May 20, 2022

YOUNG-ADULT WEBSITE* VOX.COM: The Depp-Heard trial has played right into the hands of far-right extremists.

Conservative media outlets have also promoted a one-sided narrative of the case; Vice recently reported that Ben Shapiro’s popular conservative news platform the Daily Wire has spent nearly $50,000 promoting ads about the trial on Instagram and Facebook — most of it trashing Amber Heard. The presence of these bad actors has, if anything, only exacerbated the vitriol Heard has received within the mainstream.

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To be clear, this isn’t an easy story of good and evil. It’s impossible to completely absolve Amber Heard, who has her own alleged history of violence, or frame Depp as a monster incapable of kindness, charity, and the positive energy that amassed him millions of fans to begin with. Yet you don’t need to do either of those things to acknowledge that this is a case about the deeply unfunny topic of intimate partner abuse and that the major points of this trial have already been decided in one court of law. The judge at the first trial in 2020 found Heard had proven 12 of 14 allegations of abuse. So far none of the trial testimony has substantially contradicted anything in Heard’s original claim of being a domestic violence survivor.

Culture critic Ella Dawson has a Twitter thread compiling reporting on the myriad ways in which this trial is not only destroying years of progress made against domestic abuse in the US, but also laying the groundwork for a culture in which bots and bad actors harass, vilify, and eviscerate all other prominent women who publicly name their abusers — like Gamergate, but times tens of millions of participants, and gleefully endorsed by people all across American culture.

That, above all — above the TikTok cat memers mocking Heard and Saturday Night Live dismissing the whole trial as “for fun” — is what’s absolutely jawdropping here. This trial, which amounts to a simple yes/no question over whether Heard had the right to call herself a victim of domestic abuse in a single sentence from that 2018 opinion piece, has somehow united far-right misogynists with middle-of-the-road liberals and geeky progressive fandom acolytes of Depp.

Evergreen:

* Classical reference.

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