Johnny Depp Is Not that Innocent

I haven’t been watching the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial closely, but I have seen a lot on social media trashing Heard as a crazy psycho-bitch and lauding Depp as the innocent victim of her rampant abuse. Since I haven’t listened to the testimony and the jury has not rendered a verdict, I can’t weigh in on who did what to whom, although it’s worth noting that an identical lawsuit brought by Depp in the UK last year (alleging defamation by Heard for calling him an abusive spouse) ended with a verdict in Heard’s favor.

I’m troubled, however, by the tone of the coverage of the trial on this side of the Atlantic, a lawsuit brought after Heard wrote an op-ed in which she identified herself as a survivor of spousal abuse. It seems that the decision to “author” the article (it’s now widely acknowledged that it was ghost-written by the ACLU) was pressed on Heard, who agreed to it largely as a publicity stunt to promote her upcoming movie “Aquaman,” which in itself should tell you a lot about movie PR and the depths to which the ACLU has sunk of late.

In any case, public opinion and social media have gleefully cast Depp as the weary, unfairly accused victim of Heard; as a man with demons, a man with an artistic spirit; a victim of child abuse from an early age, almost as though that should explain away whatever he may have done to Heard. He’s just so deep and soulful, with just the right amount of naughty-boy Jack Sparrow charm – of course he’d be a handful!

Heard, on the other hand, has been portrayed as  a cross between manipulative she-bitch and lunatic. I’ve read that Heard may have borderline personality disorder, and since I have a close relative with that diagnosis, I have been on the receiving end of the confusion, abuse, erratic behavior, rage, utter lack of reason, and lightning-fast change in mood that makes such relationships so extremely difficult to manage. Any marriage in which one partner has a diagnosis of BPD is going to be tumultuous.

There seems to be at least some evidence, however, that Depp engaged in behavior that was at least somewhat troubling, and even abusive – texts, emails, statements to others, disturbing testimony from Heard, and incontrovertible proof of Depp’s substance abuse issues that suggest a less than stable person, not to mention hardly the most reliable source when it comes to documenting the history of events that happened years ago. In other words, there’s at least some reason to believe there might be SOME truth to what Heard is saying. Thus, if Heard’s allegations of physical abuse are legitimate, the way she is being treated – by women, no less – is not just disturbing, it is setting back the work of feminism and domestic abuse awareness and #metoo back by about 50 years and making it okay, once again, to blame the victim. Priceless.

What’s even more concerning is that, if Heard is indeed mentally ill, those who are making fun of her by, say, producing videos of her testimony set to a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” soundtrack, are unspeakably cruel and continue to stigmatize mental illness in a way that is entirely unhelpful.

The behavior that has been ascribed to Heard must be humiliating for her to have to listen to (she pooped in his bed?) but for some reason – because she’s pretty? Because she’s a celebrity? Because we like Johnny Depp and think he’s funny? – we are laughing at a woman who (1) may be a victim of domestic violence and/or (2) may be mentally ill.

That is appalling.

Frankly, Depp’s main goal in bringing it in the first place likely has nothing to do with whether or not the public believes he abused Amber Heard (obviously, the public does not care), but has everything to do with winning back the role of Jack Sparrow.

You can hate Amber Heard, and maybe she is just a big fat liar who isn’t mentally ill. Maybe she is just another ambitious actress trying to garner some sympathy and fame, and if that’s true, it’ll out soon enough. She was with Depp for 7 years and obviously benefited from his connections, but the only movie anyone can remember her making is “Aquaman,” which I’m told was not great.

Or maybe she’s a really troubled woman, or maybe he beat her, but maybe we should just shut the f**k up and let the people who are in the courtroom listening to the evidence do their job and then accept their verdict, and in the meantime, do something to help victims of domestic violence – male and female alike – or the mentally ill, who deserve our support and respect, and NOT our derision.

And we can also mind our own f***ing business.

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