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Before the verdict was even read, he was on tour with British musician Jeff Beck, starting in Sheffield where an unsuspecting crowd (which included my dad) were treated to the surprise entrance of the Pirates of the Caribbean star. The mostly male audience at Sheffield City Hall “enjoyed” Depp’s presence, Dad said. It “lifted the atmosphere”.
On Sunday, Depp, Beck, plus their security personnel and entourage, hired out the whole of an Indian restaurant in Birmingham. Never one to shy away from excess, Depp reportedly spent £50,000 on the meal, splashing on wine, champagne and cocktails.
He’s even joined TikTok, that trendy, young platform, largely populated by trendy young things, although he is yet to post his first video.
It’s all gravy in Deppland, and well it might be. The “global humiliation” he promised his ex-wife is complete. Abuse has rained down on her on every conceivable platform, blanketing social media like a biblical plague. Heard’s facial expressions, gestures and mannerisms have been dissected and rubbished by armchair detectives, her testimony mocked with filters and by TikTok users mimicking and mugging at the camera.
Forget locusts, darkness, hail, water turning to blood – try being an unpopular woman testifying against a popular man.
Some of the user comments and tweets directed at Independent staff and contributors covering Depp v Heard have been truly shocking in their viciousness. When sharing our content addressing the trial on Twitter, I noticed that a hashtag of just Heard’s name wasn’t being suggested, as nasty and abusive hashtags were omnipresent, blotting out neutral or supportive alternatives.
Other public figures daring to express even the most milquetoast shred of support have become targets of harassment. A psychiatrist who testified on behalf of Heard has spoken about receiving a share of the abuse, and about Depp’s apparent unwillingness to temper the behaviour of his fans.
Not once during the course of this brutal six week court battle did Depp make a statement to the effect of: “I know you all love me, but can you just take it down a tiny notch, please?” The fact that he didn’t tells you all you need to know, if the text messages to his friend Paul Bettany, where he wrote: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f**k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead” didn’t already.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Depp has chosen now to join TikTok, given the amount of support its users have bestowed upon him. It’s been home to some of the most malignant, misogynistic anti-Heard content, including conspiracy theories about her snorting cocaine on the stand, and the most fawning, cutesy pro-Depp videos.
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TikTok has been a richly rewarding little mine of sycophancy for Depp, something that wouldn’t be weird if a UK court hadn’t ruled that he assaulted Heard on a dozen occasions and put her in fear of her life three times. His appeal in Britain was denied. But no matter, Depp already has 3.9 million followers on TikTok, before publishing a single post.
Clémence Michallon, our US culture writer, described herself as “sickened” by the case she reported on for seven weeks. She wrote: “Through it all, the cruelty of those who mocked Heard never ceased to amaze me.” This cruelty has been normalised and condoned by Depp’s silence. He is the one person who his legions of fans might have listened to, and his failure to address them on the harassment of Heard online and outside the courtroom is very revealing.
Heard has been summarily destroyed. I wonder how many of us could honestly say that our mental health would ever recover if we were subjected to the same treatment. But don’t worry, at least Johnny’s on TikTok now. He’ll be dancing to Harry Styles before too long, using adorable filters, giving the people what they want. Maybe he’ll reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow too, and really treat us all.