Creators say Johnny Depp fans are creating a ‘hostile online environment’
The week-long defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has sparked a flurry of toxic online content, according to social media users.
There’s no denying that the high-profile legal battle has dominated online discourse for the past two months. According to data published by NewsWhip, the lawsuit generated more engagement than more pressing topics, such as abortion rights, the Russian-Ukrainian war and global inflation. And that’s largely thanks to viral posts and social media trends that have ridiculed Heard’s abuse allegations against her ex-husband.
“Users were lip-syncing to an audio of Amber’s testimonial and using it to poke fun at her,” said content creator Lauren, aka gothamshitty. BNC News. “Specifically, they were using an audio of her recounting how Johnny raped her. These users would respond to the audio by stating that what Amber was describing was not rape but ‘every woman’s dream.’ made me sick.
Lauren, who asked not to use her last name, said she felt compelled to address the lawsuit after seeing so many ‘disgusting’ and ‘misogynistic’ posts aimed at survivors of Heard and domestic violence . She said she expressed her support for the Aquaman star in a TikTok video, which received a response from a popular streamer. It took a long time before Lauren was bombarded with hateful comments, causing her to reach a “breaking point”.
Lauren said the lawsuit highlighted the ugly side of online fandoms and reflected “the immense amount of misogyny and hatred of women that is so deeply ingrained in society.”
“Even if Johnny’s claims were entirely true, what’s the point of memorizing every aspect of his abusive experience?” said Laurent. “All the talk this has created – what makes a perfect victim, the ‘legitimacy’ of marital rape – only creates a hostile online environment for victims of all genders.”
Content creator Jessica Jordan, aka midwestbimbo, echoed Lauren’s comments, saying she also faced harassment after posting a negative video about Depp. The post that caused the biggest outcry featured Jordan debunking the ‘mutual abuse’ theory advanced by Depp and Heard’s former therapist.
“I laughed about it at first and even sent a postcard back, but I really understood how serious some of his fans were,” Jordan said. “And made me look a little closer at the threats I was getting.”
Although Heard was awarded $2 million in his countersuit against Depp, many consider the Pirates of the Caribbean star the real winner. A US jury awarded him $15 million in damages in his libel suit against his ex-wife. Many Depp supporters hailed the verdict not only as a victory for the actor, but for all male victims of domestic violence. However, Jordan is convinced that the Depp fandom’s concern for survivors of abuse is not genuine.
“If people cared about male victims of abuse, there would be more information and resources about them,” she explained. “Besides the love and support for men like Terry Crews…Instead, it’s used as a silencing tactic.”