Why does the internet hate Amber Heard more than Putin?

War criminals guilty of atrocities don’t get as much vitriol as she does

Katie Edwards
Friday 27 May 2022 13:48 BST
Crowds of Depp supporters wait all day outside court – even dressed up as a turd
Crowds of Depp supporters wait all day outside court – even dressed up as a turd (AP)

Roll up! Roll up! It’s the final day of the celebrity circus trial! Get your seats while you can. Feast your eyes on Amber Heard’s tears and Captain Jack Sparrow’s rakish grin! That’s right: after six seemingly interminable weeks, the Depp vs Heard trial is finally coming to a close.

Today, lawyers for both teams will deliver their concluding statements before the jury deliberates on their decision. Yet whoever wins the case, it seems certain that Johnny Depp has won the day.

Pre-trial, Depp’s star seemed to be on the wane. His reputation was tarnished by claims of tardiness and substance dependence and his box office appeal was dimmed by a series of flops. So, after a decade of serving up turkeys and reportedly squandering his $650 million fortune, Depp’s used the televised trial to show movies studios that he’s still got it. He’s still a box office draw.

He has a considerable, loyal fan base who’ve been mobilised and reenergised by the defamation trial – and they’re willing to excuse, overlook, dismiss or ignore even the most grotesque behaviour by the star.

And, no matter what social media has to say about Amber Heard, the evidence has shown that for all Depp’s public joviality – shaking hands with all the police officers outside the courtroom and his humorous asides to the cameraperson – privately he can be utterly foul.

The text messages alone would be enough to finish the career of anyone other than our raffish hero. How about his text to former talent agent Christian Carino “I’m so f—ing happy she wants to go to fight this out!!! She will hit the wall hard!!! And I cannot wait to have this waste of a c– guzzler out of my life!!! 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 met a f—ing sublime little Russian here… Which made me realize the time I blew on that 50 cent stripper… I wouldn’t touch her with a goddam glove. I can only hope that karma kicks in and take the gift of breath from her.”

But this wasn’t Johnny talking, his fans declare. This was his pain. His deep, dark pain. Amber Heard drove him to every awful deed, every vile behaviour, every abusive word.

Social media judge and jury submitted their verdict before the case had even begun and Depp was innocent. Innocent like a baby lamb. A cute, vulnerable little potty mouthed, misogynistic baby lamb. And his following have done him proud. Crowds of supporters wait all day – even dressed up as a turd. Yes, you read that right – to scream for Depp during his arrival and exit from the court. The same crowds heckle Heard during her arrival and exit. Every. Day.

Anyone who uses social media will know that Depp supporters have also subjected Heard to a sustained campaign of online abuse. Yesterday, during her rebuttal testimony, Heard told the jury what she’d experienced. “I am harassed, humiliated, threatened, every single day…even just walking into this courtroom…sitting here in front of the world…having the worst parts of my life, things that I’ve lived through used to humiliate me…people want to kill me and they tell me so every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave and they tell me that.”

Heard’s harassment also means that she’s isolated. Depp’s supporters harangue anyone who associates with her. Witnesses testifying for her on the case have been bombarded with negative business reviews and insulted across social media.

The hashtags #AmberHeardisapsychopath #AmberHeardisanabuser and #AmberHeardisaliar have been trending for the duration of the trial. Social media hasn’t seen this much hate since… well, forever. War criminals guilty of atrocities don’t get this much vitriol. Serial killers and rapists aren’t on the receiving end of this much poison.

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Don’t tell me this is because Heard deserves all the malice and loathing spewed at her because she’s ruined Johnny Depp’s life. Depp’s laughing. Literally. He’s smirked, sniggered, scoffed and swaggered his way through the trial – as has his legal team. A UK court has already found that Depp assaulted Heard – so why do his supporters think they know better? At least the #WeJustDon’tLikeYouAmber hashtag is honest in its bullying.

Whatever she suffered during her relationship with Depp, Heard is now enduring abuse from thousands of people. That much is indisputable. And it’s unforgivable. In ten years’ time we’ll see documentaries and accompanying outraged hashtags about the appalling treatment of Heard and asking why we allowed it to happen.

In the meantime, we’d better laugh it up at those memes mocking Heard’s testimony while we can, soon enough the treatment of her will be seen for what it is: shameful.

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