Archive for May 28, 2022

The cost of lying

Posted in FILM on May 28, 2022 by dcairns

FIONA HERE: This is my second-hand copy of I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl. I bought it for the handsome second-hand price of £2, with fulsome praise by Johnny Depp on the front cover. Now go to Amazon, observe how any mention of Johnny Depp has been erased. I imagine that when he enjoyed this book in 2004, he never imagined in a million years that he’d be facing similar allegations to Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s. I’ve also just noticed that Johnny Depp’s original quote used on the front cover has been replaced, with supreme irony, by a quote from The Washington Post of all places — the very publication Amber Heard’s op-ed appeared in.

Addendum – News! On The March! I’ve gone back to Amazon and now there’s nothing’ nada, on the cover apart from the title and the author’s name. Make of that what you will.

The quote from Johnny Depp on the inside goes like this – “Finally, the true skinny on Fatty. Jerry Stahl brilliantly gives life, voice, truth and respect to Roscoe Arbuckle, redeeming the unjustly tarnished memory of a wildly great talent and a great wild man.” Clearly, Mr Depp does romanticise addiction culture which is a sad state of affairs but does not make him a ‘wife-beater’ in my opinion. Closer inspection of the contents of the book reveals why he was quite so invested in it.

There are similarities between Arbuckle’s childhood and his own. Both were brought up in the midwest and had abusive backgrounds which they seemingly overcame by conquering Hollywood. But as Oscar Levant put it, “Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath.” The ‘phony’ conceals the ‘real’, and the ‘real’ is the same old shit we all have to put up with in life (sometimes at Christmas), whether you have wealth and fame or not. And that is why a large percentage of the world is enthralled by this trial.

DC: I don’t usually feel bad about being entertained by things, but I do feel some guilt about how enjoyable the Depp-Heard defamation trial was. Two people tearing each other apart. It shouldn’t be done in public, but at the same time it was important, obviously, from Depp’s point of view, that it was. If he could convince the world at large that he’s not a wifebeater and rapist, it doesn’t matter how much collateral damage his reputation undergoes, because ANYTHING is better than being thought a wifebeater and rapist.

I tried to believe both sides, and couldn’t quite do it. But I couldn’t do it more with Amber Heard’s side. Depp’s side produced a psychologist to say that Heard has histrionic personality disorder, which maybe she should just embrace, because her performance in the witness box is hard to account for otherwise. I tried to find a way I could believe she was telling the truth, but the best I could do was to imagine that her histrionic personality disorder was causing her to exaggerate real abuse to horrific heights. Because none of the photographs she produced showed more than light bruising, from what she described as repeated savage punching (while wearing heavy rings). But the problem is, if we can’t believe all of what she’s saying, it’s hard to be sure of any of it.

I think it was a mistake for her to say that no genuine victim of domestic abuse would alert the media to her appearance in court to get a restraining order, because it was pretty obvious that’s what she did.

FIONA: The reason my whole being has been consumed by this case is because I suffered psychological abuse at the hands of my mother, who was a covert narcissist. It’s been enormously triggering for me: I feel like I’ve aged a decade just watching it, but I can’t look away. And the reason for that, and the reason I imagine millions of other people (many of them abuse survivors no doubt) can’t look away, is the feeling that in this case the victim might get justice. But at the very least, the story is out there, and WE can see the mechanics of the abuser at work. We recognise them. It doesn’t matter that it’s a man being abused. #ME TOO should include everyone.

DC: I’m not an expert in detecting dishonesty, but Heard often seemed to be making up her testimony as she went along. I could be entirely wrong there, that’s just the impression I got. But she would say provably false things, like that the producers of LONDON FIELDS added nudity to the film without her permission, using a body double. Which I would think she could sue over, if it were the case. Sadly, nowadays every nude scene anyone’s ever done is online, including Heard’s. Maybe the producers also deepfaked their body double to add Heard’s face to a stranger’s naked body, but that’s not what she’s alleging, and it all sounds a bit farfetched.

My mind is blown by the way Heard gets all emotional when testifying, then calm under cross-examination, and much, much calmer in her recorded deposition from the UK trial. That makes no sense, but I guess anything’s possible.

It’s all about the tape recordings: we can assume Heard just doesn’t come off well, has a tendency to dramatise that hurts her credibility. But the recordings speak for themselves, despite her attempts to tell us they don’t say what they do say — a classic gaslighting technique.

FIONA: My take on Amber Heard is that she appears to be a profoundly damaged human being who, unfortunately, drags everyone down with her. The audio clip we heard of her screaming “Please stop, you’re killing me!” when Depp is trying to LEAVE THE ROOM shows her absolute terror of abandonment. She’s a terrified child. Narcissists don’t really develop emotionally beyond childhood, and she’s an enormously destructive child, full of rage.

And that’s not her fault. We can feel sorry for the abused child she was, but we can’t condone her behaviour as an adult. I’m actually concerned that she might harm herself if she loses this case. So aggressively going after her, as too many on social media do, is monstrous. It’s not a joke. These are real people’s lives.

DC: Depp is, to put it mildly, no angel. But he has a known history of avoiding physical conflict, whereas Heard has a history of instigating it — as she admits on tape. They were a toxic combination, with his drink and drug habits certainly not helping. And his commendable desire to de-escalate conflict by walking away turned out to be the worst possible strategy for dealing with his wife. She’s on tape basically saying she would prefer them to be hitting each other. There’s no right thing to do in this scenario: the only right thing to do is to never get into it.

FIONA: Right from the start, Heard’s legal team’s methods were underhand and cruel. On the Friday of the first week they played an audio tape of Depp allegedly moaning like an animal. He was in tears on the stand, and then the court adjourned for the weekend.

Here’s my tweet detailing the events.

“#JohnnyDepp #AmberHeard My god. What a low blow from Heard’s defence team to end the day like that. They do realise they’ve only generated more sympathy for him don’t they? And there’s STILL no evidence he ever physically assaulted her.”

This tweet was liked by 14.4K people and retweeted 1,578 times.

I ended up discussing the case with my psychiatrist as we reviewed my ADHD meds. We both agreed that there was a weird disconnect between the mainstream media — tending to be either studiedly neutral or carefully favouring Heard — and the reactions of online regular humans who are seeing the same live feed. He said he’d had men in his office crying because they’d had their own Amber Heards to deal with.

DC: I suppose both sides’ lawyers were obligated to treat their opponents as abusers. If Heard were innocent, the way she was treated in court would be monstrous. But in cross-examination, Depp’s team couldn’t admit that possibility. Same for Heard’s team, though I do wonder how they can have faith in their client.

It feels like the tide of opinion is turning. I have no idea if the jury will favour Depp. I’m not so much bothered with whether he gets a lot of money. But I can almost see myself hoping for a Roscoe Arbuckle style verdict, with hopefully a somewhat better career arc afterwards.

Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done to him … there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. He was manly throughout the case and told a straightforward story which we all believe. We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the judgment of fourteen men and women that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.

Comments are welcome, disagreement is fine, but let’s keep it civil. I know this is highly emotive stuff.