The three toxic consequences of the trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard | Opinion | The USA Print

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We didn’t need to follow Johnny Depp’s libel trial against Amber Heard. He was harassing us alone wherever we looked. In the last six weeks, there has been no virtual corner that has not capitalized on this litigation. The memeification of a trial that should never have been televised has simplified the semantics and media treatment of gender violence in record time. Not seen so much hate and so much misogyny concentrated on the network since we lived the Gamergate. In this unprecedented phenomenon, clans as disparate as the activists of the macho sphere have shaken hands —The Daily Wireby far-right Ben Shapiro, spent at least $50,000 promoting online content that ridiculed Heard—; followers of celebrity culture, those stans (the anglicism that unites the word stalker and fan) of Johnny Depp who believe they know him personally even though they have never spoken to him in his life and those of the conspiracy tactics of the true crimewho have taken advantage of the multi-camera broadcast of the trial to dissect these images, mix them at will and viralize strange theories about the case.

With no possible virtual escape, on Twitter, the harassment of Heard invaded even the section that suggests other people’s tweets under the heading “You may also be interested in it”. It is not a subjective note: Cyabra, a platform that analyzes disinformation and the speed of conversation on social networks, reviewed more than 2,300 profiles that have actively tweeted about the trial: 93% supported Depp. If there the tone of the conversation was that of harassment, YouTube has experienced a real gold rush with the case. And it has been especially lucrative if content was generated that ridiculed the actress. There is the story of Jacob, a 15-year-old boy who used to comment on the game on his channel Elden Ring until he understood, by suggestions of the algorithm, that where the views were (and, therefore, the money) was in the videos that commented on the trial. In a few days, As he explained to NBC, he exploited his analytics by ruling against Heard.

But TikTok has been the virtual gasoline, the source of misogyny against the interpreter. His tearful face as an icon of #AmberTurd (something like #AmberZurullo) has been the symbol of degrading videos that accumulate 4,200 million views. Delusions such as speculating that snorted cocaine while giving evidence. Or the most chilling version, the one that made it fashionable to take the audio of the story on the witness stand of her rape and, as thousands of tiktokers, Record making playback with him, but recreating the scene as if that were the most exciting that had reached his ears.

There are three immediate toxic sequels after a case that premieres “court porn” for this generation. What journalist Moira Donegan tweeted, the verdict that accepts as defamation part of a 2018 text in which Johnny Depp was not even named sets precedents against the pillars of freedom of expression of Me Too: “If women cannot speak about their experiences of abuse without incurring lawsuits for defamation that will end up ruining them, then, functionally, that discourse of women is not free”. Second, it is found that misogyny is a lucrative business for creators of digital content and that most virtual platforms —including Etsy, where doormats that call Amber Heard a “slut” are sold for 17 euros— has not put a stop to this moral speculation. And the third is that the fact that practically all of Western society consumes content that insults and ridicules a woman who claims to have been a victim of gender-based violence implies a social setback. (Rolling-Stone has counted hundreds of victims of sexist violence that have backed down after the verdict against Heard).

Sociologist Nicole Bedera sums up the feeling of moral defeat that resonates in our heads after these weeks in which cruelty has been made a spectacle: “I have seen many tweets about how this is a sign about not believing the survivors. Based on the hate messages I’m getting, I want to add that a lot of Depp’s fans know he was abusive. They just think Heard deserved it.”





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