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Were Johnny’s Pockets And Connections Too Deep For Amber To Be Heard? 

She didn’t stand a chance. The more powerful, less victimised male victim gets more support and a bigger payout; the less powerful, more violated female victim gets the backlash and has to pay.

Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence, gaslighting, and violence against women, and may be triggering for survivors.

The world’s celebrating Johnny Depp’s win over his ‘evil’ ex-wife.

Granted, Amber Heard didn’t make the best impression in her court trials. Or even the worst, because it would be an understatement. But doesn’t she deserve to be heard, understood, and respected?

We know for sure that Amber Heard is not entirely wrong. She lost a defamation case and not one for domestic violence. Johnny was already a proven wife beater, just pissed that his ex-wife was going to get away with telling the world what he did.

Why am I playing the devil’s advocate?

But am I?

“My dog sat on a bee.”

“Amber Heard pooped on Johnny’s Depp’s bed.”

Obnoxious statements like these made front-page headlines. Along with Johnny Depp, his highly exclusive top lawyer team, overactive PR team and the entire Hollywood industry, people from all ages, across the world joined in laughing over mean spirited jokes and memes. This solidarity against Amber Heard was unprecedented, but not surprising.

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What we are witnessing on a global scale, thanks to social media, is a shameless display of patriarchy and capitalism. This is the real evil. Not Amber Heard.

An article in The Guardian quotes, “In text messages to friends, Johnny Depp fantasized about murdering his then-wife, the actress Amber Heard. “I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead,” Depp wrote. In other texts, he disparaged his wife’s body in luridly misogynist terms. “Mushy pointless dangling overused floppy fish market,” he called her.”

Princess Weekes, Assistant Editor of The Mary Sue, exposes,
“Johnny Depp positioned the case to be public and so he fought it in Virginia, which has the highest freedom of speech laws and therefore would be televised.” The fact that Virginia is a more conservative state in terms of women’s rights also worked in his favour.

What is a ‘woman card’, even? Is it like a ration card?

People are expressing how glad they are that Amber Heard’s ‘woman-card’ strategy failed to work, and how she has solely pushed back the #MeToo movement.

Is there any grain of truth in the claim that women use this card unscrupulously to gain advantage?

Tanushree Ghosh, the author of “Beyond #MeToo”, shows us otherwise with the current facts and statistics, on how women victims are already on the losing ground as they have to battle a patriarchal legal system and society. Women victims rarely receive any justice, even in the gross and repetitive cases of abuse and violence.

In her research for the book, Ghosh spoke to Susan Blount, listed among America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel by The National Law Journal who says, “I too struggle with the gross or repetitive. As if a single instance can’t be a crime here unless it’s proven to be gross—which is subjective.”

In reality, the ‘woman card’ is a vicious tool to “name-and-shame” female victims into silence.

The only games, be it cards or chess, here, are being played by men. So, why is there not even a murmur of the almighty ‘man card’?

And this is why I question today –

Why are we cheering for Johnny Depp like he’s completely innocent?

Depp sued Heard for her 2018 article, “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath” in the Washington Post. She writes, “Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse.”

The article does not mention Depp, but he is seeking $50m for the 11 defamatory words.

Tara Kaushal, author of Why Men Rape shares, “We know that Johnny Depp IS a wife-beater—a British court has ruled as such. We know Amber Heard is also abusive. She retaliated in toxic ways.”

This is neither a ‘black-and-white’ case nor an unusual relationship in Hollywood where intimate partner violence is commonplace. Hollywood is a strange, dark place that’s shrouded in abuse, addictions, depravity, and secrecy.

Diane Shoos, the author of Domestic Violence in Hollywood Film: Gaslighting says, “Just because someone appears to be a likeable person, a wonderful father, a professional, someone who is respected in the community, does not mean they are not abusing their partner. We need to learn this lesson, as well as the lesson that psychological and emotional abuse rather than physical abuse are the main forms of domestic violence.”

This is a tweet thread worth reading through here.

Star power combined with money power and our worship of all things masculine

For hypothetical example, let’s say one of Tom Cruise’s ex wives or girlfriends file a case against him. Whose side would the Hollywood industry and laypeople be on?

Like Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp has a massive, frenzied fan following. Does Amber Heard even match up to his star power and appeal? I’m sorry, but this is NOT an equal case. Because if it was, then Amber Heard would have access to the best and exclusive lawyers and PR on her side to turn the verdict easily in her favor.

We’ve already seen how the few people in her favour backtracked suddenly and completely during the legal trial. This is how it always works, and what keeps many women from speaking their trauma and truth. The lack of deep power, money, and connections.

Tara Kaushal surmises,  “Even if one sees both as victims, they are NOT equal victims when you consider the power and patriarchy that existed in the marriage. It is the same confluence of factors that has plagued Amber Heard in the justice system. Depp sued her for defamation, the internet took his side, the jurors were indoctrinated, she didn’t stand a chance. The more powerful, less victimised male victim gets more support and a bigger payout; the less powerful, more violated female victim gets the backlash and has to pay.

The unjust ruling condones Depp’s abuse of Heard, and punishes Heard for speaking about it. The #MeToo movement—that made modest gains as it tried to battle millions of years of patriarchy and sexual violence through women victims’ voices—has taken yet another beating.”

What was Amber Heard’s fault?

Her fault was that, unlike other Hollywood wives and girlfriends, she did not keep quiet, and dared to defame a rich, famous, and powerful celebrity. Most are bound by contract and money to keep quiet to keep the male celebrity’s reputation intact or else face the deadly consequences.

Also, why are we so oblivious to Amber Heard’s apparent state of loss of mental balance?

When the recent Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars slapgate controversy went viral, among several justifications for Smith’s behaviour was childhood trauma response.

Isn’t it possible that Amber Heard’s behaviour is a manifestation of trauma?

Britney Spears’ Instagram posts tell a sorry picture of a woman deeply affected by trauma. Another tragic case in point is Parveen Babi and how she was driven to become a complete mental wreck. This is what happens to women when capitalism and patriarchy are in an unholy intercourse.

Women like Amber Heard and Parveen Babi face grave consequences of losing everything, including their mental balance, when they have to deal with men who hold unlimited power to ‘make-or-break’ them.

Johnny Depp has grown even more powerful and popular in a cleverly and perfectly orchestrated campaign against the defamation by his ex-wife. The blockbuster campaign had all the patriarchal super-trope elements, such as the ‘Good Woman vs Bad Woman’ played by Camille Vasquez and Amber Heard, respectively.

As this Firstpost article says, ‘Mark Stephens, an international media, told the newspaper that Depp’s legal team in the United States ran a strategy known as DARVO (deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender). Thus, Depp became the victim and Heard the abuser.

“We find that DARVO works very well with juries but almost never works with judges, who are trained to look at evidence,” Stephens told The Post.’

This clearly shows that more than evidence, it was the swaying of a jury, which by all accounts, were not sequestered through the trial, rather than actual evidence, that penalised Heard more.

The odds were always in Johnny’s favour, and he knew it from the start. It explains a lot about his calm, reassured, and covertly cocky presence in the trial court. Depp didn’t even think it was necessary to be in court when the final verdict was announced.

How do we justify our mob attack against Amber Heard?

Even if Amber Heard is completely wrong (which she is certainly not) and has lost it literally (which seems more likely to be the case), does it justify our mob-like mentality in throwing banana peels and rotten tomatoes at her? And having a hearty laugh at her slippery downfall?

Notwithstanding the verdict of this case, my heart goes out to Amber Heard. Her actions certainly don’t deserve this unprecedented level of global hate (the last witnessed in Monica Lewinsky’s case in the pre-social media era). Similar to Monica Lewinsky, Amber Heard neither has the powerful clout or huge fan-following as Bill Clinton and Johnny Depp.

Perhaps, our mob attack against a powerless woman is a subconscious response of our subservience to the established crony capitalist system. We are, after all, working directly or indirectly for these supreme powers.

So while at the outset we might think we are laughing at Amber Heard’s pathetic condition, claiming that justice has finally been served, we are actually laughing at our insubstantial, impuissant, and invertebrate selves.

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About the Author

Tina Sequeira

Tina Sequeira is an award-winning writer and marketer. Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award in association with the Government of Telangana, Orange Flower Award by Women’s Web, India's leading website for women, read more...

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