The term pyrrhic victory dates back to the Romans, but it applies to Johnny Depp’s recent defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.
To a degree, at least.
Yes, Depp emerged victorious, but the trial exposed his gross behavior and drug abuse that stripped away his movie star veneer. Even those on Team Depp from the jump found it hard to square with some of his antics.
And yet cultural observers suggest Depp will emerge with a reborn career following the trial while Heard could struggle to find the same success she had before the legal skirmish. A former Disney executive predicts Depp will play the saucy Jack Sparrow again in a future “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel, even if Depp himself said he’s retired from the gig.
For Heard, indie films may be her best way back into Hollywood’s good graces given she rarely anchored films like Depp did. Or, she might follow the path blazed by fading star Alyssa Milano and embrace her inner activist, at least according to The Guardian.
Heard’s long-running outspoken defence of domestic abuse victims is more likely the key to her future activities: as with, for example, the actor and campaigner Rose McGowan, she now has a considerably higher profile as an activist than an actor and may well wish to concentrate her efforts in that sphere.The Guardian
That’s likely not what she wanted following the trial. At 36, Heard is in the prime of her movie career, at least on paper.
Depp isn’t treating his win as if it came with any caveats. He just splurged on an Indian feast that set her back $62,000. He also joined the popular TikTok platform, earning nearly 4 million followers in a matter of days without a single post.
And if you’re trying to find him, better look on stage at the next Jeff Beck concert.
Think pieces debating the Depp/Heard trial flooded the web and will likely continue. It’s hard to deny the sense that Depp emerged victorious in the court of public opinion despite the sordid details of his personal life.
The trial gave us a long, hard look at the ‘#MeToo’ celebrity movement, and many didn’t like what they saw. We’ll never know the full truth behind their doomed marriage, but it’s clear Heard physically attacked Depp and was less than truthful on other, critical matters.
In short, this wasn’t a clear-cut case of a man abusing his spouse, full stop. The MeToo wave, while important in shedding a brighter light on abusers and giving victims a worthy boost, also went too far in the public arena.
Think Matt Damon getting silenced for sharing a rationale take on the shades of abuse. Or, recall how a bad date nearly capsized Aziz Ansari’s comedy career. Anyone sharing a dissenting view, or a call for clarity and evidence in abuse allegations, got pummeled in the cultural conversation.
Many understood that was the wrong way to stop these predators but were powerless to say so. They also saw a veteran star’s career crumble before their eyes, losing two major movie franchises in the process – the “Fantastic Beasts” and “Pirates” series. The justification for that collapse didn’t fit the reality they binge-watched during the trial.
For them, the Depp trial spoke for them. Giving voice to the voiceless can be powerful, and the trial is proving it anew.
Turns out the public will embrace Depp’s win, many warts and all.
Funny man Chris Rock may have summed up both the trial’s verdict and our current MeToo assessment with one pithy line: “Believe All Women … except Amber Heard.”
Right or wrong, that message resonated the loudest with John Q. Public.