If you’ve been keeping track of celebrity gossip and controversy these past few years, chances are you’re familiar with the situation between public figures Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. If you’re unaware, back in 2016 Amber Heard filed for divorce from her then-husband Johnny Depp, and accused him of consistent and sustained domestic abuse. Depp consistently denied the allegations and eventually filed a lawsuit against her, but even still both Heard and Depp’s public reputations were forever altered. Now, we are right in the middle of the defamation trial, and there’s no doubt that a majority of the public is on Depp’s side. It’s becoming very clear that not only was Heard making false allegations against Depp, but she was potentially abusive towards him in certain ways. The social media frenzy surrounding many of the back and forth between Depp and the attorneys of the trial have gone viral, and have even been made into compilations posted on TikTok or Twitter.
While in a way, it’s great that this case and the process is getting such great publicity and a lot of news coverage, something feels off to me about the social media presence that it has attracted. Many online users are acting as if Depp is a character on a television show and are, essentially, “stanning” him and his actions. I believe this kind of mentality during this trial is potentially dangerous, and sets a bad precedent for future celebrity cases.
The first thing to realize is that regardless of how truthful Heard’s claims are, accusations like these should be taken seriously. From the beginning the accusations of assault were fishy and certainly falsified, but as a public we should always be aware that even our most beloved celebrities could be abusers, assaulters and perpetrators. Now that this situation has evolved into a defamation trial, both Depp and Heard’s roles in the situation have been re-contextualized.
To me, it’s surprising that after all of this controversy and constantly changing narrative that the internet is taking the case with an air of hilarity. I can admit, a lot of what the lawyers are saying in this case is comical because of how ignorant Heard’s team seems to be, but something rubs me the wrong way about the video compilations with titles akin to “Johnny Depp Being a Savage During His Hearing” or “Moments in the Depp Trial that are Wild and Crazy”. Maybe I’m being too serious, but this shouldn’t be the precedent in legal proceedings such as this one.
I personally think Johnny Depp is innocent here and I’m eager to see how the court proceedings continue, but I’m not going to idolize every single thing he does on the witness stand. This is a trial, a celebrity trial on top of that, and just like all other celebrity news the public is idolizing and fixating on real life people they do not know. There typically isn’t too much damage that occurs from this practice, but in a legal setting, it seems a bit ignorant. So as we all cautiously await the decision from this case, let’s take a step back and just let it happen, and maybe we can stan Johnny Depp another day.