A frenzied scene materializes 4 days per week at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia as followers search seats at the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The line to enter the courthouse begins earlier than dawn. Throughout the day, individuals seem carrying indicators, sporting fan merch and costumes, even strolling a pair of alpacas. Nearly all of them are there for Mr. Depp.
“We just want to support our captain,” mentioned Jack Baker, 20, who arrived on Monday dressed like an additional in “Pirates of the Caribbean” to movie footage for his YouTube channel. “If he goes down with the ship, we’re going down with him.”
Maryam Alam, 29, and Alina Alam, 29, had hoped to get into the courthouse, however once they confirmed up at 7 a.m. they have been already too late. Both grew up watching Mr. Depp onscreen — enjoying such characters as Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka — and have been longing for the likelihood to see him in particular person.
“It’s fulfilling a childhood fantasy,” Maryam mentioned. “It’s the reason why everyone else is here.”
High-profile movie star circumstances have drawn a large viewers ever since Court TV started broadcasting from courtrooms in the Nineteen Nineties. But the trial of Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard has turn out to be a case examine in what occurs when advanced claims are filtered by means of the lenses of stan tradition and social media.
In addition to the reside protection on TV, YouTube, and varied information and leisure web sites, numerous quick clips edited for max virality have circulated on Instagram and TikTok — “fancams,” in social media parlance, that includes forensic analyses of Mr. Depp’s and Ms. Heard’s trial apparel, and courtroom exchanges which were described as “SAVAGE.”
Mr. Depp, 58, is suing Ms. Heard, 36, over an essay she revealed in The Washington Post in 2018 about sexual violence, wherein she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Mr. Depp was not named in the article, he has argued that it clearly alluded to him, damaging his popularity and profession. (Ms. Heard filed for divorce in 2016 and, quickly after, for a restraining order towards Mr. Depp, which she was granted.) In his testimony, Mr. Depp denied ever hanging Ms. Heard and argued that she was the aggressor of their relationship. The jury is concurrently contemplating a defamation countersuit by Ms. Heard towards Mr. Depp.
Many of the accusations have been aired in 2020, throughout a libel case Mr. Depp introduced towards The Sun, a British newspaper that ran a headline referring to him as a “wife beater.” The choose dominated that the defendants had proven that what they revealed was “substantially true,” and Mr. Depp misplaced the case.
While the jury in Virginia has been instructed to fastidiously weigh the proof and attain a verdict solely after testimony is full (Ms. Heard has but to take the stand), and fan-observers have been suggested not to react audibly or visibly to both celebration in the courtroom, the remainder of the world is below no such obligation.
In a TikTok video captioned “AMBER HEARD CAUGHT LYING AGAIN,” Ethan Trace (2.8 million followers) gleefully recounts how Ms. Heard’s lawyer mentioned in court docket that the actress used a make-up palette to cowl up bruises Mr. Depp gave her throughout their marriage. The lawyer held up a palette to reinforce her level, and whereas she didn’t title the model, it was identifiable in pictures and video from the trial, and web sleuths shortly named the firm, Milani Cosmetics.
Milani, the model, later launched a TikTok video that said the product Ms. Heard’s lawyer confirmed didn’t turn out to be obtainable till after the couple had separated. (“Milani Cosmetics is not taking a formal stance on the trial, evidence or future outcome of the case,” a spokeswoman wrote in an announcement.)
“Boom!” Mr. Trace says in the video. “Milani Cosmetics: We love you! Thank you for sharing this!” The video has greater than 16 million views.
In an electronic mail, Mr. Trace defined that he felt Mr. Depp had been handled unfairly by the media. “How could no one be talking about evidence that could possibly prove a man’s innocence after being labeled an ‘abuser’ in the eyes of the public?” he wrote.
On April 13, shortly after testimony started, Gawker famous that the TikTok hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp had acquired 1.1 billion views. In two weeks, that quantity has greater than quadrupled. As of this writing, #justiceforamberheard has 22 million views.
Ms. Heard’s supporters hope that her testimony will shift the dialogue surrounding the trial. “Instead of looking at all these TikToks and everything, I think that people should actually follow the case,” mentioned Carmen Diamandis, 22.
“Stans will literally go to any extent to defend anyone,” he mentioned of Mr. Depp’s supporters, including: “Amber Heard, she has not got that fan base.”
Marianne Nafsu, 32, a real crime content material creator from Detroit who has posted about the case, mentioned: “I can’t wait to hear her side when she stands trial.” She added that “it’s only fair to listen to both sides and see: Where’s all this coming from?”
When requested for a touch upon the fan response, Ms. Heard’s legal professionals supplied her pal Eve Barlow, a music journalist who has been tweeting in assist of Ms. Heard.
“The social media landscape is shockingly brutal for Amber,” Ms. Barlow wrote in an electronic mail, including that lots of the feedback on TikTok and Twitter mirror “misogynist hate.” Mr. Depp’s representatives didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Rachel Louise Snyder, the creator of “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us,” acknowledged in an interview that Mr. Depp has sure benefits over Ms. Heard in the court docket of public opinion.
“People will dispense with the same critical eye that they would give anybody else when it comes to someone who is really a beloved figure,” she mentioned. Ms. Snyder added that the case gives a possible counternarrative to frequent misconceptions of abuse: who can perpetuate it and who is usually a sufferer.
Johnny Depp’s Libel Case Against Amber Heard
In the courtroom. A defamation trial involving the previously married actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is presently underway in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia. Here is what to find out about the case:
“We don’t think about victims as wealthy. We don’t think about victims as men. We don’t think about perpetrators as women,” she mentioned. “I’m not saying that she’s a perpetrator and he’s a victim. I’m just saying that we have an opportunity to look at our own myths and stereotypes around ‘Who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator?’” (Abuse impacts one in 4 ladies, in accordance to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and one in seven males.)
On TikTok, lots of Mr. Depp’s supporters have posted a few recording wherein Ms. Heard says: “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, am a victim too of domestic violence,’” and continues, “See how many people believe or side with you.”
Scout Robert, 24, was greatly surprised by Ms. Heard’s phrases. “When she said that, she made the statement to the world that as a man, you cannot be abused,” she mentioned in an interview. Ms. Robert, who has greater than 40,000 followers on TikTok, has posted quite a few movies on the platform, wherein she has referred to as Ms. Heard a liar, abuser and hypocrite. Some have been seen lots of of hundreds of occasions.
Ms. Robert mentioned she felt that the #MeToo slogan “believe women” had turn out to be overused. Rather, she mentioned, individuals ought to “listen to women,” whereas acknowledging “that men can be victims of domestic abuse as well.”
Ms. Snyder, likewise, thinks the Depp trial might spur extra nuanced conversations about abuse, and the way it doesn’t at all times fall inside neatly prescribed boundaries.
“Maybe he’s a victim, maybe he’s an abuser, maybe he’s a little bit of both,” she mentioned. “Same for her.”
Michael Lee Pope contributed reporting from Fairfax, Va.