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Home » #wejustdontlikeyouAmber: the (un)holy trinity of misogyny, mockery and (hyper) masculinity

#wejustdontlikeyouAmber: the (un)holy trinity of misogyny, mockery and (hyper) masculinity

Amber Heard trial #wejustdontlikeyouAmber: the (un)holy trinity of misogyny, mockery and (hyper) masculinity

In Johnny Depp’s trial against ex-wife, Amber Heard, there are no heroes. To the untrained eye, the case appears to be around two extremely dysfunctional people whose emotional volatility was exacerbated immensely by their marital engagement.

However, it appears to many on social media to be a simple morality tale: a hero brought down by a crafty wench; a decent man duped by a terrible woman. Vast numbers of Depp superfans have reduced what was plainly a convoluted relationship to black and white, as if sticking up for Captain Jack Sparrow’s integrity — and smearing the lady who dared to accuse him of culpability — has some higher life purpose.

The case’s nonstop coverage, which was televised in the United States and live-streamed around the world on YouTube, will have brought back unpleasant memories for so many survivors. However, for some on social media, the sight of Heard sobbing on the witness stand as she accuses her ex-husband of sexually assaulting her with a bottle (a charge he denies) appears to be simply another type of entertainment, a salacious box set or episodes of Love Island to be discussed with peers.

Both Depp and Heard’s statements are distressing in and of themselves—gruesome, aggressive, and filled with deeply personal facts about their relationship. In general, witness testimony can be powerful, and we can never be certain of the ultimate fact when two actors are in the dock. Despite the fact that Depp’s charges of being a “wife-beater” were previously deemed to be “basically true” by the London High Court, the internet seems to have massively sided with Depp. #JusticeForJohnnyDepp  and #AmberTurd  are some of  many hashtags that have been trending since the inception of this trial.

Anti Heard sentiment, which seems to be spreading like wildfire across social media is appalling, questioning tensility of the last straw, that straw that keeps one’s faith in humanity and compassion, somewhat intact. The memes have been vicious, with some using a spot-the-difference contrast with domestic-abuse victims and others appropriating television courtroom video to overtly ridicule her appearance. It’s simply misogyny. The manufacturer that made the  makeup Heard used to disguise her bruises even responded to her claims on TikTok. As she lists prior abuse and accuses rape, Heard is methodically mocked and derided like a mediaeval convict in the stocks. Have we entirely forgotten how serious these claims are?

Some weeks the internet is buoyant, all of us kept afloat by Met Gala dresses, the speculations of Louis Vuitton getting a new global ambassador. On other days, it makes one’s heart sink as pro-lifers terrorise Roe v. Wade, individuals openly obtaining parody in domestic abuse etc. It makes one angry, very angry, and people continue to rally against it, to curb the narratives that are inherently bigoted, but in that very moment, that one tweet, one tik-tok, one share seems enough to make someone lose hope, give in, enter the destitute.

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Perhaps the spectacle of two  actors squaring off on-screen has fueled this impression of an almost staged unreality, with Depp’s lawyers dismissing Heard’s testimony as “her life’s play.” Few people using the hashtags #JusticeforJohnny and #amberheardisaliar on Twitter appear to care that Depp lost a libel action two years ago over a Sun piece suggesting he was a “wife-beater,” with a British judge declaring the story “basically factual.” Teenagers who get their information from TikTok parodies or out-of-context Instagram video, on the other hand, may be unaware of the broader legal history.

Ironically, or maybe predictably, Depp’s total innocence protests have devolved into internet mobs surrounding everyone who disagrees and feels Heard is the victim. Heard fans are constantly harassed and assaulted online; their accounts are mass reported and even suspended, and they are bombarded with misogynist hatred, all in the name of proving Depp isn’t a predator. In the meantime, Heard’s testimony has been derided and ridiculed. Even Depp’s daughter is being bullied online by Depp fans who believe she isn’t being supportive enough of her father.

However, the public’s reaction to the perplexing information can be used as a proxy for sexism. Devotion towards Depp and a curiously inflated feeling of purpose and self-righteousness surrounding the trial have become pretexts for a familiar hobby: abusing women online, according to too many social media users. One almost gets the impression that the misogyny is the primary objective for some of Depp’s most ardent supporters online.

These ostensibly advocates of an alleged assault victim are gladly engaging in misogynist online harassment. Domestic violence victims and abusers alike are seeing this unfold in the meanwhile. The message appears to be that in a situation where there are mutual claims of domestic violence, who is believed will be determined by popularity — and also that men will be granted the benefit of a doubt while women will be mocked for their tears.

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