Johnny Depp, former Disney movie “pirate,” could have celebrated his court victory last week over ex-wife Amber Heard by rushing off to Disneyland. Instead, on Tuesday, he joined TikTok.
Signing up as @johnnydepp and referring to himself in his bio as an “occasional thespian,” he posted a snippet of videos featuring scenes of himself waving a tattooed and beringed hand from a car window to supporters who gathered daily at the courthouse. He is seen underlining the words “Death & Resurrection” on a piece of paper, then two-finger typing on an old-fashioned typewriter. Then, finally, he’s seen on a stage playing an electric guitar with a rock band.
As of Tuesday afternoon, he had more than 5 million followers and almost 2 million likes on the video.
He also posted a caption thanking his “most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters,” the fans who helped contribute to the deluge of social media backing for the former “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.
Depp and his legal team persuaded a Fairfax, Virginia, civil jury to find that Heard defamed him by insinuating in an op-ed column that he abused her during their brief, volatile marriage.
“To all of my most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters. We’ve been everywhere together, we’ve seen everything together. We have walked the same road together,” Depp’s caption read. “We did the right thing together, all because you cared. And now, we will all move forward together.
“You are, as always, my employers and once again I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. thank you My love & respect, JD.”
As it happened, Depp was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read on June 1; he was in the United Kingdom playing gigs with his musician pal Jeff Beck and was spotted in pubs in Newcastle, according to the Daily Mail and in a Birmingham restaurant according to The Independent.
The seven-person jury awarded Depp $10.35 million in compensation and punitive damages for Heard’s defamation of him. They also awarded Heard $2 million in compensation for one instance in which he, through his lawyer, defamed her by labeling her accusations as a “hoax.”
During the six-week trial, which was livestreamed online, hordes of his fans showed up to stand in line for seats in the courtroom or stood outside, waving signs and shouting their love as Depp came and went from the courthouse. Comparatively fewer Heard supporters showed up in person to cheer her on.
But online the disparity in the public support for the two was especially obvious and largely poisonous towards Heard, who has vowed to appeal the verdict. Her lawyer said the social media coverage of the case had impermissibly influenced the not-sequestered jury, although she provided no specific evidence of that.
Halfway through the trial, the disparity on TikTok especially stood out: The hashtag #johnnydeppisinnocent had 1.4 billion views at that point; a similar hashtag for Heard only had about 600,000.
So it was perhaps natural that Depp would go to TikTok to reach out to his supporters; he had not previously been a denizen of the short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share short-form videos on any topic.
After the verdict, Depp released a lengthy statement about how Heard’s allegations, first aired during their bitter 2016 divorce, had triggered “an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me,” and produced a “seismic impact” on his life and career.
“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled,” Depp’s statement said.
Heard wasn’t impressed by Depp’s first TikTok. She released a statement Tuesday continuing the theme of her earlier statements about the verdict, which is that it was a message to victims of domestic violence to be afraid to stand up and speak out about their experiences.
RAINN, the national anti-rape and sexual violence organization, reported on June 3 that on the day of the verdict, the organization’s National Sexual Assault Hotline served 35% more people than on the average Wednesday, and that in the month of May 2022, the organization provided support to 28% more people than in May 2021.
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