Is Johnny Depp a villain? Yes, he’s a damn good one, on the
big screen anyway, currently starring as Gellert Grindlewald in the latest
Harry Potter universe movie. Depp brings to the role his usual complete
immersion in the role, and kudos to him for pulling it off at this time of his
life, a time that has seen him badmouthed, vilified and declared guilty – all
without giving him the remotest chance to defend himself…
Depp’s latest marriage broke down after a mere 18 months. Depp’s wife (now ex) called the police and claimed that Depp had thrown an iPhone at her face. He denied the allegation, and the police left, saying there was no evidence to support her claim. This means, there was no bruising, no damaged phone, and no marks where the phone hit the wall, or floor, assuming it missed Amber Heard. So much for that – and this, it must be noted, only came out months later, when the divorce had reached the point when money was mentioned…
It was at this point in the divorce proceedings that Heard decided to let the judge know that Depp was abusive to her. Because of this abuse, she claimed, she wanted a massive $7 million settlement. She went into detail about the fights and the shouting and the violence, painting herself as a sweet and innocent martyr to Depp’s vicious and angry drunken abuser.
The media went mad on it. Depp was vilified, utterly scourged by both the press and on social media. Now, a real abuser would have bent over backwards to prove that there was no truth in the story, perhaps admitting to lesser villainies: ‘I have a temper, yes’ sort of thing, and not hesitating to lay it on thick that they had only fought because a) he loved her too much (a sickening common ploy used to ‘excuse’ jealousy and controlling behaviour) or b) they were both at fault and that she had provoked him into behaviour that he was ashamed of and deeply remorseful for. Or, Depp might have admitted it all – yes, they’d fought, yes, they’d been violent with each other, yes, he had a problem with (insert fashionable substance here) and was seeking help.
Any of the above stories would have given him a voice and would have earned him sympathy in some sectors of the internet – not with the ignorant echo chambers who simply thrive and thrill on tearing people down, those people would have torn him to shreds no matter what – but there would have been a position that fans or believers could muster to. So what did Depp do and say?
He did not deny it. He did not admit it. He refused to speak about it, and his lawyers spoke to his ex-wife’s lawyers and an agreement was soon made. Under the terms of that agreement, Heard had to stop telling anyone about the supposed abuse, and she would receive a large sum of money. She agreed, she signed, she took the money. And still, Depp did not take advantage of any of the opportunities that he had to cast her as the greedy fortune hunter, fibbing and exaggerating in order to cash in on her erstwhile husband’s talent.
Despite the settling of the case, Depp is still a villain to social media masses. He is rich and visible, and small-minded petty people take sadistic pleasure in one-upping people that they perceive as being better than them, no matter how hard those people have worked to gain their celebrity, fame or fortune…
And this is important – Depp has never been charged with a crime. He has never been taken to court and made to testify about the alleged abuse. He – and this is supremely important – has NEVER been given the chance to tell his side of the story. Heard told her story, and it seems that she is believed without needing to provide evidence or proof, she has not been asked why she did not go to the police the first time violence was inflicted on her, if indeed it was, and why she agreed to stay silent after she’d got all the money.
It is this point that should give any right thinking person pause. Even the worst villain in history should be allowed their day in court, should be permitted a lawyer and be allowed to face their accuser. Any time you have a situation where anyone – male or female – is blindly believed without allowing both sides the chance to tell their version of events, is a time when we are moving dangerously close to villainy on our own part.
Depp has lost much to this situation. The highly talented actor has been dropped by the makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, despite the fact that Jack Sparrow is the franchise’s best known and loved character – and let us not forget that Depp often pops into hospitals, unannounced and in full Jack Sparrow costume. His reputation is in shreds, and many wanted J K Rowling to ditch him as Grindlewald… All this and the man has not committed a crime – hell, he has not even been charged with a crime, never mind found guilty.
Domestic violence is terrible. False accusations are terrible. And the worst thing that false accusations do is make it harder for genuine victims – those peeing blood, and wearing long sleeved shirts and high necked blouses, those who are seldom seen in public because their abuser exercises such control over them that they almost cannot breath without his (it’s usually a ‘he’) permission, those whose abuse is often only discovered at their premature autopsy – to be heard when they summon the unimaginable courage that it takes to leave their situation and ask for help. If Depp is guilty, he should be punished by the justice system – but he cannot be guilty, because he has not been charged with any crime: ergo, he should not be punished for something he has not officially done!No matter what you think about Johnny Depp, we need to remember one thing. Adherence to legal process (from allowing each party to tell their story, to giving everyone a fair and impartial hearing) is what separates the good guys from the bad guys. And labelling someone a villain on gut instinct is exactly the kind of thing that a bad guy does…