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The cat is wearing a light wig. From the bottom corner of the frame, a tiny plastic hand, attached to an index finger, emerges and traces the mustachioed snout of an orange cat. The video then cuts to the same cat wearing a black wig and bandana; the accompanying voice-over says, “I was leaving the bedroom. He hit me in the face and I said, “Johnny, you hit me.” You just hit me.” I have been avoiding this video for several days since reading about it in rolling stone. It is reported to have amassed millions of views on tik tak but then disappeared. However, it was in my carousel of suggested videos on Instagramwhere the algorithm figured out that I love cat videos, but it’s not that I don’t like social media mockery of domestic abuse allegations.
Since the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard began in April, a certain stan culture has formed around him. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, alleging that an article she wrote for Washington Post being “a public figure representing domestic violence” damaged his reputation and career. (The actor’s name is not mentioned in the play.) Depp denied the allegations, and the jury in their trial is also considering a counterclaim from Heard. As the case draws to a close, scenes from the courtroom went viral on social media, especially on TikTok, where users reenact or otherwise make fun of these testimonies. The audio in this cat clip comes from Hurd’s testimony. Another videowhich features Heard on a stand overlaid with a video of Kim Kardashian on Saturday night life saying “so cringe”. It currently has over 5 million likes.
The fandom has often intersected with celebrity lawsuits, going back to the crowds of supporters who came to Santa Barbara, California to support Michael Jackson in 2005. conservatorship, which gained momentum thanks to The #FreeBritney movement. But there’s something especially unsettling about bringing attention to the Depp and Heard case. Supporting a celebrity involved in a lawsuit is one thing, but making memes that make fun of someone who claims they were hit by a partner is another.
Internet commentary thrives on nasty topics, and TikTok is no exception. (And for what it’s worth, TikTok has reportedly removed some videos use audio recordings of Hurd’s testimony.) People make fun of politics and politicians from all sides. But using this case specifically as video playback and reaction material to get clicks seems especially egregious, perhaps because it seems so targeted at one person, one situation, rather than a broader topic and dozens of voices. . the taunts seem to be directed at Heard (an unnerving trend within a trend) and both she and Depp are demanding damages to themselves and their lives in this case, so it would be too much to ask since The keeper did this weekto “be gloomy about a gloomy issue”?
Many of the memes around the lawsuit stemmed from Depp’s supporters wanting the actor to get a fair shake-up, and therefore trying to discredit Heard. But as he wrote Cut, “no matter how damning the evidence in court may look, social media tells a different story,” with Instagram memes and YouTube comments seeking to portray Depp as the victim and Heard as the actor putting on the show. Ultimately, the jury will decide the case, but so far the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp on TikTok has gained more than 10 billion views; the hashtag #justiceforamberheard has a more modest 39 million. After years of #MeToo, here “a woman recounts in excruciating detail how an extremely famous man allegedly abused her,” noted Claire Lampen of The Cut. “Why in 2022 do so many people hate her for this?”
Part of the answer may lie in the fact that while the Internet doesn’t forget anything, it does have a rosy memory. When you are famous, people who love you may remember your role in Pirates of the Caribbean and ignore everything else. He may also remember that you were once married to someone he admires and forget that you are human. There seems to be a deep-seated misogyny and a deep-seated distrust of women who speak out about violence in relation to Heard on social media. But on top of that, there is another message: the people who come forward are not believed, and they can also potentially be ridiculed. Online life can only make celebrities appear the way we want them to be. This makes them unreal. It could turn Depp into a thug, and Heard’s tearful testimony into nothing more than a TikTok sound. This is a trend that no one wants.
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