Why the Internet Hates Amber Heard: Paranoid Style in Online Fandom
May 19, 2022 6:51 AM   Subscribe

 
I'm sad at the dismal conclusion that what we're seeing in the Depp/Heard discourse is simply basic misogyny. Or maybe slightly more complicated, scorn for a woman accusing her ex-husband of abuse and misogyny.

Honestly the anti-Heard stuff is so loud on the Internet now I'd assumed it was centrally coordinated somehow. But by whom? It's depressing to realize misogyny is so endemic it doesn't need any external coordination.
posted by Nelson at 6:58 AM on May 19 [42 favorites]


No matter how many times I tell algorithm based feeds I'm not interested in this bullshit it keeps throwing it back in there
posted by Ferreous at 6:59 AM on May 19 [84 favorites]


The places I've seen celebrate the anti-Heard-ness of it all seem very pleased to have a high-profile example of false sexual assault allegations that they can point to any time the conversation tilts towards consequences for abusers, which can not possibly be good for the body politic.
posted by gee_the_riot at 7:09 AM on May 19 [26 favorites]


From underneath my tinfoil hat I really believe
The fact that we are all getting this news pushed into our feeds is a campaign by Disney to ensure one of their biggest stars doesn’t become a liability.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:09 AM on May 19 [34 favorites]




But by whom?

Algorithms that optimize for human attention regardless of social and societal cost. Companies create their customers, and the perfect audience for any algo-driven ad-revenue company is a person who’s impulsive, angry, frightened and just tired enough to keep clicking the things that make them impulsive, angry, frightened and tired.
posted by mhoye at 7:10 AM on May 19 [24 favorites]


No matter how many times I tell algorithm based feeds I'm not interested in this bullshit it keeps throwing it back in there

I'm pessimistic enough to think I'm just teaching the algorithm that this topic captures my attention enough that I'll take some action about it (clicking something). Which if I think about it, seems like the behavior an advertiser would really like from me.
posted by alex_skazat at 7:15 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


It's truly wild to me how many people are comfortable calling this an obvious example of false accusations when a judge has already ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of abuse Heard has alleged against Depp have been "proven to the civil standard."

Literally, it's been ruled in court that he abused her and the dominant internet reaction is "Crazy how much she lies, amirite?"

I'm not shocked by the rank and file misogynists. I expected them. But I am stunned by the amount of "Sure, I'm a feminist but she's obviously lying."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:15 AM on May 19 [104 favorites]


The fact that we are all getting this news pushed into our feeds is a campaign by Disney to ensure one of their biggest stars doesn’t become a liability.

Interesting theory, except it doesn't sound like Depp and Disney are still in business: Johnny Depp Would Turn Down $300M From Disney To Return For Pirates 6
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:16 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I don't want to derail this thread with conspiracy theory, but are we to the point where a rich enough person could just cut Russian hackers a check and say "Make sure this trends my way?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


the scale of anti-Heard we've all been exposed to leaves me feeling this is more than just the "standard algo" narrative.. surely we all started wondering about this some weeks ago: why this story? I've been thinking about it far too often, I don't click the links and I barely know anything about these two yet the oddest details have entered my reality due to the steady pumping of the updates into my feeds. I've never been more self-aware of the extent of how we get conditioned over time, and some of the highest risk is when you think you "see past it."
posted by elkevelvet at 7:19 AM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Obviously the big ideological driver here is misogyny, but another feature is the way that humans respond to complex and opaque systems - people tend to underestimate the complexity of systems and overestimate what they can know. Like, no amount of "digging" is going to reveal that yes, you can indeed tell whether someone is guilty by how they time their noseblowing, it is very unlikely that a rando with a computer could uncover evidence that someone murdered their mother, etc....and yet people really, firmly believe that they can know this kind of stuff. We also assume that photos, video, etc are not at all subjective - either they "really" show an obvious event or they "really" were doctored in some way. It is impossible that an image could be genuinely ambiguous*.

This seems sort of Frederick Jameson-postmodern-y, like the systems that organize our lives are both visible and too complex to grasp, so we try to channel and reduce them even though this results in loss of meaning/information.

On a personal level, I always wonder how much conspiracy theory is too much. Like, just based on random books about Hollywood and various tweets from former mefite The Whelk, I feel pretty confident that various Hollywood publicity machines have provably planted stories and manipulated the media in the past, including faked relationships (eg, gay stars being pressured to appear with women in the thirties) so I feel relatively confident that a lot of the AH/JD stuff is at least seeded by publicity agencies trying to manipulate the reputations of their star properties. I think I'm sort of right about this based on provable facts in the past, and I'm not really relying on "digging" and photo divination, but I too think I a thing I cannot prove.


*I don't mean that it is ambiguous whether a photo of AH shows her faking something for the media; I mean that a photo of a smile/noseblow/etc isn't evidence either way, that's not how photos work.
posted by Frowner at 7:20 AM on May 19 [29 favorites]


MetaFilter: What is it with these people? (SLAtlantic)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:20 AM on May 19 [31 favorites]


I don't think we need conspiracy theories to explain frustrated white male misogyny.

Sorry, that's harsher than I meant it. I just don't think we need to look into deeper pools here.
posted by bonehead at 7:20 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


And what the actual FUCK with that SNL sketch the other night? Prominent feminist comedians involved in a sketch amounting to This Trial Is Lulz. I understand why misogynists feel that way, easily. How does Kate McKinnon land there?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:21 AM on May 19 [32 favorites]


Reddit /r/videos (usually fairly innocuous) has completely lost its mind over this trial.
One guy posted the following (abridged) and got downvoted like crazy. Doesn't seem like such an unreasonable take.
And lets not forget that an English Judge already ruled that it was ok for a tabloid to call Johny a "wife beater"

This is often glossed over, but defamation is actually easier to prove in England than it is in the US. But even in England, Johny's team failed to prove it.

So to be clear. I'm not in favor of any of these people. I dont like Heard, i dont like Depp.

But most of all, i really dislike all the bullshit people are saying about the case.
Meanwhile there are non-stop videos nitpicking over the case every day on the front page. Usually being commentated on by some clueless cashgrabbing streamer.

I know reddit has a bad reputation but it seems to have become particularly nuts with this case.
posted by benoliver999 at 7:22 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


Johnny Depp is a really valuable media property; it would be really good for Hollywood in general if they could discredit MeToo. There are a lot of old rich guys out there who would really, really like to feel sure that neither their media properties/actors nor their personal lives will ever come under plausible scrutiny.

Like, this AH/JD stuff is all over my trending twitter and I never click stuff about celebrities, remove celebrity stuff from my twitter profile topics, etc. What do you want to be that there's some kind of old boys' network agreeing somewhere - with money involved or not - that this would be a great time to discredit MeToo?
posted by Frowner at 7:23 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


How does Kate McKinnon land there?

I used to think Kate Mckinnon seemed like a cool person. Then I saw she started making ads for Verizon.
posted by Justin Case at 7:35 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I don't think we need conspiracy theories to explain frustrated white male misogyny.

It's not just white male misogyny. Absolutely,, the anti-Heard narrative appeals to white male misogynists, but what many people are noticing and commenting on (including in the linked article) is that it's not just white men who are spreading it. It seems to be everywhere, with relatively little pushback.

Just a couple of days ago, someone I follow on fandom Twitter told people to get lost if they're pro-Depp. She immediately lost dozens of followers, some of whom would probably describe themselves as progressive queer feminists.

That isn't to say misogyny isn't a factor - just that the narrative has such a powerful pull that it's exposing the misogyny that exists in these spaces, too. I think that there are other factors that make this the story that is exposing these tendencies among ostensibly "progressive" people (fandom of Depp, anti-fandom of Heard, possible intentional manipulation of public opinion, etc), but yeah. It would still be depressing if it was only white men, but it's not.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:37 AM on May 19 [31 favorites]


Like, this AH/JD stuff is all over my trending twitter and I never click stuff about celebrities, remove celebrity stuff from my twitter profile topics, etc. What do you want to be that there's some kind of old boys' network agreeing somewhere - with money involved or not - that this would be a great time to discredit MeToo?

I've been quite surprised, as someone who doesn't tend to follow celebrity media at all, at how much YouTube was pushing videos about the trial into my recommended feed. Judging by their titles, they all had a pro-Depp bias; I suspect there is something deeper going on - some coordinated push to present that side of things, with some very slick understanding of the algorithms of the social media platforms to ensure it gets trending and pushed to eyeballs that wouldn't normally see it. I think I prefer that possibility to the idea that stuff about the trial has just somehow gotten enough weird momentum inside those algorithms to create a horrific positive reinforcement cycle on its own.
posted by nubs at 7:38 AM on May 19 [13 favorites]


Buzzfeed: I Can’t Wait To Watch The Inevitable Documentary About How We All Wronged Amber Heard

I keep seeing people saying this online, and it's so frustrating. Do something about NOT having these types of pile-ons instead?

Sarah Marshall (host of You're Wrong About, which covers a lot of these types of maligned women stories from the past) said in response: "just putting it out there that I don't make a history podcast so people can watch trainwrecks and look forward to feeling chastened in ten years. the goal is for people to get their shit together enough to do something differently before it's too late." which I think is exactly right.
posted by gemmy at 7:41 AM on May 19 [82 favorites]


I think I prefer that possibility to the idea that stuff about the trial has just somehow gotten enough weird momentum inside those algorithms to create a horrific positive reinforcement cycle on its own.

I'm not sure we can separate the manufactured element, and the way this produces actual momentum. I feel like that's the whole point. I'm drawing parallels with the number of N. Americans who, to this day, think Iraq was involved with the Twin Towers and/or had WMDs hence the invasion. This is a way to carpet bomb our capacity to think critically, we are losing the war.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:44 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I watched LegalEagle's take on it because the story was popping up all over, (I think it is even handed because it made me think that both parties are jackasses) and now YouTube is recommending the hell out of it.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:46 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Echoing the comment above re reddit being absolutely obsessed with this trial (and 100% pro-Depp anti-Heard).
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:48 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


It would still be depressing if it was only white men, but it's not.

Much of the anti-Heard stuff seems to be pushed by youtube and tiktok videos that make the trial look like some kind of farce, making seem like it's a given that Depp is innocent. If you only took a passive interest in the case through social media, I can see why you'd end up on the pro-Depp side, no matter who you are.

Look elsewhere and there are constant reminders to consider both sides of the case, but I don't think it's enough. He's winning the "people who only give a passing shit" battle for sure, and I can't blame those people.

Worse still is that if he loses, the pro-Depp sentiment is so strong that it will go down as some sort of injustice.

I don't have a horse in this race but I'm surprised to see just how much people online seem to have taken to his evidence, and discarded hers. Unless of course it's just all bots created to stir up pro-Depp comments.
posted by benoliver999 at 7:54 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


No matter how many times I tell algorithm based feeds I'm not interested in this bullshit it keeps throwing it back in there

Yeah, I muted both "Depp" and "Heard" in Twitter but the damn thing still shows up on the sidebar.
posted by octothorpe at 7:58 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


I think part of it has to be that people are hesitant to create content that goes against the dominant pro-Depp narrative, because doing that is asking for harassment and abuse. Everyone has been watching how this goes down since GamerGate, and the right-wing misogynistic hate campaign has been remarkably successful.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:59 AM on May 19 [32 favorites]


I think it is even handed because it made me think that both parties are jackasses

this is absolutely the easiest and most pernicious line on anything to sell anybody. but nobody has to buy it who is not interested in helping them make that sale.

when have you ever found that two people you didn't care for were exactly as bad as each other, and on the same scale as each other, when you hadn't just seen their names in the papers but really knew something about them both on a personal level? I would have to say that I have found that to be true never.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:00 AM on May 19 [62 favorites]


There's something kind of gross about Amber Heard being dismissed as failing some kind of purity test for an abuse victim.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:06 AM on May 19 [48 favorites]


No matter how many times I tell algorithm based feeds I'm not interested in this bullshit it keeps throwing it back in there

I went on TikTok on my not-signed-in work phone and the very first thing it showed me while asking me to log in was an anti-Heard video. The very very first thing.

Yeah, I muted both "Depp" and "Heard" in Twitter but the damn thing still shows up on the sidebar.

I hate trending topics because they are always so bot- and partisan-pushed and so have changed my location on Twitter to be Mongolia. There is gloriously nothing trending in Mongolia most of the time.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:08 AM on May 19 [33 favorites]


Michelle Goldberg's NYTimes editorial Amber Heard and the Death of #MeToo is excellent and contains some facts that were new to me.

First, Depp already lost one libel case on this topic. In England, where it's much easier to win libel cases!
In 2018, The Sun, a British newspaper, called Depp a “wife beater,” and he sued for libel. Proving libel is much easier in Britain than in the United States, because there the burden of proof rests with the defendant. Depp lost his case. A judge, evaluating 14 incidents of Depp’s alleged abuse of Heard, found that 12 of them had occurred and concluded that The Sun’s words were “substantially true.”
Second, in 2020 Amber Heard's team looked into social media manipulation
It’s worth noting that in 2020, Bot Sentinel, a group that tracks online disinformation and harassment, was hired by Heard’s lawyers to analyze the social media campaign against her. “Everyone thinks that any activity against them is bots or whatever,” the group’s founder, Chris Bouzy, told me. But in this case, some of it was — Bouzy estimated that there were 340 “inauthentic” Twitter accounts devoted to defaming Heard and amplifying petitions calling for her to be fired from acting and modeling gigs. “A small number of accounts can drive conversations on Twitter,” he said.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on May 19 [46 favorites]


I don't get why there would even be a good guy and bad guy here, seems like a toxic mutually abusive relationship that drags down everyone around these people down. Maybe just coloured by own experiences beings friends or in proximity to people in abusive relationships where they both were fucking terrible for each other and everyone around them.

As for Amber/Johnny, they should both not be allowed to act in hollywood anymore, fuck their careers why do we even try to preserve them if we're not the ones getting rich from it? We need a one-half-strike-youre-too-annoying-or-shitty rule. There are too many good talents out there to be wasting time and energy trying to salvage people who done fucked up. I don't care if the infraction is stepping on a sidewalk crack, fuck em, nobody deserves the elevated soapbox of celebrity and there's functionally infinite people to fill the role of anyone knocked off their box. People who can't even manage to not be abusive don't need to be famous or rich.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:12 AM on May 19 [19 favorites]


I don't want to derail this thread with conspiracy theory, but are we to the point where a rich enough person could just cut Russian hackers a check and say "Make sure this trends my way?"

Yes, and Johnny Depp's ex-lawyer Adam Waldman worked as a lobbyist with ties to Russian oligarchs.

One thing Amber Heard has alleged is that there is a coordinated online attack against her reputation online using bot networks. There is an article about these bot networks in the guardian here, many of the people targeted for online harassment after they spoke up in defense of Amber Heard are journalists and they are salty about it.

For my person part, I commented in the notes section of a post on tumblr talking about this and within 30 seconds received an extremely nasty but also extremely lazy anonymous message calling me a cunt and a bitch. It's so transparent, you have to laugh.

In other conspiratorial news, lately a lot of youtube channels aimed at young men - ones that formerly covered math/engineering tutorials, guitar lessons, etc - have switched to anti-Heard memes. Here's a collection of those channels. The viewer numbers suddenly skyrocket, MAYBE that's because it's a trend or maybe... one can buy viewer numbers on youtube (reddit, twitter and tiktok) until it becomes a trend, if one has unlimited money.

The difference between what happened to Benedict Cumberbatch and Liam Thomlison, and what is happening here, is that this case has been picked up by Fox News and the right-wing conspiracy machine. Therefore it is much, much bigger than those cases. With the concentrated push on right-wing media, it's not an exaggeration to call this Gamergate 2.0.

Incidentally, there is no evidence that Amber Heard is lying about this. All the "evidence" that she is lying comes down to theories that there should be more - more photos, more doctor's notes, the nurse who was on Depp's payroll should have evidence, etc - or conspiracies about faking bruises with makeup. Meanwhile, Depp has been caught in lies about this trial several times. Here's a timeline on twitter.

I don't have any particular inside information about the trial but I don't see why we should assume the allegations are false. Like Mary said, Amber Heard quietly filed for her divorce years before #metoo was even a thing. Both subsequent lawsuits have been brought by Depp against her, both cases years after the divorce was settled. I absolutely believe that there is something fishy going on with the numbers on social media, I think Waldman and the right-wing conspiracy machine have overplayed their hands here, and I hope the many journalists working this angle will be able to uncover something concrete soon and we don't have to wait years for the reversal of public opinion. At the same time, none of these allegations would have stuck in the first place without all the misogyny.
posted by subdee at 8:16 AM on May 19 [47 favorites]




Michael Hobbes (previously) has had some great tweets highlighting just how frivolous and wrong this trial has been, especially the “hot takes”

I’m really, really, really, really tired of the onslaught from this trial of Pro-Depp boneheads. Big GamerGate energy.
posted by glaucon at 8:23 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


To echo queenofbithynia: if the public reaches the conclusion that "they're both assholes" that's a definitive win for Depp. As we've seen over and over, a man's career can recover from this kind of bad publicity, a woman's cannot. He can rebrand himself as a "bad boy" and do movies with Mel Gibson once this has died down.

All a media machine has to do is create a vague aura of unease around a woman to destroy her. "I don't know why... I just don't like her" is a depressingly common refrain in this kind of circus. It's the phrase that cost Clinton the presidency, for instance. It's a phrase that even leftist feminists are comfortable using to explain why they always believe women... but not this particular woman.

I haven't followed this at all, but I've absorbed a lot thought the usual osmosis. And even without reading a word, Depp's strategy was insanely obvious. And effective.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 8:24 AM on May 19 [79 favorites]


To add to the mutual abuse thing, here's a post on tumblr by a certified domestic violence advocate and lawyer that I found enlightening:

https://valkyriesexual.tumblr.com/post/683981993726427136/lemme-just-give-u-a-lil-context-on-some-things.

If you're looking for complete "innocence" you won't find it. However, it is a mistake to both-sides this issue. The two sides are not even remotely equal.
posted by subdee at 8:24 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


I feel very strongly that this whole mess should have been a personal matter between two parties and maybe their lawyers and that's it. I hate celebrity gossip and celebrity drama and the whole obsessive cycle.

On the other hand, I also really don't want to consume art or entertainment by abusive assholes. At this point my assumption is these are both probably terrible people and I'd like to not see either of them on the big screen ever again. Even if they're not terrible people somehow, I still have had enough.

But I'd also like to not see them mentioned on ten different websites every day as well, given that I'm not going to celebrity gossip sites.
posted by Foosnark at 8:25 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


celebrity is a disease. Fortunately it's not that infectious. The proof of this is that while I actually know a bunch of people who make a living in and around what might be called ShowBIZ, none of them are what I'd call celebrities. They don't get recognized when they walk down the street, go to the liquor store, get into shouting matches outside bars. And some of them do get very close to celebrities on a regular basis, even touch them (my makeup friend does a lot of that). But somehow, they never get infected. Which I'm pretty sure is because they don't WANT to be celebrities, or even have Close Personal Friends (TM) who are, because who wants to be around a walking talking disease.

Celebrity is a particularly weird disease because in almost every case you really have to WANT it. Which I suppose is my main takeaway from all of this. Beware of (and avoid) people who want to get sick. It's easy if you try. And if you happen to find yourself face to face with one of them, up close and and avoidable -- just pretend you don't recognize them. They'll disappear almost immediately.
posted by philip-random at 8:27 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I would absolutely not rule out the possibility of astroturfed support for Depp, funded by whomever has a stake in his coming out on top, be it Depp, Disney or unnamed third parties.

I had an eye-opening meeting a few years back with a vendor that specializes in creating fake social media accounts—in this case, Wikipedia—with a long history of commenting so that they don't look like the fake-ass handpuppets they really are when they pile onto a topic. This was the vendor's advertised business; no nudge-nudge, under-the-counter angle.

Someone is sculpting the narrative to Heard's disadvantage, and "everybody's talking about it" could be a whole lot of nobody behind that "everybody."
posted by the sobsister at 8:28 AM on May 19 [16 favorites]


It's exactly because so many people discount celebrity gossip as meaningless that it is such a powerful weapon for recruitment. No one was taking gamergate seriously either because most serious people weren't paying attention to what was happening on the gaming forums.
posted by subdee at 8:29 AM on May 19 [25 favorites]


Anything that generates high emotion in some dangerous quadrant of society will be picked up by botnets, and since only Twitter has shut down the (majority Russian IP) major networks I am unsurprised that it's the only place where the sentiment is actually driven by weird stans and not fake accounts. Everywhere else? Gamed algo. Keeps Ukraine and GOP shenanigans pushed lower in the trending news ranking.

I wouldn't put it past his lawyers to also be doing their own thing, and yes there's a lot of dangerous people out there who NEED their outrage machine running 24/7 or their theories fall apart. But it is also deliberate chaos manufacture by parties who know a useful chaos when they see it.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:32 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


boy o boy the worst take I've read so far on this mess is this one, from The Spectator (natch): Is Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard really role play?

It wonders out loud if the trial is some kind of next level sex game between JD and AH:

My view is perhaps more sordid. Watching the trial quite closely, I can't help but wonder: is this some sort of legal-themed role play? Is it possible that Heard vs Depp is actually one big sexual fantasy being played out in a court of law before the world’s media? If the testimonies have taught us anything it is that Johnny and Amber appear to enjoy degrading each other, and for two people who have very little left on their sexual bucket lists, this exceptionally high profile case could in fact be the most elaborate role play ever.

posted by chavenet at 8:34 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


The host of the Psychology in Seattle podcast has been doing a series of explainers and commentary as he watches the trial. He has some interesting insights from his experience being an expert witness early on in his career, and I appreciate how ready he is to state the limits of what we can and cannot know, the limits of what a therapist acting as a witness can and can't determine, and the limits of what a therapist caring for someone would know about others in their lives. He also has experience working with male abusers in court-mandated counseling, in addition to years of working with abuse victims and patients with personality disorders. He's really good at explaining how various disorder develop, plus he discusses how the various psychological tests used in the case work and what he, personally, concludes from listening to the testimony. Highly recommended if you want a calm, empathetic, explainer.
posted by antinomia at 8:34 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I don't see why we should assume the allegations are false

Because she is a liar (donation of the divorce settlement, for example) and there is a lack of evidence supporting her accusations (in police reports, also in the photos of her after the alleged abuse showing no visual injuries). His PR machine is stronger than her PR machine, boo hoo for her. The Lawyers are laughing their way to the bank, I'm sure.

I’m not “on” the internet in a way where I see how “it” hates or loves Amber, I just watch what I watch—in this case, am following the trial on a lawyer channel where the host talks through the legal goings on. Not being on twitter and FB probably helps keep me sheltered….Fox news seems to be pro Amber, if that is any comfort….

I'm enjoying following this trash. And, I’m no Depp fan, nor an expert in anything, but watching the trial, I’m convinced she was the abuser….sorry. And on behalf of addicts everywhere, using drugs and alcohol does not equate to being an abuser.

I know someone who lies a lot, including making up domestic abuse allegations, so I think that is part of the dynamic for me.

It is no secret the internet runs on outrage; hang tight, in another month or two we will be on to the new celebrity outrages.
posted by rhonzo at 8:40 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


The idiot misogynists I had to eat lunch with at work in 2018-2019 were all over this case & gloated about it like a caged tiger abusing a dead pigeon. They were absolutely gleeful. Here was a woman being bad for once, and *didn't known feminist bleep have to admit that women could also be bad*. I was like I don't have to admit anything, I have no clue who these people are or what they did in their own homes, and then I would just get up and leave.

Anyway this case is mind poison and I recommend we all Eternal Sunshine ourselves right now & forget all about it.
posted by bleep at 8:42 AM on May 19 [41 favorites]


Man some of this rhetoric is so sickening especially as a survivor of dv. God. This whole thing has made it quite difficult to just be on the internet at all lately, which is part of why I feel like this is partly astroturfing. I simply can't get away from it, even though I am actively repulsed by and upset by the content and do not ever interact with it in any way on any platform. Except here right now, I guess.

Not being believed about what was happening to me almost cost me my life. This trial and its aftermath will cost real women their lives.

As for Amber/Johnny, they should both not be allowed to act in hollywood anymore
Don't worry, you'll get half of your wish, I'm sure she'll never act again.
posted by twelve cent archie at 8:43 AM on May 19 [44 favorites]




It's distressing seeing the anti-Heard propaganda leak into Metafilter.
posted by Nelson at 8:58 AM on May 19 [91 favorites]


So I'll chime in as a self identified queer feminist who is very marginally anti-Heard, although I wouldn't say I'm Pro-Depp.

Let me start by saying I have seen very little actual footage of this trial. Which I admit is then a rather lame basis on which to form an opinion, but whatever it is the media is doing in this regard it's clearly working because it got to me for sure.

I have heard exactly 3 things in this trial:

- The tape of Heard saying stuff like "I didn't punch you, I hit you" and how people wouldn't believe him
- their therapist said they were mutually abusive
- the makeup she supposedly used to cover bruises was not manufactured at the time of the claim.

I absolutely think that recording is the thing that did it, that and I truly thought it was time we explored the idea of toxic femininity, vis a vis Heard.

All this to say, yes, I have an opinion based on faulty info, but whatever media coverage is certainly working in Depp's favour.

Also on preview: If you only took a passive interest in the case through social media, I can see why you'd end up on the pro-Depp side, no matter who you are.

This is me.
posted by aclevername at 9:00 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


People here seem convinced that Depp is going to emerge from this unscathed, but wasn’t his career already in the toilet after the original abuse allegations?
posted by vanitas at 9:05 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Reddit /r/videos (usually fairly innocuous)

I just do not grasp how some MeFites have been able to bury their heads in the sand so effectively.

I mean yeah if you only engage with Reddit in the most superficial way then sure it might seem “innocuous”. But if you actually read any of the comments on top posts or browse /r/all at all you quickly see how pervasive the toxicity of Reddit is. And in fact when Reddit instituted the subreddit system, /r/videos was the first I unsubscribed from. It’s been a hub of toxic content for basically the entirety of its existence.

Ok now that my #RedditIsRacist, Reddit is toxic rant is over — there is a lot of the online alt-right culture being glossed over in this discussion. This is not just normal misogyny, for one thing. This is specifically the intensely sexually frustrated misogyny of adolescent gamers. Here’s a nice little quote I recently posted in another thread, the context being Steve Bannon discussing how Gamergate specifically was used to weaponize adolescent misogyny:

In describing gamers, Bannon said, "These guys, these rootless white males, had monster power. ... It was the pre-reddit. It's the same guys on (one of a trio of online message boards owned by IGE) Thottbot who were [later] on reddit" and other online message boards where the alt-right flourished, Bannon said.
posted by viborg at 9:06 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


As awful as the misogyny is, the issue goes beyond that though. Just as there is an intersection of social justice issues that progressives must struggle against, there is also an intersection of bigotry that the alt-right use to amplify their message. I’m convinced the core of that alt-right culture is sociopathic. So much of the content they share is about promoting the most cynical, self-centered view of society possible. Any political analysis rests on the assumption that there is no good faith, everything is corrupt and purely profit-driven

So it doesn’t actually matter if the individual trolls are misogynist or whatever. They are mainly bullies and they recognize their bullying is only effective if they can present a united front against any social progress. And OF COURSE these clowns are being manipulated by moneyed interests too, and of course many of their tactics mirror those of the Russians, whether we can point to direct Russian involvement or not.

But also worth noting that going back to the 1960s at least, Russian security services have been specifically targeting their propaganda to pull at any divisive thread in American society, whether it’s the politics of gender, race, class, religion, or whatever. Of course more recently we have good evidence that Russia and its allies were the MAIN driver of anti-vaccine disinformation online in 2020.
posted by viborg at 9:07 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


I don't think anyone is saying that Depp will be unscathed, vanitas. But given his money, influence, power, etc., he gets to have a career if he wants it.

The same can't be said of Heard.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 9:12 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


It's not impossible that some of Depp's career stall out of late is because of the abuse allegations. My guess is that it has more to do with him continuing to draw top of the line salaries while he has had only a few films that were profitable in the last ten years. That and the increasing chatter that Depp has become an unreliable drunk/coke head who needs his lines fed to him by earpiece to be able to perform.

Does Hollywood consider abuse a career ender? Check out Mel Gibson's upcoming projects on IMDB.

But they sure as shit don't like people who lose them money.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:13 AM on May 19 [16 favorites]


And on behalf of addicts everywhere, using drugs and alcohol does not equate to being an abuser.

The correlation isn't 1-1, but there sure as heck is a correlation.
"Men who are dependent on alcohol or drugs are six or seven times more likely to be involved in domestic abuse against women than others, according to an extensive new study.

The research, published in the online journal PLOS-Medicine, analysed hundreds of thousands of medical records and police data from Sweden over a 16-year period."
Here's a Canadian government page which has links to a bunch of other studies if you'd like more evidence...
Strong links have been found between alcohol use and the occurrence of intimate partner violence in many countries. Evidence suggests that alcohol use increases the occurrence and severity of domestic violence [6, 7, 8].
[...]
Alcohol use directly affects cognitive and physical function, reducing self-control and leaving individuals less capable of negotiating a non-violent resolution to conflicts within relationships [10].
Prohibition didn't WORK and maybe can't or shouldn't, but there's a reason it was women who demanded that it be tried.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:14 AM on May 19 [50 favorites]


It’s unfortunate but disputes between celebrities - even legal ones - can come down to a popularity contest. Johnny Depp has a much larger organic fan base than Heard that grew up seeing him as a beloved entertainer and in many cases a fantasy partner. These don’t have to be bots. There are real people playing to the algorithm for clicks/money because there are real people interested and invested in this. People have always been attracted to celebrities’ dirty laundry being publicly aired, and at one point Depp was an A/B list name. The manosphere friendly angle is icing on the cake.
posted by Selena777 at 9:16 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


the makeup she supposedly used to cover bruises was not manufactured at the time of the claim.

Do you have an idea of how many makeup products are churned out a year? It is totally reasonable to think “I’ve used this particular product as a concealer, I probably used it this other time.”
My nose was broken around the same time as Amber’s (not DV) I cannot tell you the exact makeup I used afterwards. I really can’t. Honestly looking back at photos, you can’t even tell it’s broken.

The burden of proof people in the internet are requiring for Amber Heard is ridiculous.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 9:17 AM on May 19 [85 favorites]


Do you have an idea of how many makeup products are churned out a year? It is totally reasonable to think “I’ve used this particular product as a concealer, I probably used it this other time.”

Sure. Good point. I didn't say it was good proof of anything, I said it was a part of how I formed my opinion. For good or for ill. I was simply trying to indicate how I, a queer feminist, came to that opinion.
posted by aclevername at 9:26 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I don’t understand how people who are quick to label Heard a liar aren’t extending the same label to Depp, who has definitely been caught in lies during this trial and the last.

This trial has validated for me personally rhat histrionic or “borderline” behaviour only is ugly and evil when a woman does it and charming when a celebrity male does it.

Doing pills and drinking is reckless when you’re a woman but just being a fun silly pirate when a celebrity male does it.

Hurting someone “by accident” (whether broken glass cutting off a tip of someone’s finger or ADMITTED headbutting) is acceptable when you’re a man doing the headbutting but not a woman throwing the glass bottle.

Sexual promiscuity is fine when you’re a middle aged straight white man with kids cheating on your wife with someone half her age, and cheating on THAT person with another woman… but absolutely disgraceful if you’re a bisexual woman.

There’s nothing Heard has been accused of that we can’t extend to Depp himself and no one I’ve spoken with seems to want to see this. They’re obsessed with mutual abuse being the key to Depp winning 50 million.

I wish the closing arguments were just HEARD’S lawyer reading the damn WaPo article because it’s The Blueprint for what we are seeing right in front of our eyes.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:26 AM on May 19 [53 favorites]


Any non-makeup wearing person who has been sent to the store to fetch makeup by a makeup wearing person with what they assured them were clear instructions only to be reduced to a panic attack by a wall of only incrementally different products knows it is easy to mix up makeup names.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:28 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


All this to say, yes, I have an opinion based on faulty info, but whatever media coverage is certainly working in Depp's favour.

"I'm standing by an opinion that I know is almost certainly bullshit" is a weird flex, but OK.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:33 AM on May 19 [59 favorites]


I said [the makeup] was a part of how I formed my opinion.

I think that this is interesting, actually. Pointing to a small inconsistency or inaccuracy and claiming that means the entire story is made up is a classic tactic for discounting abuse victims. As a queer feminist, you presumably know this and all of the reasons why victims sometimes get details wrong. Yet this talking point still worked on you, somehow.

It seems like it is still working on you? It's unclear to me whether you've reevaluated your opinion or not. It would be odd to admit you formed your opinion based on misinformation and misconceptions, but then not take that step, but I really just can't tell.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:42 AM on May 19 [56 favorites]


I'm standing by an opinion that I know is almost certainly bullshit" is a weird flex, but OK.

I believe aclevername is not saying they believe these as facts. They are trying to illustrate how easy it is to be influenced by the media if you're not paying careful attention.
They listed examples of bullshit that seemed convincing to them because they were not fully focused on sifting out the truth from the bullshit. Making the point how perniciously convincing half truths are to people who are just absorbing this stuff in their peripheral vision.
posted by Zumbador at 9:44 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


"I'm standing by an opinion that I know is almost certainly bullshit" is a weird flex, but OK.

I didn't say I was standing by it, did I? Again, I posted my comment to explain how I came to my conclusion. Frankly, I haven't seen much pro-Heard arguments until I came into this thread.

I may very well change my opinion or I might decide I don't have one after all. This thread has been a good reading experience.
posted by aclevername at 9:46 AM on May 19 [26 favorites]


For folks falling into the "Well they're both awful" line of reasoning please know that this reasoning is what keeps victims in abusive relationships. I was in a relationship with a character like Depp and had convinced myself that it was mutual abuse because I started fighting back. Reading the posts in avowed liberal and feminist spaces trotting out this line is killing me a little inside.

Imagine you are in a relationship with someone. It's great, they're wonderful, you've never met anyone like them! They understand you so well, they're incredibly attentive and affectionate and you've found that elusive love the pop stars sing about.

Then one day, perhaps after you've moved in with them or somehow begun to merge your lives with them, they pull out a big metal ladle and pot and start banging it in your face. bang bang bang "Wtf is this?," you think, "What is happening?"

You retreat from them, upset at this weird outburst. They apologize, explain they had a terrible childhood or terrible ex and this is just how they cope when they feel scared. You love them though, right? You must understand, you triggered them because you didn't say something just they way they needed to hear it. They're so sorry, they love you so much.

You forgive. You move on.

Then it happens again bangbangbangbangbang!!! but this time it's louder, right at your ear and they keep it up ALL FUCKING NIGHT. Again, you retreat, you think "WTF is happening?!" Again, apologies, they love you, they'll be better, you just need to work on your behavior too so they don't feel the need to whip out the ladle and pot percussive outburst.

You forgive. You move on. You watch your behavior more. THEY DO IT AGAIN BUT LOUDER BANG BANG BANG BANG You leave the room, you try to escape, but now you're stonewalling them! You abandoned them, how could you? You forgive. You move on. You buy earplugs. You are exhausted and on edge.

They do it again but this time rip your earplugs out BANGBANGBANGBANGBANG all day and all night.

For months this keeps happening. You nerves are shot, you are on edge constantly watching your behavior and this small feeling of anger begins to grow in you. Some part of you knows it is insane that the person you love is coping with their feelings by banging a ladle and pot in your face but you love them and want to help.

Finally, one night they escalate again, you can see it coming and that little feeling of anger bursts forth, you rip the fucking ladle out of their hand and start screaming "WTF IS YOUR GODDAMN PROBLEM ASSHOLE"

Now you're the bad guy. You yelled at them! Don't you understand how hurt they are? You feel terrible. You repent. They forgive you this time. You move on but they never forget. You make sure to do everything they ask because you feel so terrible about shouting at them. And how could you possibly just leave them know? You're both terrible which means you're perfect for each other.

Then one day they escalate and trap your head in the pot while banging on it with the ladle.

BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG

Terrified, you manage pull the pot off your head. All that anger you suppressed every other time surges forth and you grab the ladle and hit them with it. THWACK! Now both sides are just as bad, you're a terrible person, now YOU are the abuser.

Anyway, sorry that got kind of long, but it is absolute bullshit to say "oh well she's just as terrible." Why, because she fought back? You have 3 options in an abusive relationship: take the abuse, fight back or leave. The first is where folks usually start, the third is a constant attempt and the second will usually happen on a long enough timescale. But that anger is what can save you, so please do not demonize women for their justified anger in the face of men terrorizing them. I watched perfectly liberal women who would tell you they fully support women's rights all flock around my ex and support him because I fought back the night he strangled me. All he had to do was deny the strangling bit. He will undoubtedly use this to ensnare other women and I fear for them, he's the lady-murdering type.

P.S. I read the entire 129 page UK judgement because I wanted to fully understand this and Johnny Depp is a dangerous abuser, full stop. Fuck that astroturfing monster and his minions, I'm glad she fought back. I wish more people would read "Why Does He Do That?" to understand these abuse dynamics.
posted by JaneTheGood at 9:51 AM on May 19 [181 favorites]


My guess is that it has more to do with him continuing to draw top of the line salaries while he has had only a few films that were profitable in the last ten years. That and the increasing chatter that Depp has become an unreliable drunk/coke head who needs his lines fed to him by earpiece to be able to perform.

Yeah very likely has more to do with the idea that he’s a flake with substance issues than the abuse allegations. There have been some pretty unflattering pieces on him in that regard. Not impossible that this trial could actually revive sympathy for him.

when have you ever found that two people you didn't care for were exactly as bad as each other, and on the same scale as each other, when you hadn't just seen their names in the papers but really knew something about them both on a personal level?

We don’t though, of course. I mean one lesson here is that Johnny Depp has been successful in making people feel like they know him on a personal level. The men’s rights crew feel like they know him because he’s them. The die hard fans feel like they know him because they’re fans. People watching YouTube soundbites feel like they know him because he (a professional actor) manages to exude charm in the moment. I suppose what I’m getting at is just that I’m not sure “this is a big ugly mess and can’t make heads or tails of it” is the most harmful attitude the average semi-informed person can take.
posted by atoxyl at 10:05 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


No matter how many times I tell algorithm based feeds I'm not interested in this bullshit it keeps throwing it back in there

Ugh, I made the horrible mistake of clicking on one single video about the trial without using a private browser window or alt account and my YT recommendations immediately went completely and totally nuts serving up dozens/hundreds of MRA or MRA-adjacent manosphere channels covering and mocking the trial with Amber Heard dead center in their rhetorical crosshairs, including a ton of totally unrelated stuff along the Jordon Peterson and JRE axis and alt-right or adjacent bullshit, and it's not even good political content but almost always clickbait and outrage porn.

If you looked at my recommendation page in the few days after you'd easily make some incorrect political assumptions about my values and what I believe or view on YT. It was really, really gross and invasive. I'm still blocking and deleting recommended videos and channels I don't know how many days later, and my normal balance of recommendations along the science, music and maker channel side of YT still haven't fully recovered and may never be the same again.

I can't help but notice that this happens a lot with YT. Several years ago I clicked on a Prager U video that was total clickbait trash because I wanted to see how ridiculous it was and the same thing happened.

I can also observe that it never really happens the other way around with the algorithm when it comes to politics. I can watch leftist political content all day long and even when I'm subbed to some stuff the recommendation algorithm doesn't go nuts offering more of that, and if anything it starts offering right wing crap instead.

Something is definitely rotten in Denmark when it comes to The Algorithm. I don't know if it's because that alt-right or adjacent content is monetized and gamified more to weaponize The Algorithm, but it sure feels like it's intentional and big tech/media companies are leaning really hard on the scales and weights.

And it's fucking terrifying to see in action. It's really easy to see the pipeline and how someone young and impressionable can go from watching totally innocuous videos about video games to mainlining Qanon or Infowars type bullshit in just a few short videos, yet counterpoints and opposing voices are buried.

I've been ranting about this on MeFi for years now and begging people to take notice and heed of it, and this is now a roadmap of our current and near future political climate.

There's now an entire generation of young men in particular being - using the alt-right term against it, here - non-figuratively groomed for right wing misogyny, bigotry and overt racism.


Back to the actual topic of the trial? Johnny Depp is an asshole but I knew that before the trial. So many of his reactions and expressions and tells in the trial coverage are classic run of the mill smug, narcissistic asshole abuser "I'm going to get away with this!" style of reactions. It's the same exact sort of facial expressions that I saw in my personal life from an abusive step-parent when he went full DARVO and toddler lawyer about petty bullshit and weaponized it for further abuse.

Their whole relationship is obviously toxic and unhealthy but the balance of power and privilege is firmly on Depp's side and he knows this.
posted by loquacious at 10:08 AM on May 19 [39 favorites]


This trial isn’t a vindication of abused anyone or anything. It’s just proof that two fucked up, sad individuals can still attract a whole lot of unhealthy obsession by a gossip-starved public who loves to see misery played out in a public forum. It doesn’t serve the public interest in a way that solves a problem, or enlightens anyone.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 10:28 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Classism is a big factor for me here, not sure who, if anyone, cultivated my classicism, but it's so hard for me to see anything about either of these people and not just think "fuck em" just based on the fact they're rich and privileged. Intellectually I can acknowledge they're both human beings who have emotions and can suffer and all that like real humans, but on a gut level all I can see is two powerful dipshits who chose to stay in a toxic relationship, dragging others down with them, and now are dragging the courts and public into it. Makes me wanna King Solomon em both and cut em in half and see who really wanted either of em.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:28 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I have tried to avoid this story, not because I think they are both equally bad but I just can't invest myself in each tragedy that unfolds across the timeline. But it is unavoidable. Despite being delivered endless headlines trying to push me the other way, I see Amber Heard as the unequivocal victim here.

What really turns my stomach (abuse being tragically normal) is the glee with which people attack her. Someone I follow tweeted a video of her testimony, commenting something like, "Amber Heard is simply not a very good actress. She can't pull this off. Her fear and pain are real." That's the supportive side.

This person considers themself a feminist. The "I believe women but not HER" chorus grows ever louder, buoyed by people I thought knew better.
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:28 AM on May 19 [19 favorites]


There's no such thing as mutual abuse.

Exactly this. A friend who has been following this trial actually said to me something along the lines of "I think it's important people know that both parties can contribute to an abusive situation," and my personal experience from observing the aftermath of the (completely unambiguous!) outing of an abuser in my community is the exact opposite. People are already very eager to believe that there are two sides to every story, that perhaps the abused also did horrible things, they're both toxic, of course they didn't deserve abuse, but . . . etc.

Obviously a lot of that can be attributed to simple misogyny, either overt or internalized, but I also think there are folks who leap for that explanation because the truth is too horrible to contemplate—the truth being how common domestic abuse is, how easy it is to miss the signs and hard to know how to help even when you see them, how anyone can end up in that situation and how difficult it is to escape.

Instead people grasp for some version of the status quo, even as that makes themselves and the people they love less safe. I also get no sense that people ever consider what their attitudes and little comments on the subject are telling their friends and family about whether they are a safe person to come to for help, about whether it's even safe to go to anyone for help.

It wasn't fun learning that lesson, and it's not fun to be reminded it of it every hour of every day right now. I've probably blocked 50 TikTok accounts at this point, including several major news outlets.
posted by lampoil at 10:30 AM on May 19 [18 favorites]


Johnny Depp is an asshole but I knew that before the trial. So many of his reactions and expressions and tells in the trial coverage are classic run of the mill smug, narcissistic asshole abuser "I'm going to get away with this!" style of reactions.

Yeah it seems so obvious to me too, but then there are people who can listen to George W. Bush and Donald Trump—several times more obviously smug assholes—and somehow like those guys, so clearly my ideas about what makes someone trustworthy are nowhere near as universal as they seem to me.
posted by straight at 10:32 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]




There was a running joke on The Good Place where Hell had nothing but movie posters for infinite Pirates of the Caribbean, with sub-headings like "The Curse of the Haunted Crow's Nest or Whatever."

I wish that, and only that, as the remainder of Depp's career. No quirky indie films, no collaborations with Tim Burton. Just limp, dead Pirates films. A tired, hopeless, joyless Depp phoning it in, year after year, deep into eternity.

But yeah, he's probably about five years out from his Hacksaw Ridge. Getting nominations again, but never winning again.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 10:34 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


I am not unaware of the Depp/Heard trial. I am not unaware of the nasty nasty nasty disgusting comments about Heard all over social media.

What I was unaware of is that as I work in a predominantly female office, a majority of my co-workers turned out to be Depp supporters. It was very depressing and I said a few sharp words about using the same online language to describe Heard in a professional space.
posted by Kitteh at 10:41 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


“ It’s just proof that two fucked up, sad individuals can still attract a whole lot of unhealthy obsession by a gossip-starved public who loves to see misery played out in a public forum. It doesn’t serve the public interest in a way”

I don’t think I agree. Clearly the public is interested, but it is also a great barometer for whether people I know or engage with would believe me if I were sued for libel in the aftermath of an abuse trial. It’s easy to say “well it’s just some rich people” who are both “toxic” but as someone mentioned above, real women are really going to die having not been believed when they reported abuse.

I wish this was an abstract thought exercise but there are real world consequences. Aside from that I believe this really is putting pressure on MeToo, a movement we still desperately need.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 10:42 AM on May 19 [22 favorites]


Suffering as a means of production & entertainment has really become refined in the 21st century.

I can no longer tell who is using whom on any level of the discourse on this story.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 10:46 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


"But I am stunned by the amount of 'Sure, I'm a feminist but she's obviously lying.'"

This is why I remain interested. I guess it's not surprising; every subgroup has people whose hold on the underlying principles of the group is loose. I call myself a Catholic, but I haven't been to Mass since Covid started. It's been over two years, and the whole time I lived a block away from my church. My kids play on their playground. Just not on Sundays anymore. But still, it's really bizarre to see someone whose apartment is decorated with various Ruth Bader Ginsburg tchotchkes come out as an "Amber Heard is lying" person.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:13 AM on May 19 [17 favorites]


I would absolutely not rule out the possibility of astroturfed support for Depp, funded by whomever has a stake in his coming out on top, be it Depp, Disney or unnamed third parties.

This also strikes me as easily the most likely scenario.

What I was unaware of is that as I work in a predominantly female office, a majority of my co-workers turned out to be Depp supporters

as is little ms flabdablet (17). Anti-Heard stuff is endemic on TikTok, apparently.

Propaganda works.
posted by flabdablet at 11:14 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


the right-wing misogynistic hate campaign has been remarkably successful.

comment upthread, and in large part this seems to be sufficient

outside of that, all the details (like, the non-zero number of women who might otherwise check your boxes in all the right ways for politics, lifestyle, etc, but land on the Depp side because he was Edward Scissorhands?)

I mean, that might be interesting to some people but I find this whole situation to be kind of terrifying in general, and I'm no dv survivor it's just a catastrophe quite in addition to and beyond that for civil society in the long run.
posted by elkevelvet at 11:18 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


My Youtube feed started getting taken over by the pro-Depp stuff without any real action from me (that I can remember). It was ridiculous and so blatantly awful that I immediately became very anti-Depp. I've told Youtube not to show those videos and it seems to be working for the moment, but we'll have to see.

I've never seen anything like it with Youtube -- certainly not for any of the other #Metoo stuff.
posted by Galvanic at 11:21 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


I've seen about three minutes of this trial, all of it in the past couple of days. All I can say about this is, it seems more like an entertainment than an actual trial. The whole idea that, because these people are celebrities, this trial should be basically live-streamed to the world. Video of a trial is pretty damned different than a transcript and artist renderings.

It makes me wonder about why any judge would allow this. I don't see how this helps either party. They both look like assholes. (Amber Heard might be a victim, but the video that YouTube pushed at me is definitely framed with her as the asshole.)

This whole thing would be sad no matter what, but by letting me see all of it, it's sad and gross.
posted by nushustu at 11:26 AM on May 19


This isn't just some sad spectacle of a toxic relationship between two celebrity dipshits who engaged in "mutual abuse". That's a very superficial reading. The trial is being followed by media all over the world and the predominant reactions on social media painting Heard as a liar do have serious repercussions for ordinary women all over the world. Here's two more articles I came across that analyze this effect:

‘It’s harmful and humiliating’: how Amber Heard’s haters undermine the victims of domestic violence (The Guardian)

This Amber Heard-Johnny Depp TikTok phenomenon isn't funny. But it is dangerous.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:28 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


Johnny Depp is repellent and always has been. Every move he makes and every expression on his face tells you who he is.

That so many people are falling for his bullshit shocks me.
posted by jamjam at 12:00 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I believe aclevername is not saying they believe these as facts. They are trying to illustrate how easy it is to be influenced by the media if you're not paying careful attention.

Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to convey, although perhaps unsuccessfully.
posted by aclevername at 12:05 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that Ms Heard is an awful person who was the abuser in the relationship. I feel burned by her attaching herself to the victims of abuse, in the same way that I feel burned by Jussie Smollet attaching himself to victims of racial violence. Just because the right wing groups bandwagon on the facts of the particular case, doesn't make those facts wrong.

The whole incident feels like a massive setback for victims and is extremely frustrating.

I've deleted a long section from my comment about why I've come to this conclusion as I don't really want to argue about it.
posted by interogative mood at 12:07 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


But I am stunned by the amount of 'Sure, I'm a feminist but she's obviously lying.'


Where is the rule book for being a "feminist"?

Do you get to be a feminist if you wear makeup? Do you get to be a feminist if you are Catholic? Do you get to be a feminist if you believe a woman can lie?

I believe AH is lying about the abuse....This is based on watching (parts) of the trial so far, not reading Reddit or Twitter feeds. The trial isn't over yet, and I might change my perception.

I am not a fan of JD, I just find his version of things more consistent, credible, and backed by other testimonies. I could be wrong. My opinion doesn't mean I'm embracing abuse, denying the power of male abusers, minimizing the suffering of abuse victims.
posted by rhonzo at 12:11 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


In its defense, the one anti-Depp bastion I've come across online is the gossip subreddit called r/Deuxmoi, named after a twitter gossip whom the subreddit seems to hate.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:13 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


interrogative mood, rhonzo

So... the british lawsuit never happened? The British legal system doesn't count? Hell, I'm not even sure why people are sure watching a trial on the internet gives them some sort of access to the truth, here.
posted by sagc at 12:14 PM on May 19 [42 favorites]


[Content warning: sexual and physical abuse, self-harm]

Because she is a liar (donation of the divorce settlement, for example) and there is a lack of evidence supporting her accusations (in police reports, also in the photos of her after the alleged abuse showing no visual injuries)

Hi.

I've been pretty open on Metafilter in certain threads about being a domestic violence survivor. To be blunt about it here: I was raped at gunpoint by my ex-partner. My nose was broken. This was the cherry on top of the physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse sundae.

The Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial has been making me literally nauseous on a daily basis, because what it tells me, and survivors like me, is that even speaking publicly about my abuse personally could see me having to be dragged into court to recount my most traumatic experiences for a crowd of men who don't give a fuck about it.

I told my friends that I wouldn't take a penny from that fucker. Then, once, when I didn't have enough money for groceries, he sent me a check. I cashed it. Was I a liar? Or did I just find myself forced to compromise my absolutist stance when reality set in? If you listen to people talking about Heard, the answer is that I'm a liar, and no one should ever believe me about my violent rape because I once took a $150 check. Or was it a $100 check? I can't remember now, a decade later. More evidence of my lying about my violent abuse, no doubt.

I also put on makeup to go to work. Like so many fucking women do, because unfortunately, going to work or going out with bruises on your face means that you could get questions about it and BY THE WAY, abusers also react SUPER well to people asking you about abuse. I have no clue what makeup I used. If I was interrogated on the stand about what makeup I used? I would probably throw up. Was it Revlon? Wet & Wild? I was pretty broke back then, maybe that? Who knows. Not me. What a fucking liar I am, clearly.

I once read the police report about my violent rape, and it was some minimizing fucking bullshit that didn't bother to explain how affected I was. Because police are fuckers with higher rates of domestic violence than any other profession in America. You think victims get a fair shake? We don't.

I probably struggled. I don't remember it well. Like Amber Heard, I focused on a particular section of the floor. I don't remember all the bits because if I start to remember all the bits my mind starts screaming and can't stop. But I guess, according to Johnny Depp's lawyers and the internet, remembering a particular visual clearly means that I'm a liar. So I must be a liar, right? I must have been a liar, and that's why I struggled for years with suicidality and walked into traffic hoping I would get hit by a car so I wouldn't have to think about the abuse that I suffered and how I would live afterwards. Or maybe I'm lying about that - I can't prove it. Where's the surveillance video of the car swerving away from me? Where's the proof?

Do what you want, I guess, internet. But don't ever claim that you're supporting survivors while doing it. We see you. I see literally every person on my feed claiming that Johnny Depp was wronged, and I will literally never feel safe in their home again.
posted by corb at 12:18 PM on May 19 [194 favorites]


I live in India, don't care very much about either JD or AH, I'm not actively trying to follow the trial on any platform, and even so my youtube recommendations are almost exclusively about JD/AH. The campaign, whoever is behind this, is insane.
That said, someone I follow on Instagram did this amazing breakdown of the situation and my understanding is that Depp lost the libel lawsuit in Britain? And ran out of appeals? Does that somehow not count? Seems pretty definitive to me of JD being proven to be abusive in a court of law already. What am I missing?
posted by Nieshka at 12:22 PM on May 19 [27 favorites]


This Vox piece seems like a good overview of the facts for those who are blissfully unaware.

I haven't exactly been glued to this trial, and can definitely buy that misogyny is a strong contributor to the pro-Depp/anti-Heard feeding frenzy, but that can't be the whole story, right? Like regardless of social media witch hunts or unproven accusations from Depp's side, if she's on tape trying to rationalize striking him and mocking him for being upset and saying that no one would believe him, that's pretty clearly toxic and bad behavior, full stop.

It didn't happen in a vacuum and Depp is guilty of domestic violence himself per the UK trial (and will likely fare better for obvious reasons), but this idea that the anti-Heard sentiment is all baseless misogyny is hard to justify. Seems more like they're both emotionally unstable 1%-ers with anger issues who need serious therapy before getting into a relationship with anyone ever again.

(The most depressing thing about all this, IMHO, is that the social media circus around this case has vastly overshadowed the leaked SCOTUS abortion ruling for anyone who's not a political junkie.)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:25 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


“Feminism is a political practice of fighting male supremacy on behalf of women as a class, including all the women you don’t like, including all the women you don’t want to be around, including all the women who used to be your best friends whom you don’t want anything to do with anymore.

It doesn’t matter who the individual women are”

-Andrea Dworkin, prophet and feminist
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:29 PM on May 19 [60 favorites]


Yeah, if you're supporting or believing JD in any form, know that there are women in your life who have experienced DV and they will never ever--rightfully--trust you ever again. I don't care how you want to spin that, that is the truth.
posted by Kitteh at 12:35 PM on May 19 [54 favorites]


Findings by a judge in legal cases on a matter of law, often have extremely precise legal meanings that are different from what they appear to mean. My understanding is that the specific finding of the judge was that Depp's actions met the standards for civil liability for an assault in 11 cases and that this was based on a very low burden of proof required in the UK. The burden is that the victim needs to show they were injured and the injury was probably caused by the named party. The judge agreed that 11 times she had an injury and that Mr Depp was the cause of those injuries. It doesn't mean she didn't start the fight. It doesn't mean he wasn't also assaulted or that those injuries were not inflicted in self defense. This is not a criminal finding by a jury where the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. It isn't even at the standard of a civil trial in the United States where it is preponderance of the evidence.
posted by interogative mood at 12:40 PM on May 19


> but are we to the point where a rich enough person could just cut Russian hackers a check and say "Make sure this trends my way?"

Yes, though they're as likely to be American or Canadian or French hackers as they are Russian, and it doesn't cost nearly as much as you might think.
posted by dorothy hawk at 12:40 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


"It doesn't mean she didn't start the fight."

Wow. Wow! This is... maybe not the statement you want to be making, if you purport to support victims of abuse.
posted by sagc at 12:44 PM on May 19 [42 favorites]


The tape of Heard saying stuff like "I didn't punch you, I hit you" and how people wouldn't believe him

She fought back against his abuse

- their therapist said they were mutually abusive

That therapist was on his payroll

- the makeup she supposedly used to cover bruises was not manufactured at the time of the claim.

She never made this claim... though it would not have mattered if she had, as this is a very minor inconsistency. Her lawyer used that makeup brand as an example of the kind of concealing makeup that would have hidden her injuries so they didn't show up in public.

The internet can't be trusted to play sleuths in an ongoing domestic abuse case. Just as discussed in the article, people look for "evidence" to support their preconceptions and can end up believing things that are debunked, not as they seem, or taken out of context.
posted by subdee at 12:44 PM on May 19 [62 favorites]


My understanding is that the specific finding of the judge was that Depp's actions met the standards for civil liability for an assault in 11 cases and that this was based on a very low burden of proof required in the UK.

Forgive me but have you actually read the judgment? It leaves very little to the imagination, and is pretty damning.

read for yourself if you’d like to cast judgment
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:48 PM on May 19 [35 favorites]


Ugh, I made the horrible mistake of clicking on one single video about the trial without using a private browser window or alt account and my YT recommendations immediately went completely and totally nuts

This happens to me occasionally—I'll click on an interesting-looking "science video" and discover it's some weird synth-voiced pivot into Russian military propaganda or whatever—and I've had good luck going to my YouTube history and telling it to forget I watched the offending video. That seems to do the trick.
posted by The Tensor at 12:50 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


but this idea that the anti-Heard sentiment is all baseless misogyny is hard to justify.

Why? Given how sexist and misogynistic our society is, why would it be hard to justify?
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:54 PM on May 19 [27 favorites]


"It isn't even at the standard of a civil trial in the United States where it is preponderance of the evidence."

"the civil standard" in UK law is literally exactly the same thing as "preponderance of the evidence."

I was going to say more but Dressed to Kill posted the actual judgment. If you have read any actual filings or evidence in these trials and came away with the impression that Johnny Depp was anything other than a wildly abusive man with a serious substance abuse problem who victimized Amber Heard repeatedly, you have a reading comprehension problem. The filings literally consist, over and over, of Amber Heard providing meticulously detailed evidence, including photos and witnesses, of specific instances of abuse of the type that are notoriously difficult to document because domestic abusers get to abuse their victims in private. This is a ridiculously massive amount of evidence for a domestic abuse case. Johnny Depp's filings just say, over and over, "she's making it up" without providing any countering evidence or competing theory. Literally over and over, Heard is like, "Depp beat me in this way at this time, here are photos of my injuries, here is testimony from the person I talked to afterwards, here are text messages from Depp where he apologized for doing exactly the actions I just described." And then Depp is like, "nuh-uh!"

But Heard is not bringing these cases! She has not asked for a day in court to prove her case! She is providing evidence when she is required to by courts that keep dragging her in because DEPP KEEPS SUING. This stuff isn't out there because Heard wants to be, well, heard; it's out there because DEPP KEEPS FORCING IT INTO THE PUBLIC REALM. HE is the one repeatedly insisting that these claims be made in public. HE is the one who keeps insisting she provide evidence, then claiming she spent years and years fabricating it all, because somehow she knew that he one day would repeatedly drag her into court with wildly ill-advised lawsuits?

Also keep in mind that Depp sued A NEWSPAPER IN ENGLAND for its claims that he was a wife beater. Heard didn't sue him for abuse; he sued a newspaper. It's wildly difficult, under English law, for a newspaper to win a libel case. The newspaper won, comprehensively.

So Depp turns around and sued Heard personally in the US, and goes forum shopping. He doesn't sue her in California, where they both live. Nor in Washington DC, where the libel allegedly occurred. No, he sues her in Virginia, because one of the newspaper's servers was located there, because Virginia has very weak laws against SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation -- using lawsuits to threaten and terrorize your opponent rather than for legitimate legal purposes), while California and DC both have strong anti-SLAPP laws. Depp is suing Heard to continue abusing her, and he's doing it in Virginia because he knows he's abusing the legal process to terrorize her. And he knows that if he filed this lawsuit in California, it would be recognized as abusive.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:59 PM on May 19 [197 favorites]


What on earth do pro-depp folks think Amber Heard is getting out of this?
posted by Dressed to Kill at 1:01 PM on May 19 [31 favorites]


Rhaomi: "Like regardless of social media witch hunts or unproven accusations from Depp's side, if she's on tape trying to rationalize striking him and mocking him for being upset and saying that no one would believe him, that's pretty clearly toxic and bad behavior, full stop.

It didn't happen in a vacuum and Depp is guilty of domestic violence himself per the UK trial (and will likely fare better for obvious reasons), but this idea that the anti-Heard sentiment is all baseless misogyny is hard to justify.
"

NoxAeternum: "Why? Given how sexist and misogynistic our society is, why would it be hard to justify?"

Because she is on tape admitting hitting him, minimizing it and calling him a "fucking baby" for being upset about it, and saying she couldn't promise to not get violent again out of anger? That's pretty damning evidence of textbook DV that could reasonably give rise to a lot of negative feeling about her that isn't rooted in misogyny.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:07 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


What on earth do pro-depp folks think Amber Heard is getting out of this?

Probably the same thing they think rape victims are, ruining the lives of these promising young men or washed up has beens.
posted by Kitteh at 1:07 PM on May 19 [23 favorites]


Glad to see metafilter is one place on the internet where bots can't come in, and falsely inflate the number of likes / shares / reblogs / whatever on the pro-Depp side.

Here's a tip if you're taking this case up on twitter: check the date of creation for the pro-Depp accounts. A lot of them were created in April 2022.
posted by subdee at 1:09 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


I don't think all pro-depp folks think rape victims are "ruining the lives of promising young men". I think some people may have come to a faulty or misinformed opinion as I did based on what they're seeing in the media.

Which I have now changed to a staunch No Opinion because clearly I don't know enough about it.
posted by aclevername at 1:12 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Logged on to Twitter (first mistake, I know) and I see this hashtag trending: #WeJustDontLikeYouAmber

Like I said... this has nothing to do with the facts of the case. It's a coordinated campaign to smear a survivor of abuse.

Dressed to Kill: What on earth do pro-depp folks think Amber Heard is getting out of this?

Funny, when survivors are labeled as liars by their abusers, this is the one question abuser-stans never bother to ask.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 1:12 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


For those of you who find this case upsetting and painful I am truly sympathetic.

And I don't want to over engage, bc obviously there is distress....

My experience with DA is not zero, but I don't claim firsthand experience of partner abuse. I've had, unfortunately, experience with false allegations and it is sickening. I assume it is rare, but it happens.

I don't think my view on this dopey trial means I'm some kind of betrayer of victims, and I stick by my thinking that just because a person (male or female) says something happened, it doesn't mean it did.
posted by rhonzo at 1:16 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Because she is on tape admitting hitting him, minimizing it and calling him a "fucking baby" for being upset about it, and saying she couldn't promise to not get violent again out of anger?

Gee, an abuse victim fights back against her abuser. Quelle surprise.

This is the sort of argument you are making here, and it's just as ridiculous.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:18 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


I stick by my thinking that just because a person (male or female) says something happened, it doesn't mean it did.

What if a person says abuse happened, and has evidence of it?
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:20 PM on May 19 [22 favorites]


just because a person (male or female) says something happened, it doesn't mean it did.

Have you read the results of the English civil trial? If not, why not?
posted by corb at 1:20 PM on May 19 [32 favorites]


Meanwhile, in fandom (the subject of the original article)... have you guys heard of DNIs? It means Do Not Interact. There has been for the last several years a particularly charming version of this, "Amber Heard fans DNI."

The bot network, astroturfing, whatever you want to call it has now come to our attention because of the trial in Virginia, and because whoever is behind it is vastly overplaying their hand.

But, it was also strongly active during the UK libel case against the Sun. People who posted things in support of Amber Heard would immediately receive intense harassment on twitter and tumblr. Here's an article about that in the guardian. This kind of signaling works on young people who think it is their peers warning them about something toxic and hence, the rise of "Amber Heard fans DNI" (do not interact).

I have a friend who, in response to this trial, retweeted the expert opinion of a DV counselor on the subject of "mutual abuse". Can you guys guess what happened next? She lost an online friend because she is "supporting an abuser" by linking to the expert opinion of a domestic violence counselor.

This trial is completely toxic, and much worse than you think in terms of how it is getting into the minds of young people on tumblr, twitter, tiktok and reddit.
posted by subdee at 1:20 PM on May 19 [17 favorites]


(There's enough talking-past-each-other in this thread that this will no doubt get lost in the noise, so I'm not sure why I'm bothering to write it.)

I have to admit I don't necessarily care about either of them to a degree any greater than I would feel for any people strangers to me who were dealing with domestic violence, that is to say, some compassion for the situation.

I do find the disdain in this thread truly annoying, though. Any time you run into a sentiment where "anyone who could possibly look at the facts I'm looking at and come to a different conclusion must be morally deficient, cognitively inferior, missing obvious details, biased/bigoted [either come to on their own or by the influence of society's larger bias/bigotry], or [insert other insult here]", it's never a take that ends up casting said sentiment-holders in a good light.

While I've not been immersing myself in the third-party armchair analysts' takes, trials are often about facts, and of what I've seen, I do find Heard's facts repeatedly being called into question to be somewhat convincing, and a reply simply that said discrepancies are somehow "powered by misogyny" to not be convincing. If someone wants to point me to a pro-Heard argument that shows multiple factual inconsistencies in Depp's defense (preferably text or in a video with subtitles I could download), I'd certainly be interested in being exposed to a viewpoint other than the one I've thus far convinced.
posted by MollyRealized at 1:21 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


@MollyRealized here's your thread.
posted by subdee at 1:23 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


MollyRealized

🎵the british lawsuit🎶where her saying it was abuse🎵was not libel was proven in court🎶

Like Eyebrows said, he's jurisdiction-shopping.
posted by sagc at 1:24 PM on May 19 [28 favorites]


NoxAeternum: "Gee, an abuse victim fights back against her abuser. Quelle surprise."

She called it violence out of anger in her own words, not self defense:
“After you got f—ing physically violent with me… I texted Travis and I said: ‘Come up here,'” Depp says in the recording.

“I know! Come and save me,” Heard says, mocking Depp. “Continue… Travis to the rescue.” [...]

“I didn’t punch you, by the way,” Heard interjects. “I’m sorry that I didn’t hit you across the face in a proper slap but I was hitting you. It was not punching you. Babe, you’re not punched … I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine. I did not hurt you, I did not punch you; I was hitting you.”

“Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched when you f—ing have a closed fist…” the Pirates of the Caribbean actor says.

“You didn’t get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this but I didn’t punch you. You didn’t get f—ing decked. I f—ing was hitting you,” Heard tells Depp.

“You’re a f—ing baby. You’re such a baby,” Heard says. [...]

Heard says she can’t promise she will “be perfect. I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again.”

“God, I f—ing — sometimes, I get so mad I lose it. I can f—ing promise you I will do everything to change. I promise you. I’m not going to throw around divorce,” she says.
To be clear, Depp is probably guilty of violence as well, but you don't have to be a red pill gamergator asshole to read an account like that and think they're both contributing to a toxic and abusive relationship.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:27 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


the lawsuit is frivolous. it's part of a media campaign, for sure, and that was legal eagle's conclusion. There is very little way that dude wins the case, the point of this second trial; above the first one, which backfired, was seemingly to release the tapes--> my interpretation of the legal eagle video.

What I have learned from this discussion is that, also, if it were a real trial, in a real venue, the issues and methodology of reactive abuse (thanks for educating me) would be featured.

If it were a real trial, dude would lose, and that's the closest to a incisive response I have had success with with people around me. Dude is a rich loser, trying to TMZ this thing out of pettiness, and flood the zone with shit until a "both sides" has been accomplished.

I don't think we can pretend like the audio recordings of her dismissing her physical actions against him aren't extremely demobilizing to genuine, but let's say low-information, US feminists. We can bemoan that, but it is a tactic the movement seems vulnerable to.

There's always a ton of hand-wringing about physical violence, even fantasy violence, or even mere property damage, in the US of A and on metafilter.

And most people haven't done the graduate-level readings (including me until now, and I read for a living) to contextualize an admission of physical violence.

The fact that the actors are very rich also doesn't help; that engenders the SNL take of "this is looney rich people stuff for the media", which is honestly where I landed at first. I do think that take can demobilize some 'outer' misogynists mobilized in this moment--witness the misogynist anger at the SNL skit in the comments.

As for #metoo, many people thought things had failed, or at least become unrooted, when it became a celebrity campaign, instead of a campaign about working women. I think they were right, and re-focusing communications for justice against misogyny away from this and toward working women is probably a much more sympathetic take to have, if we are not to mount a whole education campaign on reactive violence--I dunno, memes of AH with a Javelin missile, anyone?
posted by eustatic at 1:28 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


It's truly wild to me how many people are comfortable calling this an obvious example of false accusations when a judge has already ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of abuse Heard has alleged against Depp have been "proven to the civil standard."
Literally, it's been ruled in court that he abused her.


Yeah, "wife beater" isn't actually libel, as it turns out. I continue to be flabbergasted that Depp chose to sue after this, knowing all this was going to come out.

And what the actual FUCK with that SNL sketch the other night? Prominent feminist comedians involved in a sketch amounting to This Trial Is Lulz.

Yeah, much as a trial involving poop in a bed would normally be "for fun," this trial definitely isn't it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:28 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Because she is on tape admitting hitting him, minimizing it and calling him a "fucking baby" for being upset about it, and saying she couldn't promise to not get violent again out of anger?
So the night my abusive ex attacked me and strangled me because I told him to remove himself after he tore into the room screaming at me he eventually filmed me in absolute hysterics.

What you wouldn't see on that video is his strangling attack and then escalation by grabbing my laptop, threatening to smash it to lure me outside before he locked me out of the house at 1am in the winter in my bare feet. What you wouldn't see is every other night he flipped into a rage because he didn't like my answer or I didn't let him cheat on me or yelled back at him when he called me a worthless cumdumpster. What you wouldn't see is each and every finely honed action on his part to do things that would trigger my anxiety and PTSD symptoms including whispering horrible insults in my ear in front of his friends so I got mad in front of them for unknown reasons. What you didn't see is him spitting in my face after filming me when I tried to grab my phone to film him back. And when that happened, when he spit on my face again I decked him with my cellphone. Should I have cowered in a corner instead? Even though hitting him finally got him out of the house? How could I have been a better victim? Let him kill me?

But you would totally see me looking like a crazy person in that video. He wanted that, he wanted to set me up to collect evidence and frame me as the abuser. And if you only look at that snippet, sure, it looks bad. But if you take it in the context of all the messages and emails and all my journal entries and testimony from my friends you would realize that he is a manipulative sociopath with no higher regard for anything other than his own public persona. The only reason I kept all of what I have is so I can testify against him should he ever murder or grievously injure a woman.

There was even one night when I snapped on him after months of abuse and started yelling at him for all the shit he'd put me through, all the lies he told me, and he called me abusive and I lost it and mocked him and sarcastically told him "Oh you are such a fucking victim." And then, to make it even more fun, he just denies he did ANYTHING at all, denying entire conversations, entire incidents. He even downplayed the strangling by saying "I barely touched you." He grabbed me hard enough to pull me towards him, stare in my eyes with pure murderous hatred and throw me.

But if you only saw that video he took, then I can be made out as the toxic crazy one. If I admit what I did and he denies everything I look like the crazy one. Lord knows I believed it myself because I did some incredibly fucked up things trying to fight back against him. I felt trapped and out of control and that is exactly how he wanted me. Abuse is literally crazy making.

So how is it that all of his major exes are allegedly crazy? How is it that I've been in a relationship for 3 years now without any behavior you would have seen with my ex? Maybe we were both just so bad for each other or he has terrible luck with women or or we're both toxic or....maybe he's just an abusive asshole and a lying liar who lies.
posted by JaneTheGood at 1:32 PM on May 19 [120 favorites]


I do find the disdain in this thread truly annoying, though. Any time you run into a sentiment where "anyone who could possibly look at the facts I'm looking at and come to a different conclusion must be morally deficient, cognitively inferior, missing obvious details, biased/bigoted [either come to on their own or by the influence of society's larger bias/bigotry], or [insert other insult here]", it's never a take that ends up casting said sentiment-holders in a good light.>

You can go put the strawman over in the corner, thanks. Because what people are pointing out is that defending an abuser by averting your eyes to the evidence of their abuse and cherry picking only the things that back your position up makes you a shitty person, full stop.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:33 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to successfully defend a libel case in England. It is one of the most notable features of our civil legal system.
posted by plonkee at 1:37 PM on May 19 [39 favorites]


To be clear, Depp is probably guilty of violence as well, but you don't have to be a red pill gamergator asshole to read an account like that and think they're both contributing to a toxic and abusive relationship.

One, "mutual abuse" is bullshit, as has been pointed out several times in this thread.

Two, tone policing abuse victims is a shitty thing to do, and is used to manipulate and dismiss them.

Three, if you don't understand the above two points, you're closer to that red pill than you think.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:37 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


This thread has been very informative. I haven't been reading much about the trial but from the articles I have read, I settled into a "well, they're both terrible people." And that may be true for all I know, but comments like JaneTheGood's and corb's put things into perspective. And for those of us who are old enough to remember, Johnny Depp was a "bad boy" from back in the 80s: there was a big, scandalous story in which he trashed a hotel room. Maybe he was dating Winona Ryder at the time? Anyway, it's safe to say Depp has always been a little off, a little odd, at the very least.

There's also a power dynamic here. Depp was obviously much wealthier and had more social clout than Heard, and this no doubt fed into their relationship. Also it makes me think of Gabby Petitio and Brian Laundrie--the only story we heard about them was that she freaked out on him. Cops came to the scene and the narrative was that Petito was being the hysterical one while Laundrie was the calm voice of reason. Could be the same dynamic here.
posted by zardoz at 1:40 PM on May 19 [18 favorites]


"Also keep in mind that Depp sued A NEWSPAPER IN ENGLAND for its claims that he was a wife beater. Heard didn't sue him for abuse; he sued a newspaper. It's wildly difficult, under English law, for a newspaper to win a libel case. The newspaper won, comprehensively."


Eyebrows,
I don't disagree but that particular newspaper, The Sun, is probably the best-lawyered, most prurient and and most cynically trashy daily tabloid in the UK.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:45 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Depp was obviously much wealthier and had more social clout than Heard

and much, much older.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:47 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


This thread drives home the perniciousness of the "perfect victim" in domestic violence contexts. You can't ever hit back. You can't get mad. You have to leave them as soon as you can, no matter the consequences. You can't take money from the abuser or stay with them or be nice to them. If you do, it wasn't abuse, and you are just making it up.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to attitudes towards rape that have, thankfully, been widely criticized in recent years -- you can't ever stop hitting back. You can't give up. You have to report the rapist to the authorities as soon as you can, no matter the consequences. You can't take money from the rapist or stay with them or be nice to them. If you do, it wasn't rape, and you are just making it up.

Societal attitudes towards rape and domestic violence have a lot in common. I wonder why that is.

(I know why.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:48 PM on May 19 [77 favorites]


This case was my final breaking point... I decided to take a break from social media.

With zero personal interest in two people's relationship I did not know, it became center of every social media platform meme, reel, tiktok.
posted by hillabeans at 1:54 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to successfully defend a libel case in England. It is one of the most notable features of our civil legal system.

This deserves an explanation, because most people don't realize how utterly fucked British defamation law is.

See, because Britain has a whole social class built around behaving badly while keeping up pretenses (after all, that's why we all watched Downton Abbey), the law was set up to protect said class when their dirty laundry would inevitably get aired out. To wit: unlike the US, in British defamation law the truth is not an absolute defense. Thus, you can say actual truthful statements and still lose a defamation lawsuit because you said something that harmed their reputation. And this has made the UK courts a popular venue to go shopping in for frivolous defamation lawsuits - to the point that the US had to pass a law (the SPEECH Act) that made British defamation decisions unenforceable in the US as long as they fail to meet the US standard (where truth is an absolute defense.)

So for The Sun (and the fact that they're The New York Post With Tits emphasizes this) to have won against Depp is massive. It was the courts ruling that the details of his abuse was such that he no longer had a right to keep his good name in the eyes of the law.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:55 PM on May 19 [54 favorites]


"Johnny Depp was a 'bad boy' from back in the 80s: there was a big, scandalous story"

There have been a lot of big, scandalous stories. There was this story in Rolling Stone a couple of years ago that was ostensibly commissioned by his lawyer that instead ends up portraying him as an idiotic, broke drug addict. Oh, and his close personal friendship with noted abuser Marilyn Manson. But he was in a movie a lot of kids watched, so it's cool.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:56 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Just as a side anecdote: A friend of mine's ex came into her home and secretly filmed her while she was physically ill in an attempt to create a false narrative that she was unstable, drug-using and an unfit mother in order to seize custody of their child, a child he could not be bothered to visit or support. Mercifully justice very slowly and expensively prevailed, but abusers are very aware of what they're filming and can absolutely make false claims about what they film and what it means.

If one party is younger, less powerful and less rich than another and is, by coincidence, the one getting injured, and the older, richer party starts saying "but I filmed her yelling at me, it's mutual abuse" I am very disinclined to believe the older richer party. Obviously "what Frowner believes" is not the same as "judgement in court after a (hopefully) fair and impartial investigation" but I'd need real evidence, not just film by the guy who hits, to believe that the older richer one wasn't the abuser.
posted by Frowner at 1:57 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


looking at the British trial, a few of the non-triggering highlights to try to talk to those who are sincerely looking for credibility issues from Depp:
From Depp's pleadings: In the hope of calming her, the Claimant stretched his leg out to playfully tap her on the bottom with his foot, but did not reach her. Ms Heard took great offence at this harmless act, and continued to verbally berate the Claimant.
Really buddy? "playfully tap with the foot" in the middle of the argument? That's what you want us to believe is a 'harmless act'? And of course, his own staff texted that he had informed Depp of the kick, and he'd been sorry. Depp's response is essentially, 'no I told him to say that so that you would be pacified, it's all made up'.

The judge's take is, of course:
These verbal insults became, in the course of the flight, physical abuse. Whatever the configuration of the furniture on the plane, Mr Depp managed to kick Ms Heard on her back or bottom. This was more than a ‘playful tap’, contrary to what he and Mr Deuters said in their evidence. Mr Sherborne submitted that Mr Deuters (and Mr Judge) would not have allowed that to happen. I do not accept that submission. Their first loyalty was to Mr Depp
Depp also - and this is some real abuser shit - attempts to impugn her credibility by questioning her testimony to INS to stop a friend from being harmed by ICE. So essentially: endangers an immigrant to try to harm his ex-wife, and I honestly find it credible that he may have been the 'anonymous' reporter who reported her friend in the first place.
From the judge: Initially in his cross examination, Mr Depp denied that he had been addicted to cocaineat this time or that he had a small 2-inch square box which was his special box for his cocaine. However, when shown the photograph at file 6/148f/F894.263 showing a box about 2 inches square with a skull and crossbones and, in raised letters, ‘property of JD’, he accepted that was his and that it probably contained cocaine on this occasion
...

Mr Depp was asked about a different photograph (file 6/148B/F894.050 (2546)). He agreed that he had written the graffiti shown in this picture. It said, ‘Starring Billy Bob [Thornton] Easy Amber’
So by his own admission, Depp is a jealous man who lost his temper and defaces property belonging to Heard in order to slut shame her. This is like...the twentieth listing of 'Depp got jealous and was out of control'. That is the attitude of an abuser, not a 'defensive victim'.

There's more, I just find this honestly so exhausting.
posted by corb at 2:01 PM on May 19 [42 favorites]


jfc, the vile cruelty of having survivors of domestic violence reveal their wounds and their traumas and yet some still choose not to understand how constant abuse monsters the victims too. and there seems to be even less recognition that when the victims push back, that is, more often than not, taken out of context and used as an example at how unreasonable the victim always was.

it is a pattern. it is easy to rely on shorthand, on snippets that fall into preconceptions and then just leaping to conclusions. it's what depp is relying on, it's what forced birthers rely on, what racists and anti-trans and anti-queer asshats rely on. if you can short-circuit the process and play to biases, well, you can convince anyone of anything. that queer people are groomers, that immigrants bring crime and disease, that a survivor of domestic abuse was actually the abuser.
posted by i used to be someone else at 2:07 PM on May 19 [31 favorites]


I don't want to single people out, but in a number of places in this thread, there have been comments about how this just a "thing" between rich people, that this is just "gossip" or "drama," and we should all just ignore the furor.

Bluntly: this is no longer just a "thing" between two people removed from 99.999999% of our lives. It is horrifying, public display of the misogyny and rape culture and abuse apologism coursing through the entirety of modern American culture, including in people who think they are better.

Further, it will cause real harm. The message to victims of domestic violence is so, so, so bad -- you will be excoriated if you speak out, you will not be believed if you hit back or were ever less than the perfect suffering victim, you will leave him and he will still find a way to get you, you will lose your career, and people will believe him even if you have pictures and recordings and lawyers.

I completely understand why people want to filter this out of their lives to avoid re-triggering or re-traumatizing themselves, but if you do not fall into that category -- ask yourself. When you minimize what is occurring, who are you helping? When you characterize what is happening as "mutual abuse," who does that benefit?

And why?
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:08 PM on May 19 [61 favorites]


NoxAeternum: "One, "mutual abuse" is bullshit, as has been pointed out several times in this thread."

That's hardly a consensus view, for example:
Ammanda Major, the head of clinical practice at Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, agreed that mapping power dynamics is key to distinguishing between different types of unhealthy relationships. Major said that mutually abusive relationships do exist. “They’re often very angry with each other, very upset with each other, they blame each other for absolutely everything, they tell everybody else that it’s the other one’s fault,” she said. “It’s very difficult, it causes a great deal of upset and each party is left feeling very depleted, very unheard, very angry — which then fuels the next iteration of poor communication.” In relationships where one or both parties abuse drugs or alcohol it becomes even more likely that communication will break down in this destructive way.
It's possible their relationship fell on the "not mutual abuse" side, but absent a deep dive into their complete relationship history and scholarship on the subject it's reasonable for someone to see self-admitted aggressive violent behavior from her and think it damages her case.

NoxAeternum: "tone policing abuse victims is a shitty thing to do, and is used to manipulate and dismiss them.

Saying that committing and rationalizing domestic violence is bad isn't tone policing.

(And to underscore, I don't think Depp is the hero here -- quite the opposite -- or know enough about their history to make a judgment on the overall burden of blame for the violence in their relationship. Just pointing out that the stuff Heard has admitted likely drove a significant amount of the public backlash against her and that blaming it entirely on misogyny or bots feels like a glib read on an ambiguous situation.)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:14 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


As someone who has also been a victim of abuse this case isn’t helping my mental health.
posted by interogative mood at 2:17 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


As someone who has also been a victim of abuse this case isn’t helping my mental health.

Same. There was a lot of domestic violence in my past and this is not helping. I think it's time for me to step away from this thread and perhaps from Metafilter for a bit.
posted by aclevername at 2:20 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Heard twigs a disturbing number of my "My Mom" reflexes. This isn't fair to her, but she really gives me "I didn't threaten to kill the cat and it's your own fault you no longer have a bed" flashbacks in a lot of the things I've seen from the trial.
posted by pan at 2:24 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


That therapist was on his payroll

Repeating this for visibility.

Therapists are also flawed humans and can definitely be biased and even overtly toxic and manipulative for their own ends.

A close friend of mine was in an very emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship with someone who has some very severe trauma and issues that manifested in some really unstable ways along the lines of the symptoms of untreated BPD, especially "splitting", "mirroring" and other insecurity-based behaviors.

The person in question is - at first - highly likeable, supportive and warm on the outside to the public and definitely put on a public face that was... not who he was behind the scenes. He didn't take criticism well at all at all and it made you instantly a sworn enemy if you did.

He has also been coddled and enabled by seeing the same therapist for something like 25 years. When I first learned this about them it hit me like a brick over the head. I could practically hear the record needle scratch in my mind before the questioning silence, and thinking "Who the fuck sees the same therapist for 25 years and has them on speed dial and call them basically at any time without an appointment without seeing useful results or not questioning if their relationship had long ago crossed the line from professional to... something else?"

Over a year before learning this about this person I realized they kept calling me up for unpaid and unconsented emotional labor as a proxy to being able to call up their therapist or the other people in their life that they did this to and as soon as I drew a boundary and said "Hey, I'd love to chat with you but this isn't a conversation, you're treating me like an unlicensed therapist and venting at me." and he basically disappeared, cold, and didn't call again for ages.

I witnessed he completely flying off the handle screaming attacks over super simple things like their partner trying to offer compliments about something or being close and totally misinterpreting what was going to be said before it was even finished being said.

My friend was starting to have major mental and physical health problems during all of this from being constantly emotionally drained and dessicated by the abusive person. It got so bad I was being frequently called in to basically babysit him, keep him distracted and keep things mellow.

Which worked for a while, until it didn't.

Fast forward to today and my friend is in a much, much healthier relationship with someone who is genuinely really nice, well adjusted and unafraid of negative emotions or criticisms and I love him like a brother. He's great and lots of fun to be around, even when it's not great.

And the abusive ex is seeing someone less than half his age and it's fucking weird and the local community and circle of friends is worried about her even though we don't really know her.

Anyway, just because a therapist says something doesn't mean that it's correct. Just because someone is regularly seeing a therapist doesn't mean that they're actually doing the work or getting therapy. Just because someone has earned a certificate or degree to be a licensed therapist doesn't mean the therapist has any idea what they're doing or aren't totally toxic themselves.

I've known quite a few practicing therapists who are complete and utter shit shows in their personal lives and shouldn't be practicing at all.

And as we've seen time and time again with celebrities or certain classes of income levels it's all too easy to hire personal therapists or medical doctors that will do or say whatever they want for the paycheck, even if it's unethical or utter bullshit or overtly manipulative to keep earning that paycheck.
posted by loquacious at 2:24 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


The message to victims of domestic violence is so, so, so bad -- you will be excoriated if you speak out, you will not be believed if you hit back or were ever less than the perfect suffering victim, you will leave him and he will still find a way to get you, you will lose your career, and people will believe him even if you have pictures and recordings and lawyers.

THIS THIS THIS

How is it that even her proof is being turned against her? To believe she’s an abuser, aggressor and intent on making up lies just to bring Depp down you’d have to really, really be leaning into some Gone Girl level sociopathy.

You’d have to discount her ongoing diaries, therapy sessions, her sisters’ eyewitness testimony, Johnny Depp’s repeated APOLOGIES (for being such a great husband?), her photographs (which people are tearing apart), texts from his own staff. And when she documented his drugged blackout state, she’s seen somehow as “setting him up” — as Eyebrows McGee Said above, in CASE he ever in her future took her to court.
And how does one sever a fingertip (something we have texts of him saying to his doctor HE DID TO HIMSELF) with a shattered bottle? How does that even happen?
And who thinks a spite poop in the bed is somehow less histrionic than writing in blood and urine all over the house? (Proof of which we have seen in photographs). We also have written messages by Depp to an assistant, of him suggesting they leave a poop and blame it on the dog. Because it would be “funny”.

The conspiracy to take him down would have had to be so deep, so dark, so evil. When really it seems much more likely that he’s blaming a woman for the decline in his health (lapsing on alcohol when he found out he was in financial trouble, injuries on set creating a dependence on opioids, and continual pill, powder, alcohol abuse as outlined to Paul Bettany (he perjures himself by saying he was sober, we’d disregard that too). It seems much more likely that the reports of him hemorrhaging money and not taking any accountability while drinking over (his words!) 30,000 dollars worth of wine per month probably made him a working liability? And maybe his sex appeal was fading?

But no - it’s easier to blame a woman for his downfall. She must have planned it. She started it. Here we go…
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:27 PM on May 19 [36 favorites]


the stuff Heard has admitted likely drove a significant amount of the public backlash against her and that blaming it entirely on misogyny or bots feels like a glib read on an ambiguous situation

Depp has admitted to abuse. There are texts, video, and recordings, that demonstrate abuse, both against Heard, and over the course of his life. There is evidence and admission that at the very least, that Depp would respond to jealousy by trashing Heard's possessions. That's abuse. The fact that there is no public backlash against him, but there is a public backlash against Heard is the result of misogyny.

Depp's defense is basically the "Gone Girl" defense - that over the course of their entire relationship, from the very beginning, Heard was plotting to paint him as a domestic abuser as an "insurance policy". That is misogyny. That attack relies on misogynistic tropes about scheming, plotting women; that Depp is an innocent man done wrong by the nefarious younger woman. Anyone believing it is falling for misogyny.

And I think that we actually do need to look at the power dynamics of an older, richer, more powerful man, who by the evidence of his own texts, bemoans that he wanted Heard because he thought she was "innocent" and "supportive" and then turns out to be a "bitch" and a "harpy". A man who surrounds himself and his wife with staff who text things like "You know I would die for you" and "I will do anything in my power ever to make you happy ... ANYTHING!!!" and then uses the 'testimony' of that staff as evidence that nuh-uh, he never beat his wife. A man that is suing his ex-wife because she wrote an op-ed that called herself a domestic violence survivor, and he thinks she should pay because 'everyone knows' it's about him.

Because that, too, is misogyny.
posted by corb at 2:30 PM on May 19 [53 favorites]


Amber Heards relative “abuse” isn’t on trial. It’s whether he abused her. If the defence is “she started it,” it’s still not a defence.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:31 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


The misogyny towards Heard ripples down to women who aren't rich, who aren't perfect victims, and who are being abused. It is showing them that if they say anything, anything at all, if a famous woman like Amber Heard wasn't believed, what chance do they have?
posted by Kitteh at 2:38 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


This kind of signaling works on young people who think it is their peers warning them about something toxic and hence, the rise of "Amber Heard fans DNI" (do not interact).

For the past two years I have been spending a lot of time in an space online (not Depp related), where most of the people who are also in the space are quite young (16 - 25), and probably 75% are gay, trans, or non gender conforming in some way. They are people from all over the world.

I want to stress here I don't agree or disagree with any specific view about the trial. I'm just here to report what these kids are saying.

When it comes up, the kids in this online space are almost universally in Depp's side, and I can certainly vouch they're real people, not bots or paid astroturf or whatever. Some of them post on twt abbout it; others have made tiktoks.

Also, mostly, they're not getting their news from social media per se. Mainly, they're watching the trial online, via twitch ... watching the whole thing (or significant portions of it), and can name the lawyers, the judge, etc. They do clip and share things they find interesting. For the most part, they've gotten used to having twitch or another live stream on in the background while they do school, play games, do whatever people do, in the same way older people might have had TV on in the background.

If you talk to them about it, generally, they support Depp for a combination of the following reasons:

- They "go ahead and tell, they'll never believe you" recording strikes home with them in a very deep and visceral way. They've been bullied by teachers, adults, other teens, who have said the same thing to them (and very often its been true). The perceive - rightly or wrongly - Depp as the party being bullied in this situation, not the abuser, largely due to this clip.
- They don't care about the UK trial. They're almost all aware of it, but their universal view is "a lot of stuff, like the recordings, were not allowed to be admitted in England." Again, I can't speak to how true this is, but they all repeat it and believe it.
- They all believe that Heard's attorneys are bumbling idiots, and largely the simply don't find Heard's accounts of certain things to be believable - they say, over and over, how much she reminds them of an adult in their life who said one thing in private and something else in public.
- They're deeply deeply offended at the narrative they see in traditional media that in a cis relationship the woman is unlikely to be the abuser. They all give many first-hand accounts of situations (parents, personal relationships) where the woman (mother, partner) was the abuser and the man was abused.

Again, I'm not sharing this because I'm on Depp's side. I'm sharing this because so many of the comments here seem to be dismissing the online support as "fake" or "astroturf". I think a lot of people here are discounting the way that Kids Use The Internet Now. They're not watching the trial via TikTok -- instead, they are making TikTok's because they're watching the entire livestream trial and they're using tools like hashtags and online campaigns that they learned through fan spaces like Kpop fandom to give their opinion about what they're watching live.

So, I guess my point is be upset about the impact all you want, but to simply dismiss the media attention as something inorganic is a very bad take. What I'm seeing, from a thousand or more young people on Discord, is something very different than what is being presented as "the reasons why" here, and I think we discount these voice at our peril.
posted by anastasiav at 2:40 PM on May 19 [51 favorites]


It's possible their relationship fell on the "not mutual abuse" side, but absent a deep dive into their complete relationship history and scholarship on the subject it's reasonable for someone to see self-admitted aggressive violent behavior from her and think it damages her case.

So, did you read the paragraphs after the one you quoted:
She added, however, and this is a significant caveat, that it’s common for relationships that are initially presented to counsellors as mutually abusive to in fact be instances of coercive control. In this case, the couple might seek counselling following a violent altercation. “One partner is saying: ‘We’ve come to you because of this thing that my partner has done.’ But when you drill down into it, what you see is that there has been a reactive response to being coercively controlled.” Some examples of domestic abuse are very clear-cut from the outset, but in other instances victims fight back, or also say things that are abusive. The job of the counsellor, or any professional, is to identify that this violent behaviour is a response to being abused or controlled.

Major said that relationship counselling is often inappropriate in relationships marked by coercive control (a principle of relationship therapy is that both parties need to share a willingness to and responsibility for change, something that is not found in controlling relationships) and also in mutually abusive relationships that are very violent and volatile, when de-escalation is rarely possible before both partners have completed extensive individual therapy. Major underlined that she would not comment specifically on the Heard/Depp case.
You keep cherry picking to defend an abuser, and then wonder why people are looking at you askance.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:45 PM on May 19 [21 favorites]


I'm trying to wrap my head around people who venture into this topic to either actively bemoan the level of hype devoted to the personal lives of two celebrities.. or make great pains to try to both-sides the issue, or keep playing the whole line of inquiry as to how culpable Heard is.. or whether she's lying.. or that she gives some kind of "vibe"

it's 2022 and if you can't connect some of the dots to see a bigger picture, I think it's time you take a step back: why is this story so prevalent, where is this leading, where have you seen this before? I mean, go ahead and pick a side if that makes you feel better.. even assuming one of the individuals is on the "right side," why has this story consumed social media and news to this extent? And where is the preponderance of harm that ripples out from this, who is going to feel the brunt of this? Women, that is who. Women who are about to lose their reproductive rights in many US states, women who are vastly over-represented in any catalogue of domestic violence statistics, it's women.
posted by elkevelvet at 2:47 PM on May 19 [31 favorites]


Exactly @pan. The problem for me is that some of the things she said to him are almost direct quotes from my own abuser. It brings me right back there. I get lost in my own story and I can’t help but feel sympathy.
posted by interogative mood at 2:54 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I'm sharing this because so many of the comments here seem to be dismissing the online support as "fake" or "astroturf".

The point of calling the support for Depp "astroturf" is to point out that as much as it may look to be natural, as has been pointed out there has been pretty obvious guidance. And the problem is that the kids are basically being misdirected, in ways that will harm them as they're getting a very distorted view of how this all should work. For example, you say that the comment that Heard made resonates with them - but the fact is that while it is a bad look for Heard, it's purely prejudicial evidence that does nothing to disprove the argument that Depp is an abuser - and this is why the British courts would have excluded the recordings, because that's the way courts and the law works.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:03 PM on May 19 [19 favorites]


I went into this thread expecting sane takes on this thing (I wondered if I was alone in YT shoving this fucking trial down my throat until that AskMe recently), and instead I'm filled with this nauseating disgust. JFC, some people are just really intent on showing their giant red baboon asses in a way I was truly not expecting, though I guess I should have--it's been horrifying to watch so much of my one social media app, tumblr, fall in line about Depp, the way they have consistently for years in other spaces, so why not here, I guess. It's repulsive.

Corb and JaneTheGood, my heart really goes out to you, and thank you for speaking up. It's really awful that you had to bare your souls like that because people are so poisonous, even here. I don't have the wherewithal to talk about my own experiences, especially after reading through this.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:04 PM on May 19 [44 favorites]


" I continue to be flabbergasted that Depp chose to sue after this, knowing all this was going to come out."

I'm not. This is straight out of the domestic abuse playbook. This is why abusive parents who basically never see their kids nonetheless take the custodial parent to court over and over and over and over again over trivial issues they give exactly zero shits about -- it allows them to continue to exert control over their ex-partner, to continually fuck up their ex-partner's life, to continually cost their ex-partner money. It's a way to force the ex to engage with them, and a way to continue abusing and controlling them. It's a way to say, "Ha ha, you don't get to move on, you never get to move on, I will always be here, I will always be able to drag you into court, I will always be able to ruin your life, I will always be able to force you to pay attention to me."

He's filing libel lawsuits that draw out tons of evidence proving the truth of the libel AND making him look worse and worse in public not because he particularly cares what people call him. Nor does he particularly care about his career (because the right response there would have been to say something regretful about substance abuse and being a bad partner, admitting to being shitty while denying being abusive, and laying low for four years until his agent found the right role for him to make a triumphant comeback). What he cares about is forcing Amber Heard to spend time, energy, and money engaging with him. He filed the second suit not because he thinks he'll win (he might think he'll win, but that's not why he filed it); he filed it to keep dragging her into court, to keep punishing her.

It's absolutely bog-standard domestic abuser bullshit, and generally these abusers will keep bringing lawsuits until they run out of money to file or until they're forbidden by the court from filing any more. (At that point, they will often turn to property crime/arson/stalking, because that will force their victim to have to testify against them in criminal court, which is free if you're the perp.) The trouble with Johnny Depp is, not only does he have more money than your average abuser (even in his financial disastrophe state), but he can go forum shopping all over the world, and already has. So any one court telling him "no more lawsuits against her ever" won't have any effect; he'll just go find another court. On the flip side, he's somewhat less likely to resort to property/physical crimes because they both have entourages and that complicates things. But he's going to be harassing her in the media and in court for the rest of his life, for as long as anyone will give him three seconds of airtime.

It's just the playbook. There are tons of divorced people on MetaFilter who can tell you, "Yep, that's exactly what my ex did, took me to court for every tiny thing for the next 10 years, until the kids were 18." And there are some divorced people on MetaFilter reading this comment right now and going, "OH HOLY SHIT, MY EX IS SUING ME SO OFTEN BECAUSE HE'S USING THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO CONTINUE MY ABUSE, I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT WAS A THING." It's a thing, and it's a form of abuse, and I'm sorry it's happening to you, and I'm sorry people are gaslighting you by saying "well, divorce is just contentious." I see you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:09 PM on May 19 [97 favorites]


They're not watching the trial via TikTok -- instead, they are making TikTok's because they're watching the entire livestream trial

So I actually really appreciate your commentary here, and I think that it is valuable. And I think that some pieces of how these kids consume internet media actually mean that they are less likely to do deep dives on stuff that isn't audio. I think that's probably another reason they're not looking at the UK trial information - because that stuff is going through hundreds of pages of pleadings and evidence and written testimony, rather than something they can just put on in the background.

And I think also you make a really important point about the "how much she reminds them of an adult in their life who said one thing in private and something else in public". Because these kids are largely sharing enormous pieces of their private life in public. I have a teen, I see it - the messy life is the public life. They don't expect to have a job or a life where it will ever matter.

Depp is being messy and shitty in public, and so he appears authentic - the same man that wrote shitty texts about hatefucking the burning corpse of his wife is the same man who's making lolzy jokes in the courtroom. And so they believe that someone who is similarly messy in both spaces must be telling the truth about not being an abuser.

Heard is roughly my age. Which means she grew up knowing that as a woman, she was absolutely not allowed to present her authentic self, or she would be punished for it. I don't know a single cis woman my age in my peer group who is regularly publicly genuine about all of the emotions they feel, especially when those emotions are about men. We tend to operate our actual emotions through private networks, where we call other women and speak the truth and ask for help and get and give it. And to be very honest - we were socialized to put up with abuse, because abuse was still not only accepted but lionized when we were young. I've listened to that clip of Amber Heard - not just read the words but listened - and what I hear from her is not bullying but exhaustion at what is essentially an abuser's tactic of flipping the script and claiming he's the victim. 'Go ahead, buddy. Tell it to the jury, see if they believe you' I hear in the same voice that a lot of women have said things like, "Yeah, buddy, you're the real victim, go ahead, tell everybody how oppressed you are by the fact that I came home ten minutes late. I'm definitely having an affair. You should tell your friends, in fact, see if they buy this shit."

And in neither of the settings we are seeing Heard, do I believe we are seeing her 'authentic' self. We are seeing a situation in which she has been goaded and abused and terrorized and is speaking to her abuser - that's not an authentic emotional time. And we are seeing a situation in which she sits in court every day after facing a gauntlet of people demeaning her, and she agonizingly knows that every word she says will be scrutinized. And that, to people who are not used to the absolute social requirement of the public mask, looks inauthentic.

And that's fucking heartbreaking. It is genuinely heartbreaking and it is heartbreaking that young queer kids are falling for it. I am physically crying right now over how heartbreaking it is. And I just don't know what to do about this world.
posted by corb at 3:09 PM on May 19 [84 favorites]


All I needed to know about Johnny Depp was that he dragged his ex-wife into a huge, live-streamed trial years after their divorce, and there seems no other reason for him to do so other than to humiliate and torment her. My stepdaughter was arguing the whole "but he lost out on roles in movie franchises!" line, but that's really not a good enough reason for his choice to drag her over the coals and to position her for a public shaming such as the world has seldom seen. I feel terribly sorry for her.
posted by jokeefe at 3:10 PM on May 19 [38 favorites]


NoxAeternum: "You keep cherry picking to defend an abuser, and then wonder why people are looking at you askance."

You said mutual abuse is "bullshit" like that's unquestioned fact, I pointed to an expert who said it does exist in some cases. As you point out, she also says it doesn't occur in other cases, and then declines to comment on the Depp/Heard case (presumably because she doesn't know their history well enough to make a judgment). I'm in the same camp -- it's a messy, ambiguous case I haven't been following super closely -- but while I'm agnostic on what "really" happened I do think it's possible for people to think she may have been abusive too based on what's publicly known without them being raving misogynists or paid trolls (as anastasiav observed).

How you get from that to "cherry picking to defend an abuser" -- when I've said multiple times that Depp is himself an abuser -- is beyond me. But this ugly "everyone who disagrees with my extreme take is morally suspect" thing is garbage rhetoric that makes discussions like these worse.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:13 PM on May 19 [22 favorites]


Oh, and the language he used to describe Heard was the worst and most misogynistic speech I think I have ever been exposed to. The "mushy fish market" stuff made me reel and feel nothing but disgust--at him. The way what feels like the entire internet has rounded on her is heartbreaking, and much of this is driven by women who are, I can only guess, thrilled to have someone to pour out their own misogyny upon and so occupy some high ground where they feel superior to her. It must be a heady mix for so many women to be so virulent and so involved.
posted by jokeefe at 3:16 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


What he cares about is forcing Amber Heard to spend time, energy, and money engaging with him.

Exactly this. All his smirking and quips and pandering to the audience for laughs is because he's getting what he wants, no matter what the outcome of the trial.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:25 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


I've been a bit disturbed by how this trial's been playing out through Tik Tok etc and influencing my 12 year old daughter and some of her friends. A year or two back I had to sit her down and go over the results of the UK defamation trial. It worked and she even became a bit of an advocate with some of her friends, but all that seems to have been washed away by wave after wave of pro-Depp, internet gotcha lawyer, vids online. Tonight we're gonna have a look at that valkyriesexual tumberler post, and (if need be) maybe some others. So, thanks for the help! Much appreciated.
posted by house-goblin at 3:26 PM on May 19 [25 favorites]


Saying that a campaign has been astroturfed or that the astroturf is succeeding largely because of misogyny is not the same as saying that every single person commenting on the case is a bot, a dupe, or a misogynist. It is a comment on the larger picture.
posted by subdee at 3:33 PM on May 19 [17 favorites]


The whole thing seems really good at getting dudes who for good or bad faith reasons have a bone to pick with the idea that men can be abused riled up for a purpose larger than their own personal ones. I'm sure there's men who have experienced abuse who are latching onto this case because it feels like a high profile way of covering their message. Men who are amplifying extremely misogynistic narratives because you really don't see the concept of men being abused by partners who are women come up public consciousness very often. It's fucked up that the idea of men being abused is being used here as a cudgel to defend a shitty guy, but I feel like abuse survivors who are men are looking for any port in a storm and getting used for ill purposes.
posted by Ferreous at 3:44 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


You said mutual abuse is "bullshit" like that's unquestioned fact, I pointed to an expert who said it does exist in some cases. As you point out, she also says it doesn't occur in other cases, and then declines to comment on the Depp/Heard case (presumably because she doesn't know their history well enough to make a judgment).

So, your argument is "well, it's not bullshit because I found an expert who says it does exist (though I initially hid the fact that they then said that it's actually a rare situation.)"

This is shitty rules lawyering that would make a munchkin look on in disgust. First off, you engaged in a lie of omission, by leaving out that the expert you found noted that actual cases of mutual abuse are rare,and that the reality is that most times, there's one partner that's the abuser, and that the victim lashes out in defense, and that it is crucial to make sure that is or is not what's happening, because couples therapy can't work with coercive control. Beyond that, the idea that "I found a counterexample, thus your argument is invalid" is an argument that gets laughed out of the game room, let alone anywhere else. Are there some cases of mutual abuse? Sure - but they're rare, and when dealing with people who have a significant power differential, it's pretty much nonexistent,as other experts cited in this thread have pointed out.

So yes, 'mutual abuse" is bullshit - it's a unicorn that routinely gets pulled out to give abusers an alibi.

How you get from that to "cherry picking to defend an abuser" -- when I've said multiple times that Depp is himself an abuser -- is beyond me. But this ugly "everyone who disagrees with my extreme take is morally suspect" thing is garbage rhetoric that makes discussions like these worse.

First off, you're defending an abuser by arguing that his being a victim of abuse somehow absolves him - even in an actual mutual abuse situation, the person is still an abuser, and this is far from that. If you believe that Depp is an abuser, there's no reason to bring up Heard's behavior, and doing so raises flags. Second, you did cherry pick to defend an abuser - you engaged in a lie of omission to argue for a position that is meant to absolve him of some degree of blame. Third, we've had a number of DV survivors explain why doing this makes them unsafe, with the promotion of the idea of the "perfect victim" and thus why pushing this idea is dangerous for them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:46 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


I'm not much interested in these people or their trial(s) -- but a while back I noticed all these YouTube stories popping up on my screen, and they all seemed to favor Depp. I didn't need to read the story (I never did, actually), the headlines said it all: "Depp Lawyer Has Heard For Lunch", that sort of thing. Somehow, I worked through this entire thread (Why, God, why?) and the part that still interests me was how social media was worked by the Depp team. One headline had Heard firing her PR people during the trial. True or not, Depp's crew is doing a better job. The Guardian article covers some of this.
posted by CCBC at 4:09 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


NoxAeternum: "So, your argument is "well, it's not bullshit because I found an expert who says it does exist (though I initially hid the fact that they then said that it's actually a rare situation.)"

This is shitty rules lawyering that would make a munchkin look on in disgust. First off, you engaged in a lie of omission, by leaving out that the expert you found noted that actual cases of mutual abuse are rare
"

She was talking generally, and pointedly not about the specific case at hand, so the commonality of mutual abuse isn't really relevant. I also never claimed she said that mutual abuse was common, only that she said it was a possibility. Your characterization of that (nonexistent) claim as "hiding" and "lying by omission" is exactly the kind of bad-faith trash talk I was talking about.

First off, you're defending an abuser by arguing that his being a victim of abuse somehow absolves him

I didn't say anything remotely like this. Wtf. Literally all I've argued this entire thread is that a significant part of the negative reaction to Heard is likely driven by her admissions of violent behavior that came out at trial, and not simply by misogyny or astroturfing.

I'm not interested in continuing this if you're going to paint everything I say in the most hostile possible light and then invent worse things when what I do say can't be twisted enough.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:11 PM on May 19 [16 favorites]


Wow, okay, so I've been avoiding any and all information about this stuff, I don't care, I don't want to care, I don't want any information, and this still got to me. Because I still have to scroll by this stuff and I've involuntarily scanned enough titles and headlines that I was under the impression that the anti Heard stuff had been factually proven. That she had been physically abusive to Depp, and that the evidence of his abuse was not convincing. So like, I thought that was the general consensus and I only clicked on this FPP out of confusion.

I literally never wanted any information about this, but I really didn't want to take in disinformation.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 4:16 PM on May 19 [17 favorites]


I feel like abuse survivors who are men are looking for any port in a storm and getting used for ill purposes.
Which, to echo those who have stressed the parallel already, was one of the early onboarding tactics for useful idiots in GamerGate; incorporating those who are or feel marginalized into misogyny-as-infowar.
posted by structuregeek at 4:16 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


the part that still interests me was how social media was worked by the Depp team

Yeah, I just had a long conversation with my teen about all this, and there were some really surprising (and horrifying) takeaways.

1) The comparison of lawyers is absolutely happening and absolutely a part of why her peers are supporting Johnny Depp. She says "there were a lot of memes about how competent Depp's lawyers were and how bad hers were". Now to me, this is obviously just a money thing - the richer and more famous the person, the more they can afford to hire better lawyers. But to her peers, the fact that Heard had worse lawyers made them believe Depp more.

2) She says that most teens her age don't really care about it - it's more in the nature of a fandom fight. She says they are looking into the details of what happened on what day "like it's Minecraft lore" - basically, that they're really enjoying picking apart the story of it all rather than actually caring about the humans involved.

3) She says that her generation has a really hard time understanding not only defensive violence but any defensive reaction at all - that they are very conflict avoidant in real life, and so her peers expect that a "real victim" would have shut down in the face of abuse rather than fight back or even yell back. (This I find to be /particularly/ dangerous and horrifying).

4) Also horrifying, she says a lot of her peers are basing their reactions on how much they personally like Depp/Heard "as a human", and a lot of that is based in the characters they play. That Depp usually plays characters that her peers like, and Heard plays characters that they dislike the personality of.

5) There isn't a lot of sorting out of what's actually happening vs what's funny to say - so "She was doing cocaine in court" is equally believed as the, say, actual evidence presented.

I'm honestly really shaken and have moved my meter onto 'terrified' for the next generation.
posted by corb at 4:26 PM on May 19 [58 favorites]


Calling abuse survivors useful idiots feels gross honestly. I'm not saying they aren't being used for a shitty purpose but treating people who are being abused in a way that society in general treats as fake or comical as idiots is unkind.
posted by Ferreous at 4:27 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


it gives me pause, the number of people posting just in this thread (Rainbo Vagrant to use an example):
- I don't care
- I don't want to care
- I don't want any information
- I've involuntarily scanned enough titles and headlines that I was under the impression that the anti Heard stuff had been factually proven

again, setting aside personalities and celebrity status, this illustrates the way this fucking bullshit works. I couldn't explain it any better than those quotes.
posted by elkevelvet at 4:28 PM on May 19 [26 favorites]


Ferreous, completely fair. I hesitated to use it, but it is a recognized term of art in discussions of astroturfing and manipulation. (The POV being invoked is ideally that of those doing the manipulating, who have contempt for the people they are using as puppets.) Either way, probably more inflammatory than, um, useful in this context.
posted by structuregeek at 4:30 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I'm honestly really shaken and have moved my meter onto 'terrified' for the next generation

I'm guessing that it's a combo of youth, prevalent exposure via algorithm and other factors. The younger generation seems better on most things than people my age. Certain subsets are going to have opinions that make sense to them at that moment that they'll reflect on later.
posted by Ferreous at 4:32 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Why is this so biased? As much as some folks want there to be, I don't think there's a positive outcome to the actions that start with: I'm going to go on social media and consume celebrity news. Sure, it's a shitshow. It was always going to be a shitshow. Mefi's favorite advanced media analyzers will declare this to be "giving up" and will valiantly try to create positive tiktoks, but the initial impulse is the initial sin.

The great majority of the audience for decent material went off in a different direction from the get go. So, yeah, same as gamergate.
posted by Wood at 5:01 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I hope Depp loses the actual court battle because he should have just drawn a line under things after the settlement, but it boggles me that these either of these two, much less both, are being elevated by their respective Internet factions to the status of culture-war hero-martyrs.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:06 PM on May 19


I mean, it’s worth remembering that one party is actively suing the other in a court of law, and the other is just… forced to be part of the process. One of those looks a lot more like a martyr at this point than the other.
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:16 PM on May 19 [42 favorites]


I think a lot of the articles about this phenomenon fail to calibrate this particular controversy against other examples. Epstein, Weinstein, and Maxwell come to mind. In each of those cases, social media was and has been strongly condemnatory of those figures. So why is it different this time, there's probably a mix of reasons but it's not easily reducible to any single simple factor.

Actually another pop culture example that comes to mind is Tiger King (vs Carole Baskin). That's an instance of social media reaction to a kind of reality TV that Netflix was definitely exploitative about producing, and that we saw misogyny play a role in people's speculations, opinions and beliefs. And even though the subject matter is quite different the social reactions bear some parallels to the current controversy.

Personally I think people can be naturally and legitimately curious, and I mean there's a whole genre of courtroom TV that I myself included kind of grew up enjoying (The Practice, Boston Legal). It's interesting to see commenters explain to each other what an objection means, or why did the lawyers say that, and so forth.
posted by polymodus at 5:18 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


^ what you are describing, though, sounds at best to be people distracted into relatively harmless use of leisure time

I say 'relatively' because at least these consumers and observers are not posting threats to e.g. someone with the audacity to wander into the wrong subreddit to ask "what's with all the Amber Heard hate" or something.

as it has been said before, we are being amused to death. our entertainments that allow us to engage in some level of armchair courtroom savvy is farcical at best and utterly irrelevant to the phenomenon at hand: the real damage that this manufactured media event is causing and will continue to cause.
posted by elkevelvet at 5:34 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


It seems like the trial itself is an tactical abuse abuse spear to throw from beyond the martial grave, he's abusive, she did leave, but now he's using our shitty legal system to hurt her some more, needlessly. After this thread I don't think mutual abuse is really a thing, but even if I did just him going after her in this particular manner doesn't have any reading to me that isn't him just trying to hurt her in the best way he can from where he is now.
posted by GoblinHoney at 6:02 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


Depp could also be suing a person who engaged in systematic abuse of his throughout their relationship and then after the fact destroyed his reputation and career. Those of you puzzled as to why would she have done that should look up borderline personality disorder — a condition she was diagnosed with.

Labeling some victims of abuse as useful idiots is really an awful thing to day. Victims have no power over how their story will be weaponized and shame on anyone who wants to silence them for sharing their truth.
posted by interogative mood at 6:10 PM on May 19


Those of you puzzled as to why would she have done that should look up borderline personality disorder — a condition she was diagnosed with.

By a forensic psychologist, hired by Depp's team. Worthless.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 6:21 PM on May 19 [37 favorites]


So you're saying, interrogative mood, that it was, in fact, a Gone Girl style plot to frame Depp for abuse? Because that seems far-fetched, and again completely at odds with tons and tons of the facts.
posted by sagc at 6:21 PM on May 19 [13 favorites]


interogative mood, as I said above, I regret lobbing that verbal hand grenade. Victims being deceived into allowing their stories to be weaponized to false ends are doubly victimized. That they (often correctly) feel that they can not share their truth without being trivialized is exactly the dynamic that the manipulators use to exploit them, and at an increasingly greater scale. I do not deny that victims of abuse can freely and genuinely believe the narrative that seems to most closely parallel their own experiences. I do strongly suspect, in line with the topic, that those parallel narratives are being magnified and weaponized to no good end.
posted by structuregeek at 6:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Depp could also be suing a person who engaged in systematic abuse of his throughout their relationship and then after the fact destroyed his reputation and career.

By telling the truth about him? Because what she's said is that she was a victim of domestic violence, and when Depp sued in an environment where the deck was stacked in his favor, she was able to prove his abuse to the point that he lost. Then when he took a second bite at the apple, instead of suing in the actual jurisdictions involved, which both have strong anti-SLAPP statutes that would kill his suit dead, he instead went venue shopping and used the flimsiest pretext to sue in a venue with weak anti-SLAPP laws.

So through both the rulings of other courts as well as his own behavior, I find it very hard to see Depp as a victim here.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:33 PM on May 19 [36 favorites]


"borderline personality disorder" — a condition she was diagnosed with.

Yikes. Leaving aside the people pointing out the lack of appropriateness to diagnose, BPD both is a highly stigmatized disorder that does not turn you automatically into some sort of social engineering mastermind, and is known for being wildly overdiagnosed in women, sometimes at the expense of receiving care for real issues.

This is straight up bigotry, and dangerous bigotry at that.
posted by Phalene at 6:38 PM on May 19 [56 favorites]


How many times do we all need to hear that women (or anyone, really) who don't comply with our expectations on the witness stand are not, therefore, actually lying?

How many times do we all need to be reminded that yes, really, we all do have implicit biases resulting from the systemic racist and patriarchal swamp in which we were raised, and these biases affect our judgment even when it feels completely smart?

I feel compelled to add that watching clips from a trial (or even the whole feed) is possibly the worst possible (but likely to happen) manner of deciding whether a person is a liar.

interrogative mood, that could be what Depp is doing. I can write a plausible story about these two characters, too, but what is the point? The odds are, for all of the reasons noted in the thread, that Depp is an abusive jerk. After Edward Scissorhands and Gilbert Grape, he had me fooled, too. I bet he's charming as hell in that courtroom.

None of us have the evidence to be certain here whether anyone is lying-- which is fine, that's not our job.

But FFS, given how much we know that we don't know about this particular situation, and how much we DO know about how the world works and how these 2 folks show up on paper, nobody should be jumping up and down and insisting that, you know, she's obviously a lying abuser. You're obviously wrong about that.
posted by allthinky at 6:45 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


And for those of us who are old enough to remember, Johnny Depp was a "bad boy" from back in the 80s: there was a big, scandalous story in which he trashed a hotel room.

It was when he was dating Kate Moss, in 1994. She was 20 and he was 31.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:58 PM on May 19 [12 favorites]


He was also arrested for assaulting a security guard in 1989*; arrested for the above incident in 1994 which included an argument and screaming match; arrested for threatening paparazzi in London in 1999; sued by his bodyguards for being abusive to them in 2018; and sued for punching a crew member on the set of The Notorious BIG in 2018.

He has a history of being a violent fuckup and I can't believe there are people in this thread thinking Heard is the abuser.


*paywalled but reader view should work
posted by oneirodynia at 7:09 PM on May 19 [31 favorites]


The comparison of lawyers is absolutely happening
Yes indeed. I served on a jury, in a trial of a man accused of an extremely serious crime (nothing at all similar to this case). We found ourselves discussing, in the jury room, our impressions of both the barristers acting on each of the sides, for his defence and for the Crown prosecution. As it happened, the Crown's barrister was very good and well-prepared, and the defence far less so; he was inept and seemed to focus on irrelevancies. Admittedly, the Crown case was strong and the defence barrister didn't have much to work with, but we also tried to consciously discount the obvious difference in presentation to come to the right decision—which I'm certain we did. It's not just teenagers, that kind of differential appeal between lawyers works on a room full of adults who are aware, and conscious of it, and prepared.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:13 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


The comparison of lawyers is absolutely happening

WHERE WAS THIS BULLSHIT DURING THE IMPEACHMENT TRIALS?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:02 PM on May 19 [9 favorites]


“Believe all women” was always the “defund the police” of #metoo. People were just salivating for a situation to prove that wrong. Heard saying that no one would ever believe Depp encapsulated this perfectly.

Hearing that one should trust the UK justice system, especially regarding tabloids, and then a couple days later something happens in the US justice system that makes us say, well, we can’t trust THAT one..

Then “I’ve met couples that seem to be abusive to each other.” “Mutual abuse isn’t real, believe Amber Heard.”

The above makes it so clear to me why this has turned into an anti-Heard protest. Saying it’s misogyny is not the full story.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:02 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I am a trans man who was in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone like Heard, and I find all the discourse around always believing female victims of abuse incredibly triggering and demoralising. My ex weaponised that widespread societal belief against me and I lived in fear[*] for years about what she might do to me -- and get away with -- because she is female and I am male and the automatic presumption would be that I was the abuser (and for added joy, the only people who would believe me would be anti-trans bigots who don't see me as male).

I'm trying to stay away from Depp/Heard stuff because I know I have a lot of baggage and I can't view any of it objectively, but those of you who are saying "always believe women" or "always believe victims" maybe think for a fraction of a second how easy that is for an abuser to weaponise?

I'm going to type this here and then leave because it's so dismaying and painful to engage with this. So please don't bother responding to me. Just maybe realise that not everybody who isn't pro-Heard is a vile misogynist.

[*] These fears weren't ungrounded, but I'm not going to go into the painful details about why that is. But I'm not just making things up.
posted by contrapositive at 8:20 PM on May 19 [15 favorites]


It gives me pause, the number of people posting just in this thread (Rainbo Vagrant to use an example):
- I don't care
- I don't want to care
- I don't want any information
- I've involuntarily scanned enough titles and headlines that I was under the impression that the anti Heard stuff had been factually proven


Huh. I've also avoided all coverage but the Internet's recent desperate attempts to convince me that Depp picking his nose is some masterwork of comic timing had me certain that it was just his crisis communications team trying to get ahead of the story of him losing a bunch of lawsuits. Made more sense than declaring yourself a Republican or w/e
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 8:28 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I realize now my comment was probably unclear: certainly in liberal circles, the obvious incompetence of Trump's lawyers (esp. in #2) was subject of much comment, the right-o-sphere no doubt had the opposite interpretation. And I don't think mainstream media talked about it too much, either. Anyway, there wasn't the same sort of popular outrage (or the attempt to stoke it) or meme-ification of the issue then, and the more bad faith the motives behind people promoting anti-Heard sentiment based on this issue were on the opposite side of the issue during trials 1&2.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:29 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I try not to believe anybody unless I must. There is precious little must in this situation. Or as somebody said over on my Facebook, "I can't believe so many people are okay with Johnny Depp invading Ukraine."
posted by philip-random at 8:31 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


It's nice that some people don't have to care about domestic violence; and that a concerted media attempt to destroy the career and reputation of a person who did not bring this court action is no big deal. It's hunky dory that a case of person with a decades-long history of violence and documented threats of desecrating their ex's corpse is not even worth the time to consider. It's perfectly charming that some people don't and won't ever care about these things. Maybe don't bother coming in here and saying so then? Just a thought.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:47 PM on May 19 [24 favorites]


I'm going to get a certain perspective of war from a combat veteran, but that does not mean a combat veteran will always and already have the most correct and authoritative perspective on war. It's a great leap to go from a person's experience, which we can respect and hear, to say that person is incapable of being manipulated.

If you look at this situation and you're not worried about how we are all manipulated, I'm not sure what to say. This all-consuming social media storm will increasingly define us. While wars are being fought and rivers dry up and a handful of people keep increasing their wealth at the expense of everyone and everything else, we'll not only be distracted and miserable, we'll be tearing each other apart. This is obscene.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:58 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


I hate this fucking play-it-at-home psychologist and forensic investigator bullshit. We shouldn't be involved in this one bit. It's sickening. Oh, yes, we can slice up reality with a fine blade and make our determinations of causes and faults. I mean, fuck, I have and I'm fucking angry that I have. Mr. Depp is clearly the party most responsible for this catastrophe of a relationship. From the actual causes preceding his actions, to his (lack of) acknowledgement and restitution from them, and from the many years of legal follow up he is clearly a goddam jerk.

That said: FUCK THIS STORY. As a person whose last partner was physically and psychologically abusive, I'm feeling abused again seeing by seeing this story everywhere and by everyone's casual engagement with it like a fucking party game. This is bullshit. Metafilter, we're better than this. This thread should be eight comments saying "This is gross. We're adults and have better things to do" and then we should all have talked about, like, how whales are awesome on a different thread

Anyways, y'all have a good one. Be better.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 9:13 PM on May 19 [23 favorites]


The blanket shocking, vile, misogynistic rage filled commentary on the Depp/Heard trial on the back of the Roe v Wade ruling feels like a terrifying sea change.

I would be an idiot not to keep an eye how this wind is blowing.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:15 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


Depp could also be suing a person who engaged in systematic abuse of his throughout their relationship and then after the fact destroyed his reputation and career.

interrogative mood, I'd like to ask you a question. Do you think that what Depp has admitted he has done, and that there are recordings of other people discussing at the time, constitutes domestic violence? Do you think that committing property damage, such as smashing doors and destroying art, constitutes domestic violence?

Those of you puzzled as to why would she have done that should look up borderline personality disorder — a condition she was diagnosed with.


Leaving aside the issue of whether it is possible to appropriately diagnose someone from a hostile position in the pay of opposing counsel, are you aware of the gendered issues with borderline personality disorder as a diagnosis at all?

Psychiatry and sexism: Gender Bias in BPD diagnosis:
A feminist perspective of BPD theorizes that women with extreme emotional instability -- considered the hallmark of BPD -- are labeled as such in response to gendered power relations rather than a pathology that is endogenous to women. The feminist framework links diagnostic inequities to a broader political and medical context -- the fact that men significantly outnumbered women in the medical profession for many decades.
Women and borderline personality disorder: "The similarities between the diagnoses of borderline personality disorder and hysteria are striking. Both diagnoses delimit appropriate behavior for women, and many of the criteria are stereotypically feminine"

A feminist critique of borderline personality disorder: "Feminist critics of BPD offer an alternative perspective, generally viewing the diagnosis of BPD as pathologizing the ways that women respond to gendered abuse and oppression."
posted by corb at 9:16 PM on May 19 [27 favorites]


I would like to note that as a devotee of celebrity gossip, I have been following Heard for a long time, and I do not like her as a person. Honestly I think she's pretty awful, and definitely not likeable. (The "but we're famous!" illegal dog importation into Australia is probably my defining dislike moment.)

This does not AT ALL change my assessment of the actual legal filings in the case, where Heard is filing really compelling evidence and Depp is filing absolute bullshit. And it really is so striking how social media is spinning the case. There's one situation where Depp accused Heard of abusing him, and Heard provides text and photo receipts and explains that Depp attacked her and she fought back (and yes she did hit him, but she was fighting back), and Depp says "NO SHE SLAPPED ME HERE'S THE PICTURE" and the LITERAL FUCKING COURT said, "Um, dude, there's a datestamp on your photo from a year before when you're claiming the picture was taken." And people are like "Heard lied about what specific brand of makeup she used to cover up bruises 10 years ago!" but are not disputing the actual domestic violence photos. Whereas Depp provides as evidence photos WITH A DATE STAMP and says "there are photos of my injury from that date in 2017" and the court is like "Um, the photos themselves say 2016" and Depp just says "Lies, it was 2017, deal with it." They don't bother to say, "the camera's date was set wrong." They just insist those photos are the correct photos, date stamps and other photo evidence (of publicity photos on the same date with no injury) be damned. Because THEY DO NOT CARE what the truth is, they do not care when the photos were taken, they are literally fucking with the court on purpose, because this lawsuit was not filed in good faith to prove Amber Heard libeled Depp; it was filed to fuck with Heard and force her to respond. So they DO NOT CARE if their evidence is any good; that DOES NOT MATTER.

The media is all about "Amber Heard doesn't remember specific makeup brands" and not at all about "Johnny Depp submitted into evidence a photo where he lied about the date in extremely obvious ways and the court called him out, but he doesn't give a shit how much he lies to the court because he expects he will never face consequences, and this case is not about proving he didn't abuse Heard; it's about proving that he STILL CAN." She can leave him, she can divorce him, she can move on with her life, but Johnny Depp can still abuse her, and he will use super-obviously fake photos to do it, and he will get traction in the media as a victim with his fake photos, because he is a movie star and she is a hysterical woman.

Also, honestly, if you're swayed by "Heard's evidence is complicated and not perfect," do yourself a favor and read actual filings in the UK lawsuit. Because Heard isn't the one with shitty, weird, incomplete, unvalidated evidence. Her evidence is as complicated as you'd expect in a huge domestic violence case; Depp's is just straight-up bullshit for the lulz.

Also, eternal side point to all my commentary on all legal threads: US courts need to be hella more aggressive about sanctioning lawyers who participate in clearly bad-faith lawsuits. You need to LOSE. YOUR FUCKING. LICENSE. But you won't, because lawyers have proven over and over again that they are not a profession able to self-regulate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:50 PM on May 19 [73 favorites]


Thank you too all the people who have posted here about their own history with abuse. I'm sure you don't feel heard, or seen, but know that there are a lot of people like me who are listening, and will remember what you have said.
posted by Zumbador at 10:05 PM on May 19 [22 favorites]


For those who keep saying, I do not like Heard, but I believe her. I'm not sure I understand - do we have to like people for them to be abused? Do we have to like people to believe them? Are true victims likable? Do we have to state our like or dislike at all? Does anyone care what you - rando - think of her, and why do you think it is so important to state it before your defense of her?

It all just reminds me so much of the Clinton line, "I don't like her either, but..." Please be conscious of how the misogyny seeps into your language even when you are trying to defend women. Likability is irrelevant.
posted by Toddles at 10:10 PM on May 19 [21 favorites]


Heard is filing really compelling evidence and Depp is filing absolute bullshit

This, and part of the problem is the media narrative. So for example, a story will be titled "Sister gets in the middle of fight" (implying a "mutual-abuse" situation) and then it turns out that the actual story is reporting that the Henriquez is saying that Depp punched her in the back and called her a "whore" while trying to get to Heard.
She went up the stairs in the penthouse apartment, along with Heard and Depp's nurse, Debbie Lloyd.

Depp then threw a Red Bull can at Lloyd's back, which the nurse didn't seem to notice, Henriquez alleged.

"I'm at the back of the stairs, with my back to the stairs, and that's when Johnny runs up the stairs," Henriquez said. "And again, I'm facing Amber. He comes up behind me and strikes me in the back...he hits me in the back, I hear Amber yell, 'don't hit my f------ sister.'"
Henriquez is saying that on a separate occasion she saw Depp "charge" at Heard, and grab Heard by the hair and repeatedly hit her in the face. And that's being reported as "getting in the middle of a fight".

The Depp narrative is a deeply misogynistic narrative: it's basically "bitches lie, everyone knows bitches lie and fake things". It dismisses things like Pennington saying that she covered Heard with her own body to stop Depp from hitting her while Depp was using a bottle to smash things, and says that Pennington "faked" the damage to the apartment. Or Marz saying that Depp called her a bitch and that she was personally afraid of him after encountering him in only one incident.
"His whole being really frightened me and almost felt like he was coming toward me," Marz said. "From my perspective, whether he was coming toward me or not, it scared me and I just ran out past him."

She ran and hid in a communal pool and gym area in the building.

"I remember being scared and not wanting to leave that area until, like, I was clear and wasn't gonna be attacked," Marz said.
He doesn't, of course, explain why all of these people (mostly women), over countless years, would have helped Heard frame him.
posted by corb at 10:57 PM on May 19 [29 favorites]


Depp could also be suing a person who engaged in systematic abuse of his throughout their relationship and then after the fact destroyed his reputation and career.

Johnny Depp texted his friend in 2016 that Amber Heard "was begging for total global humiliation. She's gonna get it" and "I have no mercy, no fear, and not an ounce of emotion or what I once thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market. I'm so fucking happy she wants to fight this out!!! She will hit the wall hard!!! I can only hope that karma kicks in and takes the gift of breath from her... Sorry man... But NOW I will stop at nothing!!!"

He planned to ruin her life six years ago. Since 2016 he's been in fourteen movies. Was his career destroyed in that time? I'm thinking no.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:37 PM on May 19 [51 favorites]


To all the people in here trying to play that they're above this and both sides are awful - you might want to be more careful about the comments you favorite. It kind of gives away your game.

You said mutual abuse is "bullshit" like that's unquestioned fact, I pointed to an expert who said it does exist in some cases.

If we want to bring this up then let us talk about how Depp has been an addict and alcoholic for decades and his pattern and there's been a long history of his "bad behavior" of trashing rooms and him and his bodyguards getting into altercations with people, even assaulting them. Let's talk about his history of going after younger women like dating Winona Ryder when she was 17 and he was 25, Kate Moss when she was 19 and he was 31, and then Heard when she was 25 and he was 48. Let's talk about those text messages of him apologizing for his behavior, his texts where he threatens to rape Heard and the jokes he's made about hurting her, about punching her. Let's talk about the video of his yelling and slamming things around Heard and what we know about him trashing her stuff. Let's talk about the fact that his hateful fans are well-known, are even attacking his daughter for not doing enough or not publicly supporting him, and Depp has done nothing to call them off and that's giving him the big benefit of the doubt that he didn't pay for some of them in the first place.

Forget the names. If you heard that a new, upcoming starlet who was just making a name for herself was dating a mega-famous, established Hollywood icon who was basically a household name and who was twice her age, who was known for his "bad boy" image, known for dating younger women, for having drug and alcohol problems and you heard that the starlet accused him of abuse would you think "oh she's lying" or would you think "yeah, that tracks". I think at this point some people are just actively trying to not look at the Heard/anti-Depp side of this.
posted by asteria at 11:58 PM on May 19 [37 favorites]


The one story I'd really be interested in out of this whole mess is Vanessa Paradis'. Somehow during the 16 years he was with her, he was a functioning bankable, even good actor, and capable of being a decent guy in public at least until the midlife crisis hit him. Maybe that was just good PR spin, and Vanessa has a history of dating guys much older than her in configurations that would have been ripe for abuse starting at age 15, but I bet she has a fascinating and heartbreaking story there.

I wonder if it wasn't that Amber - young, ambitious, psychologically vulnerable, probably down for at least a tabloid romance to raise her profile - was a potential victim so appealing that he burned down his stability chasing that high of controlling someone. He hasn't done a good movie since, among all the personal bad decisions.

(Vanessa is now finally married to a guy her age, and I'm hoping she's happy with him.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:03 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


It's nice that some people don't have to care about domestic violence

I was really happy to see that there was a post on this topic. I'd not been paying much attention to the case, assuming vaguely that Depp was guilty, and that most people in my circles would agree. But I'm not sure the above framing is particularly useful, or at least it definitely isn't for me.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when it came up with a friend, who is herself a survivor of DV and SA, that she'd been watching the livestreams every night and is virulently anti-Heard. It complicates "know that there are women in your life who have experienced DV and they will never ever--rightfully--trust you ever again" because I didn't push back, I am afraid to have that conversation with her, because I don't know if she would ever trust me again if I argued the point with her.

I know a lot of women who experienced domestic violence before they publicly transitioned, and who are fully aware that there's nothing they can do, even now it would be broadly assumed that because they were at that point perceived as men, they are responsible. I can only imagine this recording people are talking about, and more importantly seeing the dismissiveness with which it's viewed by the "other side" doesn't help.

I kind of hope this is all just a trick of bots and algorithms and money, because that seems somehow better than what I otherwise can't really explain outside of misogyny, so many progressive people so confident in Heard being a evil, manipulative liar.

The only other possible explanation I can see for the surprising polarisation is something I haven't seen mentioned here - that, although it's not evidence of anything, Eve Barlow is a friend of Amber Heard, and is already widely despised in my circles on account of her genocide denial and transphobia. Which probably doesn't pre-dispose people to trusting Heard.
posted by Audreynachrome at 1:06 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


If you are engaging in the game of allowing some woman to be added to the "bad people" list, and thus excusing yourself from having to care how anyone treats her, congrats, you are part of the problem.

In this case, it doesn't matter what Amber Heard ever did or didn't do outside the question: By describing herself as a survivor of abuse without explicitly naming Depp but in a context that could be reasonably assumed to refer to him, did she unjustly damage his reputation?

That's it. I don't care what kind of person Heard is, in this case she is 100% the victim both inside and outside the court.


And there is a strong overall current on this website (including multiple examples just in this thread) of believing outlandish, damaging claims about women and allowing them to be used to excuse seemingly unlimited abuse directed toward them, so I don't know what else to say about any of this.
posted by seraphine at 1:38 AM on May 20 [25 favorites]


To wit: unlike the US, in British defamation law the truth is not an absolute defense.

Truth is, in fact, a full defence to libel in English law. However, belief in the truth is no defence, and it is for the defendant to prove (on the balance of the evidence) the truth of the statements made. This is often incredibly difficult given that the very essence of libel is publication of that which is only known privately.
posted by howfar at 1:45 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Women are not automatically presumed and believed to be victims. Men are not automatically presumed and believed to be abusers.
Women are automatically presumed and believed to be that b*tch trying to ruin a poor man's life. Men are automatically presumed innocent because hey, you can't tell that someone is an abuser unless a court decides that he is, in fact, an abuser. And not even then.
posted by madamepsychosis at 2:55 AM on May 20 [19 favorites]


Yeah to those for whom “believe women” is a trigger, this isn’t the thread for you. Try YouTube comments or (gestures around) the world of examples.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:57 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Men and trans men have advocates for being believed. Feminists are not them. I’m sorry. We have women issues to deal with. We are demoralized too.

I think this is the wrong framing and, based on your posting in general, DTK, maybe slightly misleading about your actual beliefs?

Domestic violence is problem of patriarchy, not of women. So men, cis and trans, can certainly be victims; men, trans men in particular, can be victims partly because of how hierarchy works under patriarchy. (for example, if a trans man is seen as a "bad woman" pre-transition, this puts him in a position, culturally, where he is vulnerable to abuse because of how society treats "bad women")

I feel like "women abuse too" is often treated as if it is about the limits of the knowable, when it is really about which facts get ignored. A trans woman friend of mine was abused by her cis woman partner, who tried to spin the whole thing as "oh I am being abused by this manipulative person", for instance, and the facts made this very unlikely. The cis woman was much richer, healthier, had a larger social network, had her own house, was cis, etc; my friend was semi-homeless, having trouble accessing medical care, not rich, struggling with employment, etc. If people disbelieved my friend's abuse, it was not because "women never abuse", it was because facts about trans women's lives get ignored.

It really bothers me, as a transmasculine queer person, when trans and queer people say that because they have been abused by women, therefore "we can never know" in abuse cases because "women abuse". I seldom hear this when there's really no evidence at all; I hear it as in this case when in fact there's a lot of evidence and it is used to ignore that evidence.

Like, we cannot let our experiences push our buttons. We owe it to other vulnerable people in society not to do that, because all that happens is we go with our guts, go with our feelings and it turns out that we are going with racism and misogyny.

~~
On several occasions in my life, I've really misjudged people based on vibes. I've witnessed people judge based on "vibes" and really judge based on racism and classism. It's one thing if someone has done something to you or you have yourself witnessed something bad, but "this person seems creepy and reminds me of someone who hurt me" really is not enough.
posted by Frowner at 3:10 AM on May 20 [55 favorites]


(And - sorry, don't want to threadsit - it is not a matter of who has it worse, because we already know who has it worse: certainly not white, cishet, able-bodied, neurotypical, middle class/rich men. And the root causes are the same. Dissing AH hurts trans men and non-binary people too.)

[eta: what @Frowner said]
posted by madamepsychosis at 3:15 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I appreciate and understand the patriarchy hurts everyone position. I’m sorry to have spoken for others. For me, feminism is about defending and fighting for women as a class (see Dworkin quote above) and while patriarchy does hurt men and trans men it’s ancillary to my mission in particular. I’m not interested in considering how the oppressors’ manacles of oppression also hurt the oppressor. I should not have spoken for all feminists or allies or those hurt peripherally to or by women.

Like Andrea Dworkin, “im a feminist, not the fun kind.”
posted by Dressed to Kill at 3:23 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Vibes aren't a good way to judge a domestic abuse trial, not just because they could include people's internalized prejudices, but because they ignore the facts of the case which in this case largely favor Amber Heard.

As far as the BPD thing - why do you think Depp's lawyers insisted on that diagnosis in the first place? They knew it would impact the result of the trial.

Even if it were true that Amber Heard had this disorder, and I don't know why we should take Depp's lawyers' word for it when as mentioned above they have submitted photo "evidence" with the wrong date stamp more than one time and been called out by the court for it, you can be the shorthand for "a psycho woman" and still be abused. They aren't exclusive. In fact I would say that being "a psycho woman" makes you more vulnerable to being abused. When you do come forward, people don't believe you.

I say this, having experienced the phenomenon of someone diagnosed as BPD telling lies about me bc they got jealous I was spending time with other friends.
posted by subdee at 3:26 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


To go on, it feels like "women can be abusers" is often used, intentionally or not, to create a false picture of how abuse happens - people talk like it is equally likely for a small, poor, young, unconnected woman without reliable access to medical care or employment and with responsibility for children and pets to abuse a large, wealthy, professionally successful, mentally and physically healthy man as it is for a large, wealthy, professionally successful man to abuse a small, poor woman. That is, that abuse is not in fact structural and systemic but something that men and women both do regardless.

Like, IME people have this mental picture of a vulnerable woman abusing some much more powerful man because "he is too nice" or whatever. This is not helped by vague definitions of abuse - a woman being horrible to a man is not necessarily abusing him, for instance, any more than every time a man is an asshole to a woman he is abusing her.

When women abuse, they are usually abusing people who are more vulnerable than them, not people who are more powerful than them. So a close attention to structures and power is what is needed, not a sort of "women are equal and opposite abusers" narrative.
posted by Frowner at 3:34 AM on May 20 [40 favorites]


And I think it's good that mefites are bringing all the reasons people don't believe Amber Heard, all the arguments they have seen float across their feeds that they didn't dig further into (because who has the time to do that?) into this thread because I think it's good for people who HAVEN'T been following the case closely for the last three years, like a friend of mine who is a DV abuse victim has, to see the rebuttals to these arguments. And to see those rebuttals on a playing field that isn't tilted by a social media algorhtyhm, on a site that doesn't allow you to direct harassment towards the people who disagree with you.
posted by subdee at 3:36 AM on May 20 [39 favorites]


people talk like it is equally likely for a small, poor, young, unconnected woman without reliable access to medical care or employment and with responsibility for children and pets to abuse a large, wealthy, professionally successful, mentally and physically healthy man as it is for a large, wealthy, professionally successful man to abuse a small, poor woman. That is, that abuse is not in fact structural and systemic but something that men and women both do regardless.

This is exactly the kind of "possibility matters more than likelihood" flawed thinking that poisons so much of the discourse around COVID vaccination as well. It's really really common on social media and it induces long fits of despair in me every time I see it wheeled out.
posted by flabdablet at 4:05 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


I actually feel slightly less terrible reading that, subdee .
posted by seraphine at 5:53 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


This is also interesting, if unsurprising:

The Daily Wire Spent Thousands of Dollars Promoting Anti-Amber Heard Propaganda
The conservative media outlet ran Facebook and Instagram ads for stories backing Johnny Depp, an investigation by media non-profit the Citizens for VICE World News found.

...The conservative outlet, founded by Ben Shapiro, is currently the second most popular news publisher on Facebook. It has so far spent between $35,000 and $47,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads promoting articles about the trial, eliciting some four million impressions. The majority of these ads promote one-sided articles and videos with a clear bias against Heard. They are largely promoted via the Facebook pages of high profile conservative figures including right-wing commentator Candace Owens
posted by bitteschoen at 6:11 AM on May 20 [33 favorites]


Here’s the other thing: Depp sued Heard for defamation because she wrote a thing about having been in an abusive relationship that didn’t mention his name. So what he would have to prove is (a) that he didn’t abuse her, and (b) that no one else has, that she might have been writing about, either. (a) has already been proven false in another court case that he brought against her - specifically, that he abused her, not that he maybe did but maybe engaged in reactive violence. None of the rest of the discourse is at all relevant to the defamation case.


If Depp wants to claim that Heard also abused him on some sort of equal level, a defamation case is not the way to prove that. And he has access to smart enough lawyers that they should have been able to tell him that. It is, of course, a very effective venue for a media smear campaign of implications and insinuations. But if the point wasn’t to continue abusing Heard, the more obvious choices would have been to simply write his own op-ed, or to file for civil damages alleging in court that she co-equally abused him.

Do abuse victims always do the expected or from-the-outside obvious or right thing? Absolutely not; abuse fucks with people’s perceptions. But Depp is in the quite unusual situation of having a highly paid and competent legal team who would be well capable of advising him on these more obvious or better options. Yet he still filed the defamation suit, and didn’t take any of the other actions.

Legitimating the filing of defamation lawsuits against domestic violence survivors for speaking out about the abuse they’ve suffered even without naming their abuser is setting domestic violence advocacy back decades. If Depp were also a co-equal victim of domestic violence, that would also hurt him on a generic or moral level (though he has much more wealth and social influence than Heard, so would be more likely able to defend himself were she or anyone else to file a similar defamation suit against him). It certainly hurts most other men who are survivors of abuse, for all of the power dynamics reasons that Frowner described, given how vulnerable the US justice system is (and most around the world as well) to wealth inequalities between parties in a case being able to tip the balance in favour of the wealthier party or the party with more social or political influence - i.e. the party with more power. None of the details of what Heard did or didn’t do in the relationship, or whether we like her or think she’s a terrible person or simply don’t care, are relevant to this, because she didn’t file the defamation suit, Depp did. Whether we believe that the relationship was mutually abusive versus Heard engaging in reactive violence based on Depp’s abuse has zero bearing on the defamation case and its really shitty consequences for abuse victims in general.

I would go so far as to say, in fact, that it is a derail that does not belong in this thread.


Abuse is about exerting power over someone relatively weaker and more vulnerable. Never forget that basic fact.
posted by eviemath at 6:22 AM on May 20 [41 favorites]


I'm another example of someone who youtube decided must be flooded with content about this trial(included a really weird woodworking lawyer who made a long video doing forensic splinter?! analysis from a grainy photo). I regretfully watched some of it and what I took away was:
1. Depp clearly abused Heard, has admitted to multiple incidents and it was proven repeatedly in the British trial. I don't see how it's legally relevant to a defamation trail if she ever abused him in turn, its just the tu quoque fallacy writ large.
2. Depp and the corporate interests that profit from his brand have PR budgets in the 10s or 100s of millions and control multiple major media outlets. There is simply no way the coverage isn't being tilted/amplified/astroturfed.
3. Heard's lawyers are not doing a great job to say the least. I would guess that she might have had some trouble finding representation that was willing/able to oppose Depp(and therefore anger Disney etc.)
posted by being_quiet at 6:34 AM on May 20 [22 favorites]


But if the point wasn’t to continue abusing Heard, the more obvious choices would have been to simply write his own op-ed, or to file for civil damages alleging in court that she co-equally abused him.

Yeah. His conscious intent is not relevant. Pursuing a clearly worthless case to "clear your name" is not a reason, it's an excuse. All abusers have excuses to offer.

Why does anyone wonder if Depp is an abuser when he's now spent years doing it in public, on camera and in court? He's literally abusing Heard while we watch. Anyone mumbling about "mutual abuse" needs to explain why this vague notion is more important to them than the abuse going on in front of them.
posted by howfar at 7:20 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]


And he has access to smart enough lawyers that they should have been able to tell him that.

Well, he's already sued one set of lawyers, so maybe the current set is the result of his having shopped for yes-men the way that he shopped for a friendlier jurisdiction to sue Heard in. Really, anyone who hasn't read the Rolling Stone article should.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:31 AM on May 20 [10 favorites]


A small counterpoint about the youth: this came up in one of my kid's classes today. The discussion was awful, my kid was upset, they'd started the day with some vile threats from a friend's gf based on some fandom bullshit, and telling said friend that a diagnosis is not an excuse to be mean. In class one of the boys apparently said "if anyone ever hit me I'd hit them right back" to which my kid pointed out "that's what Amber Heard did". This was something very few had considered.

It was, by all accounts, an actual argument - not simply most of the class agreeing. I am proud my kid thought of that on their own. I chatted with them about DARVO and reactive abuse and the concept of mutual abuse. We talked about true crime and fandom and what that means when people's real lives and actual crimes are treated as entertainment.

So, it's not all kids algorithmically inclined to support the guy with the most money whose lawyer uses the media and bots to sway public opinion. My kid hasn't had that experience but does have a deep well of compassion, and a frightening amount of logic that doesn't always mesh with others. But they aren't the only one.

(Side note: I gave my kid the how to protect yourself talk and they took the threats to their principal and relayed what I'd said - scream as loud as possible, throw hands or elbows and run - and the teacher said I give good advice. I had to gently explain to my kid I grew up somewhere a lot more violent than they've ever experienced because you never want to tell a twelve year old that by their age you had gotten at least one concussion from your father and had to fight free of handsy boys and men more than once. But my kid isn't stupid.)
posted by geek anachronism at 7:35 AM on May 20 [24 favorites]


we are by no means seeing the deluge of the worst the internet has to offer on this media event, in this thread, but (especially in isolation, and removed from context) we can see how some comments seem reasonable, seem to point to why Depp is the victim here, etc. We also see comments from people who purport to have been victims of abuse, describing how Heard's profile is very familiar and triggering etc. I suspect a handful of commenters are coming from sheer bias, but at the very least we can see how some people arrive at a conclusion.

getting past why people buy into this, I'm thinking about comments that point to the impact on younger people. this really feels like a "hearts and minds" campaign that goes beyond a Depp/corporate PR damage control, although that might well be a component. I absolutely think connections to global fascist gains in ostensibly democratic polities is something worth considering.

part of me agrees with the sentiment: I do not fucking care about two celebrities. Initially, my subconscious had filed this along with any Kardashian family thing that happened to cross my eyeballs. But we're swimming in poison here, it is becoming impossible to be online and avoid this stuff. And saying you "don't care about fucking Depp and Heard" at this point is contiguous to saying Russia's invasion of Ukraine has nothing to do with you. Not fucking true.

Frowner captured a lot in their comments, I appreciate what I got from that.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:44 AM on May 20 [14 favorites]


In class one of the boys apparently said "if anyone ever hit me I'd hit them right back" to which my kid pointed out "that's what Amber Heard did". This was something very few had considered.

This is good! Not that everyone needs to think "I will hit people who hit me", but everyone needs to understand that hitting the person who hit you first is not in fact a sign that you are a monster even if it's not always the ideal way to respond.

There's something really strange with the way that middle class/professional discourse about interpersonal violence has gone over my lifetime, possibly coming from a perfectly understandable desire to explain clearly why adults should never hit kids? It is a constant weirdness in my life because I live in a working class neighborhood where you occasionally see fights and where two roughly equal people fighting without really trying to fuck each other up* is...not a desirable outcome, certainly, but not a sign that anyone is a monster. And then online and in professional/left spaces the norm is that any kind of hitting is absolutely unacceptable, incredibly traumatizing to witness and the sign that the hitter is absolutely 100% wrong and probably abusive as well.

I don't know why it's gone this way but I feel like it interferes with our understanding of, eg, the rise of fascist violence. And maybe if we understood interpersonal violence/defensive hitting a little better we would be better able to deal with the fascism/misogyny intersection.

*Like, if you see a reasonable number of fights you very quickly learn to distinguish between "these people are throwing a few punches and they're going to let their friends hold them back" and "this is a beat down with the intent to seriously hurt someone". I always feel weird because while I don't like to see people fighting at all, I've seen a couple of bad episodes of violence on the street and anything less than that is not upsetting to me at this point.
posted by Frowner at 8:23 AM on May 20 [31 favorites]


And then online and in professional/left spaces the norm is that any kind of hitting is absolutely unacceptable, incredibly traumatizing to witness and the sign that the hitter is absolutely 100% wrong and probably abusive as well.

Because it's easy. It's easy to set up a rule that Hitting Is Wrong and that the choice to use violence shows that the person is morally suspect. It's much harder to instead realize that people have the right to protect themselves, and that means that when we fail them, they will resort to other means of self-defense. It also means that you don't have to address how one's own beliefs are enabling the abuse of others under the guise of freedom. No, better to say that violence is inherently wrong and avert one's eyes from the messiness of reality.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:40 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


Previously my opinion on this was that of not really caring. I didn't know any of the prior history and have only been exposed to the various things that have been pushed about this particular trial. If asked I would probably have favored Depp, but that wouldn't be a strong opinion since I haven't been paying close attention.

This discussion has convinced me that I SHOULD care. Even if I don't care about it a lot of other people do and it has farther reaching consequences that just another celebrity trial. I'll be keeping all the things I've learned about the previous trials and realities of abuse in my back pocket for future talks about this that might come up.

Once again, thanks for putting my head on straight about something, Metafilter.
posted by charred husk at 8:48 AM on May 20 [33 favorites]


Frowner, thanks for that comment. I feel like the complete barbarian when I'm the only person in the room saying "actually, a little bit of violence can be the answer" and "not all violence is equal."

I'm especially seeing that in my city that has outrageous what I would call institutional violence, with gentrifying developments and toxic chemicals only cleaned up in the "nice" areas but somehow breaking a window is the real violence, to be deeply deplored. And don't get me started on the tone policing when people don't stay gentile in the face of egregious oppression.

I also appreciate the difference between a fight and and a real attack. I have a friend who's always says he carries a .38 to "end fights" ( yes, he lives in the suburbs of course) while in our neighborhood bringing in a gun would basically be causing a war rather than just settling things between two people, like normal people. Anyway, it has been coming up a lot in my life, so thanks for your comment.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:01 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


I don't think we can pretend like the audio recordings of her dismissing her physical actions against him aren't extremely demobilizing to genuine, but let's say low-information, US feminists. We can bemoan that, but it is a tactic the movement seems vulnerable to.

...

I literally never wanted any information about this, but I really didn't want to take in disinformation.


That's the crux of the issue to me. I haven't watched one second of the trial, but I've read enough articles to get a decent sense of what's happening. ("Now how did she defame him again?" That's a good question for the low-info folks.)

I would guess most of the pro-Depp folks are the least informed, and/or most subject to disinformation, or have only watched the trial without reading anything.

I would also guess there is very strong support from Depp in the qanon/antivaxxer crowd. It's all connected.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:21 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


xpost

As a counterpoint to that recommendation of Reddit, the multiple "anti-Depp bastions" I've found that AREN'T literally the main hubs of misogyny online are: here, other left/lib BBS-style forums, and the many feminists I follow on Twitter.
posted by viborg at 9:24 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Because the public absolutely lose their minds over celebrities, once the bed shitting accusation went public, that was all she wrote. In ten years, it's literally going to be the only thing people remember.
posted by Beholder at 9:41 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


As an AMAB with a history of being a victim of DV I just have to say this thread is really reinforcing why I don't talk about that to almost anyone. I'll just say that in my personal experience, it's possible to believe Amber Heard and not ruthlessly discount the experiences of AMAB DV victims.
posted by Jarcat at 10:09 AM on May 20 [23 favorites]


this really feels like a "hearts and minds" campaign that goes beyond a Depp/corporate PR damage control, although that might well be a component.

I am a person who hates to be a conspiracist, but I wonder a lot about the way that the anti-Heard stuff is being spread everywhere in America, and is outnumbering things that certain people would really prefer we not think about. People are talking five times as much about this as they are about the war in Ukraine; who does that benefit?
posted by corb at 10:11 AM on May 20 [11 favorites]


Reddit is a crap site but at least, unlike Facebook, it hasn't been responsible for a genocide nor did it give Donald Trump an account like Twitter so I do not understand the hand-wringing.

It rather infamously allowed the Trump subreddit to grow out of control before giving in to pressure to excise it. I agree with your larger point here, though - Twitter and Reddit have the same kind of toxicity from the same kinds of people, organized differently. Lots of people here make the moral compromise of using one or both to follow people or topics we like. Do we really need to keep arguing about which is worse, forever?
posted by atoxyl at 10:14 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Several comments deleted. This isn't the thread to go on about MeFi Subreddits.
posted by loup (staff) at 10:30 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Just as an aside, this is such a weird comment to me

or have only watched the trial without reading anything

Like, that's literally how trials are supposed to work. The people making judgement are supposed to only evaluate the case based on what happens in the courtroom, not factors outside of it. Literally we have rules about this. Its the explicit reason we sequester juries.

So, while there are a lot of valid criticisms about what's happening here, I'm not sure being critical of people who are simply making their judgement based on the evidence they're seeing presented in the trial is necessarily a good take.

If you want to be critical about what was ruled admissible and what wasn't, that's a different conversation. But to call people who are making judgements based on the same information any theoretical juror is seeing "low information" is a little odd to me.

As a TOTALLY DIFFERENT different aside, if you're seeing this on the twitter sidebar in trending and don't want to, you can click the three dots on the right side of the trending item and choose "this trend is harmful or spammy" and you won't see it again.
posted by anastasiav at 10:36 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


One perspective that I hadn't really considered much in my previous dismissal of all this as "celebrity trash" was the idea that they are both rich and that two rich people having a spat is just.. not that interesting or relevant.

This thread has certainly pointed out all the ways in which it actually IS relevant, but also it's worth pointing out explicitly that "rich" can mean a number of different things, and in this particular case Depp has "private island" levels of wealth (he has earned $650 million in his career) and Heard has.. low-level business executive levels of wealth (she has earned ~$10 million in her career).

If you are looking at them both as "rich celebs" and making fun of her team of lawyers compared to his team and using that to look at the righteousness of the arguments, as some apparently have been.. yeah, he can afford to throw her entire lifetime salary at lawyers and not blink.

Despite being a celebrity, Heard is a hell of a lot closer in wealth to you and me than she is to Depp. It's not a surprise that his legal team is better, and it's yet another example of how money can overrule justice, even amongst the "rich".
posted by zug at 10:50 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


I had developed a habit of idly clicking on Facebook Reels while in the elevator, in line, etc. It was my way of checking in on what the normies like. It's suddenly 35% pro-Depp/anti-Heard and I have no idea how to get it to stop. I just want to roll my eyes at bad recipe hacks and see the lady with the messy hair say, "Okay, yes, good question. Glad you asked."

I do not doubt that low information people who get their news/info this way are completely convinced Heard is in the wrong here and that Depp is being persecuted.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:52 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Facebook Reels is as tied to the algorithm as everything else. I'm not sure why you think it's a window to what everyone else is watching. It's what it thinks you, self-proclaimed "high information" person, want to see.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 11:04 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


can we please dispense with the flatly erroneous notion that social media algorithms are designed to bring you the content it "thinks" you want?

that is not how algorithms work. some work in similar fashion, but there would be no social media as we know it, if the algorithms were designed purely to bring you stuff you want to be exposed to. that's pure nonsense
posted by elkevelvet at 11:09 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


In re Depp: Depp is much more valuable as a product than Heard. Heard's lawyers have to be willing to burn a lot of entertainment industry bridges and make a lot of powerful enemies. It's not just that he has more personal money than she does; it's that his friends and connections in Hollywood basically have infinite money to devote to protecting celebrity value and they have the ability to make things very, very uncomfortable for anyone industry-adjacent who speaks up for Heard.

Accidents and phony prosecutions happen to corporate whistleblowers all the time and we understand that if you get in the way of International Resource Thieves Inc your life is going to be very hard. Hollywood is big, big money, just like cobalt or microchips or baby food.
posted by Frowner at 11:10 AM on May 20 [12 favorites]


Not stuff you want to be exposed to but stuff you want to interact with whether that is conscious or not.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 11:12 AM on May 20


Isn't the "mutual abuse" thing a red herring? I had the impression that the question in the trial is not "Did Heard abuse Depp?" but rather "Was Heard wrong to say that Depp abused her?" So if you think they both abused each other, then you must agree that Heard should win the trial. To say that it was mutual abuse, and therefore Depp should win, is to say that bad people should always lose trials, regardless of whether they did the thing in question or not. That's the antithesis of a legal system; that's outlawry.
posted by agentofselection at 11:13 AM on May 20 [16 favorites]


I don't think it's a derail to discuss algorithms in this instance

stuff you want to be exposed to vs. stuff you want to interact with is pure wordplay

are you saying much of what drives social media on the major platforms has nothing to do with forcing content to your eyeballs, that you would never choose to see otherwise? I'm not suggesting that your activity has zero effect on what makes it to your streams, I am saying that is hardly the full story. In fact, I argue that it's often the content that shows up unbidden that has the impact that makes "social media" the main topic here (imo)
posted by elkevelvet at 11:21 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I'm saying it's dumb to look at FB Reels to understand what the "normies" are watching.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 11:24 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Isn't the "mutual abuse" thing a red herring?

Yes for the court case. However, in the court of public opinion the question being put appears to be "which of these two rich and famous people behaved the worst and should be subject to mob justice for our own entertainment?".
posted by plonkee at 11:26 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


As a data point, consider that while Netflix's algorithm can be disturbingly prescient about specific things you will like, it is nevertheless highly weighted to also constantly push Things That Are Popular as well as Things It Would Really Pay Off for Us If More People Watched Them, Even If They Are Not Your Bag.

The idea that the algorithms only give you the stuff you want is techno-utopian naivete. The fact that they don't actually do that, that they specifically emphatically push shit on you that you definitively do not want is a top five repeating theme for this entire thread.

FB reels is so sloppily put together it could essentially be relabeled Things That Seem Popular to People in Your Demo on Tiktok. It is not a service that provides depth or surprises. If you want to have a private convo about all of the obsessive blocking, unliking, deleting, etc. I spend hours a month on to make sure that FB knows as little about me and what I like as possible, we can do that. But here, let's maybe stay on topic. Either take me at my word that the stuff it shows me is done so because it's popular and that's all it can manage, or just let it drop.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:31 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I had the impression that the question in the trial is not "Did Heard abuse Depp?" but rather "Was Heard wrong to say that Depp abused her?" So if you think they both abused each other, then you must agree that Heard should win the trial.

More specifically, Depp has to climb the mountain that is NYT v. Sullivan, in which to win, he must prove:

* That Heard, you know, lied about being the victim of domestic violence at his hands. Given she proved this to a British court, he's pretty much fucked here.

* That Heard did so out of malice, either actual (she wanted to hurt him specifically) or reckless (she made a false statement not caring who it hurt.) This is why the recordings of her saying "they won't believe you" were brought in - they were ostensibly used to establish malice.

* Finally, he has to prove that he was materially harmed - hence why he's brought up losing roles.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:32 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


A few thoughts jangling around my head since last night:

1. When I first heard murmurings of the divorce my impression was that Heard had been proven to be, at the very least, muddying waters in regards to culpability. My feelings were similar to finding out about Jussie Smollett: "Damn, that sucks and will detract from the larger and very real issue." Seeing people jump on Smollett with glee while remaining strangely silent about all the black folks summarily executed in the streets was extremely telling about their underlying priorities. Same as with Heard.

2. In a Reddit thread someone refuted the negative characterization of Heard and posted a link to the UK judgement. That was the moment I thought "Wait, what?" and decided I should read through and make sure I understood the legal filings and judgement. It took me a few days and I felt both embarrassed and pissed off when I finished. An abuser had played me, again, how could I be so gullible? For women siding with Depp I think there is a very real phenomenon of getting triggered by abuse reports, reminders of not being believed and then misdirected to poor conclusions with incomplete and misleading information.

3. Nobody in this thread is asserting all women are perfect angels who are uniformly oppressed by big bad men and must be believed in every circumstance. Or that women are incapable of harming others. People can be assholes, women are people, ergo... But there is a very real phenomenon of abusers specifically playing the victim which makes sussing out claims difficult at first blush. I've talked to men before who claimed abuse but when I asked them for more details, it turned out they felt women were abusive by yelling back at them or holding them accountable in some way. This is not in any way to say men are not abused; the friend who I spoke to the most after leaving my own DV situation who understood it the best... is a man. Everything he said rang true to me and he never fell into the Missing Missing Reasons you so often see with abusive types. Additionally, my male friend who was abused by his ex very clearly understood the difference of danger between our situations. He could acutely imagine the extra terror if his ex were bigger and stronger and able to kill him with her bare hands.

4. When people talk about giving women the benefit of the doubt, it is because the narrative around false accusations so often frames women as the ones who make false claims and because men are so often given the benefit of the doubt instead. A sociologist out of Australia has some great write-ups on False Allegations and Gender Disparities in Violence with a solid reference lists.

Finally, I think the reason this has so captured the national conversation is because we are going through a backlash period and not just against cis women. Tensions are high, people are angry, resources are feeling strained and outbursts are coming. Please hold each other tight and keep your head on a swivel because those who previously held a monopoly on power are mad at the gains other groups made over the past couple of decades.
posted by JaneTheGood at 12:02 PM on May 20 [43 favorites]


The idea that the algorithms only give you the stuff you want is techno-utopian naivete. The fact that they don't actually do that, that they specifically emphatically push shit on you that you definitively do not want is a top five repeating theme for this entire thread.

Social Media algorithms are optimized for engagement - they want to show you things they think will make you stay and use their product. It makes zero sense for them to they serve you content that will drive you away and reduce engagement. However, doom-scrolling and hate-watching are excellent drivers of engagement, so sites like Facebook are absolutly incentivized to serve you things you don't like if you engage with them. It's not techno-utopian naivete to believe this, it's exactly how they build the products.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:06 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Aja Romano for Vox: Why the Depp-Heard trial is so much worse than you realize
What we’re witnessing here are the dramatically compounded effects of internet researcher Alice Marwick’s theory of morally motivated networked harassment, which holds that a group of social media users can justify any amount of abuse directed at a target if they feel their cause is morally right. At scale, this looks like, and effectively is, millions of people around the world lining up to eagerly subject one woman to untold amounts of abuse, public humiliation, and violent rhetoric. (Incidentally, this is exactly what Depp wanted to happen to her — so even if he loses the case, he still wins).
posted by Nelson at 12:10 PM on May 20 [28 favorites]


Social Media algorithms are optimized for engagement - they want to show you things they think will make you stay and use their product. It makes zero sense for them to they serve you content that will drive you away and reduce engagement. However, doom-scrolling and hate-watching are excellent drivers of engagement, so sites like Facebook are absolutly incentivized to serve you things you don't like if you engage with them. It's not techno-utopian naivete to believe this, it's exactly how they build the products.

I'm not arguing against the idea that algorithms show you things you hate to drive engagement. I'm arguing they also show a fair bit of Things People Seem to Engage With. It's not all Bespoke to You and the Special Things You Click. There's a fair amount of This Thing Gets People Riled Up So We're Going to Shove It on Everybody, even if you personally have never engaged with the topic, clicked on anything like it, anything opposite it, or anything related to it in any way. That's how they build the products. They test you out by feeding you random bits of what they hope is red meat.

You need not take my word alone that this topic is being foisted on people against their will, even when they do not engage. There are many other people in the thread saying the same.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:32 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


So if you think they both abused each other, then you must agree that Heard should win the trial.

Not necessarily, then an aggrieved person could argue that selective evidence or cherry picking was used to make one side come out better off than the other. I think that would be morally wrong. Without trying to give credence to the viral "mutual abuse" thesis, we can still observe that this is the underlying rationale, a morally reasonable one, that the wrong thesis implicitly relies on, which is why it is so effective at taking hold of people's moral intuition.

Actually much modern propaganda and ideology is based on telling a narrow, incomplete truth to constrain people's understanding and impressions.
posted by polymodus at 12:33 PM on May 20


What? no? there is a clear question here, which is whether she should be punished for mentioning that she was once abused in a way that allowed people to infer who the abuser might be.

Like, huh?
posted by sagc at 12:49 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


"Not necessarily, then an aggrieved person could argue that selective evidence or cherry picking was used to make one side come out better off than the other"

That's not at all what's at issue in the trial.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:06 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I think the reason this has so captured the national conversation is because we are going through a backlash period and not just against cis women

I think this is absolutely the case, and I think we see it with so many people being uncomfortable saying that what Depp did was abuse, regardless of what they think about Amber Heard.

I've been thinking a lot about why so many people, and so many who consider themselves outsiders or who face marginalizations, are siding with Depp on this one. And I think there's two things that are absolutely playing into this one:

1) Depp, while being a massive and successful multimillionaire, has made a career out of playing 'lovable weirdos', of playing outcasts, and of playing characters in cult films. When many people see him - especially, but not only, the geek men who propelled Gamergate to such levels - they see themselves. They see him looking like an outsider and they empathize with him. Amber Heard is a conventionally attractive, highly made up, fashionable, cis woman. She has largely played the roles open to her, which were roles for conventionally attractive women who could present as high-powered. And this reminds those men of all the women they feel wouldn't date them, all the women they feel they have been injured by. And they feel, based on stereotypes and their experiences of being outsiders, that Heard is the one with all the power, not Depp.

2) People are not ready - have never been ready - for what to do when someone beloved has engaged in sexual harassment and domestic violence. This is because they're really good at declaring perpetrators of domestic violence as rare outliers who can be banned from all society, rather than tragically common throughout various relationships. And they're not ready for the reckoning that would have to happen in our society if we started accounting for that. It's why they are demanding Heard be a perfect victim - to limit the scope of what we societally penalize.
posted by corb at 1:09 PM on May 20 [41 favorites]


I don't understand you at all, polymodus. My proposition was simple:
1) If they abused each other, then
2) Depp abused Heard, and
3) Heard saying Depp abused her is not a lie, and not a tort, so
4) Heard should win this case.
What are you trying to say that contradicts that logic?
posted by agentofselection at 1:28 PM on May 20 [13 favorites]


Not necessarily, then an aggrieved person could argue that selective evidence or cherry picking was used to make one side come out better off than the other. I think that would be morally wrong. Without trying to give credence to the viral "mutual abuse" thesis, we can still observe that this is the underlying rationale, a morally reasonable one, that the wrong thesis implicitly relies on, which is why it is so effective at taking hold of people's moral intuition.

That's not how courts work, and the fact that you think this is why it's going to be an utter shit show when Depp loses (and barring the jury losing its mind, he will lose.)

Currently, there is one question before the court - did Amber Heard, by calling herself a victim of domestic violence, defame Johnny Depp in doing so? Making matters worse for Gilbert Grape here is that since he is by his own deeds a figure of public interest, he has to do this on Legal Hard Mode - he has to meet the Sullivan standard,which I discussed earlier. Moreover, unlike in the Commonwealth countries, the US does not require the defense to prove the veracity of the claims made, but instead puts the burden where it belongs - on the plaintiff, who has to prove that they are false. Given that Depp's abuse of Heard is so well documented that he lost a British defamation suit, calling this an uphill climb is like saying that the Pacific is wet. In fact, it was so evident that he would lose this case that he had to go forum shopping, because the actual two venues that are relevant - California and DC - have strong anti-SLAPP statutes which would have killed the suit dead. (It's also worth pointing out that in a just world, Depp's lawyer would also face sanction, because one of the big Things You Don't Do As A Lawyer is file a case you know you will lose.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:20 PM on May 20 [22 favorites]


One perspective that I hadn't really considered much in my previous dismissal of all this as "celebrity trash" was the idea that they are both rich and that two rich people having a spat is just.. not that interesting or relevant.

There are versions of the “this is just celebrity trash” take that come out rather haughtily dismissive of people who have a reason to care, to feel something, because the very non-specific-to-rich-celebs facts of the relationship and case parallel something in their own lives. At the same time, there are half a dozen reasons laid out in this thread that the fact of this trial being a public spectacle is very bad for the actual workings of justice. In fact there’s a real way in which the whole thing functions as a P.R. exercise for Depp - if he lost in the U.K. I am very inclined to believe he will lose here, but he will come out of it having activated his fans, having had a chance to play the rakish charming character of himself for an audience, having positioned himself as a symbol and martyr for male victims both real and imagined, and just generally having redirected people to think about bad things Amber Heard did to Johnny Depp, rather than bad things Johnny Depp did to Amber Heard.

So on another level, I’m not sure it’s wrong to resent the very idea of the trial as media event.
posted by atoxyl at 2:35 PM on May 20 [13 favorites]


once the bed shitting accusation went public, that was all she wrote.

It's already a part of Chris Rock's new stand up routine: "Believe all women, except Amber Heard... once you shit in somebody's bed, you guilty of everything."
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:24 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


martyr for male victims both real and imagined

Please don't do this.
posted by Jarcat at 3:35 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


It's already a part of Chris Rock's new stand up routine: "Believe all women, except Amber Heard... once you shit in somebody's bed, you guilty of everything."

And people wonder why a lot of marginalized individuals got catharsis from The Slap.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:44 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]


I believe Heard and think Depp seems like a deeply misogynistic, abusive asshole. And it’s painful to be online lately and be reminded (even more than usual) by discourse surrounding the trial of just how much misogyny and hatred of women is all around us.

There are some really offputting vibes exemplified in this thread, though, towards male DV/abuse survivors, or any DV/abuse survivors who aren’t siding with Heard. Idk, the impression it gives off to me is like, “as long as you agree with me, I’ll respect your claims of abuse and think of you as an autonomous person rather than a pawn in the MRA wars. Otherwise, have you considered that you’re just too biased to see this situation the right way?”

Anyway, my heart goes out to everyone who’s feeling scared and unwelcome and hurt. It sounds like that’s a lot of us right now.
posted by chaiyai at 3:56 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


And people wonder why a lot of marginalized individuals got catharsis from The Slap.

Yeah, and they were still wrong.

An explosive display of male violence that later gets blamed on a woman (I did it because I love her just so much.) isn't ever the answer, even when someone has been put on the list of "bad people". Which brings us back to the irrelevant acts and flaws of Amber Heard and the obscenely vindictive nature of this show trial.
posted by seraphine at 4:12 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


The latest pro-violence twist in this thread is perverse. It seems antithetical to the topic and primarily serves to bring in some old hobby horses (liberals just can't treat the working class right, can they.)

The subject is domestic violence, not "mutual combat" or even less thinly ideological justified violence. Why would you want to bring that up here?
posted by Wood at 4:27 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The subject is domestic violence, not "mutual combat" or even less thinly ideological justified violence. Why would you want to bring that up here?

I assume you're talking about one of my comments, which was mostly off-topic, and I apologize.

It came up because of the idea that not all violence is equal. Specifically, the comment a couple above mine:

everyone needs to understand that hitting the person who hit you first is not in fact a sign that you are a monster even if it's not always the ideal way to respond.

posted by small_ruminant at 5:13 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah I get that, Heard may have responded to violence with violence, she may have been defending herself, and it's relevant to talk about how not all violence is the same. Seems like folks decided to start riffing pretty hard into a wide ranging discussion of justified violence though.
posted by Wood at 5:20 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The subject is domestic violence, not "mutual combat" or even less thinly ideological justified violence. Why would you want to bring that up here?

It got brought up in context of Chris Rock deciding to get cheap laughs out of Heard's suffering in a way that undermines victims of domestic violence, pointing out that this is the sort of behavior that had people on the receiving end of these sorts of "jokes" taking schadenfreude at Rock making a similar sort of "joke" and receiving immediate consequences for doing so.

Beyond that, there was an earlier discussion about how our cultural attitude of Violence Is Inherently Wrong has resulted in teens following the trial to view Heard fighting back as a sign that she's not a real victim, because a real victim would just take the abuse, and how that viewpoint is really fucking terrifying, because it's teaching that people don't have a right to protect themselves. I find it rather revolting, myself, to see people saying that it's somehow wrong for victims of abuse to respond with violence, especially when their pleas for the abuse to stop fall on deaf ears, and that ethics that are more concerned with the behavior of victims rather than that of abusers are shitty ethics.

(Also, at this point I find lines like "bad people" to be a form of bad faith argumentation designed to make the argument that it is wrong for some group to view an individual or group negatively, while tiptoing around discussing why they might think so for fear of having to face that they might have a point.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:24 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]


That was a genuinely clarifying comment, since up until now I was thinking this was about The Slap. Interesting that the incident has become a representative Thing.
posted by sagc at 5:28 PM on May 20


Heard as an openly bisexual woman also amplifies the abuse aimed at her socially. She is an acceptable target for social opprobrium because she is defiantly a non-innocent victim within a culture that is homophobic and misogynist.

It is triggering as hell but I high recommend Princess Weekes' video about true crime thinking.

Over the past few years I've had a short and sharp education about DV and men, particularly including other intersections of marginalisation. A friend of mine talked about expressions of anger after one of those "men are allowed to be emotional we just don't designate anger as an emotion" because for him? No. He is a giant of a human, he is a brown man in a racist society, and is considered angry and threatening no matter what he does. We talked about how my experiences mean I probably would cry or freak out or even have a flashback if he yelled at me - even if it was justified anger. Because there's no way to make us physically equal. And it's a horrible situation because he is allowed to be angry, he is allowed to argue, but the fear he inspires means any expression of that is intimidating and easily considered abusive. He isn't punching walls or throwing things or standing over anyone - but any hint of anger from a man who has to turn ceiling fans off and is correspondingly built is going to trigger my fear responses. As a brown man that's compounded. He, and another man I know, have been in relationships where they have been injured, physically, by partners who are emotionally abusive, because their bodies are seen as appropriate or safe targets. They have triggers and difficulties around that, and being fetishised, and both do have histories of pub fights and the like. All of that gets used against them by abusive partners.

But that isn't relevant here. As much as Heard may feel like certain abusers for some - so does Depp. His lawyers edited recordings and leaked them in order to emphasise this. They work, deliberately, to characterise her in a way that makes it easy for that to happen - she is queer, she has BPD, she doesn't react right, she hits, she lies, and even the shitting the bed stuff. Because it's a really obvious and common trope to apply to her - see every movie about an abusive woman.

I am proud of my kid for identifying the disconnect between "if anyone hit me I would hit them back" and "she hit him so it's mutual abuse". I grew up much more violently than her, even putting aside the violence from my father, and I cringe away at the idea a good victim just cowers.

The social connections are, academically, a thing I keep an eye on. The disconnects and scripts. I'm fascinated by the increasing retcon and revamping of Aileen Wuornos as a vengeful anti-hero that I've seen cropping up since the Roe v Wade leak, and the continuing aggression against Heard. The way the argument against her centres on a few fairly specific viral takedowns by people who are ill-informed themselves.

The true crime thinking, as Weekes puts it, where you go over court footage and body language analysis gets elevated to forensics (a: anyone neurodiverse should be horrified about body language analysis personally and everyone should worry about it being seen as reliable and b: check out reliability of forensics as a field). All of that is about social networks and the role of the algorithm. The real time feedback into black boxes that prioritise engagement over everything so no matter how you engage, it counts, and is aggregated.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:00 PM on May 20 [23 favorites]


martyr for male victims both real and imagined

Please don't do this.

I really was not trying to be nasty there, sorry. I had some concern that the breezy juxtaposition of those categories might come off the wrong way but I let it stand for lack of a clearer idea how to say it succinctly. One of my main ideas here is that this is a hyperreal event that pretty much everybody is experiencing as a reflection of their own lives (and/or parasocial relationship with the personas involved) as much as an issue of the underlying facts. I don’t think that’s wrong of people, I think it’s kind of unavoidable. I was just, if I’m listing people who are likely to come out with sympathy for Depp here, I’d think there are some for whom his story resonates with something authentically terrible that happened to them, and inevitably some others for whom it resonates with a dubious grudge they have. I wasn’t trying to put those on a moral level.
posted by atoxyl at 7:27 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


"One of my main ideas here is that this is a hyperreal event that pretty much everybody is experiencing as a reflection of their own lives (and/or parasocial relationship with the personas involved) as much as an issue of the underlying facts"

I didn't mean to give any support to the anti-Heard faction. I'm just trying to understand why the people around me are doing what they are doing. I'm sorry.
posted by Audreynachrome at 3:01 AM on May 21


I'm pretty much taking a break from Metafilter because of this thread, but I wanted this left here for posterity: The Daily Wire Spent Thousands of Dollars Promoting Anti-Amber Heard Propaganda.

I assure you they're not the only org doing this.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:12 AM on May 21 [26 favorites]


Depp supporters are also harassing the wrong Rocky Pennington.
posted by ishmael at 11:50 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Those harassing messages to (the wrong) Rocky Pennington are a great example of the misogyny the article is talking about.
posted by subdee at 7:18 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]


Just to make the Rocky Pennington debacle more absurd, the "wrong" Rocky Pennington is mostly on the same side as the people who have incorrectly targeted her: she's quoted in the article as saying she thinks Heard & the other Pennington are lying, and then she tells people on the internet to do their research before mouthing off to others. Le sigh.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:14 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Just checking back in to say that I did have a talk with my daughter about the TikTok version of the trial versus stuff like in the ValkyrieSexual Tumbler post. Turns out she was already doubting the Depp side because he's friends with accused rapist M. Manson (a subject she asked me about a few weeks back). Interestingly, the fact that really got her attention was the age difference between Heard and Depp.

I should also mention I don't think there was any hate for Amber Heard from her and her friends. It was mostly "Amber Heard's lawyer is a dumb-butt in this video, so she might be bad too or Depp could be innocent" type stuff. Her one friend who wants Depp to be innocent probably just needs time (and a few hard facts) to come around to the same conclusion she has about Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, which, I am told, is that she likes Potter but hates Rowling.
posted by house-goblin at 8:36 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I am told, is that she likes Potter but hates Rowling

It seems important for kids to learn that it's fine to dislike a movie because of what you know about the actor, that one might feel an ethical obligation to boycott a certain author, but if you don't feel that way, you don't have to pretend to hate the Pirates movies or force yourself to dislike Harry Potter in order to condemn Depp's behavior or denounce Rowling's transphobia.
posted by straight at 10:23 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


"...you don't have to pretend to hate the Pirates movies or force yourself to dislike Harry Potter in order to condemn Depp's behavior or denounce Rowling's transphobia."

Though I think the dislike is genuine, I think my daughter calling it "hate" is just preteen hyperbole. In this case, both girls have re-watched old Potter movies together, within the last year, despite their disagreement with Rowling going back 3 or more years. Their school has been giving them inclusive Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) teachings since kindergarten. There's also quite a push against bullying and abuse.

Like, to get back a bit closer to the main topic, my daughter recently told her mother and I that a boy at school was directing rape comments at some of the girls. It came up because the day she told us was the day the girls overcame the schoolyard code of silence (plus they know the boy has some sort of condition) and went to the teachers. It was the girl who "hates" Rowling who did the deed.
posted by house-goblin at 3:10 PM on May 26


I just think it's cool when kids can make that distinction, since so many adults seem unable to separate their opinions of these actors from how much they like the roles they've played.
posted by straight at 3:34 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


@clairewillett: literally cannot get away from the pro j*hnny d*pp hashtags no matter how many times i mark them in the sidebar as "harmful or spammy", just reiterating that i've NEVER had another topic where i rejected it this many times and the algorithm still keeps regularly serving it to me
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:01 AM on May 30 [11 favorites]


Trending today on Twitter: #AmberHeardDeservesPrison. Which is just as vile as you might imagine. It's very hard for me to believe there's a continuing organic group of people so personally upset about a libel lawsuit. Then again if it is genuine, that's even worse than an orchestrated campaign.
posted by Nelson at 11:13 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


@clairewillett: literally cannot get away from the pro j*hnny d*pp hashtags no matter how many times i mark them in the sidebar as "harmful or spammy", just reiterating that i've NEVER had another topic where i rejected it this many times and the algorithm still keeps regularly serving it to me

Depp's team is spending millions of dollars to influence online opinion in this case. I don't know this to be a fact, but a person I know who tracks this thing says that his operation has been in place for years in an attempt to rehab his reputation, and has spun into high gear as the trial commenced. I don't mean to say most of the content being produced isn't 'organic', but that it's being buttressed and aided by paid reputation management firms, along with one of the world's largest PR company.
posted by chaz at 1:03 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


It's very hard for me to believe there's a continuing organic group of people so personally upset about a libel lawsuit.

They're not upset about a libel lawsuit. You can tell by asking them if Depp's claim can satisfy even the first prong of a "Sullivan" analysis, ("Are Amber Heard's statements in the WaPo oped false? If so, what is your evidence showing they're false") and that they are unable to engage it at that level. They just really love Johnny Depp's cheekbones.
posted by mikelieman at 2:56 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]


The only Internet contact I've had with this topic, is reading this thread. I've not been on Facebook or Twitter. The only thing I do on YouTube is watch critical role and animal videos. And yet every single one of my suggested videos on YouTube is about this court case.
Not sure which is more alarming, the idea that this is just an automated system pushing this topic, or that someone is paying for it to happen. Or both.
posted by Zumbador at 9:52 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


I think the media and the algorithms across social media push this story because there is a huge audience following it globally, I see the same effects of amplification even outside of the US. I have spent just a few minutes watching the live feed of the trial from one major news organization on TikTok (there are several broadcasting it live on TikTok in addition to YouTube) and all the fast scrolling comments I saw below the video looked like they were produced by actual humans watching, same for the deluge of commentary on Twitter. Depp may have a good PR team but really he also simply has a ton of fans worldwide, plus there are people who just tagged along and became his supporters in the trial because of various reasons including just the appeal of participating in something like this.

Anyway, the effects are really disconcerting and I found this article in Vice makes a great point that I've not seen elsewhere yet:

But even if Heard is lying, would it justify the hate swarming our social media feeds? “Wouldn’t you still say it’s not OK—I don’t want her harmed, I don’t want her hurt?” Khan said.


Really, aside from the questions about what kind of benefits would she be seeking by lying (none really, she wasn't the one bringing this to court twice and the very reactions to the trial demonstrate she's only gotten harmed by it being a public spectacle), even if for a moment we entertain the hypothesis she made it all up... the vitriol and mocking and misogyny against her is still so crass and so ferocious it's a form of harassment itself, and has terrible consequences for all victims of partner abuse. You don't even have to fully 100 per cent believe everything she alleges to see that problem.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:33 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Not sure which is more alarming, the idea that this is just an automated system pushing this topic, or that someone is paying for it to happen. Or both.

For me, the most distressing thing is that human beings remain susceptible enough to this kind of industrial-scale opinion sculpting for it to be worth bothering to do in the first place.
posted by flabdablet at 4:04 AM on May 31 [12 favorites]


The jury just ruled for Johnny Depp. This is going to be horrible for women who have experienced physical abuse.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:21 PM on June 1 [8 favorites]


The jury gave Depp $15 million.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:26 PM on June 1


The jury just ruled for Johnny Depp

Fuuuuuuuuck. On all counts? Any ray of light anywhere?
posted by corb at 12:27 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Looks like they are ruling in favor of some but not all of Heard's defamation counterclaim. They're giving her $2 million. So she ends up owing him $13 million.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:28 PM on June 1


I fundamentally do not understand this verdict and hope it is appealed, but also I don't know if she has the money, time, or give-a-fuck to do so.
posted by corb at 12:38 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


And now abusers have a license to sue their victims for speaking out about abuse.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:38 PM on June 1 [9 favorites]


This makes me so sad.
posted by virago at 12:41 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


I was on the phone and missed the verdict reading, but looking at Twitter it looks like he was awarded $10 million plus $5 million (the latter capped at $350,000 under VA law), she was awarded $2 million, for a net of him getting $8.35 million. There will probably be an appeal though right, especially given the stark difference between that and the UK decision?
posted by Rhaomi at 12:42 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


You just know there's going to be a hit Netflix docuseries in five to ten years about how Amber Heard was right all along.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:44 PM on June 1 [14 favorites]


Not one gloating reply on twitter seems to be made by a real human, it's all firstnamebunchofnumbers, anime avis, that sort of thing. Though depressingly I'm sure there are plenty of genuine actors in there.

At least this'll curtail my dregs-of-browsing-session look at the front page of reddit for a good few months.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:49 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


Urg. Someone I know has been big on Depp-as-abused, tying it in with their experiences with domestic violence. I'm not looking forward to pointedly avoiding the topic (since I don't see a viable path to untangling those two subjects)
posted by CrystalDave at 12:55 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the jury found for Depp - but then said that his lawyer defamed Heard when he called her abuse allegations a hoax.

These positions are mutually exclusive.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:27 PM on June 1 [14 favorites]


Not saying it makes any sense, but the jury seems to have tried to find some kind of "They're both bad, but especially Amber Heard" verdict.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:30 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]


From the amount I've made myself look, the counter-claim was about a specifc incident of Depp's camp accusing Herd's of conspiring to collaborate stories about one event, so it's not as bizarre as it seems.

Still struggling to square this with the uk verdict.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:35 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Not saying it makes any sense, but the jury seems to have tried to find some kind of "They're both bad, but especially Amber Heard" verdict.

Which isn't their fucking job. Their job was to rule on one specific question - did Heard, by calling herself a victim of domestic violence, defame Depp? And by their own fucking admission, the answer is a resounding no. This ruling is really fucking dangerous - it undermines the principle that the truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:37 PM on June 1 [18 favorites]


Absolutely agree. It's bonkers that they seem to have tried come up with a verdict that reflects horribly skewed public sentiment on the case, rather than any coherent take on the law.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:39 PM on June 1 [8 favorites]


Was the jury sequestered for this trial? I'm scared to google and get deluged with stuff.
posted by PussKillian at 2:20 PM on June 1


No, the jury wasn't sequestered. They were instructed not to look up any outside information about the trial, but one has to wonder how well they would have been able to follow that instruction, given how much information about it was showing up in my Twitter feed / YouTube recommendations even though I very much have not been looking for it.
posted by Jeanne at 2:28 PM on June 1 [9 favorites]


I'm so tired of people reacting to extreme events by inventing a middle.

My favorite actor regularly got drunk and beat his wife? No, that's too much. Maybe they had a bad relationship and both made mistakes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:54 PM on June 1 [18 favorites]




I have been reconsidering my thoughts on this in light of the thread and the comments made here. I think that Amber Heard has presented credible evidence of abuse and that Johnny Depp was her abuser. Unfortunately the folks on Metafilter did a better job arguing her case than her lawyers. I hope this will be appealed and that she will prevail in the court of public opinion eventually.
posted by interogative mood at 6:32 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]


The judge fucked up big time by not sequestering this jury. Anyone who didn't grasp that Depp v. Heard was going to attract wall-to-wall media attention had to have been unbelievably naive.

Given the aforementioned saturation coverage, probably the rest of my comment amounts to closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. (I am not a lawyer.)

However, if Heard's lawyers appeal and there is a retrial, I hope they read this Florida Bar Journal article, in which Ralph Artigliere, Jim Barton and Bill Hahn suggest how the judge's instructions to the jury could be amended to balance the need for jurors to communicate with family and friends against the need for jurors to remain unaffected by outside influences during the trial:
If there is a concern about incoming messages during trial, perhaps judges could give jurors the following suggestion for an outgoing email, text and/or tweet that they could immediately send to friends and/or family right after being sworn in:

"I am sending this note to you as instructed by Judge ______. I am now a sworn juror in a trial. I am sequestered. This means I am not allowed to read or comment upon anything to do with the subject of the trial, the parties involved, the attorneys, or anything else related to my service as a juror. Please do not send me any materials; do not email, text or tweet me any questions or comments about this case or my service as a juror. Please do not text or email me in the course of this trial except in an emergency. I will send you a note when I am released from my service as a juror."

Jurors could leave a variation of this email as the greeting on their voicemail during their service, including an emergency number for use by a caller when warranted. They could then turn off their phones for as long as necessary.
posted by virago at 7:02 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]


Thank you metafilter for being one of the only "social media" sites on the entire internet with a sane opinion on this trial.

https://pocketsbigger.tumblr.com/post/685889716908916736/and-then-ppl-not-even-realizing-that-him-winning

https://spaceeoddity.tumblr.com/post/685865638683639808/as-a-verdict-is-possibly-hours-away-a-sense-of

Here's some posts on Tumblr on the trial verdict. Both of these posters had to turn replies and messages off bc they received harassment after posting.
posted by subdee at 7:51 PM on June 1 [7 favorites]


Still struggling to square this with the uk verdict.

The UK verdict was given by a UK judge who considered the evidence presented in court on its merits and then wrote a lengthy account of his interpretation of the meaning of every piece of it.

The US verdict was given by a jury that, aside from being in no way as accountable for its deliberations as a judge, had been exposed to the single most potent onslaught of shaped-charge armour-piercing single-issue PR I've ever seen deployed in my life, and that's even with clear memories of the interminable bleating of lies about Saddam having "thrown out" weapons inspectors that the Bush Administration wheeled out in an attempt to legitimize its illegal invasion of Iraq.

This is a circle that requires no squaring. I still can't work out whether I'm more deeply saddened by the verdict itself or the fact that I wasn't even slightly surprised by it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:31 AM on June 2 [18 favorites]




@filmgal: marilyn manson is going to do this exact same thing to evan rachel wood
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:44 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]


@JohnDeLillo: imagine thinking one line in a washington post op-ed ruined an actor's career after he spent a decade showing up to set late, drunk, and without having his lines memorized lol
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:02 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]




Daily Beast has Taika Waititi among the celebs cheering Depp on socials, pretty gutted on that.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:32 AM on June 2 [9 favorites]


It really feels like a lot of people who should know better have been just trying to take the temp on this case from headlines and social media coverage, completely unaware both a) how heavily seeded with pro-Depp content that sphere is and b) how absolutely unambiguous the actual evidence is in favor of Heard.

Nice people I know, women, survivors of bad situations, feminists, progressives, POC, cheering this online
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:21 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]


Abigail Nussbaum says it all in her comment on Lawyersgunsandmoney's discussion of the verdict (sort by Best, it's at the top):
I just want to make one point, and I think it's one that all the both-sides-ers trying to pretend like "they're both toxic" is a wise and reasonable position would do well to consider: this trial, itself, was an act of abuse. This was Depp's second bite at the apple, having venue-shopped for a state with no anti-SLAPP laws where he could get the proceedings televised. He spent millions of dollars promoting toxic memes and encouraging the public perception that the whole thing was just a joke. He went out of his way to destroy her reputation and turn her into a laughingstock. Right in front of our eyes, he committed emotional and financial abuse. This is not, and was never, a both sides situation.
PS Virginia has an anti-SLAPP law, but apparently it's relatively loose.
posted by virago at 7:46 AM on June 2 [17 favorites]


Nice people I know, women, survivors of bad situations, feminists, progressives, POC, cheering this online

I'm having the same experience.

With all the sad and horrific things going down in the world right now, on top of some very difficult issues I'm dealing with in my personal life, this verdict and the subsequent "spiking the ball" on Heard by so many people I had high opinions of and by people who ought to have had a lot more empathy for Heard is the thing that's got me really, really down.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:00 AM on June 2 [13 favorites]


Some background on SLAPP laws and their significance, from NECN [Editorializing is mine]:
Heard and Depp are Hollywood actors who do not live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But Depp was allowed to sue in Virginia because the news outlet that ran (Heard's op-ed), The Washington Post, "houses its printing press and online server in Fairfax County." The Post is not named as a defendant in the case. [The Post's owner, Jeff Bezos, has deeper pockets than nearly anyone else on the planet. Coincidence? I think not.]

Depp's lawyer acknowledged in a pretrial hearing that one of the reasons they brought the case in a Fairfax County courthouse is that Virginia's anti-SLAPP protection is not as broad as the one in California.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and are commonly used to intimidate and silence criticism through expensive, drawn-out legal proceedings. Thirty-one states have laws protecting defendants (in) anti-SLAPP cases to prevent powerful interests from using lawsuits to intimidate critics from using their First Amendment rights.

... (Unlike California's anti-SLAPP law, Virginia's) doesn't include a mechanism for frivolous cases to be dismissed before the trial begins or for the plaintiff to pay the defendant's legal costs if they lose the case (or the lawsuit is dismissed).
Also, James Finley of Northern Virginia magazine wrote last November on anti-SLAPP venue shopping and how lawyers in state legislature protect their own interests in How the Depp v. Heard trial might've been prevented -- and why the effort failed.
posted by virago at 8:30 AM on June 2 [10 favorites]


this trial, itself, was an act of abuse. This was Depp's second bite at the apple, having venue-shopped for a state with no anti-SLAPP laws where he could get the proceedings televised

Yep - and the reactions of the fans, the crowds who made a Pirates of the Caribbean ship and rolled it in front of the courthouse...this is absolutely telling survivors that if your abuser is famous and popular, you will never be heard.
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


justice for johnny is this decade's ethics in journalism
posted by i used to be someone else at 12:10 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]


Heard will be appealing; also for all of us who were like "how can they look at the UK judgment and say this", apparently the fact that the UK court ruled that the abuse had happened was not allowed to be brought up at this trial.
posted by corb at 12:12 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Can we start referring to him as "John Depp" just to annoy him?
posted by rhizome at 1:41 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


"John Christopher Depp" has that crime-reportage convicted-felon middle-name thing going on, so I'll be sticking with that.
posted by flabdablet at 1:47 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


Maybe they had a bad relationship and both made mistakes? Maybe could be possible?
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 1:57 PM on June 2


"John Christopher Depp II" - even his name isn't original.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:19 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Pretty good take from Michael Hobbs. Overall a long read.

In hindsight, the verdict came down the minute the judge allowed the case to be televised. Jurors weren’t sequestered or sheltered from the internet in any way, meaning they were likely exposed to the same bad-faith memes and out-of-context clips as everyone else. Plus, this case has been swirling around the internet for years, making an impartial jury an impossibility in the first place. One man was allowed to stay in the jury pool after revealing a text from his wife that read, “Amber is psychotic.”

I've never been so bombarded with a particular position on anything I don't think. These past six weeks I couldn't even open a new browser tab without at least one article about the case plastered across the screen (there were two side by side today, ugh). And this dude stays on the jury after his wife is pressuring him to see her as psychotic? This was deliberate abdication of due process.

Capitalist media held this trial and misogyny has the deppest pockets on the planet.
posted by CPAnarchist at 6:51 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]


No, just "John Depp!" I don't think increasing the formality of it, the plain shortening de-heartthrobs his name and puts the speaker in a kind of inappropriate first-name basis space that doesn't actually exist. "John Depp, elder statesman of law-enforcement TV" in the stories announcing his return to TV as hard-charging prosecutor Clark Abernathy in SVU or whatever.
posted by rhizome at 8:34 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


This is a decent overview (with receipts) of a bunch of points against Depp and his case, like the fact that the witness who cried on the stand about "false accusations" was a long time friend of Depp's who had received significant financial support from him.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:18 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


There is a lawyer who has a yt channel that reviews cases that I watch occasionally. I'm not espousing that opinion personally. And I'm not particularly attached to that yt channel nor that commentor.

Their take on it was that Heard was caught lying too many times on the stand, and that the jury punished her for it.

That lawyer in their experience also believed that neither of them was going to pay the other anything. And that none of them would like seek remedy for that in the courts.

Now I don't know whether I am should un-subscribe that channel or what.

I mean if this case mutes people getting help to get away from abusive, toxic relationships then I don't understand what the fuck we are doing.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 9:41 PM on June 2


Their take on it was that Heard was caught lying too many times on the stand, and that the jury punished her for it.

Lying about what, specifically? From what I've read, she had a great deal of documentation-- photographs, texts contemporary with the timing of the abuse, statements from witnesses. What did she lie about?
posted by jokeefe at 5:13 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Maybe they had a bad relationship and both made mistakes? Maybe could be possible?

Not in this lifetime.
posted by jokeefe at 5:14 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Maybe they had a bad relationship and both made mistakes? Maybe could be possible?

The problem with "they both suck" is an implied equality to it. That they are both equally to blame, that they abused each other in an exact 50/50 split. Which, if you think about it, would be near impossible even if they tried that. Given Depp's greater social cachet--older, male, more wealthy, more famous, more connected, etc.--it was almost certainly the case that Heard had less leverage in the relationship and therefore was more likely to sustain abuse.

She didn't have as much power as him, full stop, so it's kind of sort of impossible that the abuse was equal, much less that she abused him more. Anyone with experience with the classical abusive relationship dynamic knows that it's almost always men who have power over and abuse their wives. That's the vast, vast majority of abuse cases. Sure it's *possible* that Heard abused Depp more, but extremely, extremely, extremely unlikely.
posted by zardoz at 6:25 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I've been thinking about this, specifically about the person I mentioned upthread who's a self-proclaimed feminist but an ardent Depp supporter. I'm trying to square that circle, and I hit on something else about this person, which is that their idiosyncratic approach to capitalism. This person is in sales, and like a lot of successful salespeople, she views capitalism as a meritocracy, but maybe even further. They justify their success as not just meritocratic, but almost Calvinistically predetermined. Success is evidence that they have been chosen by God for their righteousness. So Johnny Depp was not cast as Jack Sparrow because he's a naturally talented actor, or because he works hard at his craft, or because he's attractive, or whatever. The reason Depp was cast as Sparrow is because he's a certified Good Person, and the reason the Pirates movies did so well at the box office were because the other cast and crew members were also Good People. Amber Heard is not as famous or successful, and the only possible reason why is because she's not a Good Person. And it's not possible for a Good Person to behave badly toward a Bad Person; that would be paradoxical. Feminism, here, is not any real set of policies, just the notion that women are capable of being Good People too. Because again, otherwise it would be paradoxical. When women were mostly housewives, this could have been controversial, but now that women have careers and are public figures, it's obvious that women can be Good People, and so feminism yay. But feminism doesn't mean supporting or listening to *all* women, because some, even most, are Bad.

This theory has the benefit of explaining why seemingly untalented people have success (they're Good People, even if they're not good singers or actors or businesspeople), and why some people can play by the rules and do everything right and still not succeed (they're Bad People and God or whoever knows it). It's kind of amazing Amber Heard was ever even cast in Aquaman, given her defects. But Bad People can be quite deceptive, hence how a Bad Person like Harvey Weinstein (another public figure this person had strong feelings about) can be so successful. And this is why their fall is so sweet: finally the Good People realized that Weinstein wasn't Good, and he got what Bad People deserve. It almost doesn't matter what Weinstein did. His crime wasn't sexual assault or harrassment; it was Being Bad.

I should note that this person has on more than one occasion suggested that the Kardashian family should be role models for my young daughter. My wife and I could not understand what she was talking about, but the Kardashians are successful, and therefore Good, so...

I'm probably extrapolating too much from a sample size of one, but I think there's something there.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:33 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


Interesting hypothesis. It is true that fucking Calvinists fuck everything up.
posted by mikelieman at 2:56 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


The belief that successful people are successful because they are deserving is called the "Just World Fallacy" and I'm sure it does have a lot to do with why some people are supporting Depp.

But I think a lot of it is also the thing described in this Slate piece: "I Know What So Many People See in Johnny Depp"
At the peak of his career, Depp was an alternative to the stereotypical leading man. He gave life to a set of misunderstood outsiders: Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Cry-Baby. Off screen, he was soft-spoken, laid-back, and girlishly beautiful (those cheekbones!). Depp operated in contrast to the overtly macho, confident jocks who mostly dominated teenage coming-of-age stories in the ’90s.

That a man could be misunderstood, soft, or awkward was a welcome and hopeful thing. This alternate construction of masculinity struck at the heart of the more conventional formulations that depict a certain grade of masculinity as an immutable, essential fact: Men are tough, self-assured, they do not hesitate or doubt—they take action. Often, there was little room to understand their interior world. You will not be let in, try as you might.

Depp seemed different.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:05 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


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