Hollywood feminists’ deafening silence on Amber Heard

After a high-profile, seven-week process, a jury made its decision Aquaman Actress Amber Heard pleaded guilty to defamation of her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp on Wednesday Washington Post Commentary in which she discussed her experience of domestic violence. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages ($10.35 million given the state’s punitive damages cap) and Heard was awarded $2 million.

Depp previously lost a defamation lawsuit in the UK The sun after the tabloid branded him a “wife beater,” the judge found Depp committed 12 of 14 alleged violent crimes against Heard. While she didn’t name Depp in the Washington Post article, the Pirates of the Caribbean star and his defense team argued that Heard’s implied allegations hampered his career. At the same time, the jury echoed Heard in one of her allegations that Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, defamed her when he called her abuse allegations “hoaxes,” sent a rather confusing, sad message to victims of intimate partner violence, and set a disturbing precedent for cases of domestic violence. (Waldman was also kicked out of the trial team for leaking information to the press.)

Much of the online discourse during the trial (and most likely in the days after) focused on Depp’s feverish army of online supporters and the almost inevitable #JusticeForJohnnyDepp social media campaign, which included conservative media-funded propaganda The daily wire. Depp has also had many vocal allies in Hollywood throughout his legal history, including ex-partners Winona Ryder and Kate Moss, who testified for him during the trial, and pal Paul Bettany. The Daily Beast further discovered that a handful of celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Florence Pugh, Bella Hadid, Taika Waititi and Emma Roberts had liked Depp’s post-trial solemn statement and other pro-Depp sentiments on Instagram.

The level of cruelty and ignorance displayed by Depp’s fans and supporters throughout the trial spoke volumes about the state of #MeToo and our culture’s limited understanding of domestic violence. But the silence that surrounded Heard, particularly from her own industry, teaches an equally valuable lesson about the fickleness of celebrity-led social movements and class solidarity among the rich and famous.

Apart from Unpolished gems Star Julia Fox, comedian Kathy Griffin and veteran actress (and Depp-Ex) Ellen Barkin testified on behalf of Heard, you would be hard pressed to find a high-profile celebrity currently speaking for Heard. Comedian Amy Schumer, an outspoken feminist, alluded to the results of the Depp/Heard hearing and the associated spectacle, posting a quote from Gloria Steinem on Instagram. Still, for some reason, Schumer didn’t feel comfortable calling Johnny Depp or making explicit reference to the case in the way, say, Will Smith previously called her about his incident at the Oscars. Heard Aquaman Co-star Jason Momoa liked her statement on Instagram, but also oddly double-tapped Depps.

In particular, the lack of support from Heard’s industry peers is telling, considering it was only five years ago that Hollywood rallied around survivors of sexual assault and harassment after the bombastic allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. A-list actors, filmmakers and entertainers alike – mostly women but also some men – seemed comfortable and even eager to speak out about the abuse they endured working in Hollywood and encouraged others Survivors from all professions to share their stories. Some even apologized for having worked with predatory men like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Weinstein in the past. Their most notable collaborative effort was the creation of Time’s Up, a nonprofit organization that originally started as a legal fund for victims of workplace harassment but has taken on a much more bewildering mission in the years that have followed.

“In particular, the lack of support from Heard’s industry peers is telling, considering it was only five years ago that Hollywood rallied around survivors of sexual assault and harassment after the bombastic allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.”

From the beginning, celebrity involvement with Time’s Up was met with harsh criticism because the film and television stars who represented the nonprofit organization were largely non-activists and had no documented organizing experience. Celebrity board members have included Schumer, Brie Larson, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Chastain, Kerry Washington, Laura Dern, Alyssa Milano, America Ferrera, and Julianne Moore, among others. Over time, her efforts also seemed limited to increasing diversity and representation in Hollywood without reaching women across economic borders.

Since launching in 2018, Time’s Up is also on the back of the amount of funds raised, which has been used to pay for employees’ salaries and revelations that the group’s former CEO and co-founder, Tina Tchen, left the administration of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo counseled after he was accused of sexual harassment, came under fire in 2020. That was also the same year that one of Time’s Up’s attorneys, Roberta Kaplan, who originally represented Heard in Depp’s defamation lawsuit, pleaded guilty to withdrew from her case due to “travel and logistics issues” caused by COVID. Still, the organization has yet to comment on the viral smear campaign Heard went through and the impact it could have on victims, as other organizations have since the trial.

Amber Heard waits before the jury returns a split verdict in favor of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on their claim and counterclaim dork v. Heard Civil defamation suit before the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia on June 1, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein/AFP/Getty

As for the famous women (and some men) who have joined Time’s Up and its mission, it seems their social justice batteries, too, were drained before Heard’s alleged abuse became public fodder. The last time we saw actors and directors like Ava DuVernay, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ellen Pompeo, Jennifer Aniston, Rashida Jones, and Judd Apatow working publicly with the organization, they shared the hashtag #TimesUpGlobes in response to the revelation that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had no black members at the time. It was ultimately a conservative, minor initiative amid nationwide protests against police brutality that had little to no impact on the majority of black populations. But it was a perfect summary of the organization’s – and Hollywood’s – sad contributions to pressing social issues.

Likewise, it’s no great surprise that the prominent feminists who used Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement to develop a more socially conscious brand and greenlight their “feminine” projects have seemingly ignored the injustices of Heard before the world and will continue to suffer after Wednesday’s verdict. At the start of #MeToo, there was a lot of talk about celebrity activism efforts extending only to their own. But it seems like they’re also in no position to support their peers at the risk of an internet backlash. Heard’s social rank as an actress who is not particularly well known outside of her contributions to the Aquaman Franchise — and especially compared to her movie star ex-husband — could also be a factor.

The media circus surrounding Heard would have been a great opportunity to reinvigorate some of Hollywood’s smarter, more politically active voices in their mission to end violence against women, and maybe even offset some of the negative press that Time’s Up has garnered over the past 3 years. But unlike when gender equality and sexual abuse became a hot topic during the Trump years, there’s nothing tangible to gain by supporting Heard. For now, at least, Hollywood’s self-proclaimed feminists seem just as content as the rest of the world if #MeToo falls by the wayside.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/hollywood-feminists-deafening-silence-on-amber-heard?source=articles&via=rss Hollywood feminists’ deafening silence on Amber Heard


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

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