There was a moment in a Virginia courtroom this month when the actress Amber Heard paused mid-sniffle on the stand. She was testifying about abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her movie star ex-husband, Johnny Depp, when she wiped her nose with a tissue — then seemed to freeze as her face was illuminated by a flash, as if she were instinctively posing for a photo.
It was a split second that probably would have gone unnoticed under normal circumstances, except that nothing about this trial is normal, starting with the fact that it is being broadcast live online like a spectator sport. So whether this was a glitch in the livestream or an actual pose, or just a thing that looked to be something it wasn’t, it didn’t really matter, because the moment was isolated and freeze-framed and shared, which meant that it was internet-real.
“Had to make the fake crying seem more believable,” a commenter said on Instagram.
“So scripted,” another wrote.
“This woman should be in jail,” said another.
That seems to be the public consensus as it pertains to Ms. Heard, at least on social media — that everything she does is scripted, conniving, manipulative. Mr. Depp, meanwhile, seems to have so far successfully played the part of quirky, misunderstood romantic who is wrongfully accused.
While much of the circus surrounding the Depp-Heard trial feels entirely of this moment — a livestream that regularly draws half a million viewers, the rhetoric around “believing women,” the sheer power of Mr. Depp’s fans to shape the narrative —in many ways what we are witnessing is a story as old as time.
Whatever you think of Ms. Heard’s actions, or whether you choose to believe her, this is a good old-fashioned public pillorying — only memes have replaced the stones.
Legally speaking, the case between Ms. Heard, 36, and Mr. Depp, 58, that has been playing out in a courtroom for five weeks is a defamation case. In 2018, during the height of the #MeToo movement, Ms. Heard — then nearly two years divorced from Mr. Depp — wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she called herself a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” That article did not name Mr. Depp, but his lawyers say the implication was clear — and that their client lost lucrative acting roles, including in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Mr. Depp is seeking $50 million in damages. Ms. Heard is countersuing him for double that amount, also claiming defamation, because his lawyer called her allegations a “hoax.”
To be clear: This is not a criminal trial. Nobody faces jail time. It’s not even technically a case about domestic abuse. Legal experts say it is a relatively straightforward case about the First Amendment — in which the burden is on Mr. Depp to convince a jury that Ms. Heard was lying when she called herself a victim and that he was not abusive.
And yet in the context-free vacuum of the internet, none of that matters. Because when it comes to public opinion, we might as well be marching Amber Heard through the town square.
She has reportedly faced death threats, as has the psychologist who testified on her behalf, who emerged from court to discover that her now-deleted WebMD page had been bombarded with negative reviews. On social media, where the hashtag #JusticeforJohnnyDepp has spread with the swiftness of a Russian bot campaign — and it appears ad dollars are being spent to promote anti-Amber propaganda — spectators recreate Ms. Heard’s bruises using stage makeup, to show how easy it is to do, and mockingly re-enact her testimony describing her abuse.
The reviling of Ms. Heard has created some strange bedfellows, bringing together men’s rights activists, Depp superfans and those who simply don’t believe Ms. Heard and claim she’s hurting “real” victims of abuse — some of them self-proclaimed feminists — in the cesspool of the internet misinformation machine. Together, they’ve disseminated conspiracy theories faster than anyone can fact-check them: that Ms. Heard was snorting cocaine on the stand (not true); that she was stealing lines from “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (also debunked); that she was “mimicking” Johnny Depp’s outfits (I mean … maybe, or maybe Mr. Depp was mimicking hers?); that she was borrowing from the plot of “Gone Girl” (also false).
“When is she going to boil the bunny?” a commenter in the trial’s livestream wanted to know, referencing the famous scene in “Fatal Attraction” in which a spurned lover kills her ex’s family pet.
The trope of the scorned woman who takes revenge goes back much further than “Fatal Attraction,” of course — Dido cursing the Trojans as she killed herself, Medea’s awful revenge on her unfaithful husband. And indeed, this trial could function as a case study in contrived stereotypes used to discredit women, even if you believe there is some truth behind Mr. Depp’s claims.
Ms. Heard has been portrayed as mentally unstable, hysterical, a gold digger, a temptress who brought home other paramours at all hours of the night, a freeloader who moved her friends into Mr. Depp’s many houses, an attention-seeker with an unquenchable need for drama and of course an untrustworthy liar — textbook undermining strategies, each with its own sexist implications.
And, some have asked, what about the timing of the whole thing? If Mr. Depp was so abusive to her, even before they were engaged, why didn’t she just leave? “I knew it was wrong and I knew that I had to leave him,” Ms. Heard testified in court, a response that rang familiar to anyone with even a baseline understanding of domestic abuse. “And that’s what broke my heart, because I didn’t want to leave him.”
Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University who studies gender violence, said she has been “unnerved” by the display of schadenfreude over Ms. Heard’s debasement in this public forum. “There is a glee, a kind of delight, that is being taken in watching her be humiliated,” she told me.
There’s something almost pornographic about the voyeurism involved, with a kink for every predilection: fame, beauty, drugs, extreme wealth, a private island, five penthouse apartments, fecal matter left on a marital bed, bloody messages written on walls, even an appearance by the moment’s most controversial man, the billionaire rocket daddy, whom Ms. Heard dated briefly. As “Saturday Night Live” satirized it in a sketch last week, boy is it “fun” to watch.
And, honestly, why wouldn’t it be? Whether you believe Ms. Heard or not, watching a woman excoriated in public has been popular entertainment since the Middle Ages. Somehow, Ms. Heard seems to have become a stand-in for every evil, lying woman getting her comeuppance — alpha queen bees in high school, the girl who slept with your boyfriend or girlfriend, every manipulative ex. She is Eve, she is Medusa, she is Lady Macbeth. She evokes vamps and vampires, wicked stepmothers, witches. As one Twitter user put it, she is an example of “toxic femininity” and a reason to never date younger women. Pass the popcorn.
All of this, of course, is taking place against the backdrop of the very particular cultural moment we are living through, in which a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion invokes a 17th-century British jurist, Sir Matthew Hale, who presided over actual witch trials, and some of the most prominent #MeToo cases are in various states of disarray. This month, Mario Batali, one of several prominent restaurateurs accused of sexual misconduct — and the only one to face criminal charges — was found not guilty of groping a woman in a Boston bar. The comedian Bill Cosby is out of jail on a legal loophole. There are rumors that the conviction of the film producer who set off the whole #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein, could be overturned on appeal.
All around us, it seems, there are evocations of manipulative, lying women: Anna Delvey and Elizabeth Holmes, each with dramatized retellings of their scams; “The Girl From Plainville,” about the Massachusetts teenager who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself after, as the prosecutor in her case described it, she “got her hooks in him”; even the unreliable, drunk “trainwreck” protagonists of shows like “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” and “The Flight Attendant.”
“We no longer have what Hester Prynne had, but we have a version of it,” said Gillian Silverman, a gender studies scholar and professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver, referencing the 1850 novel “The Scarlet Letter,” whose subject is shamed for her adultery. “And this thing of putting women on a sort of dais in order to mock them, and make them take it for quite a while, feels pretty age-old.”
One might have thought — or, at least, I might have thought — that we’d be in a more enlightened place by now. And yet despite the public reckonings of #MeToo and the recent reexaminations of pop culture figures — Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, Janet Jackson and others — there is precious little introspection over the widespread hatred of Ms. Heard.
This trial seems to have exposed some of the rhetorical weaknesses of #MeToo. “Believe women” for example — a phrase that was meant to underscore how rare it is for a woman to lie about her own abuse — had somehow morphed into “believe all women,” which left no room for the outlier. That has apparently become, as the comedian Chris Rock put it this week, “Believe all women … except Amber Heard.”
The intent of that early slogan was, in part, to encourage the public to treat women who speak up with basic dignity and respect, however messy and imperfect they or their stories may be. Yet none of that seems to have trickled down here. Perhaps one lesson from this spectacle is not about belief at all — but decency.
The way Amber is being treated by scrotes and pickmeishas is absolutely disgusting #IStandWithAmberHeard
I agree, let’s reform gun laws so we can buy automatic and belt fed machine guns again.
HRT is goddamn magic.
Edit: Did the transphobes show up or something? Why is the vote count fluctuating wildly?
Well, I always play mage, so maybe I am a sorceress! But yes, seriously, it's magic.
In the wake of the massacre in Buffalo, we have all, naturally, tried to understand what could have caused someone to commit such a horrific act of violence. This young white man linked his motivations to fears about demographic and cultural changes in the U.S., dynamics that he believed were resulting in the replacement of “the white race.”
The shooting has spurred a national discussion about the mainstreaming of these concerns, often summarized under the term “replacement theory.” Most of the attention has been given to the demographic component of this theory, while the cultural aspects have been overlooked.
But the fear of cultural replacement has an unambiguous lineage that gives it specific content. At the center of the “great replacement” logic, there is—and has always been—a desperate desire to preserve some version of western European Christendom. Far too many contemporary analysts, and even the Department of Justice, have not seen clearly that the prize being protected is not just the racial composition of the country but the dominance of a racial and religious identity. If we fail to grasp the power of this ethno-religious appeal, we will misconstrue the nature of, and underestimate the power of, the threat before us.
In a 180-page racist screed, the Buffalo shooter wrote that he was particularly inspired by the man behind the 2019 massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which claimed 51 lives. The Christchurch shooter also left a manifesto entitled “The Great Replacement,” which talked at length about “the Muslim invasion of Europe.” So, the incident that most inspired the Buffalo shooter was a man of European descent murdering Muslims praying in mosques located in a city pointedly named “Christchurch.”
The Christchurch shooter in turn took particular inspiration from the ideology of a terrorist who killed nearly 100 people at a youth camp on Utøya island in Norway in 2011. The Utøya shooter also published a manifesto, which contains clear white Christian nationalist appeals throughout. He asked God to help him succeed in his mission to expel all Muslims from Europe, and he decried the way multiculturalism was deconstructing European culture and “European Christendom.” Toward the end of the document, he proclaimed, “Onward Christian soldiers! Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution, for we will soon dine in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
In the U.S., this drive to preserve white Christian dominance undergirded the worldview of the Ku Klux Klan when it reemerged in the early part of the 20th century. We rightly remember the terrorism aimed at Black Americans, but the KKK was also explicitly anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic; it existed to protect the dominance of a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America.
In 1960, in my home state of Mississippi, Governor Ross Barnett regularly blended his Christian identity with talk about the threat of “white genocide.” Off the campaign trail, Barnett also served as head of the large men’s Sunday school program at the most influential church in the state, First Baptist Church. After his successful segregationist campaign, FBC blessed him with a consecration service and a gift of a pulpit Bible in recognition of his protection of their white and Christian supremacist worldview.
Why are we seeing the rise in white supremacist violence over the last decade? In short, in the U.S. context, the election, and re-election, of our first Black President coincided with the sea change of no longer being a majority white Christian nation (as I noted in my book The End of White Christian America, white Christians went from 54% to 47% in that period, down to 44% today). These twin shocks to centuries of white Christian dominance set the stage for Donald Trump.
Trump’s “Make American Great Again” formula—the stoking of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-Black sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right—contains all the tropes of the old replacement theory. The nostalgic appeal of “again” harkens back to a 1950s America, when white Christian churches were full and white Christians comprised a supermajority of the U.S. population; a period when we added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance and “In God We Trust” to our currency.
These fears about the “great replacement” are not fringe among conservative subgroups today, according to recent data from PRRI. While only 29% of Americans agree, for example, that “Immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background,” that number rises to dangerous levels among a range of groups comprising the conservative base in U.S. politics: 67% among those who say they most trust Fox News; 65% among QAnon believers; 60% among Republicans; 50% among white evangelical Protestants, and 43% among white American without a college degree.
Moreover, among white Americans, there is high (two-thirds) overlap between beliefs in Christian nationalism and replacement theory. And both views are associated with higher support for political violence among whites:
White Americans who agree that “God intended America to be a promised land for European Christians” are four times as likely as those who disagree with that statement to believe that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country” (43% vs. 10%).
White Americans who believe that “Immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background” are nearly six times as likely as those who disagree with that statement to believe that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country” (45% vs. 8%).
The Department of Homeland Security has declared that white supremacists “remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.” President Joe Biden, importantly, became the first U.S. President to use the words “white supremacy” in his inaugural address; and in the wake of the massacre in Buffalo last weekend, he called white supremacy a “poison…running through our body politic.” But while each identified white supremacy and dangerous “ideologies,” there is no acknowledgment of the documented ways right-wing Christianity has nourished these views.
There is a troubling religious double standard in the U.S.—one which threatens our safety and our democracy. If these same kinds of appeals and violent actions were being made and committed by Muslims, for example, most white Americans would be demanding actions to eradicate a domestic threat from “radical Islamic terrorism,” a term we heard relentlessly during the Trump era. But because Christianity is the dominant religion in this country, its role in supporting domestic terrorism has been literally unspeakable.
The clear historical record, and contemporary attitudinal data, merit an urgent discussion of white Christian nationalism as a serious and growing threat to our democracy. if we are to understand the danger in which we find ourselves today, we will have to be able to use the words white Christian nationalism and domestic terrorism in the same sentence.
its purely pragmatic
Humans evolved in a setting much closer to "hunter-gatherer" or "subsistence farmer" than "neoliberal hellscape". We were in communities where people worked together with extended kin daily for shared goals, with shared cultural ideals. We did not work silently, alone, and go home to an isolated atomic family or a one bedroom apartment. Boomers talk of a time where at the very least they cared for and were cared for by their company, and that kind of long-term, stable, reciprocal relationship worked pretty well for at least knowing your co-workers and their families, but as megacorps rose and pledged their devotion to shareholders over employees, that relationship is nearly extinct.
The only reason you come here and post is because you need to feel like you matter to someone and that someone matters to you. You need a community with shared goals and shared cultural values, and we are your tribe. It's just that our goals are as vapid as "laugh at the internet crazies". If you had a tribe, if relationships hadn't been measured and commodified and sold to shareholders, you could have done something more productive than reheat twitter shitposts for dramacoins. A lot of people blame helicopter parenting, or "everybody gets a trophy", or tumblr memes for the fact that the kids these days can't function in society without going to HR. Maybe they're right, but Ivy-educated rich kids whining to HR isn't even scratching the surface of the brokenness, as everyone here knows. JUST BY BEING ON THIS SITE READING THIS RIGHT NOW, you're outing yourself as just as dysfunctional and attention-seeking as the blue-haired xir that you seethepost about: You crave dramacoins because they represent reciprocal social value to the only watered-down gruel of community you can find. It's just that your cries for help are in a different language.
The solution, as always, is to seize the means of production and live in a commune. Science says so.
“ She was the daughter of Jewish parents “ she is not Jewish she was just born from Jewish parents there is big different.
“ She was the only Dutch woman to be executed for her wartime activities.”
She is Dutch not Jewish 💅🏽
known nazi alt right Salvador Ramos
Why doesn’t she believe the science? She’s not a doctor.
Please give me money so i can own that animeposter biden!
send coins to my account ( @xirabolt )
It’s likely fallen because lazy Americans can’t get a handle on common sense, like eschewing misinformation, and putting things in a global perspective, first and foremost. Know when you have it better than most of the world, and be thankful.
The media is biased against democrats.
So the actual jannies are lazy fucks and it falls to me to make this announcement: @Aevann did a thing, so now you can see how many other autists are online in the sidebar.
I guess it updates like every 15 minutes or something. I'm not sure if it's a snapshot of every 15 minutes or if it's actually a time machine that glimpses how many NEETs are online 15 minutes from now. I would not doubt the 2nd option given @Aevann's programming skills.
Oh, also Carp wanted me to mention this came about because one antisemitic janny wanted to block a (((user))) or something. I'm reporting Carp to the ADL immedietly after hitting send BTW.
Please speculate wildly in the comments which janny you think is the bigot.
<- me dunking on papists
Mayo is Spicy
@Garry_Chess thank me for giving you customers
I'm not making this up, it's literally the plot
Shooter was probably a mayo.
Edit: Was a latinx
But since they ain’t Nazis cute twinks, Zelenskyy isn’t interested in them and won’t give them hero medals