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“She’s begging for total global humiliation... She’s gonna get it”

The witch hunt against Amber Heard has set domestic violence attitudes back decades

Amber Heard testifying in court last week

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I said I wasn’t going to do this, but this week I hit a wall. I’ve been circling around Johnny Depp and Amber Heard for weeks now. When the trial started in Fairfax, Virginia* what feels like 935 days ago I was determined to ignore the whole charade. As I saw it then. The irresponsible headlines plastered all over the internet were too depressing. The graphic descriptions of things he allegedly said and did too triggering. The #TeamJohnny v #TeamAmber hype often discussed, in the UK at least, in a bizarre hall of mirrors parallel with #TeamColleen v #TeamRebecca. As if the two trials had anything in common other than happening simultaneously and the vilification of two not especially likeable women. (And we all know the importance of likability if you’re a woman.)

And then the memes started. Funny, I guess, if you’re that way inclined. Cruel, vicious, mocking in a way anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a playground pillorying will recognise. But this wasn’t the playground this was the internet, and not just the internet, this was a woman’s life and livelihood. Team Johnny was noisy, vocal, obsessed, relentless. Not fans but stans. And Team Amber? There was no Team Amber, so far as I could see – or if there was, they had been silenced.

There was nothing Heard could say or do that wasn’t turned into a meme within seconds of it coming out of her mouth. There was no facial expression she could make that couldn’t be played for comedy. She was routinely accused of being a liar, mentally ill, an abuser herself, of acting (badly). And the more she cried, the more the internet laughed.

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