Petition To Fire Amber From Aquaman Proves We Learned Nothing From Johnny Depp’s Case
Last week, January 31, purported audio of Amber Heard admitting to ‘hitting’ ex-husband Johnny Depp was leaked, causing outrage on social media.
In the audio clip, a woman – presumed to be Heard – could be heard arguing with a man she refers to as Johnny – presumed to be Depp – while discussing her violent outbursts.
The clip was allegedly recorded during a series of telephone conversations believed to have taken place in 2015, as Depp and Heard attempted to talk through their marriage problems.
During the recorded phone calls, the woman alleged to be Heard admits to hitting Depp, while at the same time downplaying the violence by stating: ‘It was not punching you. Babe, you’re not punched’.
The man believed to be Depp then tells her: ‘Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched.’ At this point, the woman again attempts to downplay the situation, stating: ‘You’ve been in a lot of fights, you’ve been around a long time. I know.’
She continues, in the audio obtained by DailyMail.com:
You didn’t get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this, but I did not punch you! I did not f*cking deck you! I f*cking was hitting you! I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine.
I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you… You are such a baby. Grow the f*ck up Johnny. You poke an animal enough, it is eventually, it doesn’t matter how friendly it is, it’s not cool.
The release of the audio on Friday, January 31, comes nearly four years after Heard filed for divorce in May 2016, accusing Depp of being physically violent towards her during their 18-month marriage.
The Aquaman star made her claims against Depp in a 471-page deposition, made public only last year, claiming her then-husband had thrown a mobile phone at her ‘as hard as he could’ and it hit her in the face, on the night of May 21, 2016.
She also alleged Depp grabbed her by the hair, causing her to scream for help, and ‘broke a lot of glass things that left glass on the floor’. Depp vehemently denies the allegations put forward by Heard.
A $50 million lawsuit filed by Depp said he suffered financial and emotional hardship as a result of the allegations – including having been let go from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
There were also calls for him to be fired from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, although ultimately Depp kept his role as Grindelwald after telling Variety: ‘J.K. [Rowling] has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me.’
Now, history appears to be repeating itself, as more than 131,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for Heard to be fired from Aquaman 2.
The petition’s creator, Jeanne Larson, wrote: ‘As Amber Heard is a known and proven domestic abuser, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment should and must remove Heard from their Aquaman 2 film project.’
The general consensus, upon reading the comments beneath the petition, appears to be this: Depp’s reputation, career, and life were effectively ruined by Heard’s accusations of domestic abuse, so then why now shouldn’t the same thing be done to her?
But here’s the thing. We’ve seen this exact same situation before; we’ve seen Depp vilified online and in the press for similar allegations. And now the same thing is happening to Amber Heard.
Because, as much as we can claim to know about these leaked audio recordings, we ultimately don’t know a thing until a verdict is reached in a court of law. There are two sides to every story, and in this case both of those sides completely contradict each other.
Allison Randall, the Vice President for Policy and Emerging Issues at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), told UNILAD it’s ‘important for people to understand the situation a little bit more’ before passing judgement.
She said it’s also important to know if someone is ‘in fact a frequent perpetrator of violence, versus someone who defended themselves or very occasionally fought back in the context of an ongoing pattern of abuse’.
When we think about a case like Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, it’s important to consider all of that context: was one person perpetuating most of the abuse, controlling the other person, insulting them, stalking them, assaulting them physically on a regular basis, versus was something happening one or two times?
Those are key pieces in the context of domestic violence and relationships.
The Vice President for NNEDV went on to say that violence and abuse can happen to anyone: ‘Women, men, no matter how wealthy you are, no matter how educated you are.’
Domestic violence occurs across all socioeconomic groups and I think that this story is helpful in elevating that conversation when we can talk about violence, and we can make steps towards preventing it.
When taking all of these things into consideration, it’s clear this snap judgement of Heard in the wake of the newly-released audio could actually be extremely detrimental – both to the ongoing lawsuit and to survivors of domestic abuse, who might be treated differently when coming forward about their experiences in the future.
We need to avoid perpetuating a ‘cancel culture’ wherever possible, particularly in a case as serious as this one. Domestic abuse cases are far too serious to be wrung out through a trial by public opinion.
Allison Randall said NNEDV ‘encourage[s] people to be thoughtful about cancel culture’, adding: ‘Every person is different and unique… Listen to survivors and learn a little about the situation.’
Yet everywhere we look on social media, Heard is being labelled ‘trash’, a ‘sociopath’, an ‘abusive pig’, the word ‘cancelled’ popping up everywhere on our timelines.
Thousands are encouraging people to sign the petition to remove the actress from Aquaman 2, saying she ‘deserves the same thing’ as what happened to Depp, seeking revenge for her alleged actions.
But, when you think about it, couldn’t this simply be history repeating itself? Couldn’t this be yet another example of everybody jumping to conclusions when we don’t have all the facts available to us? Couldn’t we be making the same mistakes all over again?
As of yet, there has been no evidence presented to a court of law suggesting Heard did any of the things she is now being accused of, just as we didn’t see any solid evidence of Depp’s alleged abuse, and likely won’t be until the lawsuit takes place in August this year.
Even then, it’s unlikely we’ll be given all the information, but that hasn’t stopped everybody from making a judgement prematurely and making assumptions based on one tiny snippet of a four-year relationship.
All we’ve really been given is this one audio recording, which in no way provides all of the context needed to make an informed decision about what really happened in Heard and Depp’s relationship.
There’s no possible way we can say, with confidence, we know who’s to blame in this relationship. There’s no way we can call for somebody to lose their job when we don’t know the full story. And there’s certainly no way we can act as judge, jury and executioner when both Depp and Heard are standing by their accusations of abuse towards each other.
We need to take a step back, because at the moment it’s quite clear we’ve truly learned nothing from this whole case.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247.
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EXCLUSIVE: 'I can't promise I won't get physical again, I get so mad I lose it.' LISTEN as Amber Heard admits to 'hitting' ex-husband Johnny Depp and pelting him with pots, pans and vases in explosive audio confession