Let’s face it – breakups are ugly. The emotions involved are ugly: Anger, resentment, frustration, acrimony. The fallout nearly always is ugly.
Now play this out on a world platform, and how much more magnified does everything get? Case in point- Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. When a 52 year old ageing superstar decides to wed an up and coming starlet, the longevity of the union is the least debated point. After all, with a two decade age difference between them, this is hardly a meeting of minds. Yet, there is always a tacit understanding that while she will bring excitement and a renewal of libido to the table, he will bring his vast fortune and Hollywood connections to it too. Prenup agreements notwithstanding, when things go bust, all these emotions are discreetly tucked away at the behest of their PR agents, and ‘conscious uncoupling’ with a byline of still being ‘good friends’ are the oft repeated mantras.
What has made Amber Heard wander so far from the script? Is she really the gold digging, foul mouthed, riding-on-the-coat tails diva she is being portrayed as? Or, is there something more sinister at play here? From the demands for spousal support (since withdrawn) to the temporary restraining order against Johnny Depp (since extended), her accusations of domestic violence have been viewed with cynicism. No amount of photographic evidence of her battered face or her friends vouching for the veracity of her claims seem to have swayed public opinion in her favour. On the flip side, Depps’ ex partner, his daughter and his friends have time and again reiterated what a good guy he is, consciously reinforcing the message that he is incapable of the sort of behavioural abuse charges that are being levelled at him.
Where in all these murky waters does the truth lie? That, with any luck, will emerge in the court battle which will no doubt find an airing in every rag mag there is.
More pertinently, let’s examine our own reaction to this case. Amber Heard is young, beautiful and famous. She had one of the most famous movie actors in the world, wrapped around her little finger. Jealous yet? Moreover, she managed to snatch him from right under the nose of the stunning French actress, Vanessa Paradis, his partner of several years. How dare then, she turn around and accuse him of domestic violence? Didn’t she make her own bed? Shouldn’t she (quietly) lie in it now? What is this, if not a blatant attempt to extort as much money as she can, to bankroll her own lavish, party lifestyle? What a lying, two faced, bisexual cow!
Now, let’s transpose this to a more everyday setting. That lovely young couple that lives down the road. That handsome husband who always says hello, and helps take your groceries out of the car. One day you hear that his wife has called the police in. He hit her. He’s been verbally and physically abusing her for years. Do you believe it? Or, is your first instinct, your knee jerk reaction, one of disbelief and incredulity?
Domestic violence is an everyday reality. It happens to women all over the world. From the richest to the poorest. From the most famous to the most inconspicuous. Why then, do we as a society, prefer to discredit the claims of the victims, driving them further into the shadows? It takes an enormous amount of courage to come forward, and to declare that you have been abused. That your self esteem has been eroded, your sense of what is right and what is wrong, completely skewed and that you have stayed in the relationship for years, for the sake of your children or society or whatever other pressures you felt were stronger than your own well being. It takes courage, and we must acknowledge and support that.
Whatever Amber Heard may or may not be, we must take her claims seriously, unless proven otherwise. She has a long road ahead of her, and aside of the notoriety this case has brought her, she is likely to gain little. Money aside, she will possibly become persona non grata in Hollywood. Johnny, on the other hand, will continue to get multimillion dollar vehicles to showcase his star power. So, regardless of the outcome of the case, Amber Heard stands to lose more than she stands to gain.
Sadly it seems, in the court of public opinion, she has lost already.