Amber Heard and Sympathy for the Devil: Does Feeling Bad for Her Make Me a Terrible Person?

Hollywood is rallying behind Johnny Depp while his ex-wife is being trashed in the court of public opinion. Is Heard really getting what she deserves?

Amber Heard mean
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This isn’t an easy thing to admit, but I feel bad for Amber Heard.

I’m not saying she came across as particularly likable over the course of the trial. Or particularly believable. Or, after that pooping-in-the-bed allegation, that I’d ever want to host her as an overnight guest. But I do feel a smidge of sympathy. After all, she is arguably the most hated woman in America right now. Inarguably the most humiliated.

Aside from all the indignities she was forced to stomach inside the courtroom — like the televised reading of her ex-husband’s appalling text messages, including the one in which he fantasized (or joked, haha) about drowning her, lighting her on fire and then raping her charred corpse — there was the carnival of enmity she endured outside the courthouse. The mocking TikTok videos, the vicious Twitter insults, the wild (and completely made up) online conspiracy theories, like the one about her murdering her mother in order to keep her from testifying in Depp’s trial in the U.K. a few years ago (you remember, when a British court decided that accusations Depp was a “wife beater” were “substantially true”).

It’s hard to accept that anybody deserves that kind of public shaming, even if they really are the scheming, gold-digging, two-faced Jezebel that Depp’s superfans — and now, it seems, seven jurists in Virginia — believe Heard to be.

Obviously, expressing sympathy for Heard is not a popular position to take these days, particularly in Hollywood, where most of the town seems to have rallied around Depp. BuzzFeed has been keeping a tally of the number of celebrities who’ve responded positively to Depp’s post-verdict victory lap on Instagram (“The best is yet to come, and a new chapter has finally begun…”) compared to Heard’s June 1 post (“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words…”). 

So far, more than 100 bold-type names have “liked” Depp’s post, some of them even adding a string of hearts in the comments. The list of his well-wishers includes Zoe Saldana, Kelly Osbourne, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Priestly, Molly Shannon, Paris Hilton, Patti Smith, Naomi Campbell, Liv Tyler, Taika Waititi, Jim Jarmusch and, weirdly, Amanda Knox, the former exchange student who famously spent four years in an Italian prison after she was wrongfully convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate. 

Johnny Depp
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As for Heard’s post, it’s garnered a grand total of seven likes from prominent celebrities, one of which was from Heard’s one-time “Aquaman” costar Jason Momoa, who hedged his bets by liking both her and Depp’s Insta messages.

It’s not just liberal entertainers hopping onboard the Johnny train, but red state conservatives like Matt Gaetz, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump Jr., who seem to have conveniently forgotten that Depp is a card-carrying member of the very Hollywood elite they claim to despise. They’ve been giddily declaring Depp’s legal victory as nothing less than the end of the #MeToo movement.

Depressingly, they could end up being at least partly right — the verdict could push some sexual abuse survivors back into the shadows, as a number of voices have been pointing out — although that’s a point Hollywood progressives sending Insta hearts to Depp also seem to have conveniently forgotten.

Look, I’m not saying the jury got it wrong. Honestly, I have no idea who in that courtroom was lying and who was telling the truth — or if, as so often happens in real life, they were each doing a bit of both. I’m just wondering what exactly everybody is celebrating. 

Because no matter how you feel about Heard — who was clearly nobody’s idea of the perfect poster girl for the “Believe All Women” crusade — some of the stuff that Depp admitted to under oath was so horrific it’d have Mel Gibson and Armie Hammer clutching at each other in shock. Like smearing threatening messages to Heard in blood on the walls of their home (“little reminders of our past,” is how Depp cheekily described it on the stand). Or referring to her in colorfully misogynistic texts as an “overused flappy fish market,” a “waste of a c– guzzler” and a “slippery whore.” 

Is this what Hollywood is celebrating? This is cool now?

I may be wrong — and I’m sure my helpful readers will politely point out the errors of my logic in the comment section below — but I’m wondering if Hollywood’s woke elite has completely thought this through.

Meantime, I can’t help it. I feel kind of bad for Amber Heard.