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A frenzied scene materializes 4 days per week on the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia as followers search seats on the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The line to enter the courthouse begins earlier than dawn. Throughout the day, individuals seem carrying indicators, carrying fan merch and costumes, even strolling a pair of alpacas. Nearly all of them are there for Mr. Depp.

“We just want to support our captain,” mentioned Jack Baker, 20, who arrived on Monday dressed like an additional in “Pirates of the Caribbean” to movie footage for his YouTube channel. “If he goes down with the ship, we’re going down with him.”

Maryam Alam, 29, and Alina Alam, 29, had hoped to get into the courthouse, however once they confirmed up at 7 a.m. they have been already too late. Both grew up watching Mr. Depp onscreen — taking part in such characters as Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka — and have been longing for the prospect to see him in individual.

“It’s fulfilling a childhood fantasy,” Maryam mentioned. “It’s the reason why everyone else is here.”

High-profile superstar circumstances have drawn a large viewers ever since Court TV started broadcasting from courtrooms within the Nineties. But the trial of Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard has turn into a case examine in what occurs when complicated claims are filtered via the lenses of stan tradition and social media.

In addition to the dwell protection on TV, YouTube, and varied information and leisure web sites, numerous brief clips edited for optimum virality have circulated on Instagram and TikTookay — “fancams,” in social media parlance, that includes forensic analyses of Mr. Depp’s and Ms. Heard’s trial apparel, and courtroom exchanges which have been described as “SAVAGE.”

Mr. Depp, 58, is suing Ms. Heard, 36, over an essay she revealed in The Washington Post in 2018 about sexual violence, during which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Mr. Depp was not named within the article, he has argued that it clearly alluded to him, damaging his fame and profession. (Ms. Heard filed for divorce in 2016 and, quickly after, for a restraining order towards Mr. Depp, which she was granted.) In his testimony, Mr. Depp denied ever placing Ms. Heard and argued that she was the aggressor of their relationship. The jury is concurrently contemplating a defamation countersuit by Ms. Heard towards Mr. Depp.

Many of the accusations have been aired in 2020, throughout a libel case Mr. Depp introduced towards The Sun, a British newspaper that ran a headline referring to him as a “wife beater.” The choose dominated that the defendants had proven that what they revealed was “substantially true,” and Mr. Depp misplaced the case.

While the jury in Virginia has been instructed to rigorously weigh the proof and attain a verdict solely after testimony is full (Ms. Heard has but to take the stand), and fan-observers have been suggested to not react audibly or visibly to both occasion within the courtroom, the remainder of the world is underneath no such obligation.

In a TikTookay video captioned “AMBER HEARD CAUGHT LYING AGAIN,” Ethan Trace (2.8 million followers) gleefully recounts how Ms. Heard’s lawyer mentioned in court docket that the actress used a make-up palette to cowl up bruises Mr. Depp gave her throughout their marriage. The lawyer held up a palette to strengthen her level, and whereas she didn’t identify the model, it was identifiable in images and video from the trial, and web sleuths rapidly named the corporate, Milani Cosmetics.

Milani, the model, later launched a TikTookay video that said the product Ms. Heard’s lawyer confirmed didn’t turn into out there till after the couple had separated. (“Milani Cosmetics is not taking a formal stance on the trial, evidence or future outcome of the case,” a spokeswoman wrote in a press release.)

“Boom!” Mr. Trace says within the video. “Milani Cosmetics: We love you! Thank you for sharing this!” The video has greater than 16 million views.

In an electronic mail, Mr. Trace defined that he felt Mr. Depp had been handled unfairly by the media. “How could no one be talking about evidence that could possibly prove a man’s innocence after being labeled an ‘abuser’ in the eyes of the public?” he wrote.

On April 13, shortly after testimony started, Gawker famous that the TikTookay hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp had acquired 1.1 billion views. In two weeks, that quantity has greater than quadrupled. As of this writing, #justiceforamberheard has 22 million views.

Ms. Heard’s supporters hope that her testimony will shift the dialogue surrounding the trial. “Instead of looking at all these TikToks and everything, I think that people should actually follow the case,” mentioned Carmen Diamandis, 22.

“Stans will literally go to any extent to defend anyone,” he mentioned of Mr. Depp’s supporters, including: “Amber Heard, she has not got that fan base.”

Marianne Nafsu, 32, a real crime content material creator from Detroit who has posted in regards to the case, mentioned: “I can’t wait to hear her side when she stands trial.” She added that “it’s only fair to listen to both sides and see: Where’s all this coming from?”

When requested for a touch upon the fan response, Ms. Heard’s legal professionals supplied her pal Eve Barlow, a music journalist who has been tweeting in assist of Ms. Heard.

Johnny Depp’s Libel Case Against Amber Heard

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In the courtroom. A defamation trial involving the previously married actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is presently underway in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia. Here is what to know in regards to the case:

Ms. Heard’s op-ed. Mr. Depp’s swimsuit was filed in response to an op-ed Ms. Heard wrote for The Washington Post in 2018 during which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though she didn’t point out her former husband’s identify, he and his legal professionals have argued that she was clearly referring to their relationship.

The home abuse claims. In the 2020 trial, Ms. Heard accused her former husband of assaulting her first in 2013, after they started courting, and detailed different situations during which he slapped her, head-butted her and threw her to the bottom. Mr. Depp has since accused her of punching him, kicking him and throwing objects at him.

“The social media landscape is shockingly brutal for Amber,” Ms. Barlow wrote in an electronic mail, including that most of the feedback on TikTookay and Twitter mirror “misogynist hate.” Mr. Depp’s representatives didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Rachel Louise Snyder, the writer of “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us,” acknowledged in an interview that Mr. Depp has sure benefits over Ms. Heard within the court docket of public opinion.

“People will dispense with the same critical eye that they would give anybody else when it comes to someone who is really a beloved figure,” she mentioned. Ms. Snyder added that the case gives a possible counternarrative to frequent misconceptions of abuse: who can perpetuate it and who generally is a sufferer.

“We don’t think about victims as wealthy. We don’t think about victims as men. We don’t think about perpetrators as women,” she mentioned. “I’m not saying that she’s a perpetrator and he’s a victim. I’m just saying that we have an opportunity to look at our own myths and stereotypes around ‘Who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator?’” (Severe bodily violence impacts one in 4 ladies, in accordance with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and one in seven males.)

On TikTookay, a lot of Mr. Depp’s supporters have posted a couple of recording during which Ms. Heard says: “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, am a victim too of domestic violence,’” and continues, “See how many people believe or side with you.”

Scout Robert, 24, was greatly surprised by Ms. Heard’s phrases. “When she said that, she made the statement to the world that as a man, you cannot be abused,” she mentioned in an interview. Ms. Robert, who has greater than 40,000 followers on TikTookay, has posted quite a few movies on the platform, during which she has referred to as Ms. Heard a liar, abuser and hypocrite. Some have been seen a whole lot of 1000’s of occasions.

Ms. Robert mentioned she felt that the #MeToo slogan “believe women” had turn into overused. Rather, she mentioned, individuals must “listen to women,” whereas acknowledging “that men can be victims of domestic abuse as well.”

Ms. Snyder, likewise, thinks the Depp trial might spur extra nuanced conversations about abuse, and the way it doesn’t at all times fall inside neatly prescribed boundaries.

“Maybe he’s a victim, maybe he’s an abuser, maybe he’s a little bit of both,” she mentioned. “Same for her.”

Michael Lee Pope contributed reporting from Fairfax, Va.

Audio produced by Adrienne Hurst.