Social media needs to stop romanticising Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s court case

It’s pretty safe to say that you must be living under a rock if you aren’t aware of the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp defamation trial going on at the moment. Depp is suing his ex-wife Heard for defamation after she implied that he abused her in an op-ed piece she wrote in 2018 for the Washington Post.

Depp Heard Lawsuit, Fairfax, United States - 04 May 2022
Photographer: Elizabeth Frantz/AP/Shutterstock

Coverage of the trial has been splashed everywhere, arguably more so than any other case in the past decade. Whilst this is understandable due to its high-profile nature, people more so than ever have been turning the trial into a form of entertainment and making light of what is a serious case involving alleged domestic abuse.

Maybe people have a hard time separating the beloved characters that Depp has played on-screen from who he is as an actual person, giving people a false sense that they know who he really is. This is something I can definitely say that I’ve been guilty of too, and it is easy to find ourselves romanticising Depp in the courtroom as if this were his next leading role in some blockbuster movie.

However, this isn’t just another one of Depp’s characters we’re watching on the big screen, and the gravity surrounding this trial deserves to be treated as much more than just mere entertainment. Regardless of the outcome, neither Depp nor Heard should be romanticised whilst in the courtroom.

The proceedings have been live-streamed on YouTube for the whole world to see, with almost one million people tuning in to see how the case plays out.

While there may be many people who are genuinely interested in the case and have no malicious intent whilst watching, I can’t help but think of the masses of people that will be watching behind their screens with popcorn as if they were at the cinema.

The comment section is a whole other beast, with the live chat acting as a running commentary and everyone adding their two cents on the progression. The comments almost emulate that of a high school fight, with everyone picking their side and hollering after every word, cheering on their team.

It's not just the live stream that is providing theatrics, but social media (particularly Twitter and TikTok) has taken on the role of creating edit videos and 'fan cams' of the trial. This might seem like harmless fun, but the nature of the trial deserves more than to be edited into a 10-second video to the latest TikTok viral audio. A compilation video of 'funny moments' from the trial has garnered almost five million likes on TikTok, with viewers commenting on how funny and down-to-earth Depp seems in court.

But why is this such a bad thing? Some would say these videos are innocuous and don’t mean anything, but given that the trial is about domestic abuse, they just seem insensitive and tone-deaf.

Fans will claim that they are merely showing support for Depp; however, it comes across as though they are just making light of a rather serious situation.

Considering the #MeToo movement in recent years, you would think this would make the public more sensitive and understanding of abuse cases; yet evidently, this wouldn’t seem the case as the trial has been reduced to an utter mockery on social media.

What do you think of social media’s reaction to the trial? Let us know in the comments below.