Johnny Depp, Amber Heard & Celebrity Feminism
In the past few years, there’s been a notable rise in celebrity feminism. Every female celebrity is being asked about their opinions on feminism, and whether or not they are feminists, and for the most part the answers have been encouraging. From Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign, to Beyonce’s unapologetic womanism, to Taylor Swift’s general current aesthetic, celebrity feminism is totally on trend now. Apart from when it actually matters.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard Amber Heard’s claims of domestic violence against partner Johnny Depp. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of an unmistakeable bruise on her face, I’m sure you’ve seen the practically predatory pictures on her weeping in her car after the temporary restraining order against her partner was granted. I mean really, is anyone that surprised? In the 90’s, both Winona Ryder and Kate Moss spoke out about his violent outbursts. It’s fair to say that this whole ordeal is becoming a media circus, with TMZ (ugh) seemingly tracking Heard’s every move, and multiple celebrities and pop culture icons coming forward to speak on the subject. So far we’ve heard words of support from the likes of Doug Stanhope, Mickey Rourke, and his former partners Vanessa Paradis and Lori Anne Allison. Unfortunately, pretty much all the celebrity support has been aimed at Johnny Depp.
Media and public support have been primarily aimed at Depp as well. The question is why? Maybe everyone’s forgotten that as of 2016 he looks like the middle stage of an Animorphs cover and hasn’t made a decent film in like five years. Maybe everyone’s suddenly feeling nostalgic towards Edward Scissorhands. Or maybe (probably) his PR team is paying the papers. They are clearly working overtime because in the past few days we’ve seen articles about how Amber Heard is a gold-digging bisexual slut who’s been conning poor Johnny Depp for years and has been having affairs with women cause she’s a gold digging bisexual slut. Kudos to his PR team for creating a fantastic smear campaign. Give them a pay rise and then take a loooong shower because this whole situation just feels dirty.
Domestic Violence is a feminist issue. In the UK 2 women a week are killed due to domestic violence, and globally 1 in 3 women will experience domestic abuse. Domestic abuse affects men as well, as the NHS reports that 4% of all men aged 16-59 experienced DV in 2014/2015. Unfortunately, with both men and women, the statistics are fuzzy. Many people don’t come forwards as victims of domestic abuse to fear of not being believed or fear of what other people will think, and given the media shitstorm surrounding Amber Heard right now, it’s not too crazy to see their point of view.
So back to our millennial feminist icons; where have they been for the past few days? Doesn’t Lena Dunham normally have an opinion about everything? Shouldn’t our current lord and saviour in female friendships,TM Taylor Swift be speaking out in support of her? The radio silence of support perfectly sums up my issue with celebrity feminism; it always seems very convenient. Celebrities always seem to come out in support of feminism when they’ve got an album to drop or when they’ve got projects or aesthetics to promote. I’m not denying that these women do identify as feminists, however, it would be nice if their agendas weren’t so self-serving. We need high-profile celebrities to speak out about this issue, even if it makes it harder for them to get a job with Disney or Jerry Bruckheimer. For every article that shames Amber Heard or accuses her of lying,* it makes it that much harder for someone to share their own abuse story. Feminism is not convenient. It’s not a marketing ploy, and it is not supposed to be self-serving. Times like this are exactly when we need high profile feminists to speak out, but sadly, it looks like we don’t really have any.**
*Also, what on earth does Amber Heard have to gain by lying? She’s probably blacklisted in Hollywood and her name is being tarnished throughout the media. Besides, there’s photographic evidence, and apparently she’s got a video! And for the love of all things pure, if anyone cites Gone Girl as a valid argument I will flip.
**Andy Richter and Rainn Wilson have come out in support of Amber Heard, and Evan Rachel Wood has been vocal about the media’s biphobia. If anyone else comes out in support, feel free to comment, I’ll happily add it to the post / retract the entire post.