The Bizarre Double Standards of the Depp-Heard Trial

Niamh Ryan

Image Credit: CNN

It’s been five months since Johnny Depp won the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard. If you kept up with the televised court hearing, you’ll know that this trial was a wild few weeks on the internet.

People’s online behaviour regarding the defamation trial was certainly odd. From the beginning of the abuse accusations people were quick to show their support for Johnny Depp, as male abuse victims are unfortunately often taken less seriously. However, he was treated more like one of his movie characters rather than a person who was also accused of serious physical abuse. Fan edits were made of his ‘sassy’ one liners in court, while comment sections on TikTok were filled with people saying things like: ‘I just fell in love with him all over again’ and ‘He finds himself so funny, love it.’

Musician Phoebe Bridgers recently spoke to Teen Vogue about double standards during the trial, saying “If Amber Heard exhibited any neurotic behaviour, it was held against her. Then Johnny Depp, out of his mouth, admitted some of the most violent, crazy shit in court, and it’s somehow like, people aren’t surprised?”

It was proven that Johnny Depp was physically abusive, and there was even evidence of texts from him saying he wanted to burn and defile Heard’s corpse. Yet, fans online acted as if he was some innocent child who could do no wrong. If you go on TikTok and search Depp-Heard Trial some of the top liked videos are edits of Heard crying in court while Depp laughs, or clips of people queuing outside the court with homemade posters that read ‘We mega love you Johnny!’

Everything Amber Heard said or did was held against her, but people just seemed to ignore the negative things about Depp. Bridgers continued, saying “That whole situation was so upsetting to me, that it was treated like a fandom war. Laughing at someone crying in court? It was disgusting.”

The entire social media coverage of the trial shows that people have become so far removed from reality when they go online. Parasocial relationships are becoming more and more dangerous – fans believe they have a connection to Johnny Depp because of the iconic characters he’s played, but they don’t know him off screen. It is probable that they are both bad people, and neither is completely innocent. But the manner in which the trial was conducted, the way Heard was absolutely ridiculed online while Depp was applauded, was truly disturbing.

Although, some opinions have changed since the verdict. In August, more than 6,000 pages of court documents were unsealed, filled with allegations against Depp that weren’t brought to trial by either legal team. According to The Guardian, Depp’s legal team also attempted to use nude photos of Heard as evidence, ones that had been publicly leaked when her phone was hacked in 2014. Since the release of the documents, multiple celebrities have unliked Depp’s Instagram post in which he celebrated his ‘victory’, and even more have publicly supported Amber Heard.

More information is bound to come out in the next few months, probably causing a lot of people to change their minds about Depp again and regret the way they put him on a pedestal online.

Niamh Ryan