There’s no denying the highly publicized legal battled dominated the online discourse over the past couple of months. According to data published by NewsWhip, the trial generated more engagement than more pressing topics, such as abortion rights, the Russia-Ukraine war, and global inflation. And it’s thanks in large part to viral posts and social media trends that ridiculed Heard’s abuse allegations against her ex-husband.
“Users were lip-syncing to an audio of Amber’s testimony and using it to mock her,” content creator Lauren, aka gothamshitty, told NBC News. “Specifically they were using an audio of her recounting how Johnny had raped her. These users were responding to the audio by declaring that what Amber was describing was not rape but ‘every woman’s dream.’ That sickened me.”
Lauren, who asked not to use her last name, said she felt compelled to address the trial after seeing so many “disgusting” and “misogynistic” posts aimed at Heard and domestic abuse survivors. She said she voiced her support for the Aquaman star in a TikTok video, which received a response from a popular streamer. It was long before Lauren was bombarded with hateful comments, causing her to hit a “breaking point.”
Lauren said the trial further highlighted the ugly side of online fandoms, and reflected “the immense amount of misogyny and hatred of women that is so deeply ingrained in society.”
“Even if Johnny’s claims were entirely true, what good does it do to meme-ify every aspect of his abusive experience?” Lauren said. “All the discourse this has created — what makes a perfect victim, the ‘legitimacy’ of marital rape — only creates a hostile online environment for victims of all genders.”
Content creator Jessica Jordan, aka midwestbimbo, echoed Lauren’s comments, saying she also endured harassment after she posted a negative video about Depp. The post that caused the biggest uproar featured Jordan debunking the “mutual abuse” theory that was pushed by Depp and Heard’s former therapist.
“I laughed it off at first and even sent a postcard back, but it really clicked to me just how serious some of his fans were,” Jordan said. “And made me look at the threats I was getting a little more closely.”
Though Heard was awarded $2 million in her countersuit against Depp, many consider the Pirates of the Caribbean star the real winner. A U.S. jury awarded him $15 million in damages in his libel suit against his ex-wife. Many Depp supporters praised the verdict as not only a victory for the actor, but all male victims of domestic abuse. However, Jordan is convinced that the Depp fandom’s concern for abuse survivors isn’t genuine.
“If people cared about male abuse survivors there would be more information and resources about them,” she explained. “Along with love and support for men like Terry Crews … Instead it’s used as a silencing tactic.”