A jury in Fairfax, Virginia agreed unanimously that Amber Heard defamed her ex-husband Johnny Depp “with malice” in a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post. The verdict comes following six weeks of painful, embarrassing, tiresome testimony in an attempt to preserve the waning reputation of an already-washed up Depp. “We appreciate your sacrifices and your public service in this matter,” the judge said with great warmth to the jury who, though they did not fill out the damages form correctly, managed to agree that Heard lied about her abuse.
In her 2018 Washington Post op-ed, Heard wrote, “I want to ensure that women who come forward to talk about violence receive more support.” The op-ed came out a little over a year after the first wave of #MeToo allegations spread across Hollywood and its associated industries, causing a small wave of reckonings to public institutions. That sentence is not the sentence over which Depp accused her of defamation, but it’s important to note that the op-ed is full of sentences for which Heard was not accused of defamation. Most of the op-ed is about the institutional protections awarded to men who are rich and eager to maintain their status. What Heard wrote is harmless and platitudinal — it’s hard to read what she said and think that most people would disagree, let alone find her words full of malice.
The chatroom feature on the godless Law&Crime Network says otherwise, erupting into cheers and sobbing emojis and laughing emojis as the camera hovered on Heard’s downturned face. For more than a month, the chatroom has yammered and clamored for the downfall of Heard, which they got, regardless of verdict. Sometimes they paid to promote their comments, $5, $10, or even $100 to pin to the chat that Amber Heard is a liar. Instagram, TikTok, YouTube — all flooded with takes and edits and manipulations of information. The jury, which was not sequestered, could go home every night and see what the rest of us saw, amateur compilations intended to assassinate Heard’s reputation.
The verdict is bad, but the gloating is worse. The courtroom, full of women, was abuzz with satisfaction and joy. After the reading of the verdict, the judge said to the lawyers, with a little laugh: “You’re welcome back to my courtroom at any time.” Whatever is being celebrated here is not worth celebrating. Where does this go from here? Heard said, at the end of her testimony, that all she wanted to do was move on. I hope, more than anything, she’s able to.