“SNL” and the ugly comedians feasting on Amber Heard’s misery

On Monday, a tearful Amber Heard ended her testimony with a sad refrain about her ex-husband Johnny Depp. “I just wanted him to leave me alone,” she said. “I just want to get on with my life, and he won’t let me.”

Depp has denied – and even claimed – to have abused Heard you was the abusive one in the relationship — and sued her for defamation in Fairfax County, Virginia in 2018 Washington Post Comment in which she didn’t mention her ex by name, but instead described herself as “a public figure who represents domestic violence.” Depp’s attorney has acknowledged that the state’s lax anti-SLAPP laws – designed to limit lawsuits that are intended to be filed to silence public criticism – are one reason they are bringing the case in Virginia, where neither Depp nor Heard live. Proponents fear the public trial could serve as a playbook for abusers hoping to silence their accusers in the future, reports The 19th. The High Court in London has already ruled on a separate defamation case against Depp The sun and ruled that an article calling Depp a “wife beater” and claiming he had abused Heard was “essentially true.”

But Virginia courts also happen to allow their trials to be streamed with a judge’s prior approval — a handy detail for anyone wanting, say, to humiliate a domestic violence accuser on a large scale with the help of a cruel, meme-addicted public. If Britney Spears lived in fear of Perez Hilton back then, imagine that TikTok and its many, many fan-edited courtroom videos occupy a similarly horrific place in Heard’s psyche.

Much has been written about the memes surrounding the dork stans and clout hunter trials. But myself Saturday night live couldn’t resist the siren call of a tasteless gag. The show’s most recent episode began with a courtroom re-enactment centered around (what else?) the allegation that Heard defecated in the couple’s bed near the end of their marriage. (Heard denied the alleged bowel movement incident Monday. “I wasn’t in the mood for pranks,” she said. “My world crashed.”)

As one might have guessed, the Cold Open drew widespread backlash from viewers who thought it was in bad taste. Worse still, the sketch was unoriginal; It felt like a derivative of the myriad reenactments and “comedic” retellings that have plagued everyone with a social media account for weeks. SNL may have helped shape meme culture as we know it today, but now it seems like the show is just a reflection of its worst impulses.

Alison Dagnes, a political science professor at Shippensburg University who has written extensively on the intersection of media and politics, notes that every joke is made SNL or the Internet “can only be accepted if it is conventional wisdom in the first place.”

“When I saw the opening sketch for SNL Last weekend I was like, ‘Oh my,'” Dagnes said in a recent interview with the Daily Beast. “If that’s the way SNL it represents whether they follow the curve or set the curve, that’s going to be the curve and we’re done here.’”

Saturday night live, arguably a precursor to meme culture, now seems more likely to be chasing trends than creating them. But the stakes remain the same for those unfortunate enough to become the target of the joke. Women who break certain rules still face brutal punishment in the form of unrelenting humiliation from conservatives and reactionaries alike.

Monica Lewinsky recently caught on to her cultural reappraisal American Crime Story: Impeachment, and Dagnes sees a parallel here with this case. When the President of the United States had an affair with a White House intern, the resulting uproar—“the Lewinsky scandal”—happened to bear her name and not his. “They made fun of him at their own expense,” Dagnes said. Now, she believes, “they’re making fun of Johnny Depp at Amber Heard’s expense.”

Amber Heard testifies that her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, first punched her on May 4, 2022 in Fairfax County Circuit Court during a libel trial against her by Depp in Fairfax, Virginia.

Elizabeth Frantz/AFP/Getty

There are many other examples of where this comes from. For years, comedians ignored Anna Nicole Smith’s apparent personal and health issues in favor of ridicule following her unhappy marriage to 89-year-old tycoon J. Howard Marshall. Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend launched Gamergate with a 10,000-word manifesto that unfoundedly claimed, among other things, that she slept with a reviewer in exchange for a positive review in a male-dominated industry. The mockery that so relentlessly followed Britney Spears resulted at least in part, I would argue, from the Louisiana native’s refusal to conform to the class expectations that came with her newfound wealth.

But Dagnes sees a special connection between examples like Heard, Lewinsky and Smith – women who are wrongly seen as “reaching beyond their station to seduce men of power and then…complain about it.”

“It’s the underlying question, ‘What did you think would happen?'” she said.

“Celebrities including Joe Rogan and Bill Burr have expressed support for Depp and, in some cases, disparaged Heard. Many more have posted memes mocking Heard’s statement.”

Celebrities including Joe Rogan and Bill Burr have expressed support for Depp and, in some cases, disparaged Heard. Many more have posted memes mocking Heard’s statement. “This is a huge win for Johnny Depp,” Rogan said on a recent episode of his podcast. “And a great loss for Pirates of the Caribbean!…You got rid of the best damn pirate you ever had! For a crazy woman!” Even Duolingo saw fit to chime in on the fight with a coy TikTok comment.

Patrice Oppliger, an assistant professor of communications at Boston College who has written several books on mass media and gender, suggested that there might be a bit of supremacism at play here. The aptly named concept suggests that people derive humor from ridiculing others. “We just like to hit,” said Oppliger. “As much as we say that people shouldn’t knock people down with their humor, I think we enjoy it from a superior vantage point, like, ‘Oh, I would never admit to defecating in someone’s bed.’”

Comedians and writers, Oppliger noted, are in a particularly difficult position: “If you’re not laughing, then ‘Oh, well, you’re an uptight feminist with no sense of humor.’ But then you laugh and then you contribute to the slur.”

There’s a reason for late night shows and Saturday night live especially given a boost during the Trump era: These programs all see themselves as comedic companions to help Americans process the news of the week. But these shows have also historically been a boys’ club, a reality that has fundamentally shaped their comedic lens.

Early SNL was a notoriously fratty environment where male comics reportedly insisted that women could not be funny and talked about female colleagues to get their ideas across. (See Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrads for more on this Saturday Night: A Backstage Story from Saturday Night Live, which devotes a chapter to “The Girls” and their struggle to make room on the show.) Former writer and disgraced ex-Senator Al Franken once reportedly felt comfortable throwing one SNL sketch above 60 minutes‘ Andy Rooney drugged and raped Leslie Stahl. And even today, the network of the adored sketch show, NBC, faces a lawsuit from a former fan who claims Horatio Sanz groomed her in front of his peers before sexually assaulting her. (Sanz has denied the allegations; an NBC rep told The Daily Beast the company is not commenting on the pending litigation.) SNL has repeatedly landed in hot water for sketches that appear to downplay abuse and wrongdoing, from the infamous Alec Baldwin-Adam Sandler “Canteen Boy” skit to 2017’s “Sexual Harassment Charlie,” which starred none other than the accused Sex offender James Franco can be seen.

The late night jokes and SNL It also has to appeal to massive audiences in a short period of time, so there’s little room for nuance – a disastrous state of affairs to write about something as complex as domestic violence. “We have such fast attention spans,” Dagnes said. “We call people heroes and villains, demons and victims. And that is why there is only black and white.”

The internet is even worse – like an anonymous petri dish in which everyone’s worst impulses fester disguised as “irony”. Platforms like TikTok have become a cesspool of viral videos purporting to prove Heard is lying and Depp is innocent. Depp’s attorney is now essentially a fanfiction hero. Even former NSYNC singer Lance Bass kind of thought it would be funny to recreate Heard’s statement about the first time Depp allegedly slapped her as part of an off-putting viral trend. (Think of the time Westside Story Actress Rachel Zegler got in hot water for her ‘dramatic reading’ of Britney Spears’ angry Instagram post about her younger sister Jamie Lynn? The celebs never learn that!)

In his video, Bass plays part of the testimony in which Heard stumbles over her words and vacillates between saying she was on the carpet or the couch. As he switches positions, Bass nods knowingly, as if patronizing an unreliable narrator.

But there are no professional writers to blame for the ugliness unfolding on social media. The callousness that Amber Heard has encountered is not uncommon, but is devastatingly common in our broader discourse, as abuse survivors know better than perhaps anyone. It’s inevitable and persistent, like toxic fumes that choke us on the air we breathe. It is the product of an individualistic, patriarchal society that refuses to recognize domestic violence as a collective problem, and instead treats it only within the purview of those who endure it and those who perpetrate it.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/snl-and-the-ugly-comedians-feasting-on-amber-heards-misery?source=articles&via=rss “SNL” and the ugly comedians feasting on Amber Heard’s misery


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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