My favorite movie when I was fourteen was Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. A little odd choice for a favorite film, granted, but I had always been a big Burton fan. I don't know if it was a fascination with American Gothic period pieces or that I just really, really like movies shot within a vaguely threatening fog, but something in that movie clicked with me. To this day, I can recite nearly 80 per cent of the dialogue by heart, which is pretty sad when you think about it.
This began my obsession with Johnny Depp. While most teenage girls at the time carried a torch for Pacey from Dawson's Creek or insert-interchangeable-Backstreet Boy-here, I was enamored by the razor sharp cheekbones and quiet, brooding demeanor of Ichabod Crane. I had posters of Depp all over my wall. I read all of the articles about him. Within a year, I was a veritable living Wikipedia page of useless Johnny Depp facts that made most of my friends' roll their eyes. Even as the obsession faded, I maintained a healthy respect for his talent, like an old ex who I would still hug during a run-in on the street.
Recently, Johnny Depp's now ex-wife, Amber Heard, came forward with some pretty nasty accusations. Photographing a series of bruises on her face, Heard states that Depp has repeatedly emotionally and physically assaulted her, going as far as ordering a temporary restraining order against him. The uproar of condemnation and support for both sides over social media has been unbelievable.
With every article that I read, I detect the same base note repeated over and over again: "We don't want to believe it." And why would we?
I'd like to take a moment to say that I have NO idea what actually happened between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. It's not my place to make accusations on either side. If you're reading this with a very clear decision on who is the victim and who is the villain, you may want to get a little real with yourself and realize that we don't actually get to condemn anyone. That's for a judge to do, and frankly, it's none of the public's business.
But I will be very honest with you; the main reason why I am saying this is because I don't want to believe it.
When I was in my early 20's, I was in a relationship that I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemy. The man was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive, a combination that ultimately led to a case of minor PTSD.
Some time after I had gotten out of the relationship and was dealing with the psychological ramifications, I told a class mate at school what had happened. She told me that she knew he was an honest person, that I was a liar, and proceeded to lash out at me for my blatant attempts to hurt his reputation. I left my Program the day after and never returned.
"So, what's a Johnny Depp fan to do? I still don't want to believe it. Even though experience and statistics are against me, I still want to believe that my teenage crush is a good guy."
For years, I despised that person. I wanted nothing more than to confront her and tell her what she had done to me. I wanted her to suffer for perpetuating my trauma and show the entire Program what an awful, despicable person she really was. Then one day, I got it. And it just happened to be on the day when Amber Heard came forward the photographs of her bruises.
The girl who accused me of lying didn't want to believe it. My ex was charming, charismatic, funny, sensitive, and incredibly talented. He was a leader, garnering the admiration of everyone around him, and at the time, he was a very good friend to this person. She really looked up to him, and there I was, shattering her illusion like a cheap glass. In that moment, I'm sure she felt really betrayed, because how do you deal with the thought of your friend being a monster?
We see celebrities who we admire as "friends". We support their work, we cheer them on, and we ardently defend them when someone makes an accusation against them. In the eyes of millions of people, Johnny Depp is a hero, an onscreen buddy, and who wants to believe that your best film buddy abused his wife?
The fact is that more women who claim to have suffered from domestic abuse are telling the truth than those who are not. More than four million women in the United States have been victims of sexual or physical assault, and the numbers don't seem to be decreasing any time soon.
I'm sure that there are some women who make false accusations, but the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against this. Most of the women who come forward ARE telling the truth, and I am speaking from personal experience when I say that it takes an impossible amount of courage to come forward.
So, what's a Johnny Depp fan to do? I still don't want to believe it. Even though experience and statistics are against me, I still want to believe that my teenage crush is a good guy.
At the same time, I understand what Amber Heard is going through. There's nothing worse than dealing with trauma and being called a liar at the same time, and until the evidence speaks otherwise, the public has to accept that she may be telling the truth. It would have made a world of difference to me if that girl nearly a decade ago had done the same for me.
I'm open to the possibility that Johnny Depp abused his ex-wife. But for the sake of his family, especially his two children, I hope that he's not.
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