Netflix’s ‘Depp v. Heard’ Is Nothing Extra Than a Tactless Win for Professional-Johnny Followers

Greater than a yr after the celeb world’s largest defamation trial was mass-consumed on YouTube and memed throughout TikTok, we nonetheless don’t know find out how to discuss Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

Sadly, the newest instance of our society’s tactlessness round this saga—if not all public instances of home abuse—may be seen on the most important streaming platform on the earth. On Aug. 16, Netflix drops its newest slapdash docuseries, Depp v. Heard, a chronological retelling of the high-profile trial and the social media phenomenon that adopted.

Director Emma Cooper assembles a choice of YouTube and podcast commentary, TikTok memes, and information protection for her sequence, representing a number of views on the matter. She does this much less with the intention of forming any kind of conclusion by the tip—not essentially about which celebration is being truthful, however what this story means for our post-#MeToo tradition—and as an alternative provides the sequence an ambiguity that feels akin to a tasteless true-crime thriller. To summarize the dearth of rigor plaguing Depp v. Heard, one of many final voices we hear is that of former Bachelor lead Nick Viall.

To refresh your reminiscence on the trial: On June 1, 2022, a Virginia jury discovered that Heard defamed her film star ex-husband when she described herself as “a public determine representing home abuse” in a 2018 Washington Publish op-ed, after beforehand accusing Depp of verbal and bodily abuse in 2016. The Pirates of the Caribbean star was awarded $15 million in damages—receiving $10.35 million as a result of state’s punitive cap—whereas Heard was awarded $2 million for a counterclaim she gained.

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Main as much as the decision, the web had already decided that Heard was a liar, as an avalanche of anti-Heard memes—mocking her testimonies whereas celebrating Depp’s efficiency on the stand and even lionizing his attorneys and witnesses—instantly hit TikTok and Instagram. Various YouTubers and Twitch streamers, who wouldn’t usually cowl such a topic, have been pivoting to trial protection with a pro-Depp slant because the content material grew to become profitable. Amongst different questionable on-line content material, it was revealed that the Ben Shapiro-founded information website The Each day Wire had spent hundreds of {dollars} on social media adverts selling deceptive details about the trial.

In Depp v. Heard’s preliminary episode, it appears as if the three-part sequence will study social media’s position in shaping the general public’s and doubtlessly jurors’ opinion on the case, and the way misogyny gave strategy to one of many largest harassment campaigns the web has seen since #GamerGate. Furthermore, the primary episode’s use of footage from chauvinist, pro-Depp commentators looks like a acutely aware formal alternative that can finally be flipped on its head within the following installments.

Because the sequence goes on, nonetheless, an inordinate quantity of display time is given to the Aquaman actress’ uninformed and blatantly sexist critics, which feels counterproductive to the widespread disinformation it tepidly tries to spotlight. That stated, there are occasional makes an attempt to lend Heard’s testimony credence, just like the fiasco surrounding the Milani Cosmetics compact Heard’s lawyer used to exhibit how she would cowl her alleged bruises throughout her marriage that was erroneously disputed by the make-up firm. There’s additionally a superfluous part concerning the time period “megapint,” referring to the quantity of wine Depp poured himself in a video Heard recorded of the actor being aggressive. (When Heard’s legal professionals used the time period, Depp laughed—even supposing he used “megapint” in a earlier libel swimsuit he misplaced within the U.Ok—prompting one other viral set of memes.)

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Whereas the documentary calls out the ridiculousness of those moments (despite the fact that it looks like the editor is having as a lot enjoyable with the “megapint” meme because the TikTokers who initially made them), it misses the bigger level that this cherry-picked data from the trial is usually inconsequential and designed to distract individuals with brief consideration spans who have been additionally unwilling to do their very own analysis on the case. In the meantime, the conclusion of the U.Ok. trial, the place a court docket sided with The Solar’s use of the time period “spouse beater” to explain Depp, and the greater than 6,000 pages of damning court docket paperwork unsealed after the trial, are handled like mere footnotes.

Regardless, this intuition to fact-check or instantly counter the doubtful opinions of Staff Depp dies out by the tip of the sequence. Depp V. Heard might present the disproportionate quantity of spectators who supported their beloved Jack Sparrow, nevertheless it stops brief at making an attempt to narrate this phenomenon to a post-#MeToo backlash, stan tradition, or a widespread misunderstanding of the character of home violence. Nor does it develop on the best way harassment campaigns are simply weaponized in opposition to ladies and minorities—which we’ve seen just lately in each the protection of Megan Thee Stallion’s capturing by a number of hip-hop shops and bloggers and the random stan-driven assaults on Hailey Bieber.

Notably, the makers of the venture don’t embrace the voices of consultants or journalists past the recycled footage from information segments and a earlier (and a lot better) documentary which can be clustered along with faulty, emotionally pushed statements from Depp followers. Given the delicate topic materials, new interviews with home violence consultants, legal professionals, and reporters so as to add context and readability would appear like a no brainer. Plus, the doc merely isn’t suave sufficient to drag off the seamless collage format it’s going for.

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In the end, Depp v. Heard appears designed to permit the general public to re-experience the “thrill” of the trial—which maybe explains the tasteless soap-opera music laid over the court docket footage. Whereas the sequence flirts with an evaluation, it’s far too dedicated to remaining ambiguous for a suspenseful impact and probably for worry of moving into authorized bother. And that alternative serves nobody aside from the plentifully rewarded #JusticeForJohnny camp.