Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp: Perception, victimhood and cancel culture

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In May 2016, actor, Johnny Depp became the subject of woke ‘cancellation.’ His wife of less than a year, Amber Heard, whom he married without a prenuptial agreement, filed for divorce. Six days later, she also filed a restraining order claiming that, “during the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me.”

After a legal battle, a divorce settlement of $7million January 2017, on the condition that Heard dismiss her request for a continued restraining order amongst other things. A non-disparagement agreement was signed and the divorced couple released a statement.

The statement read that their “relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,” adding that neither party “made false accusations for financial gain,” and further indicating that there was “never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

By this time, Johnny Depp had already been cancelled on a large scale by the court of public opinion, and by film studio, Disney, from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise which he had headlined for years prior.

Although, the statement released was related to money, the dropping came in the thick of domestic violence accusations against him, and an accusation against Harry Potter author, J.K Rowling for casting “wife-beater Depp” in her novel adaptation, “Fantastic Beasts.”

Simultaneously, Depp also reportedly lost a $650 million fortune to a lavish lifestyle and problems while Heard soared in her career. She became one of the faces of domestic violence and the #MeToo movement, culminating in a Washington Post op-ed titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change” in December 2018.

Johnny Depp Lawsuit, Amber Heard Cancelled

That op-ed created a problem for Amber Heard. A few days ago, Depp’s Lawyers filed a reported $50million suit against Heard. In the op-ed, though she did not regard Depp directly, they claimed it a breach of the non-disparagement agreement signed by Depp and Heard upon their divorce being finalized.

Twitter has since kicked into overdrive with claims by Depp’s Lawyers, seemingly taking advantage of the non-disparagement agreement – signed upon the finalization of their divorce – breached by Heard to reveal that Heard also admitted on oath to abusing Depp.

It also has not helped that images have now surfaced of Depp’s fingers being bitten off by Heard; his face being bruised, all alleged to be by Heard. Indeed, reports have also claimed that in Heard’s previous relationship, she serially abused her partner.

As alleged, Depp’s Lawyers also have a further 87 surveillance videos of Heard supposedly abusing Depp. Amongst other things, Depp has also allegedly denied ever abusing Heard, claiming she was abused by another person. He also allegedly claims that Heard went into a relationship with Tesla CEO, Elon Musk barely a month into their marriage. 

The pendulum of woke sympathy has since swung from Amber to Johnny. Now, it’s about nailing Amber to the wall and canceling her. It’s so interesting that nobody has stopped to consider why Depp waited till Heard supposedly breached the terms of their agreement for this grand revelation.

Instead, what we have been reading is how Depp was a victim and Heard is the monster. Everybody now suddenly think pictures that only suggest that Heard was a victim, and with no conclusive evidence that Depp was in fact innocent are authoritative evidence to exonerate Depp.

Does the guilt of one person intimate the innocence of another in domestic violence?

No. As Pulse wrote in 2018, “One can see that the root of ‘cancel-culture’ is an emotion; at the root of real emotion is offense. One can only take offence like Twitter users have to Chimamanda’s opinions — despite being factual — if one is so invested in what another preaches.

“Groupthink is a problem responsible for some of the greatest atrocities the world has seen and some of the most avoidable problems the world is yet to see. We can have heroes, but sometimes, it is good to only use messages passed by our heroes as instructive message, on which we can build our own ethos.”

Why were we so invested in Depp that we felt a responsibility to cancel him, even without conclusive evidence in 2016? Why are still so agreeable, that in 2019, just because presumptive evidence has surfaced to imply that Heard was also an abuser, we suddenly want to exonerate Depp and nail Heard to the wall – even with no evidence that Depp is in fact innocent. He has not disproved that he in fact abused Heard.

Why did Johnny Depp not disprove the allegation in 2016? Why now? Why did he release a statement with Heard after their divorce was finalized saying, “relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love.” Presumably, that could be argued as an admittance of mutual abusive tendencies throughout the relationship.

Yet, the millennial generation, without thought has decided to also ‘cancel Amber Heard.’ The problem is that the only thinking we do as a generation is a groupthink that appeals most to our sentiment and sympathy in human interest cases.

Except you are seemingly too far gone like Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, or Bill Cosby, battling multiple, consistent accusations that establish a pattern, the cancel culture should be an entirely useless tool.

‘Cancel’ is a hastily utilized tool of justice in the court of public opinion, when the very impatient millennials feel the court system might be too slow and pragmatic to deliver a sharp and fulfilling verdict.

In this Depp/Heard case, what we are seeing manifest is the result of subconscious guilt for judging Depp so seemingly hastily in 2016, upon little evidence. That guilt has now manifested into swinging the pendulum of sympathy away from Amber Heard to Johnny Depp. And with it, the weight of thoughtless anger that manifests into the cancel culture.

It is also why we suddenly feel that Depp is innocent when evidence only suggest that complicity of Heard and not the innocence of Depp. It’s so sad that my generation can gulp down anything a sound PR machine wants them to believe, especially when gender wars and gender sentiments are involved.

In truth, this Depp/Heard matter seems a case of Heard making a great mistake by doing that op-ed, giving Depp a reason to also use the sympathy machinery she had used to success and public support in 2016. At this time, Depp’s PR machinery has succeeded into appealing to the gullible side of the social media generation.

They might have exaggerated facts, and possibly used simple power of context to mislead people.

Canceling people is mostly unnecessary but for a few cases

‘Cancelled’ now seems a very corny, cliché statement than being a tool of reasonable justice these days. Mostly, it is applied unnecessarily to phony scenarios.

We need to stop being invested in celebrities so much that we feel so offended by the less savoury parts of their lives when revealed. You can only want to cancel someone because you feel a personal offence to what they did, enough to also deny yourself of any emotional connection. In a way, that even seems self-imposed emotional strain.

We need to be less dependent on the lives of celebrities and idols. We need to desist from groupthink which predates mob mentality and group anger, where reasonability is usually lost.



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