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What will happen to Amber Heard now?

For a lot of people, the trial against Depp marked the end of her career and of the Metoo movement

What will happen to Amber Heard now? For a lot of people, the trial against Depp marked the end of her career and of the Metoo movement

On Wednesday, the lawsuit brought by Johnny Depp against Amber Heard for defaming him in an editorial published in 2018 by the Washington Post in which, while not directly mentioning her name, she spoke of the harassment she suffered by describing herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse", a not too veiled reference to the alleged violence she suffered during her marriage to The Pirates of the Caribbean star, ended. After six weeks of testimony, the jury ruled in Depp's favor, awarding the actor over $10 million in damages and awarding Heard, who announced her intention to appeal the verdict, $2 million in damages after one of Depp's lawyers accused her of lying about the abuse. While Johnny thanked the jury for giving him his life back, Amber, on the other hand, posted a long message expressing her sadness and despondency:

"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power and influence of my ex-husband." 

 In recent months, what began as a defamation trial has turned into a live streaming show about toxic relationships, including mutual abuse and violence, horrific words and gestures that have shown the worst of both parties involved, but from which only Depp seems to have emerged unscathed, or nearly so. On the other hand, Heard was attacked, ridiculed and demonised on TikTok and on social media, called a liar, "a scammer", "a MeToo activist looking for money". She lost despite Depp's vile text messages, rape and murder fantasies, photos of cuts, bruises and swelling, audio recordings of Depp verbally abusing her. He lost despite the fact that in Depp's previous trial against the tabloid The Sun, the judge had declared 12 incidents of abuse against Heard to be "substantially true", guilty of "endangering her life". Given the media battage of the actor's fans, willing to do anything to support him and discredit her, it was clear from the outset to most people who witnessed the testimony in the Fairfax courtroom that it was more of a referendum on the actress' character and credibility than an actual trial to establish the veracity of the abuse.  

If the judicial page is, at least for the moment, closed, its effects seem destined to leave a long negative trail. Especially on Amber Heard's future. While in the last few hours there have been rumors of a return of the ex-husband to the cinema alongside Winona Ryder in the sequel directed by Tim Burton of Beetlejuice, almost at the same time it seems that Warner Bros. Pictures has held a top management meeting to cancel the actress's scenes from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, fulfilling the wish of Depp's fans who have even started a petition on with more than 4.5 million signatures to oust her from the project. The move should serve to keep the negative press away from the sequel to the blockbuster starring Jason Momoa coming to theatres in March 2023, but it is also confirmation of the woman's agent's prediction that her career as a big studio star is over. Her reputation has been severely damaged and echoes a sentence from Heard's article in The Sun: "I have felt the full force of our culture's wrath against women speaking out".

The media pillorying to which Heard has been subjected will not only affect her career, but all victims of violence. As Jessica Winter wrote in The New Yorker:


"The trial, in short, turned the op-ed into an ouroboros: what was intended as a #MeToo testimonial about women being punished for naming their experiences became a post-#MeToo instrument for punishing a woman who named her experiences."

It is feared that, because of the great impact it has had on public opinion and the way it has been reported, the ruling will push many women not only not to report the abuse they are suffering, but also not to mention it to anyone at all for fear of being attacked and not believed, but rather of being accused of defamation and of losing. It seems that some associations dealing with domestic violence claim that we may be facing a paralyzing effect on the victims. Constance Grady wrote in Vox"this ruling seems to mean that anyone who utters the phrase "I was abused" can be sued as a liar", while a psychologist told Rolling Stone that she has already heard from hundreds of victims who want to withdraw from trials against their abusers or recant their public statements. Is this the definitive end of the #MeToo movement?