Depp v Heard: How does online abuse of Amber Heard become acceptable? | Ents & Art News

“People want to kill me, they tell me that every day,” an emotional Amber Heard told jurors as he testified for the last time towards the end of Johnny Depp’s libel trial against her. “People want to put my kids in the microwave – they tell me.”

Whatever the outcome of this defamation trial, whatever you believe Depp or hear She may or may not lie when it comes to who hit whom and who initiated what, the actress’s description of the “campaign” against her is being echoed on social media every day – she’s “under attacked every day” Harassment, Humiliation, Threats” – undeniable.

“Since the trial began, I have received hundreds of death threats on a regular basis, if not every day, and people have laughed at my testimony about being beaten,” she told the court.

Jury Sent To Deliberate – Depp v Hurd Live

American actor Johnny Depp goes on trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court on May 24, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.  - Actor Johnny Depp sued ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation in 2018 after he wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post for calling himself a public figure representing domestic abuse... (Photography : JIM WATSON/POOL/AFP)

We don’t need to oxygenate Heard’s private message content to know this – the abuse is overt, massive misogyny, neatly categorized by the hashtag #AmberTurd (and even T-shirts).

Meanwhile, Depp fans dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow off the field, and #JusticeForJohnnyDepp went viral online; the hashtag reportedly garnered billions of views on TikTok, while #IStandWithAmberHeard only got only millions. More than 740,000 people have signed an online petition calling for his return to the role in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Bitchy. Even I’ve been reviled for just reporting on the six-week trial, a small example of the extreme and ebullient Depp supporters showing a lack of rationality.

Of course, many people quietly believe in Depp. Many quietly believed that they had heard. Most people just don’t know what to do with the case, or care too much. But for some of those who support Depp — at least online — loyalty can be expressed in the most vicious ways.

Dr. Ann Olivarius, a US-British lawyer specializing in civil litigation, sex discrimination and sexual harassment, assault and abuse cases, said that for Depp, the case is as much about winning on Twitter as it is about winning in court. .

The jury is out on whether his reputation in the industry has been irreparably damaged, but in the court of public opinion he appears to be the victor — if those with the loudest voices are to be paid attention to.

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Depp v Hurd: What we learned

“It’s a circus”

“Why would someone who lost so badly in the great Britain go to America to bring an essentially identical case?” Olivarius told Sky News, citing Depp’s unsuccessful High Court case against The Sun in 2020.

“It’s all about social media. For him, it’s a circus. As a lawyer, it’s embarrassing to see how this plays out. It’s more humiliation to her, more Fallen. You can see the war on Twitter, that’s what this is really about…

“Depp’s lawyers are using a lot of resources to send a message that she’s a broken woman, she’s unstable, she’s a psychopath, she can’t be trusted…

“There are 9.8 billion Johnny Depp supporters on Twitter…Amber Heard has 3.6 million supporters. For example, the hashtag is #AmberHeardIsAPsychopath. #AmberHeardIsALiar. These are Amber Heard questions about her mental health, questioning whether she is Borderline personality. None of this is directed at Johnny Depp.”

Hear from TikTok supporters: ‘I want to help end sarcasm’

Victoria Elm

Victoria Elm

digital investigative reporter


The trial drew the interest of millions online and prompted some to create social media accounts dedicated to sharing content in support of any celebrity.

On TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, pro-Depp and pro-Hurd accounts have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and produced videos that have been viewed millions of times.

Depp fans are easy to find, but support for the actress is trickier because there aren’t many. I did find a Heard supporter who lives in Australia and has a TikTok account with over 25,000 dedicated followers.

Their page consists mostly of clips of the TV trial, with text printed at the top, as well as screenshots of news articles and links to court documents; the most popular video on the page has been viewed more than 3 million times.

The account owner told me they created it last September to address what they called the “bombing of pro-Depp and anti-Heard videos” on their TikTok “For You” page. They said they were by no means huge Heard fans and only knew of her through her proximity to Depp before the trial.

“I prefer Depp,” they said. “But after the allegations came out in 2016, that’s how it was for me. I think creating an account will help fight a lot of the misinformation I’ve seen and possibly help end the vitriol against Hurd.”

‘Depp owes his fans a check’

Online threats, though sinister, may be more likely to be dismissed as the work of angry Twitter trolls than memes and mockery. The vast majority of this content is likely created and shared by young social media users, not the die-hard fans in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who grew up with Depp in the 80s and 90s.

Perhaps many of them are the same users who urged us to #BeKind not long ago. A user who posts a joke may not consider how the cumulative effect of thousands of people will make a difference.

American entertainment reporter Ronse Esangbedo said the campaign to support Depp had an impact: “Depp’s fan base acts as his outside PR department, #JusticeForJohnnyDepp is hugely popular on Twitter…creates sympathy for Johnny Depp , so I think he owes them a check or two.

“It’s hard to explain why people look up to certain celebrities the way they do, it doesn’t always make sense and it doesn’t always make sense.”

read more: Weekly Record of ‘Soap Opera’ Trials

Celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev said the case and its response could negatively impact domestic violence victims and their willingness to speak out. “We’ve seen Amber Heard being a victim of this, and when victims say they’ve been abused, we have to believe them – one of the discussions is why victims don’t speak up, because they don’t usually believe, so I do think we This shift needs to be made.”

You don’t have to trust Heard or like her to see that online abuse is disturbing. Imagine actually taking the time to send someone a message telling them you want to microwave their baby?

Depp could win in the court of online opinion. But regardless of the verdict, or the size of the damages, it’s hard to imagine this being a win for anyone.