The defamation case brought by actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard is nowhere near the end, but Depp is winning in the court of public opinion.
Social networks, mainly Twitter and TikTok, expressed outstanding support for Depp. Hashtag JusticeForJohnnyDepp has surpassed six billion views. Just two weeks ago, the same hashtag had the popularity of three billion.
Amber Heard's support is much less visible, which might be why she changed PR firm just last week.
The support for Johnny is partly because this is the first time people can hear his side of the story.
Depp is suing Heard over an op-ed written for Washinton Post in November 2018. Though Amber never said Johnny's name, his attorneys said it indirectly refers to their divorce in 2016 and allegations of abuse.
Depp is seeking 50 million dollars in damages, while Amber Heard is countersuing Depp for 100 million dollars.
The trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, started on April 22, and the actor testified for four days. Amber took the stand on May 3, a day after Depp's attorneys rested the case.
Depp and Heard met during the filming of Rum Diaries. They started dating in the early 2010s and got married in 2015. The couple divorced in 2016 after Amber asked for a restraining order citing domestic abuse.
Both Amber and Johnny testified they suffered physical and emotional spousal abuse. Among the most talked-about evidence so far are images of Depp after alleged altercations and an audio recording of Heard saying, "I was hitting you. I was not punching you."
Depp said Amber would sometimes "strike out," a slap or shove him, or throw something at him.
The trial is available online, and many TikTokers make videos showing play-by-play of the day in court. Others use evidence presented in court and connect them with unproven theories. One of the most popular includes that Amber is taunting Depp by mimicking him and dressing up like him.
Many social media users think that Amber is not being held by the same standards as male domestic abusers. As a Twitter user wrote:
Among Depp's supporters are those who know him as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. However, he also has numerous fans among the crowd who remembers him from his beginnings, like Edward Scissorhands, a hit movie from 1990.
Becca Catherall, a TikToker who has posted videos about the case, said:
"Amber, in my opinion, wasn't known too well until she started dating Johnny. She became well known when she made the allegations against Johnny, and because the world knows Johnny and loves him, I believe that everyone is going to be angry and upset that such allegations have been made towards him."
Seth Lewis, the Shirley Papé Chair in emerging media and director of journalism at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, claims that there is one reason why so many are team Depp.
"I think we're in this moment where people are fascinated by authenticity. It's the reason people will find greater trust in what seems to be raw video footage on social media or YouTube."
So far, we only saw Depp's testimony, and Lewis credits Depp's seeming vulnerability on the stand as a reason so many might be backing him.
Additionally, people are fascinated by his openness and lack of support for male victims in the MeToo movement.
David Schmid, pop culture expert and associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo College, State University of New York, said that he believes that this case gives people an idea that misogyny is a thing of the past since the alleged abuser is a woman.
He added that those who think that "cancel culture" has gone too far might be Depp supporters. He stated:
"I think a lot of people look at what's happened to Johnny Depp's career as a result of this situation and say this is exhibit A of cancel culture ... a lot of people who think cancel culture gets unfairly applied to men more than women will be following this very closely."
The case will last for several more weeks. It is inevitable we will hear more disturbing recordings and images. How will it affect the public? We have to wait and see.