According to the Dark Night movie, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain” which may be the case against alleged abuser Johnny Depp.
It’s no secret Depp is beloved by many more for his cool, gentle celeb persona than his predilection for playing strange and offbeat fictional characters. Thus the internet went bonkers as Amber Heard revealed she wished to divorce the actor due to purported domestic abuse.
“Social media has been lauded for the way it allows anyone with a social footprint to share their point of view. The trouble with anything that offers this kind of untethered “freedom” is that it often leads to untethered hate… Instead of leading to mature discussions around common goals, frustrations and injustices, it’s led to the bear pit mentality that we seem to be seeing more of. Ironically, as social media matures, the audience seems to be going the other way.” – Danny Brown
We can see 3 types of people comment on a lot of articles on the subject:
1. People stating fact or opinion without malice.
2. People angry at the victim blaming yet attacking anyone who disagrees with them.
3. People angry at the gold-digging yet attacking anyone who disagrees with them.
Unfortunately, majority of comments are of the nature of 2 and 3. For fans it’s a case of Depp vs. Heard. I am not a fan of either. For me, it’s extreme victim blaming vs. blind feminism.
I’ve read and googled about the defense and support coming from both sides. For reference, here’s an updated sourced post of the timeline.
Now, I am in no way saying or insinuating that Depp is right, or Amber is right, or people defending Amber are man-hating feminists, or people defending Depp are victim blamers (unless your comment was worded rudely and obviously so then ew) – what I’m attempting to express is that we and the media are out of control.
Admittedly, the first time I heard about the allegations I strongly supported Amber without even having the full plate of facts. Today I came across news of her planning to donate the $7 Million she got from the settlement and thought to myself, “Damn, Johnny, so it’s true.” It was when I began to read more about the details to find out what kind of “monster” this movie star hero of my peers had secretly been all along.
Instead of cementing my belief, however, I found myself in murky waters. Is this the full deal? Or is there more to the story?
Which caused me to reassess myself – am I bad a feminist? Am I falling into the trap of internalized misogyny by changing heart and doubting parts of Amber’s narrative because I’m acknowledging possible factual inconsistencies?
This is a legitimate question.
I believe in empowering survivors of abuse to not be silent and come forward, but I also am aware bits of the narrative (as far as information available to us) had room for reasonable doubt. So what I was left with was a feeling of shame and guilt for sympathizing with a possible abuser.
Scouring the comments section of these posts to find some insight or clarity felt like if you questioned Depp you’re a hateful feminazi whereas if you questioned Amber Heard you’re an advocate for domestic abuse, and that’s not how it should be. Coming from personal experience I can understand where the notion of “support and believe women who come forward about abuse.” But I also think we’re missing a very important principle – due process for innocent until proven guilty.
Johnny and Amber’s case is unique because, of course, they’re celebrities and when you’re celebrities there is going to be a trial by media.
As far as the law is concerned, the couple have managed to settle the case outside of the court. The couple have even released a joint statement: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love… “
So people need to stop saying Amber is a fame-whore donating her settlement money to protect her image. But people also need to stop dismissing legitimate concerns in the narrative and saying shit like “If you don’t stand with Amber Heard, then you’re an active part of the problem.” This is not an “you’re either with us or against us” equivalency so don’t dictate how people must act, feel, or think by pigeonholing the entire circumstance.
Because the truth is – we don’t know crap. That’s right, we don’t know anything. We simply do not know enough about the personal lives of these strangers to come to a conclusion that Amber is a gone-girl expert (seriously?), and we don’t know enough to wholeheartedly state Johnny’s family, friends, and ex-partners are choosing to be blind to his assaulting nature.
The leaked photos, video, and screenshots are there, but we must also at least acknowledge the intent CAN lead to be interpreted as sketchy, there are some valid concerns raised against them, and they were not admitted into evidence in a real trial with an impartial investigator corroborating their authenticity.
Johnny Depp is STILL a privileged white man who defended a child rapist, Amber Heard is STILL a victim we must listen to and offer full assistance (the video itself proves the relationship was toxic, though whether it was mutually toxic/abusive is still not completely clear) – but that doesn’t mean we jump on a bandwagon of emotion-based vitriol simply because the victim is a woman. In order to attain justice for a survivor by locking up an alleged criminal and fight the stigma against victim blaming, feminism, and domestic abuse – we should not be silencing those who voice legitimate questions, re-examine the evidence, and word their opinion intelligently and respectfully.
We need to engage in open, healthy, civilized online discussions instead of calling the people in question derogatory names to satisfy our own self-righteousness.
There are details we don’t have access to and will never know of since the case was settled. Amber doesn’t deserve the hate, biphobia, and obsessive nit-pick criticism by the public and sexist media, but people who state their opposing opinion using facts and civility don’t deserve condemnation either.
We are not judge and jury. The only thing we should police is the way we behave and talk towards others when discussing such a sensitive topic. We are mere spectators to this tabloid circus and should remember to have an open heart and balanced head when it comes to speaking about such things.
Feminists stand for equality. We oughtta know victim blaming is gross the same way as being mean towards others who happen to have a different opinion moreso if they are just as informed as you. For non-feminists, this also applies. Don’t be a fucking sexist asshat and deride an informed comment just because it comes from a feminist and you hate feminism.
“I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do.” – Oscar Wilde
As for me, again, I must ask – am I a shit person for even doubting Amber? Is there actual basis for my doubt? I was really about to dance on the tombstone of Johnny Depp’s career, but now IDK.
Frankly both parties seem to be problematic (especially Johnny). If it’s Amber that’s manipulating the situation (far-fetched tbh), then this is not over. If it’s Johnny that’s hiding a demon under his gold-speckled A list status, then this is not over. We will probably see hints of the aggressor’s true character in the years to come.
I do at least believe that they loved each other at one point. Both Johnny and Amber are being shit on in the court of public opinion, especially the latter. We are the only villains and monsters in this situation by stoking the coals of this couple’s already on fire relationship when we call them ugly names and mock either of their downfalls (plus doing the same to strangers online and calling anyone who doubts otherwise to be a woman-hater).
I was actually scared to voice my confusion because of the possible backlash. My fellow feminists may be super disappointed in me. But you realize that you can’t find out if you’re wrong if you keep it to yourself and there is no such thing as a perfect activism.
No matter how superiorly enlightened you feel you are, there will always be things to improve. Better to listen to other people explain your mistake so you can discover which parts you need to enhance, than be silent and pretend to be right for fear of being outed wrong.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Daniel J. Boorstin
And in the diverse virtual world we have, we should be willing to be as open-minded in discourse when we are corrected in order to attain further enlightenment.
So if you (think you) have the answer please do call me and others out politely if you want to and hopefully you’ll be prepared to listen to us, too, should we have any uncertainties – we all should be ready to learn.