On the Depp-Heard trial

Edit: Read this much superior article that uses Game Theory to allocate blame between Heard and Depp.

Like the rest of the internet, I would also like to offer my fairly useless and inconsequential opinion on the trial.

Amber Heard effectively “lost” her case today. Although both parties have been fined millions of dollars, Heard has been asked to pay much more. Simply put, Depp won.

What does victory mean here? Could Depp prove that none of Heard’s accusations are false? No. There is concrete evidence in the forms of text messages and recordings that Depp was criminally violent towards Heard.

From https://www.thecut.com/2022/05/why-do-so-many-people-think-amber-heard-is-lying.html

What the jury reached a verdict on is the fact that Heard defamed Depp when she wrote her Washington Post op-ed. Which, very clearly, she did. She said that her partner, which the whole world knew was Depp, physically abused her. This was supposed to be illegal after their out of court settlement. Although Heard has argued that she still has freedom of speech, it can perhaps be convincingly claimed in legalese that Heard’s article was illegal, and she should hence pay a fine.

But the legal aspect of the ruling is completely irrelevant to how the world understands the jury’s verdict.

Depp and Heard formed a mutually destructive couple. They both physically harmed one another, but Depp, due to his greater physical strength (and, let’s face it, the drugs) could do more damage. Heard wrote a public exposition about it. The court decided that her exposé was technically illegal after having reached a settlement with him before. This is too complicated a notion for us to process. We need simple binary answers. Depp=good or bad? Apparently, Heard’s exposé being technically illegal = Depp is good, the abuse was all made up, and Heard is a liar.

Heard’s career is now all but destroyed. She will live out the rest of her life hiding from the public, while Johnny might still get a film or two. But regardless of the entertainment that he may provide us in the future, it can’t possibly be as good as the entertainment that he has already given us during the trial. We watched one wronged person absolutely destroy another wronged person’s life in front of the whole world. And we cheered, and laughed, and tweeted, and TikTok-ed.

Reputation between people is often a zero-sum game. Heard wanted to gain some reputation as a “wronged but strong” woman, at the expense of Depp’s reputation as a global celebrity when she wrote her op-ed. Depp wanted to gain his reputation back at the expense of Heard’s when he related tales of feminine defecation. And what a spectacle it was for all of us to lap up.

It is not important to know who was right. Both of them were clearly wrong (although one of them was more morally wrong, while the other was more “technically” wrong). What is important perhaps is to find out what societal structures we can put up, so that mutually destructive couples find it easy to come out of bad relationships. Neither Heard, nor Depp needed this trial, or the consequent mudslinging. Like everyone else in the world, they deserve peace, happiness, and a partner they’re compatible with. But the media is uninterested in making lives for better for people. It mostly only cares about stoking the primeval ape in you that loves watching people destroy one another. And I don’t mean to take the high ground on this. I am as imperfect as the average trial-binging idiot; possibly worse. But in some rare moments of clarity, I do feel bad about aiding and funding the destruction. As an empty but meaningful-to-me gesture, I will end this post by reproducing Amber Heard’s statement below.

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Graduate student

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