Amber Heard supporters endure insults but stand by her side

Amber Heard supporters endure insults but stand by her side

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Kylie Putnam, 23, isn’t enjoying her time in Fairfax County. She doesn’t want to be here. She lives in Minneapolis but felt compelled to fly to Northern Virginia when she saw videos on Twitter that showed a crowd outside the Fairfax County Courthouse booing and heckling Amber Heard as she left after another day in court against her ex-husband Johnny Depp. Putnam was surprised that the actress seemed to have no advocates.

“I think what really brought me here was that nobody was doing anything. Someone has to do Somethingsaid Putnam, who arrived with a sign that read “I Believe Her” written in purple, the color associated with domestic violence awareness. “Do I particularly want to do this? No. But it’s not supposed to be fun. … Everything about it is just weird and offbeat and weird and horrible.

In 2016, Heard, 36, filed for divorce and a temporary restraining order from Depp, alleging the actor physically assaulted her. Depp, 58, denied the allegations. Two years later, when Heard wrote an editorial from the Washington Post referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic violence, he sued her for defamation. She sued him for $100 million for defamation after one of her attorneys called it a hoax.

The trial, which began April 12 and is taking place in Fairfax County, where the Post’s print shop and online server are based, is livestreamed daily and has consumed large swathes of the internet. A flood of updates and memes has been overwhelmingly one-sided, as Depp fans dominate Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok – on the latter, the hashtag #JusticeforJohnnyDepp has been viewed 15.4 billion times, while that #JusticeforAmberHeard comes from 51.5 million views, some of which are actually pro-Depp.

Outside the courtroom, the reaction to the testimonies centered on Depp’s extremely vocal fanbase, but since the actress spoke out this month, Heard’s advocates have noticed a small shift in tone, with an increase in online supporters. However, they also say the internet has been a “nightmare” over the past few years when they voiced their support for the actress, and it has only gotten worse; Depp fans often go swarm to respond and lash out at anyone who criticizes Depp or says he believes Heard, and rushes to say the actor alleges Heard abused him.

To Johnny Depp’s biggest fans, he’s already won his case

Putnam often tweets about Heard, and she became relatively numb from being bombarded with messages, saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t really care. Some Heard supporters publicly publish the vulgar missives they receive. Among several views for this story, one of the least explicit tells a Heard fan “You’re a liar. You’re a scum. You’ll burn in hell.

“It just got absolutely stratospheric,” said Hannah, a London resident who spoke out on Twitter in defense of Heard; like several people interviewed for this article, she spoke on the condition that her last name be withheld due to threats. She estimates that she has blocked more than 10,000 accounts. “You get abusive Twitter DMs telling you to kill yourself. … Many of these accounts are banned for being abusive, uttering insults and making violent threats. But then they just create new accounts to harass you.

A representative for Depp did not respond to a request for comment about the online vitriol from the actor’s fans, and Heard’s publicist declined to comment on the filing.

Belia Garcia from Mexico City said she never got much engagement with her tweets until she started posting on Heard. Now, when she posts, she says, some responses are “legitimate” questions about the case, while many others include name-calling, pictures of clowns, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp or Depp fans referring to the actress as “#AmberTurd.”

“I had to mute them all,” Garcia said. “They don’t bother me, but at the end of the day, I just got insulted 60 times in three hours.”

Kali, who also didn’t feel comfortable using her surname, has been following the story since Depp’s libel trial in the UK, when the actor filed a complaint British tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife beater”. He lost, which some say fueled Depp fans into conspiracies on social media over why the judge ruled against him, and Kali sensed a similar tone here even before the verdict.

“The level of misinformation just watching the ongoing trial is one of the scariest things I’ve seen online in a long time,” she said, pointing to people who like the tweets and TikTok posts. who claimed Heard made a cocaine bump on the stand as she blew her nose into a handkerchief.

At one point, Kali said, she would have attempted a dialogue with Depp supporters who bombarded her mentions with defensive tweets, but those days are over. “You get conspiracy theories instead of legitimate side discussions,” she said.

“Experiencing all of this is like an optical illusion: you and another person are looking at the same thing and seeing something completely different. Going online during all of this is like stepping into an alternate reality when you start doubting your own eyes and ears and questioning your sanity,” said Matt James, who runs a popular Twitter. Account, Pop Culture Died in 2009. James predicts this trial will be like that of OJ Simpson and spawn a generation of legal analysts. Only now are Twitter commentators and YouTubers who have become addicted to the content of the case.

Heard’s defenders say the trial, televised on Court TV and broadcast live, has made it much easier for people to turn clips into viral memes, something they do every day, mostly to celebrate Depp and make fun of Heard. Viewers edit snippets to make the actress’ accusations seem unfounded or create jokes from her audio. ‘N Sync member Lance Bass jumped on it a recent trend from TikTok who ridiculed testimony heard about the first time she alleged Depp hit her. (Although Bass was applauded by many, he eventually deleted the video after some backlash.)

The actress’ supporters say they aren’t shocked by the backlash, given the animosity directed at her since she first made the allegations in 2016. But they were surprised by the level of mockery directed against someone reporting abuse.

Charlotte Proudman, a lawyer from the UK specializing in male violence against women and girls, said it was one of her main concerns – which is shared by other domestic violence experts – when she tunes into the YouTube live stream and sees people joking about settling down with a cup of coffee like they’re watching a reality show, or posting things like, “Oh, that’s hilarious.”

“They vilify her to the point where victims and survivors watching are like, ‘My God, if they’re behaving like this towards Amber Heard, who’s powerful, who’s rich and famous, how the hell are they going to treat me like a regular woman?” Proudman said. “There’s a lot of women watching this and thinking, ‘Maybe I’m a joke. Maybe no one will believe me.

For James, that’s why the trial is more than a celebrity drama. “For every hundred nasty messages and death threats I get for saying anything that’s even construed as mildly negative against Johnny, there’s someone who says, ‘Thank you for talking about it, I appreciate it. really that.’ It is really worth it. It only takes one person, especially since many people are afraid to speak up and say something.

A common theme among supporters is that they weren’t even Heard “fans”; they’re just horrified to see the global reaction: “For me, it’s not just about Amber Heard. It could be my sister, it could be my mother, it could be my wife,” said J. Davis of Atlanta. “Who is going to defend these people if this happens to them?

But Giorgia, a woman in Italy who also spoke on the condition that her surname not be used due to threats, helped lead the Amber Heard Italia Fans since 2009. She and her friends adored Heard as an actress — they were thrilled to meet her in Paris around 2013 while filming ‘3 Days to Kill’. They were also drawn to Heard’s support of social causes.

Giorgia didn’t expect Heard’s journey to go in this direction. She’s mostly discouraged by people who she feels aren’t following the lawsuit, but see public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of Depp and only join in the conversation. The online discourse, she said, is similar to what happened in the UK trial “but 10 times worse”, especially the urge for people to turn Heard’s testimony into a TikTok comedy. “It’s totally disheartening, and sometimes it makes me lose faith in humanity,” she said.

Then there are those like Putnam, the rare supporter to show up at the courthouse to defend Heard from little further than his phone or laptop screen.

“I’m not here because she’s a celebrity,” Putnam said. “I’m here because he’s a person.”

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