Johnny Depp fans making memes of domestic abuse testimony sickens some online creators

 

In the previous couple of months, audio clips from the defamation trial involving Amber Heard and Johnny Depp went viral as trending TikTok sounds.

“Users have been lip-syncing to an audio of Amber’s testimony and utilizing it to mock her,” mentioned Lauren, a creator referred to as gothamshitty, who didn’t need her final identify used out of worry of harassment from Depp’s supporters.

“Specifically they have been utilizing an audio of her recounting how Johnny had raped her,” Lauren continued. “These customers have been responding to the audio by declaring that what Amber was describing was not rape however ‘each girl’s dream.’ That sickened me.”

Until that time a number of weeks in the past, Lauren had “hesitated” to submit in regards to the trial, however she mentioned the development was “too disgusting, misogynistic and disrespectful to survivors in every single place” to disregard.

In a video she posted in May, Lauren voiced help for Heard, citing earlier allegations of abusive conduct from Depp and his 2020 defamation trial within the United Kingdom. She linked the widespread public disdain of Heard to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and mentioned the social media frenzy surrounding the trial “displays the immense quantity of misogyny and hatred of girls that’s so deeply ingrained in society.”

Lauren mentioned the online response to her video was initially “fairly balanced,” till an “inflow of hateful feedback began to come back in.” She mentioned she tried to delete as many inflammatory feedback as she may, however some viewers started harassing her on Twitter, too. A streamer with a big following reacted to her video throughout his stream, and his viewers mocked Lauren’s speech and look within the feedback.

“Once the streamer discovered my video, I hit a breaking level,” Lauren mentioned.

The online fandom supporting Johnny Depp, which ballooned throughout his defamation case towards his ex-wife, has turn into poisonous, some creators say.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million after she described herself as a “public determine representing domestic abuse” in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, and awarded Heard, who had countersued Depp for $100 million, $2 million in compensatory damages.

Content in regards to the trial flooded social media quickly after it started in April. The quantity of posts expressing help for Depp dwarfed these supporting Heard; on TikTok, the tag #justiceforjohnnydepp has a staggering 19.6 billion views whereas #istandwithamberheard has 19.8 million and can also be utilized in movies supporting Depp.

Though many Depp supporters have celebrated the decision as a win for male survivors of domestic abuse, they’ve additionally been accused of harassing creators, together with domestic abuse survivors, for expressing something however help for Depp.

The trial turned leisure

“I’m truly unhappy this trial is coming to an finish,” true crime YouTuber Bailey Sarian mentioned in a now-deleted tweet.

Popular leisure, whether or not a YouTuber’s weekly vlog or a beloved TV present, usually evokes fan content material. In the weeks because the defamation trial began, fans consumed the livestreamed courtroom continuing as if it was leisure and posted content material usually seen in fandom communities.

Viewers posted supercuts of Depp’s facial expressions throughout the trial. Some began “delivery” Depp along with his lawyer Camille Vasquez, and posted fan edits romanticizing their interactions.

Image: Camille Vasquez
Johnny Depp’s legal professional Camille Vasquez speaks along with her colleague Benjamin Chew in courtroom on the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on June 1, 2022.Evelyn Hockstein / Pool/AFP through Getty Images

“She positively has a crush! And I’m right here for it,” one commenter mentioned underneath a TikTok delivery Depp and Vasquez.

Under one other fan edit of the pair, a TikTok consumer speculated, “Everytime she’s subconsciously copying his physique language [it’s] as a result of she’s drawn to him.”

Vasquez gained a following of her personal — fans compared her to the “Legally Blonde” protagonist Elle Woods and started a petition for her to switch Heard within the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel. Singer Jazzmyn Wollfe went viral for tattooing herself with an overview of Vasquez, and was extensively criticized for “taking being a fan too far.”

An image of Wollfe's tattoo of Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez.
An picture of Wollfe’s tattoo of Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez.Courtesy Jazzmyne Wollfe

“For me the tattoo represented loads, significantly the power and fervour Camille possessed in her extremely clever supply of Amber Heard’s cross examination,” Wollfe mentioned. “Traits of outspokenness and confidence I wished to remind myself to additional implement in my very own life.”

As fans made content material in help of Depp, content material maligning Heard exploded online. Videos criticizing her conduct on the stand proliferated on TikTok, and creators carried out dramatized reenactments of her testimony utilizing trial audio. Instagram meme accounts shared pictures mocking her facial expressions and physique language.

Contempt for Heard reached fanfiction circles, as effectively, the place no less than two “revenge fics” about Heard revealed on the fanfiction website Archive Of Our Own explicitly described scenes by which Heard was tortured, sexually assaulted or killed.

“And y’all nonetheless assume this can be a regular response to a trial,” creator jordxn.simone mentioned in a TikTok video responding to a sea shanty parody about Heard. “I’ve seen some actually wild fandom stuff throughout my stint on the web … None of it compares to this.”

Creators had an incentive to proceed posting in regards to the trial as a result of the content material obtained a lot engagement. Creator Cbatogivename began their TikTok account by posting scenes of TV exhibits and films. In late April, they posted a clip from the trial displaying Depp detangling Vasquez’s telephone charger. The video went viral and has over 12.7 million views.

“Everyone commented asking me to submit extra, so I discovered extra movies and far to my delight it went viral once more!”

Tiktok creator cbatogivename

“Everyone commented asking me to submit extra, so I discovered extra movies and far to my delight it went viral once more!” Cbatogivename, who requested to be referred to by their username out of concern for his or her privateness, mentioned.

Before posting the clip, they’d simply over 200 followers; three weeks later, they have been as much as 269,432, they mentioned.

Several creators have accused probably the most fervent Depp supporters of utilizing the trial as a chance to belittle and invalidate girls relatively than help domestic abuse survivors.

In a TikTok posted within the final week of the trial, creator André Rickman requested, “Where the [expletive] have been some of you males’s rights activists once I was abused?”

Rickman mentioned he “felt seen” as a result of the defamation trial raised consciousness of male domestic violence survivors however was skeptical of Depp’s supporters. He questioned why males accused of domestic violence and sexual misconduct, similar to Chris Brown and James Charles, have not obtained the criticism Heard has.

“Some males will use this verdict as a kind of gotcha second for all the feminine victims of domestic violence,” Rickman mentioned. “[I’m] disgusted to see my fellow sisters get bullied, berated within the media and simply have to show the opposite cheek … I really feel horrible and enraged as a result of males do not care about male victims. If something they use me as an argument.”

Another creator who has used her platform to debate domestic violence after her personal expertise in an abusive relationship mentioned she was harassed for talking negatively about Depp.

After Jessica Jordan, a creator referred to as midwestbimbo, posted a video debunking the “mutual abuse” that Depp and Heard’s former marriage counselor described throughout the trial, folks went “completely rabid,” she mentioned.

She was harassed on a number of social media platforms with feedback telling her to die, and he or she mentioned she felt unsafe “for a bit” after receiving a threatening letter to her mailing tackle. While Jordan has handled harassment online earlier than — particularly after talking out towards transphobia and males’s rights activists — she mentioned this wave of harassment was particularly taxing.

“I laughed it off at first and even despatched a postcard again, but it surely actually clicked to me simply how critical some of his fans have been,” Jordan mentioned. “And made me take a look at the threats I used to be getting a bit extra carefully.”

She mentioned she is uncertain Depp’s supporters are passionate out of real concern for domestic violence supporters and referenced actor Terry Crews’ 2017 allegation {that a} Hollywood govt sexually assaulted him throughout an trade perform.

“If folks cared about male abuse survivors there could be extra info and sources about them,” she continued. “Along with love and help for males like Terry Crews … Instead it is used as a silencing tactic.”

“All this discourse this has created solely creates a hostile online surroundings for victims of all genders.”

lauren, tiktok creator knownn as gothamshitty

Although the trial wrapped with the jury’s verdict this week, memes about it proceed to blossom online.

Lauren, the creator who was harassed for criticizing the informal misogyny in content material in regards to the trial, has been inactive on TikTok since. She famous that even these claiming to help Depp have been “undermining the severity of the state of affairs” by treating the case “like a sports activities recreation with groups to aspect with.”

“Even if Johnny’s claims have been solely true, what good does it do to meme-ify each side of his abusive expertise?” Lauren mentioned. “All the discourse this has created — what makes an ideal sufferer, the ‘legitimacy’ of marital rape — solely creates a hostile online surroundings for victims of all genders.”


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