In a new interview with Teen Vogue published Wednesday, Phoebe Bridgers—known for her melancholic songs, leading concert-goers in “fuck the Supreme Court!” chants, and roasting assholes on Twitter—publicly addressed the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp defamation trial and its implications for survivors, months after “liking” a tweet in support of Heard.
Bridgers expressed concern about how the trial—and the viral, pro-Depp, rabidly anti-Heard online reactions to it—would impact survivors, and especially those from marginalized communities. When a jury concluded in May that Heard had defamed Depp by accusing him of sexual assault and domestic violence, a celebratory post from Depp was widely “liked” by dozens of celebrities. Few public figures, like Bridgers, appeared to come to Heard’s defense online.
“I think that there’s been this falsehood—and I think queer people are included in this—of having to be the perfect victim, or the perfect survivor, or the perfect representation for your marginalized community,” Bridgers said. Heard is openly bisexual and currently partnered with a woman. Angelina Jolie, who’s recently faced a deluge of online attacks after accusing ex Brad Pitt of abuse, is also openly bisexual.
That Heard wasn’t a “perfect” victim and allegedly fought back against abuse from Depp was a focal point of the trial. Depp’s legal team popularized the misguided, stigmatizing term “mutual abuse,” which equates victims’ resistance to abuse with abuse itself. Throughout the trial, his lawyers also pushed narratives about Heard’s mental health and supposed infidelity as proof that she wasn’t credible.
Bridgers seemed to address this in her comments to Teen Vogue: “If Amber Heard exhibited any neurotic behavior, it was held against her. Then Johnny Depp, out of his mouth, admitted some of the most violent, crazy shit in court, and it’s somehow like, people aren’t surprised?”
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The singer further expressed concern with the public reaction to the trial, especially on social media. “That whole situation was so upsetting to me, that it was treated like a fandom war. Laughing at someone crying in court? It was disgusting,” she said. In July, a report found evidence of widespread online harassment campaigns targeting not just Heard, but anyone who expressed support for her online after the trial had concluded. One woman who supported Heard online said at the time that “it’s been weeks and weeks” of harassment, and she remained “bombarded by people every day for weeks on end saying that Amber Heard is a liar and women lie, and I am an abuse apologist who must be lying.”
Despite the aggressive online attacks on Heard, Depp emerged as an icon against so-called “cancel culture.” Bridgers questions whether this phenomenon is even real. “I mean, is [cancel culture] real? Who’s lost their job politically? One huge offender [Harvey Weinstein] is in jail for actual sex crimes, and then anything short of that is, maybe, they lose a couple friends or lose a couple jobs,” she said. “Then five years later, they’re like, ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry.’ And they come back, but they never apologize—they never go away.” Just last year, a handful of supposedly “canceled” men (for actions ranging from nonconsensually masturbating in front of women to spewing hateful anti-LGBTQ language and centering an entire comedy special around anti-trans bullshit) all picked up Grammy nominations. To Bridgers’ point, Louis CK, who admitted to sexually harassing several women, has returned to sold-out shows and ironically named his tour “SORRY,” after his transparently sarcastic apologies.
Bridgers, who shared her short and simple abortion story in May shortly after the Supreme Court leak, has often been on the right side of history—and quite vocal about politics. She’s fundraised for local abortion funds, like New Mexico’s Mariposa Fund that covers abortion costs for undocumented people, and partnered with the Texas Transgender Education Fund to share resources at her shows. “Don’t let anybody freak you out about an abortion,” Bridgers told the magazine. “There are resources for you if you’re trying to get one—and you should fucking have one, for whatever reason.”
She notably concluded the interview with what felt like a middle finger to the toxic positivity to which obscenely wealthy, famous people so often treat us. “I feel like hate is actually healthy,” Bridgers said. “It’s okay to be fucking super angry.” As something of a professional hater myself, I have to say, I feel seen!