TikTok is rallying around Johnny Depp

Published on December 29, 2020

You’ve heard of #FreeBritney, now get ready for #JusticeforJohnnyDepp. The teens of TikTok are fervently defending the actor in his ongoing drama with his ex-wife Amber Heard. If you ask them, Johnny Depp has been slandered and falsely accused. These TikTok users staunchly advocate the position that Depp is not the abuser. For them, Johnny Depp is unquestionably the victim in this whole mess.

A Little History

Johnny Depp is currently in the midst of a personal and professional firestorm that began when he married his ex-wife Amber Heard. Their relationship was nothing short of disastrous, something that no one disputes. Beyond that, details of the glamorous couple’s downfall vary, depending on which side you ask.

Depp and Heard met on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary. They married in 2015 and split just a year later when Heard filed for divorce in spring 2016. When she filed for divorce, Heard claimed that Depp was verbally and physically abusive throughout their marriage. The judge granted her a temporary restraining order. When the couple settled their divorce in 2017, the judge dismissed the restraining order.

From there, it gets incredibly messy. Heard wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about her experience as a victim of sexual violence. The piece did not name Depp, but Depp sued Heard over the article and that case is still ongoing. Then, British newspaper The Sun ran a story calling Depp a “wife-beater”. Depp sued the paper for libel. The case was a media frenzy, and the testimony was dramatic and incredibly salacious.

After much fanfare, Depp lost the case earlier this year when a UK judge determined there was enough evidence that Depp put Heard “in fear of her life”. This was not a criminal trial, and the judge’s decision does not equate to a criminal judgment against Depp. None the less, it was a significant blow to the actor. Depp’s lawyers have filed papers requesting a new trial, claiming that Depp did not receive a fair trial.

After the original judgment from the court, Depp lost his leading role in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. Public opinion started to take a significant turn against Depp as a judge officially ruled on abuse allegations for the first time in the couple’s unfortunate history. Johnny Depp fans on TikTok, however, are not willing to give up so easily.

The Hashtags

If you spend enough time on pop culture TikTok, you’ll eventually come across a large group of Johnny Depp fans creating content and commenting on their support for the actor. This group of users is dedicated to spreading awareness about what they perceive as a grievous injustice done to Depp. This corner of the internet is unapologetically married to the narrative that Amber Heard abused her husband.

Their activism supporting Depp comes through very clearly in the hashtags they use on their videos. The hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp has 223.3 million views at the time of writing and #amberheardisanabuser has 74.4 million views. Content under these hashtags can be anything, but mostly images and videos of Depp himself, with supporting messages attached.

Many creators post videos of themselves showing solidarity with Depp in various ways. This creator above recreated some of Depp’s most famous movie looks to show her support. Another creator posted a video of her live reaction to Depp’s loss in his libel case, which consisted of lots of tears.

The group is as diverse as it is passionate. Users supporting the cause seem to be of all races and genders, although the overwhelming majority are young. Which is unsurprising given TikTok’s largely teenage demographic.

The Account That’s Driving It All

There’s one account that is a definitive leader in #justiceforjohnny content. @innocentjxhn has 294.2k followers and the account is dedicated entirely to proving Depp’s innocence and spreading awareness about the injustices of his case.

The account is a combination of evidence compiled of alleged abuse against Johnny Depp, as well as posts in appreciation of the actor. @innocentjxhn started posting in June, right before the start of Depp’s libel trial. The creator was a longtime Depp fan, but as the trial approached she decided to take action.

I realized not many people knew what Amber had done to Johnny. I started making informative videos for people to watch, quick and simple so the general public could get an idea of what was happening. My page grew pretty quickly once people started to realize that Johnny is innocent.

https://www.tiktok.com/@innocentjxhn/video/6908134221810814213?_d=secCgYIASAHKAESMgowDaamtsZ93M9zOPM93aSxB7PUJiy9UMlbEYqfnrpVDK%2Ba0xB2uYSBGp%2FkP9JUtaHqGgA%3D&language=en&preview_pb=0&sec_user_id=MS4wLjABAAAAccFTniPGvgdkjrQfpLS8054BuZuLHAkIp98drKDEM1Z11MlfAgHmhCYobwL81YRv&share_item_id=6908134221810814213&share_link_id=3DA6660C-F89B-4EED-BDB9-D91FEEDC8FB2&timestamp=1609191424&tt_from=copy&u_code=dc2mg61e6641l0&user_id=6818294494947017734&utm_campaign=client_share&utm_medium=ios&utm_source=copy&source=h5_m

The account quickly amassed followers, although that’s not exactly what the creator was expecting when she first started creating content. She just wanted to get her message across. That message is one of ferocious defense of Depp and a tireless advocation for his innocence. For her, however, the movement is bigger than just Depp himself.

I believe it is essential for people to know that the justice for Johnny Depp movement has thousands, thousands of domestic violence survivors and victims fighting for him. The movement is not just for Johnny, it is for all male victims who the world has silenced and by the judicial system. This movement could be a breakthrough for all male victims, so they can possibly feel safe enough to come out with their stories. They can feel less embarrassed, knowing that one of the most famous men in the world has gone through the same thing.

Another Free Britney?

Many commenters pointed out the similarities between Depp’s situation and that of Britney Spears. Both got famous at a young age, both have fiercely loyal fanbases. In the eyes of their fans, both have been subjected to deep injustices by a system manipulated to hurt them. The creator of @innocentjxhn disagrees.

I don’t think they’re comparable really, Johnny’s movement and what Johnny is fighting for has never been seen before. His fight is harder for him because people are not used to seeing a male victim.

Although the creator of @innocentjxhn doesn’t see the similarities, the movements do share some common qualities. Both movements began on social media, from fans who deeply care about these celebrities and their fates. The #FreeBritney movement and this new push for #justiceforjohnny both analyze social media posts and paparazzi photos extensively for evidence that the system is abusing their favorites stars in some way.

https://www.tiktok.com/@innocentjxhn/video/6909172471027485958?_d=secCgYIASAHKAESMgow3LTYRHCbCUKKmqKhIqkCkHkcsltxfKzxiDY1vLSU%2F1yHJIUaqakDDvfDTpC9PNrHGgA%3D&language=en&preview_pb=0&sec_user_id=MS4wLjABAAAAccFTniPGvgdkjrQfpLS8054BuZuLHAkIp98drKDEM1Z11MlfAgHmhCYobwL81YRv&share_item_id=6909172471027485958&share_link_id=4F79BADD-3A6B-4AE8-9893-832FE77755B7&timestamp=1609191399&tt_from=copy&u_code=dc2mg61e6641l0&user_id=6818294494947017734&utm_campaign=client_share&utm_medium=ios&utm_source=copy&source=h5_m

Each movement involves deeply complicated legal cases to which fans are only partially privy. There is massive amounts of press attention surrounding both Britney Spears and Depp, not just as it pertains to the situations they’re currently in, but for years before thanks to astronomical fame.

Obviously, the cases themselves are wildly different, as are the implications. Public opinion is far more torn when it comes to Depp. On the other hand, people are largely united behind Spears.

Will This Movement Really Have Implications for Depp’s Case?

Although this TikTok community is passionate and fighting tirelessly in support of Depp, it’s hard to say whether this social media activism will make any difference to Depp’s legal woes. Despite years of public outcry, Britney Spears’ situation remains currently unchanged, which does not bode particularly well for Depp.

In 2021, Depp will fight in a defamation lawsuit he filed against Heard for $50 million. A US judge will decide this case. He also hasn’t quite given up yet on the British end of things. His lawyers filed an appeal in his UK libel case against The Sun, claiming the actor did not receive a fair trial. On Instagram, Depp acknowledged a hard year and looks forward to a better time ahead. His fans on TikTok are certainly hoping his luck improves.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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