Menu Close

OPINION: How the Johnny Depp Trial Was a Cultural Reset

brown wooden gavel against a white background

Featured Image: Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

The latest trial to go viral on TikTok is officially over. On Wednesday, June 1, a jury found that actor Johnny Depp had been defamed by his ex-wife Amber Heard in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. In the op-ed, she wrote she was a victim of domestic violence. The jury also found that Heard was defamed by a lawyer for Depp in one instance.

The trial had its ups, downs, and plenty of meme content, but ultimately, it changed how many will view domestic violence survivors. 

The trial started rocky. Depp had previously lost a libel case against the Sun newspaper after an article stated he was a “wife-beater.” Meanwhile, Heard was receiving hate on social media even before the trial began. And it did not get any easier for her after she gave her testimony. 

Skits and TikTok videos went viral of Heard’s testimony, such as a clip of her recounting “my dog stepped on a bee,” and one instance in which she was “staring at the carpet.” “Saturday Night Live” even poked fun at Johnny Depp alleging Heard defecated in his bed. 

Not only did the trial’s testimonies have a huge social media presence, but some of the real stars of the case were actual stars in Hollywood. Witnesses included Disney executive Tina Newman and supermodel Kate Moss

The trial ended mostly in Depp’s favor, as he was awarded more than $10 million in damages. However, Heard was also awarded $2 million in damages.

Opinions regarding the verdict differ, as it is an issue of free speech and domestic violence. The real issue was the credibility of both Heard and Depp, which, ultimately, the latter proved he had more of in the eyes of the jury. 

One takeaway from this trial is how it will affect future abuse survivors from speaking up against injustice.  

It is hard enough as it is for victims to come forward. Many on social media agree that Heard was not a victim of Depp. As many look at how Heard handled the trial and missteps in her testimony, it could discourage others from telling their stories. 

However, the biggest takeaway from this trial is how we treat male survivors. We still live in a world where men are scared to come forward about abuse because it is “unmanly.” It is hard for some to believe a man could be abused by a woman. 

Depp took a risk by opening up about alleged abuse from his ex-wife. It is not easy for anyone, let alone a celebrity who is known for being powerful and strong. He was courageous enough to come forward and speak about his experiences, and it will hopefully allow other men to do the same in the future. 

After winning the lawsuit, Depp shared a statement on Instagram about how grateful he was. 

“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” Depp wrote. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.” 

We can only hope that other victims accomplish the same.

• • • • • • •

The views and opinions of the writer of this blog do not reflect those of Thread Magazine. Want to talk to Hannah? Tweet her at @hannahcmpbell.

Posted in Blog