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How My Opinion of Johnny Depp Changed

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard pose for a photograph at a celebrity event.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard pose for a photograph at a celebrity event. Photo by GabboT.

The views in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Broke-Ass Stuart or his editors.

We can all agree that the trial of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard is a unique and cultural moment. Saturday Night Live recently parodied the drama, recycling the spectacle and multiplying the number of times it appears in my feed. I can’t wait for the inevitable docu-series and its fresh, new perspective. For now the trial continues, and support for Depp on the internet has been overwhelming. It’s possible he could win, and let’s be honest: it’s wildly entertaining. This factor plays a major role in the trial’s outcome in that it ultimately comes down to a court of public opinion.

I spent a day watching large portions of Depp’s testimony and cross-examination early in the trial, riveted by the window to their strange, tempestuous marriage. I already knew I was extremely partial towards him. Johnny Depp’s weird indie movies all debuted by the time I was thirteen, and then Pirates of the Caribbean cemented my love for him. I’ve seen nearly all his movies (yes, even Arizona Dream). I even knew that my awareness of this bias probably wasn’t enough to remain neutral. Trials can become a Rorschach test, where one’s willingness to believe or disbelieve hinges on opinion.

Despite having this all at the forefront of my mind, I still felt unsure about whether to believe Heard. What if she was taking advantage of someone with a terrible substance abuse problem? People frequently adopt strong views based on the media they consume, which is why it’s important we investigate how that occurs. I have since changed my views entirely, illuminated not by the destination but the journey itself. 

Thanks to the state of the media in America, I deeply resent it when the public jumps to conclusions.

This celebrity trial offered a glimpse of this process at work. Issues are so quickly politicized that one often feels forced to choose sides before they’ve had a chance to engage with the rhetoric and ideology. I also hate that women and people of color feel pressure to sustain media attention just for a chance of getting justice. The media should not be a substitute for the justice system. Initially I assumed the general public considered Johnny Depp yet another #MeToo, but my skepticism led me to wonder about the granular details. I’m confident this wasn’t the popular opinion, but with so many of us getting our news from competing outlets, it’s easy to feel manipulated.

This happens all the time among liberals attempting to rebel against the media that surrounds us, and to separate ourselves from the mainstream, we create an artificial binary. The opposition is dismissed, and those with nuanced views are punished by their own peers. A reluctance to associate with an opposing viewpoint prevents us from diving deeper into our own problems. 

Amber Heard’s behavior is triggering.

I’ve experienced some toxic female friendships. The recordings of Heard’s nasty language, dramatic hot-and-cold text messages, the passive and aggressive acts—all very reminiscent of those experiences with other women. I doubt I’m the only one who reacted this way. Besides, Johnny Depp has acted in some of my favorite movies, and my visceral reaction to him is warm and fuzzy.

But Depp got to testify first.

The evidence he provided paints an unflattering portrait of Amber Heard, one indicative of a personality disorder. Given my inclination towards Depp, who set the trial’s tone by going first, it didn’t seem all that impossible she was fabricating things.

YouTube algorithms are insanely diabolical.

I watched long segments of uncut video purportedly direct from the court, so I figured I could draw my own conclusions from their contents. While I tried to maintain my skepticism during both accounts, I tended towards Depp’s innocence because the evidence against Heard seemed more damning. As I clicked on more Depp-focused footage, I noticed clips were getting shorter and more curated. Eventually I stumbled onto meme-ified edits like this, and I began to realize what was going on.

I read the comments.

I read the comments. I know you’re not supposed to do that. Nevertheless I scrolled deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of YouTube commentary and noticed just how similar the sentiments were. “She’s so awful, poor Johnny was suffering from substance abuse and instead of helping him, she recorded him.” The near-absence of statements in Heard’s favor struck me as odd given how controversial virtually everything online becomes.

I turned to Google.

I turned to Google. Phrasing makes all the difference. An article by NPR tells of Anti-Heard sentiments being actively pushed by Men’s Rights and Anti-Feminist activists. USA Today identified Johnny Depp’s toxic fandom as a culprit of social media smear campaigns against Amber Heard. Of course the point of view I adopted which seemed so ubiquitous was in fact manufactured, installed with upsettingly accurate precision. A recent piece in the New Yorker dug into Depp’s history with Heard and presents less than favorable evidence.

A combination of bias, skepticism, and personal experience blended with a highly manipulated internet algorithm had instilled in me a false sense of having come to my own conclusion. Is Heard telling the truth, or is Johnny Depp just a better actor? I believe Amber Heard, and the onslaught of hate she’s receiving is unacceptable. I also believe some of what Depp said—Heard may indeed be abusive, but that doesn’t mean she’s lying.

Regardless, I hope they both get the help they need.

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Genie

Genie

Genie Cartier is a San Francisco native. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in English/ Creative Writing and earned an MFA in Creative Writing/ Poetry from SFSU. Check out her novella Fog City Summer on this website. When not writing, she is also a professional circus performer of 24 years and will be directing Dark Side of the Circus, a circus choreographed to Pink Floyd, in April 2020. Find out more at http://cartiersisters.weebly.com/.

8 Comments

  1. June 1, 2022 at 10:28 am — Reply

    The widespread misogyny against Amber Heard is what rape culture looks like.

    • June 3, 2022 at 5:30 pm — Reply

      …..aaaaaaand the cry-baby Depp-defenders inevitably find their way to these comments to defend the (lack of) honour of the spouse-beating profligate they call their hero.

      They’re the same type who think the moon landing was faked or that COVID is “just like the flu”.

  2. Doug
    June 1, 2022 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    At this point I don’t care whether Amber Heard was lying or not. What stands out for me were the endlessly hateful and abusive comments I continually read from fans of “Johnny.” She didn’t deserve that. Hackers changing her name on IMDB? Disgusting. If this trial has taught me anything, it’s that there are an unfathomable amount of individuals in our country who have such seriously empty lives that they can easily become so personally invested in a Hollywood actor’s private life. A lot of these people commented as though they seriously thought they personally knew him based on his public persona. Scary as hell.

    • LoverofTruth&Fairness
      June 2, 2022 at 11:02 pm — Reply

      You really don’t care whether Amber was lying about Depp abusing her?

      Well, that says it all. Truth is irrelevant to you. It’s all about your agenda being furthered.

  3. Domingo
    June 2, 2022 at 8:30 am — Reply

    You don’t need “youtube comments” or anything else to come to your own conclusion, just watch Amber Heard’s own testimony! The crying with no tears (an ovbious red flag), the bizarro stories and the changing stories, the lack of photo evidence, the lack of medical evidence, the fact that no one in Hollywood or elsewhere supports Heard, the fact that Heard has a history of abusing people and Depp does not, Heard’s strange combative testimoney equating “pledging” with “donating”, (imagine being a juror and experiencing that! its like you’re getting a front seat window to the twisted AH that Depp experienced), it goes on and on…. Heard obviously has mental health issues and dragged Depp into an abusive relationship. If 99% of the time its the woman on the receiving end of the abuse, this is the 1% where it was the man. If you’re a feminist like I am, you’re horrified of people like Amber Heard who vengefully piggybacked on MeToo in an attempt to smear Depp for wanting to be rid of her. It’s a lesson: believe the accuser, give them the benefit of the doubt – but definitely always check the facts before jumping to conclusions. The trial was a step forward, if there was any step back for women, it was curtesy of AH. Amber Heard is as toxic as it gets. Her own televised testimony revealed that. It was brillaint to have it televised.

  4. LoverofTruth&Fairness
    June 2, 2022 at 10:59 pm — Reply

    It is abundantly clear to anyone with an open mind who watched the trial that someone is a huge and histrionic liar. The jury watched and came to their conclusion.

    It is disgustingly unAmerican and just plain morally wrong to condemn an accused person based on the ideology that once someone has declared themselves a “victim” that that person’s obvious lack of credibility should be ignored.

    Shame on you BrokeAss for supporting this misandrist and morally bankrupt attempted spinning of this case. I truly expected better from you than bowing down to the PC powers that be.

  5. Moi
    June 4, 2022 at 4:59 am — Reply

    Genie, why sell the farm when you have something left?

    Your comment: “Thanks to the state of the media in America, I deeply resent it when the public jumps to conclusions.”

    My comment: “So why did you do the same thing?”

    I find this article to be a head-scratcher. You seem to want (to own) your conclusion(s). You hesitate. Then you equivocate. Then you decide. But you really don’t, do you? Aside from reaching a judgment you can’t support, you arrive at a conclusion you can’t verify.

    So, what did we get? A whole lot of something. But, respectfully, an op-ed that is wafer-thing in actual detail.

    My suggestion? Go all in. And argue your point. That is better than waffling, and then spiking a Nerf football.

  6. Moi
    June 6, 2022 at 5:05 am — Reply

    Were my comments removed? If so, why? If not, I am a dunce and can’t see them! That is also likely.

    BTW, CSL3, the definition of ‘hyperbolic’ called. They want to have a chat with you.

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