Rags fly to Virginia: heavy and very expensive rags, those between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. The last set of the age-old story that sees them involved in a battle with no holds barred is the courtroom of the charming town of Fairfax, 23,000 inhabitants suddenly catapulted under the scrutiny of the world.
Jailbird was an “op-ed” – opinion editorial – published by Washington Post in December 2018, whose author, Amber Heard ex-Depp, defines herself survivor of domestic violence by her ex-husband – never named explicitly but known to all – and complains of little support from Hollywood. In short, the umpteenth #MeToo voice which, with a well-tested and highly reliable automatism, triggered Mr. Depp’s silent but very effective ostracism from pending contracts: his participation in Nocturnal animalsalso evaporated forever Captain Jack Sparrow, who was supposed to shoot the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean the following year, immediate distance from the big production houses. Hands down, an economic damage of lost revenue of 40 million dollars for what was, for several years, the highest paid and admired actor in Hollywood. But Depp is not there and sues for defamation directly against Amber Heard; a lawsuit against the British tabloid Sun it had already been filed – and lost – in 2020 by Depp who had seen himself defined as a “wife-beater” in an article that had already largely compromised his reputation, at least on British soil. But, as we know, against the English press – i.e. Murdoch’s NewsGroup – everyone loses, except Meghan Markle. So Depp tries again, also because the resonance of the Washington Post it is quite different from the gossip of the Sun, and could really mean the end of a career and the eternal label of “domestic abuser”. This is how the most watched trial in history has been celebrated since 11 April – with cameras and microphones on, therefore in direct world view, in front of which even the clamor of OJSimpson and Monica Lewinsky pales. The trial opened with the deposition and subsequent cross-examination of Depp himself, then followed by a plethora of witnesses in his favor, and the picture that emerges seems to celebrate the end of Miss Heard as a victim to outline the birth of an abuser Heard, violent, bipolar, out of control. And if Depp’s alcohol and drug abuse seem to be an almost curative foothold for his state of prostration, her madness seems part of a ferocious and paranoid behavior. The episode on which the most hours were consumed in the courtroom is the 2015 incident that took place in Australia, where Depp was shooting a film and her loving wife accompanied him. In a three-day argument fueled by alcohol and drugs, Depp eventually found himself with the phalanx of a middle finger severed by the impact of a bottle thrown: according to him, by her; according to her, from him. Who tells the truth? It’s not easy to navigate in what seems more and more like a fair of madness, but certainly Depp is winning hands down – and severed – thanks to his aplomb, sense of humour, magnetic charm; Heard, swinging between hysteria, tearless crying and sudden coldness, is certainly not winning over the public. What has changed since the English trial, where Depp was defeated and where public opinion was rooting for poor Amber? Different things.
First of all, the presence of cameras and microphones that allow anyone who wants to have a direct view from any device is allowing everyone to form their own idea of topics and testimonials; the English trial was behind closed doors and therefore the updates were filtered by journalists – mostly English, in defense of an English tabloid -. Thus judgment is formed not only on facts and evidence but also on the speaker, and Depp is unrivaled in his depiction of an abused childhood, a life of commitment, a refuge in drugs as a buffer against the brutality of the world, and of Heard.
Secondly, the past speaks: if Depp can boast fifteen happy years with Vanessa Paradis – who has no doubts about the inoffensiveness of the ex – and the unconditional support of children and ex-girlfriends – Wynona Ryder and Kate Moss, to name two- , Heard has already suffered an arrest for ill-treatment of his ex-wife – Yes, he had a wife- , Tasya Van Rees, a cover-up arrest yet which took place in 2008, a year before meeting Depp. At the end, social media: precisely because of this direct involvement of the public, there is no follower of the process who does not want to have their say, and the lethal weapon today is the hashtag. The #JusticeForJonnyDepp has more than ten billion posts to date; on the other hand, the #JusticeForAmberHeard has just over twenty million, but on closer inspection more than half are still posts against her and in favor of him. More than three million users have signed a petition to exclude Heard from the cast of Aquaman 2, and it is to be believed that the production will seriously consider it. In short, a social catastrophe that prompted Heard to fire the PR company that followed her to hire a new team that would contain the damage to her image. The trial ended in the fourth week with Heard’s deposition, which proved not very credible despite the disturbing episodes of which she claims to be the victim. After a week’s suspension, the trial will resume on May 16 and it will be the turn of Heard’s cross-examination: anticipation is skyrocketing. At stake are 50 million in damages requested by Depp and 100 million in counter complaint requested by Heard. She suspense, on Faifax, cuts herself with a knife.
…To Be Continued…