The trial that captured the attention of the country — or at least a handful of TikTokers — came to an end yesterday.
A Virginia jury found that actress Amber Heard defamed her ex-husband Johnny Depp and vice versa. While both parties were held to be liable, Depp was awarded $15 million in damages whereas Heard was only awarded $2 million.
It was a major defeat for Heard who expressed her disappointment in a statement shortly after the verdict was read.
“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.
The “mountain of evidence” Heard is referencing might not have been enough to sway the jury, but it was somehow enough for the Washington Post.
In 2018, Jeff Bezos’s newspaper ran an essay by Heard titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
While Heard didn’t mention Depp by name, she did write that two years earlier she had become “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Two years before the Post’s explosive piece, Heard had filed for divorce from Depp and accused him of domestic violence. You didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that Heard was implicating Depp as her abuser.
But the Washington Post didn’t care if Depp’s reputation, by no means squeaky clean to begin with, was sullied because of its vague accusations. The keyboard warriors who run the outlet where “Democracy Dies in Darkness” had zero interest in getting the other side of the story. Like most news sites, the Post was more interested in clicks than anything else.
Just like the publication’s retracted stories on the bogus Steele dossier, Heard’s piece didn’t hold up under scrutiny. Unlike the Steele stories, Bezos’s minions didn’t receive Pulitzer prizes for their bombshell op-ed.
None of this is to suggest that Johnny Depp is the victor in this sordid saga. In fact, the highly publicized trial didn’t have any winners. It certainly had some losers though.
Throughout the six-week-long train wreck, Heard and Depp proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are both deeply disturbed individuals. From their bizarre secret audio recordings of each other to Depp accusing Heard of leaving a revenge poop in his bed, calling this couple toxic would be the understatement of the year. Hollywood unions don’t have a great track record to begin with, but the entire media circus-legal psychodrama made a mockery of the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Other losers? The spectators following along daily on social media. And yes, I include myself in this category.
The late Frank Lloyd Wright once said about TV, “It’s only chewing gum for the eyes.” In that case, this televised trial was tobacco chewing gum for the eyes. It was trash reality television on steroids and it showcased not just the depravity of its stars but the desperation of its audience. Desperate for drama, yes, but more desperate for distraction.
Hordes of passionate Depp supporters (mostly women) waited outside the courthouse each day with flowers and “Justice for Johnny” signs. As he arrived, Captain Jack Sparrow would roll down the window of his Escalade and blow kisses to his super fans. Heard had her defenders as well. Social justice warriors wrote think pieces depicting the actress as a victim of not just abuse but society’s misogyny.
The truth is that Depp and Heard, unlike the characters they play in movies, aren’t heroes or victims. Like most people, they are somewhere in between. They would both do well to reflect on how terrible they were to each other and learn from it. However, based on the narcissism they’ve displayed, it is doubtful either are capable of that kind of self-reflection.
As for the onlookers, we have no time for nuance. Like the bloodthirsty spectators at the Colosseum, we came for a show. It raises the question: are you not entertained?