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Johnny Depp casting controversy

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The social media spectrum erupted in furor as JK Rowling, one of the world’s most celebrated
authors as the artist responsible for crafting the intricate “Harry Potter” universe, took to her
personal Twitter account to defend a man many see as a beloved actor turned abusive
scoundrel.

Johnny Depp sailed into the hearts of millions as Captain Jack Sparrow of the “Pirates of the
Caribbean” franchise, a performance which nominated him for Academy Awards and Golden
Globes, as well as established him as an A-lister over its five-film run. Despite his first official
film credit existing 19 years prior to the first “Pirates” movie (he played Glen Lantz in the 1984
horror film, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” when he was just 21 years old, for the curious), Depp
became insanely popular among millennials for his work as Sparrow, thus becoming a beacon
of popular culture and a figurehead of the childhoods of many young adults. It’s relatively
inarguable that it was this role that bolstered Depp’s career and placed him at the forefront of
many Tim Burton films, which only increased the sentimental force held by his name.
Consequently, many hearts shattered when allegations of domestic violence rose against
him.

In May of 2016, Depp’s now ex-wife, model and actress Amber Heard, filed for divorce and
requested a temporary restraining order against him. She boldly claimed that during the entirety
of their relationship, Depp had been both physically and verbally abusive to her – and armed
with two witnesses and troubling photos of her bruised face, the world immediately ran to her
side. As often it occurs, when a woman files a claim against a man of any kind, there is an
instinct – a knee-jerk reaction to believe her word over his. Ingrained in American culture in
particular is the depiction of men as abusive and aggressive figures, and this is not without good
reason. The objectification and abuse of women by men is nothing unheard of; it has escalated
to not only the point of a woman’s claim of abuse being seen as near infallible, but to when
people hear stories of such horrid and inexcusable violence, it hardly surprises or shocks them
anymore.

A common hymn of the modern radical feminist movement is to believe all “victims” before
they are even proven to be victims. This is not to claim that every cry of abuse should be
surrounded with fierce skepticism, for that would only elicit more harm than good. Yet,
nevertheless, the safest route to receiving any story from anyone – especially a story with so
much weight as a claim of abuse – is to take it with a grain of salt. This considered, the problem
with Heard’s claims against Depp is that they don’t hold up. At all.
It’s evident that there were conflicts in the relationship. Heard showed in her evidence
against Depp a video where he was visibly angry, and even shattered a glass. However, it is
unclear if in the video he was angry at her specifically – and his shattering of the glass, while
certainly hazardous and unnecessary, was not targeted toward her. Surely they don’t belong
together, and neither of them should feel obligated to stay in a relationship in which they are not
comfortable or committed, but citing this as evidence of abuse, specifically when such abuse is
expressed as a sure thing, is insufficient. It’s a stretch. And stretching is exactly what the world
did when they saw it – a video depicting Depp as a violent individual is all they needed to believe
that he had the potential to be abusive toward his partner.

Unfortunately, the public will never know what really happened between them. Heard
retracted a lot of her initial statements regarding Depp’s behavior, and even retracted her initial multi-million dollar demand once many of Depp’s fans began accusing her of solely wanting money and attention. It was only then that Heard declared that she would donate any money she received out of the divorce toward domestic violence relief causes. The former couple
reached a settlement and the case was closed with no further investigation – allegations
remained allegations with very little proof. However, many people called for a Johnny Depp
Witch Hunt, imploring that his career be destroyed over Heard’s claims against him. It would be
understandable if Heard actually presented real evidence to support her incriminating remarks,
but the fact of the matter is: she didn’t. Heard should not be believed solely because she is a
woman and Depp is a man. No person should be believed on account of gender alone,
regardless of any circumstances – what makes a person trustworthy and what validates their
claims is evidence. The disease of believing women over men just because they’re women only
creates a system just as toxic as the patriarchy self-proclaimed ‘feminists’ claim they detest.
And for the record, Heard herself has been convicted (yes, actually convicted and not just
accused) of abusive behavior toward one of her own former partners. So by this logic, shouldn’t
her career end, too? Or will you be standing in line to see her when Jason Momoa stars in an
eventual “Aquaman” film?

Don’t take my words out of context. I despise white male privilege and the oppression it’s
caused me just as much as any other female minority attempting to navigate this society. But
my hatred for this does not equate to a hatred of men, nor a belief that women deserve to be
believed over them in court of law. However you feel about Johnny Depp is your personal right,
but to take away someone’s livelihood because of a claim that is not certain (and holds up
poorly, on top of that) is foolish.

Rowling said in her statement regarding Depp that “the inability to speak openly to fans
about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful,” for her. The author was
adamant about protecting both Heard and Depp’s privacy, and alluded to the fact that she
herself, a victim of domestic abuse, would not support an individual she believed to conduct the
same behaviors under which she suffered an inconceivable pain. Boldly sticking to her guns
amid the hateful comments spewed at her, Rowling made it known that she and the “Fantastic
Beasts” crew not only intend to stick to their original casting, but they are satisfied and excited to
see Depp bring antagonist Gellert Grindelwald to life.

Every person has the right to their personal beliefs – they are, at the end of the day, what
make us human. But to hold personal beliefs as fundamental truths against others is a harmful
practice. As Rowling herself stated, “conscience isn’t governable by committee.” Don’t thirst to
see the failure of a man who hasn’t been proven to deserve it.

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