The memeification of Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard appears to have reached its inevitable peak: A victorious Depp has joined TikTok. Last week, a jury found that Heard had defamed Depp in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she identified herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse” and which did not refer to him by name. They determined that Heard should pay Depp over $10 million in damages. And though the jury also found Depp’s lawyer guilty of defaming Heard in a 2020 comment to a British tabloid, that verdict has been largely ignored — both in Depp’s statements and by his fans.
After first addressing fans on his Instagram, Depp — or “occasional thespian” according to his bio — joined TikTok on Monday, and amassed 4 million followers overnight before posting his first video early Tuesday morning.
Throughout the trial, TikTok has functioned as an online cheering forum for Depp. Pro-Depp stans dominated the conversation on social media, which is significant considering that the jurors in this case were not sequestered. In late April, NBC News reported that pro-Depp hashtags like “Justice For Johnny Depp” earned 3 billion views. Over the next month, the social network has become overrun with pro-Depp content, with everything from lawyer fancams to videos breaking down Heard’s body language and others turning her accounts of covering up bruises into makeup tutorials. It’s also been a welcome place for people to post misinformation about the case, with some TikTokers cherry-picking evidence or making videos that present themselves as impartial news sources, but are still tagged “Justice For Johnny Depp.”
Depp’s first video featured a montage of fans greeting him as he rode into court, as well as behind-the-scenes video of him performing with Jeff Beck. “To all of my most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters,” he wrote. “We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together. We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared.” Depp went on to call on his fans to “move forward together,” which seems to be his way of asking them to continue to support his career. “You are, as always, my employers and once again I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. So, thank you. My love & respect, JD.”
Within an hour of posting, the video had over 390,000 likes on TikTok. (He also posted the same video to his Instagram, where it has over 2 million likes.) Heard does not appear to be on TikTok, but she did respond via a statement from her spokesperson: “As Johnny Depp says he’s ‘moving forward,’ women’s rights are moving backward. The verdict’s message to victims of domestic abuse is … be afraid to stand up and speak out.”
Meanwhile, Depp’s fans continue to use social media to disparage Heard. After a rumor started on Twitter that Warner Brothers was cutting all of Heard’s scenes from Aquaman 2, the hashtag “New Jobs For Amber Heard” began trending, with fans creating memes of various jobs the actor might have to take to be able to pay the court-ordered damages to Depp. (These include working at McDonald’s, entering the Squid Game contest, and starring in “The Bi-Polar Express.”)
As for Depp, his victory lap hasn’t been confined to social media. Days after the verdict, Beck confirmed that he and Depp intended to release an album together in July, and the actor’s IMDB page lists a few upcoming projects currently in the works.
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