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Johnny Depp's restraint

By Bettina Arndt - posted Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Tell the world, Johnny, tell them: 'I, Johnny Depp, a man, I'm a victim too of domestic violence,' and see how many people believe or side with you.

That was Amber Heard caught on tape sneering at Johnny Depp, gloating that even if he were to tell the world, no one would believe that a man was the victim of domestic violence.

In the end he did tell the world. The miracle is he was believed, and people everywhere overwhelmingly sided with him, including the jury. That's the story which captured recent public attention in countries across the globe. And rightly so.


Naturally, the mainstream media is working overtime to play down the whole saga, dismissing it as a tawdry celebrity circus, and attributing the massive public interest to sinister efforts by Johnny Depp fans to support their star and a win for yet another powerful man. But there are really significant issues at play here.

Perhaps most importantly we witnessed cracks in the Believe All Women feminist edifice. The waves of social media applause that greeted the daily exposure of Heard's lies in the Virginia courtroom spoke to the immense frustration of communities everywhere which for decades have been cowered into denying the truth about domestic violence.

Then it all played out on this massive public stage. This was not he-said/she-said drama where no one knew who to believe. Critically, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's behaviour was captured on tape, and due to the decision to broadcast live the entire proceedings, it was revealed to all. Viewing figures totalled an incredible 84 million hours of this courtroom drama featuring these recordings of their conversations, attracting audiences of up to 3.5 million, amplified daily in thousands of YouTube videos, Instagram clips and other social media promotion, which also often attracted viewers in their millions. The 'Johnny Depp' hashtag reached 30 billion views on TikTok.

So absolutely huge numbers of people actually got to hear what went on between these two. As the jury concluded, they heard ample evidence that Amber Heard maliciously misrepresented herself as a domestic violence victim. They were exposed to witnesses saying there was no bruising from the alleged punch to the face, no evidence the trailer was trashed, nothing to support her allegation that he'd raped her with a bottle and Kate Moss declared it was untrue, as Heard claimed, that Depp had thrown her down the stairs.

Johnny Depp has always categorically denied he had physically abused Heard and the evidence stacked up showing this to be the case. Depp was revealed as a booze-addled, angry man prone to texts fantasizing about hurting Heard but, contrary to the view of the British judge who ruled in his failed defamation case against The Sun newspaper, there was no proof he was a wife-beater.

In a telling interview, NBC News Legal analyst Danny Cevallos pointed out that in the recent case all Heard's lawyers needed to take Depp down was evidence this happened just one time:


"If I were giving closing arguments as one of Heard's lawyers, I would tell the jury, 'You don't have to believe everything that Amber Heard has said. You don't even have to believe every allegation of violence. You just need to believe one,'" said Cevallos. "If you conclude that Johnny Depp was violent to her once, then she wins, because it means she can say, truthfully, she is a survivor of abuse."

That was a mighty low bar but still Heard's lawyers failed. Having taken the risk of weeks of evidence about his private life exposed to public scrutiny, Johnny Depp's courage paid off.

Amber Heards are everywhere

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Bettina Arndt is a social commentator.

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