“Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard” on Netflix: behind the scenes of a trial that divided America

“Justice is not served based on the truth. All that matters is what the jury decides to believe,” erts celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher. Speaking about the lawsuit between ex-husbands Amber Heard and Johnny Deppaccused of defamation, the lawyer highlights the complexity of the case which has inflamed the United States and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the world.

The documentary mini-series “Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard” offers to come back to the highlights of this ruthless legal battle. For 6 weeks, from April to June 2022, the actions of the two actors were dissected and exposed in order to determine the legitimacy of Amber Heard to proclaim herself a “public figure representing domestic violence” in the columns of the “Washington Post in 2018. Although the actress does not explicitly name Johnny Depp, the star of “Pirates of the Caribbean” sued for defamation and sought $50 million in damages from his ex-wife. He also alleged that she was the aggressor in their relationship.

Millions of internet users

It is therefore on the benches of the court of Fairfax, Virginia, that this documentary mini-series immerses us. From their meeting before the filming of “Rhum express” in 2009 to their divorce in 2017, every aspect of the ex-lovers’ lives is scrutinized and analyzed by the jury as well as by the lawyers… But not only. The retransmission of the trial on television also allowed millions of Internet users to get involved.

On YouTube, TikTok, Twitch or even Twitter, the overwhelming support for Johnny Depp, the more or less substantiated theories of the guilt of one or the other as well as videos popularizing the trial have flourished and experienced a great success. In addition to the views, the documentary tells us that millions of dollars were generated by content creators during the judgment. Some videographers, who only had a few hundred subscribers before the affair, even saw their popularity explode.

A divisive trial

Although this mini-series is rather well documented and tries to transcribe the trial impartially, it is sometimes difficult to maintain the viewing as the interference in the life of this toxic couple is total. Low blows, potentially human excrement on the bed, violence, and alcohol form an explosive tail. So much so that it is difficult to discern the lie from the reality in the testimonies of the ex-spouses.

But what is underlying, and clarified here, is that this affair intervenes just a few years after “Me Too”. It was enough for some to see it as a biased representation of the women’s speech liberation movement and for it to further divide American society on the subject. “I respect Johnny Depp and human rights,” one of the actor’s supporters said on Twitch. On TikTok, the hashtag “Justice for Johnny Depp” has 20 billion views while the version “Justice for Amber Heard” struggles to reach 77 million clicks.

If certain lies of the actress have been brought to light by the litigation, gray areas persist. For example, in the 6,000 documents made public after the trial, disturbing exchanges of text messages put some of the actor’s statements into perspective. A good mini-series to watch in order to understand the stakes of one of the most important trials of the 21st century, but it is better to have a strong heart.

Editor’s note:

Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard », Documentary mini-series broadcast on Netflix. Three fifty-minute episodes directed by Emma Cooper.

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