The Ballad of Amber and Johnny

The thing about the defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is that we don’t know what happened and we can’t know. All we can do is gather verifiable facts – police call outs, hospital visits etc – and decide who has the most plausible account.

Personally, I’m not buying either. He comes across as a smug, seething, overstuffed ferret. She’s like Tonya Harding starring in a High School version of Gone Girl.

Both of them are at the end of their traditional leading role years – the cut off for women is about 40 (kids are part of happily ever after), with men it’s 60 (they could have kids, but it looks grim). Even though we don’t stick to tradition as much as we did (thankfully), it still makes you wonder what either can possibly get out of such a public scandal esp one with terrible lighting.

Politically they’re being used by groups that despise each other – feminists and men’s rights activists. Feminists want to highlight that domestic violence is a gendered issue (in severity & frequency most victims are women, most perpetrators men), men’s rights activists want to highlight that it has no gender (mainly because feminism wounds their egos rather than for the genuinely neglected & often mocked male victims of domestic violence).

In a dubious development, Amber’s domestic violence op-ed in the Washington Post, the inciting incident of this round, was written and touted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) & timed to capitalise on Aquaman’s publicity campaign.

Less corrupt, but more trivial, Johnny’s campaign for Dior is being held up as a sign of his innocence, as if a fashion brand wouldn’t use infamy to shift units.

Socially Johnny’s in Hollywood Babylon territory – the ugly truth behind the glamorous facade. The rock star bad boy thing kind of lingers, but does struggle up against tales of staying in fancy trailer parks, like he’s Johnny Antoinette. Let them eat MDMA.

Amber has a slim hope of giving us Martyr For Love, but seems to be heading for Pretty but Psycho. She ruins every realistic detail by blubbering out conventional romance and conventional morality – something at odds with her lifestyle. The social media memes are against her. With TikTok and Twitter particularly brutal.

Johnny is forever an icon. You can’t erase those cheekbones or his work with Tim Burton.

Amber’s most famous performance may be this, but I hope she finds something better.

I hope they both get back to their careers.

The public has been entertained, but I don’t think there’s any wider public interest in this spectacle.

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