“She’s not an ideal sufferer,” Mariska Hargitay says in Regulation and Order: SVU. Current headlines say the identical about Amber Heard. Heard mentioned as a lot about herself. “However,” Hargitay says, “she shouldn’t be making this up.”
I let Regulation and Order play on TV whereas I do different senseless issues, like scrubbing the ground or scribbling in my journal. Like different abuse victims I do know, I discover consolation in a TV present that pretends victims can actually win. However listening to Hargitay say these phrases introduced my consideration again to our much less paradisial actuality, the place Amber Heard, whose title has been like a neon bar signal in the back of my head for the previous two months, continues to be glued to on-line vitriol. Folks hold pushing for her to get reduce from Aquaman 2 and posting footage of Johnny Depp carrying a crop prime 38 years in the past. You may’t do something on-line with out seeing him smiling, seeing unwarranted hate for her. It feels inescapable, and I really feel that folks hate imperfect girls greater than they’re in a position to state clearly.
Nobody remembers what the trial was actually about, however you couldn’t escape a single gory element, not on well-liked Twitch streams orchestrated by cackling gaming personalities, or on TikTok, the place Depp worshipers turned Heard’s testimony into tens of millions of likes, or Instagram, or YouTube. It’s in every single place. However opposite to what our data overload would have you ever consider, this trial wasn’t about who individuals on Twitter discover extra personable, or who has been in additional nostalgic childhood movies, or who appeared hotter within the ‘90s. It was a defamation trial about three imprecise sentences in a 2018 op-ed the place Heard references her private expertise with sexual violence and abuse.
She doesn’t point out Johnny Depp within the op-ed, however he sued her for $50 million in damages. Earlier than this trial, Depp tried suing for libel after British tabloid The Solar known as him a “spouse beater,” a phrase a U.Ok. decide discovered to be correct after deeming 12 counts of alleged assault confirmed.
It’s unsurprising that the decide dominated this fashion. You’ve most likely seen Heard’s face purple with therapeutic bruises or Depp’s bleeding center finger, which he provides conflicting accounts on how he severed (Heard threw a bottle? It received smashed in a closing door?), although he agrees that he used its dripping wound to write down Heard threatening crimson messages. He despatched vile textual content messages about Heard that his lawyer mentioned have been impressed by “literary giants like Hunter S. Thompson,” together with a textual content to actor Paul Bettany that mentioned “I’ll fuck her burnt corpse afterward to verify she is lifeless.” How literary.
Heard lived by means of Depp’s confirmed abuse, however her title and the abuse victims she represents—imperfect as a result of we’re crying, as a result of home abuse is emotionally knotty and Heard mentioned she nonetheless loves him—are thrown away. Our tales are scrutinized, denied as a result of…why? Is it about films once more?
It may’t simply be about films. To me, this response to Heard’s imperfections is a deluge of hate that has all the time existed. Typically it will get buried—at first of the #MeToo motion, believing girls was extra socially acceptable as a result of girls banded collectively, nevermind the truth that everybody already knew Harvey Weinstein was a chunk of shit. However then there are darker occasions in popular culture, like when the world laughed as a damaged Britney Spears lashed out at swarming paparazzi with an umbrella, or when GamerGate sneered and drew an unpleasant line within the sand: Girls, particularly advanced girls, aren’t welcome right here.
Complicated girls can’t be excellent. Folks, together with different girls, need bodily magnificence, the virginal porcelain face of Jane Eyre not the wild-haired Bertha Mason (the person locks her within the attic, and in some way she’s the loopy one?), or in video video games, the pink Princess Peaches, the curvy Lara Crofts. However additionally they demand emotional perfection. Quietness, degree headedness, no conflicting facial expressions like Amber Heard had, sobbing one second and sober the following. Folks don’t need to see something that signifies that this girl, fairly as she is, is de facto only a human. She makes errors. Typically she hits again, or she misspeaks.
When a lady misspeaks as a result of the scenario she described was so painful she wished to overlook it, as a result of a litigious man with as a lot energy and cash as Depp has tried smacking the reminiscence out of her, I need to say the world will come to her help. We’re supposedly post-GamerGate, post-MeToo. I need to consider that we’re all now outfitted with the essential understanding that abuse is multifaceted, typically delicate, all the time insidious, and complicated. However Heard continues to be abused within the courtroom of public opinion, and because of this, different actual, imperfect victims know for sure that we aren’t supported. Not till we get our tales straight or our tears in line. That’s why I watch idyllic exhibits like SVU. It’s not actual. It most likely by no means might be, however I can’t cease myself from hoping.