Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

The Depp/Heard Trial Reveals a Bigger Problem

Rachel Wayne
7 min readMay 20, 2022

Let me begin by stating that Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors. His performances in Ed Wood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and countless other films made my heart sing.

I’m also a fan of Amber Heard. As I was an extra in Zombieland and a fan of Stephen King (and her performance in the otherwise-awful 2020 rendition of the The Stand), I’ve admired her work.

But since 2016, I and countless other fans have been forced to reckon with this geeky couple’s toxic existence. It began with Heard’s claims that Depp had abused her. She wrote an article published in The Washington Post identifying herself as a survivor of domestic abuse. Although she did not name Depp, he perceived the article as a key factor in his dismissal from the Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts franchises.

Whether or not that’s true, the trial has unveiled a darker trend in American society. Before any sort of verdict has been reached, the public has been eager to crucify Heard as the perpetrator of Depp’s career failures. Even if Heard abused Depp, there is merely a tenuous connection between her allegations and Depp’s career woes.

After all, Hollywood is notoriously unforgiving toward aging actors, no matter their previous acclaim. And considering Depp has a troubled history that includes punching crew members, it’s no surprise that studios may take pause when hiring him.

In short, the situation is obviously complex. Yet American society’s eagerness to crucify Heard reveals an alarming tendency: one that persistently portrays women as neurotic accusers while men are misrepresented victims.

Even feminists who are normally quick to pinpoint men as the default perpetrators of domestic violence have swung to the opposite extreme, declaring that Depp is an invisible victim in the epidemic of intimate partner abuse.

Yet even that assumption reveals a larger, much more problematic assumption: that women are inherently manipulative and passive, and therefore male abuse victims are willfully ignored.

Well, there’s no evidence of that. As we’ve seen, people are much more likely to believe men, no matter if they’re being accused of abuse or claiming…

Rachel Wayne

Artist/anthropologist/activist writing about art, media, culture, health, science, enterprise, and where they all meet. Join my list: