The Jazprose Diaries
The Jazprose Diaries
Depp v. Heard: Twisted Panties

Depp v. Heard: Twisted Panties

A contemporary counterpart of Lady Whistledown weighs in on the trial that's become a cultural flashpoint on free speech, domestic abuse, and #MeToo
Photo by E. Diop on Unsplash

Greetings from The Twisted Panty! 

The trial may be over, but idle minds continue to look for ways to kick a girl while she’s down. 

Revealing a level of sophistication not seen since Herschel Walker announced a cure-all spray for COVID-19, social media influencers are no longer content to see the defeated movie star penniless.

They want her permanently squashed under the dominating boot of hashtag superiority. Of course 300 fake Twitter accounts do not a majority make. Even if their influence spreads as far as TikTok and Instagram. 

But it only takes a few social-media accounts to wreak havoc on a disliked target

Inquiring minds have already noticed how the online echo-chamber exalts idiots and elevates pariahs into wronged victims of wokeness on a regular basis.

In other words, 10 thousand Frenchmen licking — that’s liking (damn autocorrect)— a hashtag do not a truth create. It’s just a sound and fury signifying nothing but a bunch of folks with nothing better to do. 

But who needs a life? Especially when celebrities provide an endless supply of meretricious fodder like #turdgate?

Ah #turdgate! At last there’s an appropriate metaphor for the pop swizzle some folks call a zeitgeist. Who needs a toilet when you have luxury sheets with an infinite thread count?

(By the way, has anyone actually seen what people do on movie sets? There’s a lot of sitting around and re-shooting scenes. There’s a lot of bad acting, too. And long breaks followed by tantrums and the pulling out of hair. But who cares, as long as the stars get paid millions for packing us into the theater where we can forget all our troubles and spend a small fortune on popcorn?)

If this sounds like sour Gilbert grapes or something, it’s not

In fact, the Twisted Panty is actually grateful to the trial for pulling up the Tupperware cover on our troubled world and releasing some of the depressingly foul air trapped beneath the cloud of war, inflation, and multiple mass shootings. Not since the trial of Derek Chauvin has there been such a rush to televise a verdict.

And talk about delayed gratification. Who scripted the scene where the judge tells the jury to return to the deliberation room and fill in the amounts? Pure genius. Bated breath and nervous pacing until at last the seven jurors take possession of their seats and announce awards totaling millions of dollars. What timing! What brilliance. What a way to steal from Ryan Seacrest! Just wait till awards season. Golden Globes, Oscars, Slaps all around.

Of course there’ll be an appeal

But appeals don’t re-examine the evidence. They only look at whether something was done improperly or illegally during the original trial. Did the judge give the wrong instruction? Was a juror bribed? That sort of thing. 

The only advantage in appealing this verdict is the chance to reduce the amount of the damages. After all, $10.35 million dollars is a lot of cheddar when you only had an estimated net worth of $8 million before the trial began, especially when your legal fees are already hovering at $6 million.

But social media isn’t satisfied with the humiliation of losing and the threat of bankruptcy. They want her crushed. They’ve already got a petition with 4.5 million signatures currently circulating on to remove her from her current film, one of two she finished before the trial began.

The Twisted Panty enjoys a good gossip as much as Lady Whistledown

But really, what’s the point of nailing shut the coffin now that the trial is over and the verdict handed in? Why does the internet want to kill her dead?

Surely there’s something else at play here

Is it merely that the jury didn’t go for all that tearful testimony? That they didn’t like being addressed directly so often? (Bad coaching.) That they weren’t convinced she was telling the truth after she’d been caught in a lie(s)? That they weren’t sure how much of her testimony was…well — acting?

Was the jury really swayed by the former husband’s detached references to his ex as “Miss” while she repeatedly used his first name as if they were still married or only recently divorced when it ended five years ago?

Was the jury swayed by the collective identities of the former husband?

A man who’s been a cultural icon for almost 40 years? Or were they swayed by the crowds outside whose posters supported the husband more than the wife? And just how much social media did these un-sequestered jurors see during the 10-day recess, when hashtags favoring the husband outnumbered those for the wife by nearly 18 billion? Billion!

Did the jury know that he lost his role in the Harry Potter franchise after the wife’s op-ed appeared? Or that his starring role in another seaworthy venture was canceled?

Was this marriage really over five years ago? 

Or are these two people still linked by the mutual acrimony often found on the dark side of failed love? So much to ponder.

Even this. Was the jury’s verdict its own version of the president’s Enough speech? A smack-down of the #MeToo movement and a signal that any future attempt to take down a male power figure had better be backed up with credible provable evidence? Was the verdict a green light to domestic abusers whose abuse reportedly increased substantially during the COVID lockdowns?

Or was the verdict simply the reinforcement of a culture-borne misogyny that never really went away just because #MeToo sent Harvey Weinstein to prison for sex crimes. Or caused Les Moonves to be ousted from CBS? And Matt Lauer forced out of 30 Rock, never to set foot on the Today Show again? Yes, all those giants toppled like the statues of Confederate generals. But did the misogyny ever really go away?

The Twisted Panty thinks not.

Hatred of women is real. The infamous trial had had the wrong poster child — that’s all. There were too many holes in her story. There was too much bad behavior on both sides. Did the jury feel that you can’t claim to be abused when you’re also doing some of the hitting?

Unless you watched the entire trial from beginning to end, how can you know what really went on? Unless you were in the jury room, how can you know what the jury really thought and how they came to issue the damages? 

But that doesn’t stop folks are re-litigating the verdict on Twitter with some calling it a blow to free speech since the husband wasn’t mentioned by name at all? 

While others point to a specific moment at 49 minutes during the wife’s cross examination where she damns herself by admitting twice that she had the famous actor husband in mind. 

Who knows why the internet hates the ex-wife so much? Or why verified Twitter accounts are using this case to advance their own talking points whether they’re relevant to the trial or not? 

Or why some blame the mainstream media for allowing hashtag justice to frame the public’s perception of these tawdry doings?

From the look of things, all that can be said for sure is this:

The public isn’t finished with this case. Will there be a movie? Will there be a book? Will the appeal overturn the verdict or reduce the damages? 

Will the soiled bedsheets of #turdgate achieve the same level of notoriety as Monica Lewinsky’s soiled blue dress? 

O brave new world where these questions loom large!

We don’t know if #turdgate is true, just as we don’t know if there’s a pee-tape somewhere in Moscow with a former president’s name on it. 

We’ll never know what really went on in that terrible marriage. Except maybe this: The beautiful princess married the handsome prince — and they did not live happily ever after. 

May we all be spared this particular fairy tale ending!

©2022 Andrew Jazprose Hill

Thanks for reading/listening.

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The Jazprose Diaries
The Jazprose Diaries
Literary fiction and essays by an award-winning writer from the Deep South focusing on the current zeitgeist and the news that stays news.