. She asserts that American society is built around the support and propagation of protecting influential men, with the words, “The #MeToo movement has taught us about how power like this works, not just in Hollywood but in all kinds of institutions — workplaces, places of worship or simply in particular communities. In every walk of life, women are confronting these men who are buoyed by social, economic and cultural power.”
With these specific words, Heard takes aim directly at her experiences with Depp, combining them with the historical and generational struggle that women have endured in their pursuit of justice and equality. Essentially, her article becomes a loaded societal issue as it transforms from Heard’s “opinion,” into a symbol of this cultural inequality and oppression. Heard goes on to state, “We are in a transformative political moment… We have an opening now to bolster and build institutions protective of women. For starters, Congress can reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act… We should continue to fight sexual assault on college campuses, while simultaneously insisting on fair processes for adjudicating complaints.” Amber Heard with these words, specifically and with intention chooses to use the pronoun “we,” when speaking on not just political movements supporting the fight for women, but also civil and societal liberties that will further ensure the protection of all women and their rights. This “opinion,” essay that she wrote was never allowed to be just an opinion.
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From her connection to the #MeToo Movement, to including herself in political and societal fights for women’s rights and equalities, Heard leaves no room for any other side of her own personal experiences with Depp to exist. This piece published by The Washington Post, may be designated an opinion but rather how it is written and the subjects it contains and relates to, ensures that it be taken as fact by the court of public opinion.
On-Going Defamation Suit between Johnny Depp And Amber Heard
With the ongoing defamation suit taking place in Virginia, Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard for fifty-million dollars as a result of the article that she penned for the Washington Post denoting Depp as a physical abuser. Depp is suing Heard for three counts of defamation, “citing her op-ed that was published on The Washington Post website and in its print newspaper, as well as Heard’s posting a link to the piece via her Twitter account.” The trial has become an utter mess and disaster for the actors as their actions have both been completely reprehensible. The way that they treated each other when they were together has been shocking and saddening to learn about with private details now emerging. Johnny Depp is asserting that he never physically abused Heard, and never once resorted to violence when they were a couple. Heard is now doubling down on her claims and has revealed a new level of abuse that Depp inflicted upon her pertaining to sexual assault.
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Though in many clips and through the witnesses that were interviewed, Heard has been labeled the aggressor and has even on tape admitted to physically striking and beating Depp. Amber Heard in an audio recording is audibly heard saying, “You got hit, but I did not punch you. I did not f***ing deck you. I was f***ing hitting you.” The complexity of the abuse in this relationship is intertwined between both parties, but it would appear as if, while Heard in 2018 painted herself as the victim, now shares partially in the abuse and toxicity of the relationship. For this reason, it is understandable to see why much of the public is outraged with Heard, and her claims, while evidence revealed in court illustrates the reality of the true nature of the relationship between the two stars.
While Amber Heard’s abuse of Depp is apparent, this does not mean that Johnny Depp is completely innocent with regard to his role in being abusive toward Heard. In multiple recordings, Depp is verbally abusive and even cruel with the words and names that he labels Heard. Although, neither party is innocent in their abuse of the other, Amber Heard’s earlier denial and complete omission of her culpability in the damage and maltreatment of Depp resulted in his slander and the exploitation of a movement (#MeToo) for her own benefit.
What Is The Issue with “Canceling” Depp, And Is It Morally Right?
The matter of “canceling,” Johnny Depp essentially relates to a growing issue among society. This problem is one that connects to the question, in a disagreement of opinion with no verifiable proof or evidence, is it right for the public to assume the worst of someone? That is precisely what happened in the dispute between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. The only side that was represented was Heards, and for that, Depp was publicly labeled the villain and suffered the consequences stemming from public bias based upon assumptions.
He was fired from his lucrative movie deals (Pirates of The Caribbean, Fantastic Beasts, and Where To Find Them) and became a social pariah, all because of the belief that society entrusted to Amber Heard. This trust has now begun to fracture with the revelations of her involvement in the abuse inflicted upon Depp, and more importantly, society is seeing, first hand, the issue of choosing which party to believe without first verifying the truth of certain accusations. The “canceling,” of Depp is symbolic of this fundamental problem with the court of public opinion. Now with the advancement of social media and virtual interaction, the spread and reach of opinions are far greater than it has ever been before in human history. Everyone with access to the internet is now afforded an opinion, and while this has led to considerable dissemination of ideals and liberties, it has also contributed to the harmful propagation of a “correct,” mainstream ideology.
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Depp was condemned as guilty the moment that Amber Heard labeled him an abuser, and even now his reputation will be associated with someone who physically abuses women, whether or not this is factually true. The fault of whether or not Heard is telling the truth lies not just with the actress, but also with society as a whole. Instead of assuming the worst of someone’s character, society should instead rely upon what is undeniably and factually evident, because the truth is never as simple and clear-cut as it might seem. While the damage to Depp’s reputation may never recover, this ultimately can serve as a lesson to how people might approach and consider the weight of someone’s words in the future.
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.