Fight to erase Johnny Depp’s name exposes much wicked agenda | Catherine Bennett | Opinion


Two weeks after Johnny Depp’s libel hearing, a subset of supporters arrived with a giant Fathers4Justice mobile ad reading, in a photo of the actor and his ex-wife Amber Heard: “Ditch the Witch.”

That these American celebrities have been divorced for a long time and have no children together, and that the case concerns the accuracy of a newspaper article in the Soleil, made it, in the eyes of Fathers4Justice, the perfect time to voice their disapproval of upcoming reforms to UK divorce law. If Amber was, as they believe, mean to Johnny, then the divorce shouldn’t be any easier. Or something.

While the Depp-divorce connection probably escapes virtually everyone outside of the embittered Batman costume community, their confusion is understandable. If men saw a perfect opportunity to persecute women, it was probably because Depp’s defamation case had already turned, thanks to the high court, into a small festival of misogyny. While his lawyers would presumably want to take full credit for the way the actor’s concern for his reputation was redirected as a demolition of his ex-wife’s reputation, they must have depended on the judge, Judge Nicol , to agree that the focus on Heard’s conduct was justified in a case relating to Depp’s alleged violence (which he denies) against him.

Did Heard tell the truth about Depp? Wait: first of all, the court needs to know who defecated in the marital bed, Heard’s friends and lovers, how much she drank, what she did if he was not affectionate, what ‘her – or her sister? – vomited at Coachella and if she was, as has been suggested, a violent person herself. While judgment has yet to be rendered, Depp’s defense team could hardly have made it clearer to those considering reporting domestic violence that they might first want to look very carefully at their own transgressions and falsehoods. not, unrelated to them, any bad choice that could, to an expert lawyer, make the idea of ​​their victimization absurd.

Certainly, the startling details demanded by Depp’s team are also what provided a drama-hungry nation with the mesmerizing theater of the past two weeks. Just like the end of Michaela Coel’s TV drama I can destroy you Coinciding with a looming pantomime shortage, the Depp show opened, offering, among its many distractions, doomed couple scenes that looked like a mash-up of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Look back angrily and more recent and bloodier Amy Herzog, Belleville. What certainly should have, given the origins of this lawsuit, been an examination of a character’s conduct has been extended, presumably by a legally respectable process, to a sinister two. Reports on this case should not, but repeatedly do, recall John Osborne’s ecstatic review of Kenneth Tynan Look back angrily: “He shows us two pretty young animals engaged in competitive martyrdom, each with its teeth sunk deep into the other’s neck and each reluctant to break the clinch for fear of bleeding to death.

The contrast between the historical taunts and taunts – “pumpkin head”, “Tasya van Pee”, “Amber Turd” – and the ex-couple’s polished manner at court only added comedy to a drama whose origins are in a restrictive and broader order. implications for victims of domestic violence. “When you aspire to be a great gentleman, to be a great southern gentleman,” Depp said, considering his demeanor, “that doesn’t exclude you from the family of humans who have moments of frustration.

It must sadden many fans of the Southern Gentleman to find that it also doesn’t exclude him from the family of humans who obsessively blame women for their woes. And even those who agree with his legal team’s insinuation that regrettable character traits could put a person beyond domestic violence, have reason to fear that whatever the verdict, this trial was more damaging to Depp’s reputation than a transitional trial. Soleil article. Does it help his prospects for him to have supporters like the Ditch the Witch ensemble and a lawyer, Adam Waldman, who tweets “in memoriam” next to the names of witnesses he doesn’t like? After Cherie Blair was named a Heard supporter, Waldman tweeted, with Fathers4Justice-worthy logic: “As Iraq might tell you, if the Blairs are involved, there can’t be a hoax in the center.

Adam Waldman, one of Johnny Depp’s lawyers, before the High Court in London. Photograph: Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

You wonder if Waldman, with this bubbly approach to a suspected domestic violence case, is aware that it is widely recognized as a serious crime, especially as new violence figures testify to horrific experiences with foreclosure . While Heard testified, Refuge reported that in June, calls and contacts were almost 80% higher than usual.

It could of course be that by announcing the unpopularity of her side with some prominent women, focusing her attention on Heard and therefore, inevitably, converting a libel case into a #MeToo sequel, the devilishly The brilliant Waldman will indeed help Depp rediscover his identity as a gentleman from the south and overlay images of his client sleeping on a floor, or the loser in a kitchen, that this very action helped to spread. If nothing else, he and Depp (from the unforgettable set of stimulants accessorized to tampons) might ultimately prove to be more effective as health educators than Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” anti-drug campaign. Decadence has seldom seemed such hard or thankless work.

There is a short story by Muriel Spark, You Should Have Seen the Mess, in which a woman’s revulsion for clutter and dirt signals her pathological detachment. The Depp trial is like the opposite: a trail of garbage, breakage, and parts stained with blood, shit, or food signals a complete detachment from reality, mostly from their hapless staff. Heard’s sister says of a piece of rubbish: “In the afternoon it was cleaned up, as if nothing had happened.” At this point, in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers, I’m on the side of the cleaners.

Catherine Bennett is an Observer columnist


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