‘The way in which #MeToo has been co-opted and manipulated during the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial is a toxic catastrophe and one of the biggest defamations of the movement we have ever seen’
The #MeToo organisation has condemned the way the movement has been “co-opted and manipulated” amid reactions to Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard. The headline-making trial has drawn widespread attention from media outlets, TikTok and other social media platforms, with the organisation stating it had “been confronted with the mockery of assault, shame and blame.”
Depp is suing his ex-wife Heard for $50 million, following a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled ‘I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. This has to change.’ Depp was not explicitly named in the piece, but he has since denied all allegations of abuse and claimed he later lost work as a result of the story. Heard is also counter-suing Depp for $100 million, as the Aquaman actress claims Depp’s lawyers’ statements calling her abuse allegations ‘a hoax’ had defamed her and impacted her career.
In a statement posted both to social media and on its website, the #MeToo organisation wrote, “#MeToo is the greatest acknowledgment by survivors about the prevalence of sexual violence, ever. Since the hashtag went viral, so much has shifted toward nuanced narratives about survivorhood and the long term, widespread impact of sexual violence.”
“And yet, the way in which #MeToo has been co-opted and manipulated during the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial is a toxic catastrophe and one of the biggest defamations of the movement we have ever seen,” it continued.
The organisation, which was set up by #MeToo originator Tarana Burke to support survivors of sexual assault, said reactions to the six week long trial included “countless headlines proclaiming the death of #MeToo. News stories full of click bait, and the endless ridicule of survivors that followed.”
It also added those using the #MeToo movement to advance their own ends were a “case study for how social and political movements get misused and weaponized against the very people it’s meant to serve.”
“Larger than this trial and ultimate jury decision is a movement made up of millions of survivors fighting for their dignity and their right to seek justice, and a country that still has to reckon with why it is so invested in the pain and anguish of violence, rather than remedying it,” it continued.
“We will not lose focus or shy away because of those who are committed to misunderstanding our movement. The work to honor our rights to our own bodies and to build disruption across the spectrum of rape culture, persists,” it continued.
The Depp vs Heard case is drawing to a close, following weeks of high emotion cross-examinations and allegations. Lawyers for both sides have presented their closing arguments to the jury, who are now deliberating the outcome of the case. Intense public scrutiny of the couple has dominated social media and newspapers over the past weeks – which has even extended to members of their legal team, beauty brands and celebrities such as Kate Moss, who recently testified.