Amber Heard and the death of #MeToo

But it’s not just the internet. “Believe all women except Amber Heard,” joked Chris Rock recently. An sketch from Saturday night Live last weekend turned one of Depp’s wildest accusations against Heard into satire, treating her as a figure of fun and him as a charming rogue.

That does not mean that the case is simple. Heard admitted hitting Depp, and was recorded insulting and belittling him. The couple’s marriage counselor testified that they engaged in “mutual abuse,” and said of Heard, “For her, starting a fight was a source of pride, if she felt disrespected.”

Some experts on domestic violence consider mutual abuse to be a myth, arguing that while both partners in a toxic relationship can behave terribly, one tends to wield power over the other. But even if Heard is believed to have acted inexcusably, the idea that she was the primary aggressor—against a much bigger man with far more resources, who was recorded being sweared at for daring to speak so “authoritarian”— defies logic.

In fact, one of the most salacious details of the trial — the one that has been used to mock Heard throughout the media — could easily fit into a story of victimization. Depp, as we know, accused Heard or one of her friends of defecating on her bed as an act of revenge, and her bodyguard said that she had confessed to pulling a prank gone wrong. Heard testified that one of her dogs, incontinent since eating Depp’s weed when he was a puppy, soiled the bed. “Actually, it wasn’t a jovial moment and I don’t think that’s funny, period,” said. “He is disgusting.”

If he’s telling the truth, we have to marvel at how much Depp and his team have tarnished his name. When Depp testified, #AmberTurd and #MePoo hashtags skyrocketed online. The image of Heard, a woman whose brand is the flamboyant blonde glamor, is now linked, perhaps permanently, to the excrement. If Heard is not a psychopath, she is the victim of a truly sadistic blow to her reputation.

It should be noted that in 2020, Bot Sentinel, a group that tracks online misinformation and harassment, was hired by Heard’s attorneys to analyze the social media campaign against her. “Everyone thinks any activity against them is bots or whatever,” the group’s founder, Chris Bouzy, told me. But in this case, some accounts were: Bouzy estimated that there were 340 “inauthentic” Twitter accounts dedicated to defaming Heard and amplifying petitions calling for her to be fired from her projects as an actress and model. “A small number of accounts can drive conversations on Twitter,” he explained.

However, while trolls and bots have helped fuel the mania against Heard, it’s clear there are plenty of real people involved in the scandal. Some of them are obsessive fans of Depp; What wrote Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Atlantic, there is a history of online communities taking a fixation “on theories that the male artists they admire were manipulated and tortured by less famous female romantic partners.”

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Amber Heard and the death of #MeToo

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