Amid Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s ongoing defamation trial, online users have taken to TikTok to ridicule Heard’s accounts of domestic abuse, usually by mocking her tone with exaggerated facial expressions while her emotional testimonies play in the background.
The newfound trend has so far racked up millions of views and features a vast group of participants, from impassioned Depp fan accounts to an orange feline donning a blonde wig. On Monday, former ‘N Sync boy band member Lance Bass became the first celebrity name to take part in the online hoopla after he posted a now-deleted video of himself lip-syncing to an audio of Heard’s testimony.
“At this point, we’re sitting next to each other on the edge of the couch,” Heard says in a voiceover while Bass reenacts the dialogue in his living room, per Variety. “I was just sitting there on this carpet, looking at the dirty carpet, wondering how I wound up on this carpet and why I never noticed that the carpet was so filthy before.”
The pop singer also included a video caption referencing the timing of the trial, which resumed on May 16 following a week-long hiatus.
“In honor of the trial starting back up . . . Had to do it,” Bass wrote.
Audio tracks of Heard’s testimony on the platform are plentiful with some being more popular than others. One such audio used by numerous TikTokers is a snippet of Heard recalling the time Depp slapped her after she walked out of her bedroom.
“I was walking out of the bedroom. He slapped me across the face, and I said, ‘Johnny, you hit me. You just hit me,'” the actor is heard saying. Underneath the audio, individuals, couples and even pets recreate the scenario. While the intent is to be humorous, such cavalier treatment of the testimony implicitly discredits Heard’s claims and makes light of abuse.
Perhaps the most disturbing sound bite making the rounds is Heard’s allegations of incidents of sexual assault. “He’s like grabbing my breasts. He’s touching my thighs. He rips my underwear . . . off,” Heard painfully states.
In this case, TikTok users, the majority of whom are women, glamorize and sexualize the allegations, grossly framing Heard’s experiences as every woman’s desired wet dream.
“I’m still trying to figure out what Johnny did wrong here,” reads one caption.
In another post the heading, “Female Johnny Depp Jurors,” appears alongside a video of a woman fanning herself with a “NOT GUILTY!!” sign and winking, presumably at Depp.
TikTok has long been a platform where people mock a plethora of topics, whether its politics, celebrity gossip, entertainment or pop culture events, like the Met Gala and the recent Billboard Music Awards. But something about poking fun at a woman’s testimony about enduring years of domestic and sexual violence from a partner — and having the courage to speak up about it — seems incredibly abhorrent. If anything, the trend has showcased how desensitized people are to violence and abuse. It has also revealed how little empathy and care society has for survivors.
The treatment is frankly similar to how TikTokers use film or TV clips, taking the audio from shows like “Euphoria” and overlaying it with their own videos. The difference, of course, is that the acclaimed HBO drama is fiction. Amber Heard is not . . . and yet, it does seem as if the social media platform sees her more as a character than a real person.
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This mockery of the trial hasn’t been confined to TikTok. A skit on the May 14 episode of “Saturday Night Live” notably focused on the alleged pooping situation, in which Depp claimed that Heard and her friend attempted to “prank” him with human fecal matter. During her testimony this week, Heard asserted the feces were left behind by the couple’s teacup Yorkshire terrier, whose bowel problems were worsened after it had accidentally ingested Depp’s marijuana.
In one moment, Cecily Strong, who plays an enthusiastic judge overseeing the case, proclaims that “this trial is fun.”
As Salon’s Alison Stine writes, the Heard/Depp trial is anything but fun, especially at a time “when the rights of vulnerable people are more and more under attack, when Chris Rock – who endured violence witnessed by millions – can make a quip like, ‘Believe all women except Amber Heard.’“
“SNL” along with TikTok “has never been less funny or less relevant.”
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