Johnny Depp’s success in the trial of his ex-wife Amber Heard reveals a fundamental problem: When in doubt, the rich man wins. For the

The symbolism could hardly have been more poignant: While Amber Heard heard the jury’s verdict in a courtroom in Virginia with her head bowed and heard that the jury had ruled against her, Johnny Depp had long been on a party tour in Great Britain. The Hollywood star is said to have found out about his victory in a pub, three evenings in a row he had been cheered on in front of an audience as a guitarist at concerts.

This motif ran through the entire seven-week process: while Heard was serious, even bursting into tears, Depp stood out with a grin, dry comments and little “Pirates of the Caribbean” gags. He knew how to serve his audience – and it worked out. The fact that she didn’t do this in the cinema, but in a courtroom where domestic violence was discussed, says a lot about society’s longing for idols and entertainment. And it shows that the

Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard: The verdict was quickly made on social media

Because it was a process that had long been decided in the social networks. Countless social media accounts – including some bots, by the way – had specialized in exploiting what was happening. And overwhelmingly at the expense of Amber Heard. Funny memes and TikTok movies could be made from Depp’s gags and reactions on social networks – from Amber Heard’s tears or her dogged facial expression it was more bullying material. Even the US comedy show “Saturday Night Live” made fun of Heard. The seven-person jury, like the rest of the world, had access to all of these ratings.

Of course she also heard, like everyone else, how Johnny Depp abused Amber Heard while drunk, how he wished her dead in an email with drastic words. And she also knew that Heard had already been right in Britain when a court ruled that The Sun newspaper could call Depp a “women’s bully”. There, the court judged several of Heard’s allegations to be true. But that wasn’t what the trial in Virginia was about.

Possibly a deterrent effect on future victims of abuse

The jury should only be deciding whether it’s wrong for Amber Heard to write that she became a symbol of domestic violence after she secured a restraining order against Depp in 2016 and a photo of her with injuries to her face went viral. And whether she slandered Depp through this article in the Washington Post entitled “I spoke out against domestic violence and got the wrath of our society. This has to change”. As a result, there was always the question of whether survivors of domestic violence can speak publicly about what they have experienced – or whether they are better off remaining silent for fear of possible lawsuits. An expert told the New York Times that Heard’s defeat could have a “deterrent effect” on future abuse victims.

Because the US magazine “Mother Jones” described this as a new trend: more and more accused men are taking legal action against women who accuse them of violence, like Depp. Perhaps the most prominent example is the singer Marilyn Manson, who is suing his ex-wife Evan Rachel Wood. She is just one of several women who have accused him of sexual violence. But even in non-celebrity cases, the number of defamation lawsuits increases when victims dare to talk about it publicly, according to the magazine’s research. That means: whoever has the money wins. When in doubt for the rich man. And that in turn is not a new trend, but a thousand-year-old rule, the validity of which was once again impressively proven with the judgment in Virginia.