I wasn’t expecting the unbearable memory of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial
It’s a messed up world out there.
We are all aware of this, of course, but every now and then we are reminded of the confusion of things so spectacular that one cannot ignore them. A recent example is the memory of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial.
It’s perhaps an indictment of how badly I’ve failed to keep my finger on the pulse of digital culture, but I didn’t see it coming. When I read up on the case before the trial began, I didn’t think it would come to this, even when I first traveled to the Fairfax County Courthouse to witness the trial. Call it naivety, but I never would have guessed that one of the most well-known domestic violence trials of our time would be captured in the form of TikTok videos, snippets of audio and overlaid with songs. I didn’t think people would laugh about it.
Spend about ten minutes on TikTok (or Youtube, or Instagram, or Twitter) and you’ll see how wrong I was. Visit YouTube today for a casual browse, and like me, the algorithm might present you with a video with a title that focuses on Heard’s supposedly “epic” reaction to part of Depp’s testimony. A clip of Depp freaking out while asking a witness whether or not he saw the actor’s genitals on a particular occasion – a video clip with cute music and snazzy captions, of course – is circulating on Twitter. A nauseating meme suggesting Heard is playing the “victim card” is also making the rounds.
And then there’s TikTok. On TikTok, the fan culture portion of the trial has grown in earnest. There you’ll find a mix of relatively basic fan content (e.g. a video of Depp arriving at court and hugging his lawyers, set to Tom Odell’s sentimental tune “Another Love”), reaction clips at various moments in the trial and…other stuff .
Some videos are so metaphysical that describing them requires a full unpacking of celebrity culture in 2022 — like a clip of a fan responding to one of Heard’s attorneys by lip-synching to an audio clip telling him to dope “Keep out of your F*” names. **** Mouth,” itself a reference to Will Smith’s infamous slap in the face at Chris Rock during the Academy Awards in March this year.
video of the day
TikTok has floated some seriously bizarre theories about the trial, with many people half-jokingly but also kind of implying that one of Heard’s attorneys might be secretly a dork fan.
Some of the videos in this category are darker: Depp’s supporters tend to analyze every minute detail of Heard’s behavior and interpret it as negatively as possible. In the universe of Depp v Heard meme content, Heard has come under fire for “frantically” taking notes (a sign she’s “panicing,” one social media user asserted) or for wearing glasses sat up to look at evidence than she had before. t wear them to see something else.
To top it off, there was the obviously silly stuff, like a post that purported to show “the moment Heard realized she was going to jail.” This is a civil process. Nobody goes to jail.
Depp and Heard have each asked for damages (that is, money), and Heard has also asked for immunity from Depp’s claims. That’s what this is about. This is not a criminal case, and it is pointless – and intentionally misleading – to discuss it as if it were.
This is a defamation lawsuit based on serious allegations of domestic violence on both sides.
Some people might believe that Depp should prevail, and others might believe that Heard should. I’ve been following the testimony for more than three weeks now, and there have been incredibly difficult moments (as well as moments where I wish Judge Penney Azcarate would hold people to a higher standard of behavior, like when some of Depp’s supporters booed Heard as they left Court). The picture painted was that of an incredibly toxic marriage. More than once I found the evidence and testimonies difficult to hear.
If anything, this online chaos has made me grateful that social media didn’t exist during the notorious criminal trials of our time.
Can you imagine the state of affairs if we had access to Twitter or TikTok when Ted Bundy married his girlfriend while questioning her as a witness on the stand during his televised 1979 trial?
The process by which we digest other people’s anguish and cough it up in the form of memes is a total void of empathy. This is a process, not the Super Bowl or the Met Gala.
Plenty of people have big feelings about the issues being discussed between Heard and Depp: that much is clear.
But the current status leaves a lot to be desired.
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https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/i-didnt-expect-the-unbearable-meme-ification-of-the-johnny-depp-vs-amber-heard-trial-41613789.html I wasn’t expecting the unbearable memory of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial