Earlier this week, thousands of pages of previously sealed court documents from Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard were released to the public, and they were pretty horrifying. They reveal Depp’s legal team’s original plan to use nude photos of Heard against her; confirmation that photos and audio submitted by Depp had been manipulated; notes from the couple’s therapist confirming Heard was a victim of “intimate partner violence;” texts from Depp and his assistant all but confirming Heard’s allegation that he’d kicked and beat her in front of his staff on a private plane; Depp’s attempts to help Marilyn Manson, another alleged abuser, hide from police; and more.
All in all, despite how Depp’s supporters had reportedly crowdfunded the costs of unsealing the documents, the revelations from the pages hardly paint a flattering portrait of the man who’s become a national hero for symbolically defeating lying, scheming women everywhere. It’s not yet clear whether the unsealed documents will have a significant cultural impact; but at the very least, they seem to have persuaded some of Depp’s previous A-list supporters to rethink their position, or at least hide their displays of public support.
On Thursday, a viral Twitter thread first shared a swelling list of celebrities who had initially “liked” and appear to have unliked Depp’s celebratory Instagram post, shared after he won his defamation lawsuit in May. Jezebel has since confirmed that these celebrities’ Instagram accounts no longer appear to “like” the post as of Friday afternoon. They include: supermodel Bella Hadid, Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner, makeup influencer NikkieTutorials, Orlando Bloom, Robert Downey, Jr., Zoey Deutch, Joey King, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Coolidge, Jordan Fisher, McKenna Grace, Riley Keogh, and Bruce Campbell.
Amanda Knox, an activist known for her wrongful conviction in Italy for the murder of her roommate in 2007, also appeared to have initially “liked” the post in May; her account no longer “likes” the post as of Friday. Notably, even CUNY, which previously boasted about how one of its alums had worked on Depp’s team, apologized for the email earlier this week.
Per a Buzzfeed report from May, other high-profile celebrities who “liked” the post and don’t seem to have unliked it include Vanessa “people are gonna die [shrug]” Hudgens, alleged serial abuser Ryan Adams, director Taika Waititi, Jennifer Aniston, Gemma Chan, Henry Golding, Zoe Saldana, Halle Bailey, Naomi Campbell, Dominic Fike, Heard’s co-star Jason Momoa, and more. And before that, stars like Courtney Love and Kate Moss very publicly shared supportive stories or messages about how Depp hadn’t abused them or had actively been kind to them—thus proving he couldn’t have hurt Heard, because everyone knows domestic abusers have also abused every woman they’ve ever encountered. Famous men like Depp’s pal Paul Bettany—who texted with Depp about “burning Amber” and “fucking her corpse”—and Fantastic Beasts director David Yates have also called Depp a stand-up guy and said they’ve never seen him hit a woman, so, surely, that must not have happened.
Depp sued Heard for defamation over a 2018 op ed she wrote in which she identified as a victim of domestic violence, two years after publicly accusing Depp of abuse. Even prior to the unsealing of the aforementioned court documents, Heard presented extensive evidence of the abuse she says Depp had inflicted on her over the course of their relationship, from damning audio and texts to witness accounts of the toll that the alleged violence had had on her. Still, a jury ruled that Heard had defamed her ex-husband and must pay him $15 million. An anonymous male juror later went on Good Morning America and chastised Heard for her “crocodile tears,” and said Heard and Depp were “both abusive to each other.”
When the verdict came out, survivors across the country spoke up about the toll of the weeks-long, nationally televised trial, which aggressively perpetuated age-old victim-blaming myths and sexist tropes—including that if a woman reacts or responds to abuse from her partner, she’s no longer a victim but an abuser herself. The unsealed documents offer further examples of the extent to which Depp and his team relied on crude misogyny to attack Heard—but that, itself, isn’t a new revelation. There’s little excuse for anyone—including the high-profile celebrities who publicly market themselves as feminists and profit off of this marketing—to only just now realize everything that was fucked up about the trial. From a more cynical standpoint, perhaps they haven’t even changed their minds, but sense the tide is turning and that their names shouldn’t be attached to his post?
Learning and growth are important. But how many women have to be publicly retraumatized and relentlessly mocked by millions before enough is finally enough?