Vinay Menon: The lurid details from Johnny Depp’s libel trial make our boring lives seem sublime
|Toronto Star 17 Jul 2020 at 16:53|
Never mind. If you have, you’re not reading this dispatch. You’re too busy rinsing your eyeballs. Bed defecation! Homeless bribery! Fake bruises! Marital brawls! Severed fingertips! Trashed mansions! Elon Musk booty calls! After the first two weeks, this could already be a Hollywood melodrama lurching toward a twist ending: everyone loses in the court of public opinion.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun tabloid, over a 2018 article in which he was called a “wife-beater.” Not only does he deny ever assaulting ex-wife Amber Heard, he claims she socked him with a “ haymaker ,” a word that made me miss Bob Cole calling a Wendel Clark fight.
The allegation emerged on Monday inside the High Court in London, prompting Depp’s lawyer to ask his client to kindly define the slang for the British judge.
Depp: “A haymaker is a type of wild swing, a roundhouse punch…”
That’s not the only charge Ms. Heard must address when it’s her turn in the witness stand. Other allegations were positively scandalous: Depp accuses Heard of, ahem, moving her bowels in their marital bed after a fight following her 30th birthday party. He claims his fingertip was cut to the bone after she hurled a vodka bottle at him in a rage. Kate James, who was Heard’s personal assistant and who describes herself as a “sexual violence survivor,” raised the spectre the actress was of spousal abuse in this #MeToo era.
Other witnesses also testified in support of Depp, saying it was Heard who was the brute. If even 20 per cent of the charges against her are true, it’s possible Depp slept with one eye open every night after they got hitched in 2015. It’s possible he is now suffering from Amber Heard PTSD.
The testimony this week – she will get a chance to respond when the trial resumes on Monday – paints a wildly unflattering portrait of an opportunistic, gold-digging monster who used Depp as a stepping-stone to further her ambitions of fame and fortune.
Heard is accused of cheating on Depp with James Franco and Elon Musk. She is accused of getting hopped up on drugs or red wine and going nuts, including chucking Depp’s wallet and cellphone off a balcony, an incident that was recounted in vivid detail by his security guard.
Starling Jenkins III – even the security guards have Hollywood names! – testified that in 2016 he went to the doomed couple’s penthouse in LA. He claims Heard admitted to throwing Depp’s possessions into the night sky. It was his job to retrieve them.
According to Variety, Jenkins wrote: “I walked out onto the street, did not see the phone, and I then asked several homeless people if they had it. One homeless man admitted to me that he had the phone, and he returned the phone to me in exchange for the following: (1) $425 cash; (2) three chicken tacos; (3) two bags of chips; (4) two apples; and (5) four bottles of water.”
That is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever heard in a trial that is downright sad.
No, allegations of spousal abuse are not funny. But this trial is pure black comedy. I mean, London’s High Court of Justice has entered into the record an exhibit allegedly showing a Heard turd. There is an image of Depp passed out after an alleged bender in which he’s sitting cross-legged on a sofa, mouth open, head cranked back, with ice cream dripping down his jeans, as if she’s shooting a scene in Pirates of the Baskin Robbins. It’s not a good look. None of this is a good look.
Whether Depp was or was not a “wife-beater” is getting overshadowed by the reputational beating all sides are taking. Whether Heard is or is not a “sociopathic show pony” is moot given the fact the PR horse has left the barn during this lurid case chock-a-block with unseemly anecdotes.
It’s honestly a miracle this marriage didn’t end in a murder-suicide.
And it’s impossible to follow the trial and not lose respect for all involved.
If The Sun was wrong about Depp – and on Thursday, his exes Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis submitted character statements telling the court they only knew him to be loving, gentle, caring and peaceful – I get why he sued. That is a horrific false allegation. But even though the testimony so far has been stacked for Depp, his image is taking a pounding.
Imagine being so drunk or stoned that you don’t realize you lost $650 million.
Imagine living life in your 50s as if you were a college freshman in a never-ending kegger.
If I were a Hollywood exec, I’d want nothing to do with Depp or Heard. That’s what this trial is doing day after day: it is taking a blowtorch to both of their public images.
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If anything, I have a newfound appreciation for my boring existence. Sure, my wife and I squabble over silly things. But deep in my heart, I know she’d never take a dump in our bed! She’d never throw my iPhone into Niagara Falls! I’d never be so blotto that I pass out in a plate of Tiramisu! I’m going to give my soul mate a gift: $425, three chicken tacos, two bags of chips, two apples and four bottles of water.