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The trolling of Amber Heard: why did the internet turn on her?

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发表于 2022-5-30 23:13:56 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 Reader86 于 2022-5-31 12:50 PM 编辑

The trolling of Amber Heard: why did the internet turn on her?
The libel battle between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife led to a tsunami of online content during the trial, most of it vilifying her. What’s behind it, asks Polly Vernon



JB LACROIX/WIREIMAGE
Polly Vernon
Monday May 30 2022, 12.01am BST, The Times

The defamation case brought by the actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife the actress Amber Heard has captured the public imagination in a way few other celebrity litigation exercises have.

Wagatha Christie certainly seems like a piffling, parochial sideshow by comparison. Depp, who divorced Heard in 2017, is suing his former wife for $50 million because of an article she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, suggesting he behaved abusively towards her.

Heard is countersuing for $100 million, saying that Depp mounted a “smear campaign against her”. The trial ended on Friday, to the chagrin of the millions who live streamed court footage every day, and did so even before the British supermodel Kate Moss appeared as a witness on behalf of Depp, her former boyfriend.

In the course of the six weeks over which it ran, the trial created a tsunami of online content. There was all that live streaming and avid watching of the established US court channels, one of whom — Court TV — reported a fourfold increase in viewership. But there was also a multitude of memes, a #justiceforjohnny hashtag, and a swirl of Instagram accounts (@johnnydeppcase, 116,000 followers; @johnnydepptrialupdates, 57,000 followers; the mysteriously disabled @houseinhabited, the work of the influencer Jessica Reed Kraus, which disappeared days after Reed Kraus accused David Shane, Amber Heard’s PR man, of sexual misconduct).

Daily packages of compilation clips called things such as “Amber Heard’s team get wrecked in the most hilarious way by this witness” circulated; then, inevitably, came the merchandise. A “Don’t be An Amber” T-shirt? Yours for £12.62 off Etsy.
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Even those of us who chose not to live stream the trial could not avoid it (it made traditional news outlets on a daily basis), or the fact that the internet mood, and by extension, the public mood, is overwhelmingly anti-Heard.

Depp has for decades enjoyed the support of an infamously virulent fan base, a group that will defend his honour against even the mildest swipe. The “Deppford wives”, as some have referred to them, have been imaginatively active over this period, doing things such as flooding the website of Dr David R Speigel, a psychiatrist, with negative reviews after he took the stand on Heard’s behalf.

However, anti-Heard sentiment extends far beyond the limits of that cohort. Give or take a handful of op-eds — damning the creation of the memes, the merchandise, and the way the case has been consumed as a form of entertainment, plus the victim-blaming and diminishing of the widespread problem of domestic abuse — the majority of people seem convinced that Heard is the baddie in this Hollywood drama.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been informed by generally perfectly reasonable people who call themselves “feminists”, and hadn’t previously expressed any fondness for Depp, that Heard is blatantly obviously utterly hateful.

She is a manipulative gold-digger who married Depp as a way of elevating her profile and who, far from being a victim of domestic abuse, is clearly a perpetrator of it. (“You can just tell.”) They have damned the way in which she cried on the witness stand as not merely unconvincing, but further proof of her inferior acting skills, ie solid evidence that she married Depp to benefit her career because she clearly can’t rely on talent to win her roles.

They have revelled in the accusation that she once defecated on the bed she and Depp shared — something she denied — calling her (as many others and another Etsy T-shirt have) “Amber Turd”. They have rejoiced in the knowledge a petition to have her edited out of Aquaman 2, the most recent film in which she acted, reached nearly three million signatures.

They produced their phones with a flourish to show the TikTok video of Lance Bass, formerly of the boyband ’N Sync, mockingly re-enacting the section of Heard’s testimony, in which she described a time Depp allegedly hit her, for the delectation of his 1.4 million followers. (Bass subsequently deleted the clip.)

“She is every fake, manipulative woman you’ve ever met in your life in one person,” one (female) friend tells me. “She’s the proof #MeToo went too far,” says another (also female). “It’s because of her legitimate victims of domestic violence aren’t believed.”

Yet another friend shows me a picture he took in a coffee shop during a recent work trip to Los Angeles: two tip jars on a counter, one labelled Johnny

Now, I am not in the business of defending Heard. I think her treatment is dubious, that we the public have form on siding with a man over a woman. But mainly my feeling on this case is: I wasn’t there, I don’t know them — I don’t know.

I am, however, in the business of deconstructing the nature of Heard’s perceived villainy and indulging in a little conjecture about what it means for our broader culture. If this is genuinely the first example of “trial by TikTok”, for example; whether it represents the end of #MeToo and the beginning of #MenToo (the acknowledgement of abuse of men suffered at the hands of women).

Heard is a famously complicated, contradictory person who exists in a time when that sort of thing is perceived as unacceptable, undermining to one’s integrity — as opposed to, say, an inevitable function of being alive and human.

She’s 36 years old; born on April 2, 1986, in Austin, Texas, and brought up just outside it, in Manor (population, 13,400). She’s the middle child of three daughters born to Patricia, a researcher, and David, who owns a building company. “I was very girlie on the inside, but my dad was not raising a girlie girl. He was raising someone who could keep up with him,” she once said in an interview. “My dad taught me to break horses and he’d yell at me, ‘Don’t be such a pussy!’ I was, like, ‘Dad, I’m eight.’ ’’

As a teenager she read Ayn Rand, George Orwell and Ray Bradbury. “I discovered the magic in it,” she has said. “I’d look around the room wondering: does nobody else get this?” She grew fixated on the idea of leaving Manor and lied about her age to get a job as a lifeguard at 13, then started saving towards her escape.

At 16 she paid for headshots that she sent to modelling agencies in New York. She moved there a year later. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” she said of it. A year after that, having discovered that she loathed modelling, Heard got her first acting role, in the original film version of Friday Night Lights (2004).

In all this she exhibited the kind of ambition and drive that might have been viewed as commendable, the triumph of the hard-grafting small-town underdog outsider. Instead this seems to contribute to the idea that Heard is an opportunist, a social climber, a gold-digger; the kind of woman who would marry a film star considerably older than her (Depp, 58, is 22 years her senior) to benefit her career.

Perhaps this is a consequence of Heard’s beauty. The director Tom Hooper, who cast Heard as the ballerina Ulla Poulsen in the 2015 film The Danish Girl (starring Eddie Redmayne), said he was looking for “the quintessence of feminine and of course that person is very hard to find. In Amber I had found my idea of feminine beauty. She’s breathtaking.”

Had her features been a little less breathtaking, a little more wholesome-seeming; had she embraced, say, the public goofiness of Cameron Diaz or Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Aniston to counter the impact of her looks and lessen their perceived threat, perhaps she might have been championed for her daring and her drive as opposed to damned for it.

Even though she worked constantly through her twenties and into her thirties — on Drop Dead Sexy in 2005, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane in 2006, Pineapple Express in 2008 , Drive Angry and The Rum Diary (the set on which she met Depp) in 2011, Machete Kills in 2013, Magic Mike XXL in 2015, The Danish Girl and so on — acting was in no sense a smooth ride for Heard.

Drive Angry (in which she starred opposite Nicholas Cage) flopped, as did The Rum Diary. Then, in 2013, she started work on the adaptation of Martin Amis’s novel London Fields. That shoot went terribly and the producers sued Heard for $10 million for breach of contract; she countersued on the basis that their use of a body double made it look as if she had appeared in sex scenes to which she hadn’t consented.

When the film was released in 2018 — the second-worst box office opening weekend to date — Heard was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for worst actress.

Yet Hollywood is rammed to the rafters with beautiful, charismatic, difficult people of not universally appreciated ability. They are, nonetheless, perfectly good movie stars; possibly the best kind of movie star. Depp is hardly known for his vast range. Since when has a chequered acting career be proof of a person’s questionable character? It isn’t.

Heard and Depp began dating in 2012, a year after shooting The Rum Diary, and after he had split from Vanessa Paradis, mother of his two children, Lily-Rose, now 23, and Jack, 20.

They married in 2015 on Depp’s private island — Little Hall Pond Clay in the Bahamas — and Heard moved into his LA home, a living arrangement she referred to as “punk rock Friends”.

If some perceived her relationship with Depp as a cynical exercise in profile raising, and some found themselves so invested in Depp’s relationship with Paradis that they were thoroughly put out by its formal demise, others objected to it, because in 2010 Heard had come out as bisexual at an event organised by Glaad, the powerful Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation lobby group.

At the time she was in a relationship with a woman, the photographer and artist Tasya van Ree. “I personally think that if you deny or hide something, you’re inadvertently admitting it’s wrong,” she told the Glaad event. She was 24; this was a brave move by a young woman attempting to establish herself in a notoriously conservative business.

“At the time, I didn’t know of anyone else in my position who was a working female lead actress,” she said in a later interview. “I don’t want to have to deny my sexuality in order to be me. But I don’t want to have to be defined by it.”

While Heard ending up married to a man is in no way a betrayal of her bisexuality — quite the reverse, if you think about it — there are those who perceive it as precisely that, and are angry with her because of it. Others feel uncomfortable with the very notion of bisexuality — it is, after all, a sexual orientation historically viewed with suspicion and incredulity; lately, it has been surpassed by much more fashionable notions such as being queer.

I’m told other black marks against her include her promising to donate to charity the $7 million she received in her divorce settlement from Depp — splitting it between the American Civil Liberties Union and a children’s hospital in LA — but failing to do so, citing the cost of the court case; her dating Elon Musk (of whom people aren’t sure they approve) in the wake of her split from Depp; her allegedly doctoring images that purport to show bruises sustained during physical attacks at Depp’s hands; and her “arranging” to have her child by surrogate to be born in the month the trial was supposed to start in 2021 (the trial was delayed by Covid).

For what it’s worth, I suspect the key to why the internet hates Heard so very much lies more completely in a quote she gave to the The Times Magazine in June 2015, shortly after she married Depp. “I’m fundamentally opposed to trying to edit myself to be palatable or popular,” she said. I’m not sure any woman ever commits a greater crime.

   https://www.thetimes.co.uk/artic ... chobox=1653896824-1
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