Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard: The Divorce Battle Made Meme

We lived on the edge of an exciting volcano. It’s not easy being married or living with me. I violently exploded about twice a year. She did too. It was great. But it was also murder.

Richard Burton thus remembered his two marriages and respective divorces with Elizabeth Taylor; one of the most glamorous couples in Hollywood history, cemented their mythical fights in legend, adding that violence to the glamor in which they will always be remembered.

Other times, of course, in terms of the normalization of violence, as in what it means to be a star. We have seen divorces and divorces in Hollywood, from an Allen versus Farrow that until today, every few years, is resurrected; that of Brangelina, where they continue to prosecute the custody of their multiple children, but the press finds out only between whispers and leaks. Dirty laundry hasn’t always been washed at home, but that invisible wall that separates us mortals from these rarefied humans who are Hollywood stars somehow remained standing, letting us sometimes peek into their miseries and conflicts for a almost morbid and also reassuring consumption: in their mansions, in their perfect bodies and faces, behind their glitter on giant screens, celebrities are like us: chaotic.

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS

Until the Depp vs. trial came. heard: It’s been four weeks of a circus that is a symbol of the times. It is perhaps the Kardashianization of Hollywood glamour, where everything is public, there is no shame and there is no bad press, only coverage. It seems that as the weeks go by we cannot stop looking at it: severed fingers, alcohol and drugs, domestic violence, defecation in other people’s beds, fights in private planes, homicidal text messages, lapidary psychiatric diagnoses, crying and laughing on the stand. and how much more. All followed not only by the media, but dissected on TikTok and Instagram.

Namely: Johnny Depp, the James Dean of the 90s, the cool icon of generation X and later family idol as a sexy pirate in the saga Pirates of the Caribbean, met Amber Heard on a movie set. She, a rising young star several decades younger, a millennial who today is part of the DC Comics universe as queen of the seas. Depp, who had already had media partners such as Vanessa Paradis, Kate Moss and Winona Ryder (his “Winona forever” tattoo must have been the most famous of his decade), seemed to enter his 50s with a view to stabilizing himself next to a beauty youthful, like Warren Beatty and so many more.

But what came after is now judgment material. After two years of relationship, and 15 months of marriage (ceremony officiated on the beach of the actor’s private island), the couple separated on bad terms and Depp paid Heard seven million dollars in the final agreement in 2016, the that she, she said, would donate to NGOs to prove that hers was not interest. “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always united by love,” they wrote in a joint statement. “Neither of them have lied or made false accusations to gain money, there was never any attempt at physical or emotional harm.”

Cut to the year 2018. Depp was coming off a streak of films with poor reviews or box office disasters (The Lone Ranger), unless it was Jack Sparrow. Heard was launching her first blockbuster, playing the role of Mera in Aquaman, and coinciding with the premiere he published an opinion column in the Washington Post where he claims to be a victim of domestic violence. He does not directly name Depp, but it is seen as a veiled confession and accusation: Johnny Depp beat him.

Photo: Steve Helber/Pool via REUTERS

The actor began his fall from Hollywood grace along with many powerful hunted by the MeToo. He seemed to be one more who disappointed the world with his private acting, and seemed pathetically to have carried the tough-guy life and image past his expiration stage. Videos taken by Heard came to light where he appeared drunk, fighting in his kitchen, with a glass of wine splashing in his hand, violent in speaking of him.

During the media coverage of the case, the British tabloid The Sun made a note calling Depp a “wife beater”. The actor’s film projects were put on hold and it seemed that Hollywood (and even public opinion) was debating whether to end up condemning the actor to exile from the famous or giving him a grace period; After all, complex divorces are everywhere, and the asymmetry of fame between Heard and Depp also played its part.

Depp sued The Sun and in the midst of a pandemic reopening in Great Britain, both actors faced each other in court, in a non-televised trial that began to uncover some of the episodes of violence that are now going viral. The court decided that the leaflet had not defamed the actor, because he would have beaten Heard, therefore, he is a “wife beater”. The actress emerged victorious. Depp lost all his film roles, including the one in the saga fantastic animalswhere he was quickly replaced as the villain of the day, now that he was becoming a real-life villain.

The issue is that Depp, having lost money, fame, job and public image, decided that he was not going to go down without a fight, or that he was at least willing to drag his ex to hell with him.

Depp counterattacked with a libel lawsuit against Heard, the trial for $ 50 million dollars that now has them in this kind of reality show in the court of Fairfax, Virginia (where some Washington Post servers are). She countersued him for $100 million for implying that her testimony is fabricated. Six weeks in total, the first three dedicated to the version of Depp and his witnesses of the marriage, the other to the Heard team. What are they seeking to prove, both parties, thus baring themselves in front of public opinion? According to Depp, since he has lost everything, he just wants the truth to be heard. According to Heard, this is his worst nightmare of revictimization, and although his defense requested a nullity of the trial, this will reach the final consequences and it will be a jury that decides who is right.

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS

Depp presented his own arsenal of evidence, putting a spin on what was seen and heard in Britain. His strategy is to try to prove that he was not only the aggressor, but that Heard also attacked him.. That it was a toxic relationship, that he will have problems with alcohol and drugs, but that he has never hit a woman. In a complete #MeToo twist, one of her tests was a recording where Heard was heard saying, “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, am a victim of domestic violence,'” implying that no one I would believe him. The actress has accepted that she also hit her ex-husband, but only as a defense or response to her original attacks.

What Depp needs to prove to jurors is entirely specific: It’s three sentences from Heard’s op-ed that he calls libelous. The title, where it refers to “sexual violence”; the second paragraph, where Heard describes himself as a “public figure representative of domestic abuse,” and then where he says that institutions “protect men accused of abuse.”

What Depp did achieve in three weeks was to position himself with new strength on the battlefield. On TikTok, the social network of the moment, the trial has become the algorithm’s favorite, with a new army of pro-Depp tiktokers emerging like a volcano. The hashtag that demands justice for the actor has been used more than five billion times, while the one that defends the actress, 21 million. The amateur detectives that now abound in social networks seek to contrast evidence and compare testimonies. And it seems that the generation that grew up watching Depp as Sparrow is willing to defend the idol of youth from him.

This is not a trial for sexual abuse or harassment, as were the Weinstein or Cosby Case (or López, in our country). Or it is, but here you don’t risk a prison sentence if it is said that the violence occurred, but rather money, very Hollywood-style. This trial in Virginia is about the words that describe violence, and whether they fit the caliber of an explosive relationship. It’s about lies and truths and points of view. Depp risks continuing to bury his life and career, but the possibility of exoneration seems too tempting. He prefers to humiliate himself before continuing to be canceled. Heard risks being blamed as a #MeToo backstabber, if she believes she exaggerated the story or left out her assaults, or become an icon of the victims and the movement.

Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/Pool

This week it was Heard’s turn on the stand.. The doubt as to whether he had something to add to what had already been presented in Great Britain was quickly dispelled: with tears, he listed all kinds of violence and abuse, beatings, jealousy, control and even horrific sexual struggles. A living hell, where she stayed because she loved her husband, like many victims of domestic violence. She brought more videos and photos of Depp completely passed out and washed out by drugs and alcohol, claiming that the substances made him uncontrollable. Her witness list includes even Elon Musk himself, the world’s richest man, with whom Heard briefly dated after her divorce; She is not sure that she will participate in the trial, but the mere possibility is already news.

In the next two weeks we will see if the actress manages to prove the abuse of which she claims to have been a victim: so far there are thousands of hours of secret mutual recordings, but none contain an act of violence, except the verbal one that has been exhibited on both sides. . Can Depp prove that she is a victim too? Or can Heard convince not just the jury, but the world, that one of the world’s most famous actors is a monster?

For while the planet watches, savoring that small revenge of verifying that money does not make happiness, and the certainty that the higher you go, the longer the fall. A relationship so publicly deformed and groped by the media, social networks, so turned into a meme, that the violence it involves ceases to be the center of the story and becomes something abstract. Memified blows and abuses, infinitely repeated in algorithms that use them as a hook, before our already exhausted eyes and at times unable to define whether what we see is good or bad. It is simply spectacle.

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