Kristen and Layne share a good scream about the disturbing public spectacle of the Depp v Heard case, how Amber Heard’s unlikeability has been used against her, and the bullshit myth of mutual abuse.

Episode Transcript

KRISTEN: Welcome to Unlikeable Female Characters, the podcast about women who don’t give a damn if you like them. I’m Kristen Lepionka, and I’m here with Layne Fargo.

LAYNE: Hello!

KRISTEN: And today’s a very special episode, where we’re here to just be mad.

LAYNE: We’re here to be mad. I mean, we’re mad all the time, but we’re just going to rant today. We have some things to get off our chest. We’re actually recording this, and another episode that will air later, on my birthday—the day after my last fuckable day, because it is my 38th birthday.

KRISTEN: Welcome to the club.

LAYNE: Yes, I’m so happy to be a member of the Unfuckable Club and just, like, move as a ghost through the world of men, so hideous that they cannot lay their eyes upon me. Thrilled.

But when we were scheduling this rant episode, I said it was my birthday, and you were like, oh, do you want to record on your birthday? And I was like, I would love nothing more than to just scream about things that make me mad on my birthday. It’s a gift to me and a gift to you and a gift to everyone.

KRISTEN: Yes, it’s a gift to the universe, really.

LAYNE: Really. So today, we’re going there, and we’re going to talk about the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp clusterfuck, court case, the whole fucking thing. And I will just say, if you’ve listened to a single minute of this podcast ever in your life, you’re going to probably guess we are not Team Johnny around these parts.

KRISTEN: No, we are not.

LAYNE: We are not. Where to even begin with this fucking mess. I don’t know.

KRISTEN: No, I don’t know. Perhaps we should begin with the very briefest summary of the situation, which is that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were married, for not very long. They divorced. They had a terrible marriage, clearly.

LAYNE: Yes. Clearly very bad.

KRISTEN: He was very abusive to her. And then a series of strange lawsuits started. So first I think he sued a tabloid in the UK for the coverage of their relationship.

LAYNE: Yeah. They called him a “wife beater” and this was after—so Amber wrote this op-ed, where she identified herself as a victim of domestic violence. Did not mention his name, but that was her most prominent relationship, and everyone assumed it was him. And he clearly assumed she was talking about him. Which is extremely telling, I would say. If you read your ex’s op-ed about domestic violence where they don’t name names, and you’re like, how dare you attack me like this? Telling on yourself a little bit, just saying.

So much screaming. And I will also say, we’re recording this—so it’s May 23rd, the trial, the current trial, is still ongoing. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what new evidence may come out. So we’re just talking about this based on what we know now, and while both of us have tried to do research on this, there’s a ton of misinformation out about this case, so it’s very difficult to know what is real and what is not.

KRISTEN: Yes. So it seems that following that UK lawsuit, Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard again over the op-ed for $50 million, and she has countersued him for $100 million dollars, which is what we are currently arguing in court. And it’s taking place in Virginia because this was published in the Washington Post, and their servers exist in Virginia.

LAYNE: And apparently Virginia has more lax laws around this kind of thing that Johnny Depp thinks will help him win, and also they televise the proceedings, which has been a shit show. Should not be happening.

KRISTEN: Absolute shit show.

LAYNE: So… God, I just don’t even—I’m so angry about all of this. So basically, Amber Heard is being forced to go through this over and over again. At first, when this op-ed came out way back in the day—because this has been going on for years at this point—there were still a lot of people who were like, she’s a lying bitch, as there always are with these cases, but more people supported her.

And then there was this audio released a year or two ago that was from one of their therapy sessions or something? And she, in the audio, she admits to hitting him. Which like, okay, look, if he’s being abusive to her and she hit him back? Fair play, that’s how the cycle of abuse goes. And I guess this audio like, no one’s heard the full version, it was very edited.

But after that, all of a sudden it was like, oh, Johnny Depp, he’s the victim. He’s like a poor innocent lamb, and this vicious woman attacked him. And he’s done nothing wrong ever in his life. Poor Johnny Depp, she’s a liar. And it was like, everyone completely turned on her.

And, I don’t know, people love an excuse to pile on and be misogynistic, including women. Cause it’s a lot of women who are piling on right now.

KRISTEN: It’s true. I read a chilling stat today, which said that on TikTok—which is not real life, but you know, it’s something—the hashtag #IStandWithAmberHeard has about 8.2 million views while #JusticeforJohnnyDepp has earned about 15 billion.

LAYNE: Speaking of TikTok, this whole trial, because it’s been televised has been like meme-ified, where people—including famous people who should know better, like Lance Bass from *NSync—are, like, reenacting Amber’s testimony in like a mocking kind of way, and like turning it into a meme. Which even if you think that she is lying—which I definitely do not—but even if you think that, like, that’s so harmful and trivializing very serious issues. And very harmful to people who have survived domestic violence. What is going on in your mind that you think it’s appropriate to, like, meme-ify and do like a fun little TikTok about a domestic violence trial??

KRISTEN: Like, everyone has lost their minds around this.

LAYNE: I don’t understand it. It’s so confusing to me, but there’s almost like propaganda out everywhere. And VICE put out a story that they investigated and found there were conservative outlets paying to promote anti-Amber Heard, pro-Johnny Depp stuff. Cause it’s like a men’s rights thing.

And there are these rumors that Johnny himself has hired some sort of firm to like, have all these bots defending him. I don’t know if that’s true or not, wouldn’t put it past him. But this is beyond anything I’ve ever seen before in terms of, like, celebrity drama and public interest. And I guess it’s like a fucking rock concert outside the courthouse every day, like all his fan girls, there to support him.

KRISTEN: Right. Like what is happening?

LAYNE: I don’t know. It’s like everyone has gone insane. It’s very “burn the witch” energy. And in fact, there were texts that have been read into the public record of Johnny and his friend, Paul Bettany—who, I’m very disappointed in you, Paul Bettany!

KRISTEN: Yes, me too. Oh my God.

LAYNE: Where Johnny is like, Amber’s a witch and we should burn her, and Paul Bettany’s like, ha ha, that’s hilarious, yeah, we should burn her. I’m like, come on, man.

KRISTEN: Yeah. He’s like, I wish her dead body was in a trunk. Ha ha ha.

LAYNE: This poor innocent man. Never done anything wrong in his life.

Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about the fact that this is not a criminal trial. This is a defamation trial, so it’s about reputation. So Johnny Depp is trying to argue that she did irreparable harm to his reputation by, not even identifying him as her abuser, just saying that she was abused, and he saw himself in that?

Whatever. She’s clearly not the perfect victim. People are digging up a lot of stuff about her. And maybe she’s not a nice lady, like I don’t fucking care. But if we’re talking about “not the perfect victim” and, like, people’s reputations, let’s talk about Johnny Depp’s reputation.

KRISTEN: Right.

LAYNE: Cause his thing for his whole career has been that he’s like this bad boy, and he owned the Viper Room, and he and Kate Moss like were together in the nineties and trashed hotel rooms, and he’s this volatile bad boy. And a woman who had that reputation, who had been followed for decades and documented doing all of these things, wouldn’t stand a fucking chance.

KRISTEN: No! No, the disparity between what a bad boy and a bad girl could get away with, very different.

LAYNE: Very different. But somehow they’re willing to overlook all that and paint him as this innocent victim. And she’s done such damage to his sterling, pristine reputation that he had cultivated for all these years. I just don’t understand that.

And she already won her case in the UK. She had to prove all these things,  like that he had abused her, and she proved 12 out of 14 counts, according to that case. Like there is evidence, there are pictures. I don’t know. People are doing these things on social media where they’re like, here’s a picture of her from this date. And I don’t even know if the dates are right, cause there’s all this bullshit going around about this. But here’s a picture of her from this date where she’s like crying and has bruises on her face. But the next day, she’s with her friends and she’s smiling. So she couldn’t have been that upset.

And it’s like, okay, so she just has to cry and bleed all day long, all week long, for the rest of her life for you to believe. Like she can’t have a smile one moment.

KRISTEN: This is the inevitable conclusion of our fucked up shitty culture of everything being catalogued and documented. And so now people think, oh, this is evidence because you can look and see, here she’s smiling. That means everything she said is a lie. It’s wild.

LAYNE: Yeah, especially because women are socialized to, like, pretend things are fine, and to smile, when we want to murder people or we want to cry. We’re socialized to smile in all sorts of situations where we’re not feeling happy, and then it’s turned against us.

Oh my God. So much screaming. There’s also been a lot of talk about how, like, she’s clearly acting on the stand. They’re both actors. Like he’s Academy Award-nominated, right? Like he could be acting too. What the fuck?

KRISTEN: Yeah. They’re both actors. They’re both performers. It’s ridiculous to be like, she’s acting and he is clearly speaking from the heart. Like what?

LAYNE: I know people of our generation, women of our generation especially, we grew up with Johnny Depp, and he was this, like, heartthrob. We saw him in all these movies. I was never that into him personally, so I don’t understand it completely, but the way he’s been portrayed in the media, this all fits with it pretty perfectly, I think. Which isn’t proof of anything, but it’s very strange how people are willing to write over his history. There are all these social media accounts just posting these pictures of him back in his prime, and like “we believe you, Johnny Depp!”

There’s also been all of these comparisons to Gone Girl, as part of the meme-ification of this. And since we love Gone Girl around here, we have to talk about this. So there’s been a lot of people comparing Amber to Amy, posting pictures of her and Amy side-by-side and being like, Amber Heard is a psychopath. In fact, that’s a hashtag that’s been trending on Twitter, like every time I’m on there. #AmberHeardisaPsychopath.

And she gave testimony about Johnny sexually assaulting her with a bottle, which obviously in Gone Girl, Amy does to herself. And I’ve seen a lot of people, like, angry at Gillian Flynn for putting the story out into the world about a woman who does lie about being raped. She lies about all sorts of things. And they’re like, now this has put this out in the world as an example of, sometimes women are just lying bitches. But that idea was already there. Like Gillian Flynn didn’t invent that. And it’s fiction.

KRISTEN: She just wrote a story that included a thing that exists in the world. That’s so insulting to her and everyone else. Ugh.

LAYNE: Yeah. And this is what we talk about all the time, the idea that she wrote that book and is like, giving the thumbs up to lying about being raped and assaulted. Like sure, okay. I’m sure that’s the message of Gone Girl.

Whew. Yeah. People need to separate reality from fiction, which is very difficult with this case apparently. Oh my God. Yeah. But it is like, if people want to latch onto that, it’s like this, ready-made—oh, she’s just like Amy.

KRISTEN: It’s so lazy and just easy, if you don’t want to use your brain to be like, oh, I get it. This is done. I don’t have to care about it anymore.

LAYNE: Yeah.

KRISTEN: I’m just scrolling through the various posts in the event on Twitter of this trial.

LAYNE: On, no.

KRISTEN: And it is just insane.

LAYNE: Get out, Kristen.

KRISTEN: There are so many posts from Fox News.

LAYNE: Oh, yeah.

KRISTEN: That are just like, Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard, Aquaman actress mocked online throughout trial. They’re all just, like, calling attention to that, and that’s it. And they’re including memes in their article.

LAYNE: Everyone has lost the fucking plot with this one. I just don’t know. Even if she is lying, this is not how this should be handled publicly. It’s completely inappropriate. Like even if she is a psychopath and is framing him or whatever, I don’t know. It’s such a complicated—like when people try to explain like, oh, she’s framing him for abuse to help her career. I’m like, this is not helping her career. She’s fucked. This is not good for anyone. And the idea that she set up this very elaborate—like, the theories that some people have, where the truth is usually the simpler option, which is he’s an abusive asshole.

And even if he never hit her, but it sounds like he did, but even if he never hit her, you can still be very abusive and threatening, and he had a lot of power in this relationship. Like he is an international movie star, super established, way older than her, like two decades or more? Way more money than her, way more success, everything. Like he had the power in every single way in this relationship. And the idea that she went to all of these lengths to set him up and, like, shat in his bed or what—oh my God.

KRISTEN: Oh, it’s unreal. And there’s so much that’s disputed. Like he claims she threw a bottle of vodka at his hand and seriously injured his finger. But doctors are like, no, that’s not consistent with this injury. Apparently, he was like, writing messages in blood from the wound. It sounds like the ugliest relationship imaginable. And that is regardless of whose fault it is, this is not the way that you handle something like that. You don’t litigate it on fucking TikTok.

LAYNE: No. And I think, the fact that he is dragging her to court again, after he lost before—this is abuse. Like he is making her continue to be humiliated publicly for this. And he’s continuing to control her life and her time. And I see the trial itself as abusive. I know she countersued, but what the fuck was she supposed to do?

KRISTEN: It’s bad. It’s just bad.

LAYNE: It’s so bad. Another thing I wanted to talk about, cause I want to own my own bullshit and complicity in this: for a while, when I was first hearing about all of this, like the audio of her saying that she hit him and all this stuff, I was kind of like, well, you know, it sounds like it was really toxic relationship and maybe they were mutually abusive. I definitely bought into that a little bit. I was like, he hit her, she hit him, it was mutual.

And since this trial has been going on, and I’ve been reading a lot of things from people who are experts in domestic abuse and violence and all that stuff—that’s not a thing. Like that’s not a thing, and I want to own that. Like I bought into that too. It’s an easy answer to be like, they’re both pieces of shit, they’re both at fault. But he had the power. And from all accounts, it sounds like she was just fighting back. And it was extremely toxic relationship, and they should not have been together, and no one’s arguing that. But the idea that it was mutually abusive, and they were equally at fault is bullshit. And I feel bad that I thought that for even a minute.

KRISTEN: Yeah, definitely a toxic relationship. They should never have been together, and maybe they are both pieces of shit, but he had the power. Therefore, you can’t look at this as anything other than abuse from him.

LAYNE: Yeah. And he’s just not this sweet, innocent victim. I don’t understand. If we can use all of the things that women have done—oh, she had sex once and liked it, or—to ruin their reputations and make them liable for all sorts of things. Which we shouldn’t do obviously, but that’s been going on forever. And now the idea that this guy, who has built an entire career on being this volatile bad boy, we’re culturally so ready to accept him as the innocent victim in all of this who’s never done anything wrong. Like I cannot get over that. It is wild.

KRISTEN: It is so wild. And like, his reputation has been harmed, while hers has not? Are you kidding? Her reputation is in absolute tatters. He is going to be fine.

LAYNE: He’s going to be fine. And his career was on the downswing because he picked a lot of shitty projects. There’s also a lot of coverage of the fact that he was very volatile on set and would show up drunk or not show up on time—which, again, if a woman did that, she would never work again.

The people were willing to put up with it, cause he was a movie star. And then we had J.K. Rowling standing up for him being in those shitty movies, the Fantastic Beasts or whatever, saying that she thought he was—and the director too, I forget the director’s name. Some man, I don’t know.

KRISTEN: Some man.

LAYNE: Some man. They were, like, standing up for him, and that just makes me question—we know J.K. Rowling’s a piece of shit, and whatever the director’s name is that I will not look up.

KRISTEN: That man is also a piece of shit, obviously.

LAYNE: Yeah, we’ll say that. But people are so ready to defend him and give him not just a second chance, but a twenty-second chance. And she’s done. I don’t see how she ever comes back from this. I’m scared for her safety, quite frankly. Like people are so angry. They just hate her with this vitriol. It really is like this witch burning, furious, sort of frenzied—it’s bizarre.

KRISTEN: It’s bizarre. There’s even—did you see the language learning app DuoLingo had a hot take tweet about this? Are you kidding? Now brands are getting in on this?

LAYNE: Milani, the makeup brand—there was some bullshit about, in court they showed this coverup palette that was one of theirs and said she used something like that to cover up her bruises. But it was reported as she said, she used that exact palette and carried it around with her. And then Milani gets on, I think TikTok, gets on TikTok, and they’re like this wasn’t released until whatever year, which was after she says this happened, so what’s the story, Amber? And it’s just like wow, okay, it was free for you to shut the fuck up. I guess you got a lot of publicity about this.

Yeah. Everyone has lost their goddamn minds over this. Like, when is the asteroid coming? We deserve it. I am just aghast.

KRISTEN: When is it coming? We deserve it. I welcome it at this point. Wow. It’s bad. Like, I cannot believe that there are people fangirling old, decrepit, abusive Johnny Depp in the streets outside of this trial. Have you seen pictures of him at the trial? He looks like the biggest sleazeball I have ever seen.

LAYNE: Yeah, I always think about—this was like, back in the Captain Jack era, I think? But my favorite gay fashion bloggers, Tom and Lorenzo, did posts about his style, where they referred to him as looking like an elderly gay wind chime. I think about that a lot.

KRISTEN: Yeah, accurate.

LAYNE: Not to make this all about his appearance, but my point is that he is not the heartthrob movie star that he once was. His reputation has been on the decline for years. He’s been making shitty movies. He’s been exhibiting volatile behavior. It sounds like he has serious substance abuse problems, but that doesn’t excuse anything.

KRISTEN: Yeah. He’s just a bad dude. And it’s so crazy that it’s not even like, oh, he’s a bad dude now, but he was a good dude for so long, so let’s cut him some slack. It seems like this should be so simple for people to understand and get behind. And yet.

LAYNE: Yeah, I don’t even know what else to say. I’m aghast. The asteroid needs to hit us. I’m not, and I don’t think anyone, is trying to argue that Amber Heard is this like innocent angel, but she shouldn’t have to be to win this case. Literally all she has to do is prove that he was abusive to her one time and then it’s not defamation. And I think it’s pretty clear that he was abusive to her many times. I mean, like, fucking however the tip of his finger got cut off, which we may never know, like writing these threatening messages in blood is abusive. That’s fucked up.

KRISTEN: Like even if she bit it off, like it’s still abusive to then write bloody messages of threats and whatever on the walls of your home.

LAYNE: And all those texts about how she’s a witch, and he wishes she was dead in the trunk of his car. Those are not things that—well, I should back up. I’m thinking about some of my texts with Wendy, which I would really not like to be read into a court record. Love you, Wendy. Your secrets are safe with me. But still.

KRISTEN: Yeah, you can’t send texts like that, and then also be a piece of shit who does these things.

LAYNE: Yeah. Cause then he’s like, oh, I was just blowing off steam or whatever. It’s like the fucking locker room talk thing.

KRISTEN: Right. It’s like you were blowing off steam via text until you could punch someone in person?

LAYNE: Yeah. I don’t know. Anyway, I hope she wins. I actually think she probably will. But I don’t know, the justice system is extremely fucked up. But even if she wins, her career’s over. I just don’t know how she would ever come back from this publicly. People are gonna hate her forever.

KRISTEN: Yeah. She’ll probably get to write a book. Do some interviews. She’ll never act again. Probably.

LAYNE: Probably. Cause women don’t get to have this apology tour and come back. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson still showing up to the Oscars.

KRISTEN: We just all collectively forgot about that through absolutely no effort or attempt to recover, no effort to rehabilitate his own image on his part. Everyone just forgot. And they’re like, great, Mel Gibson’s here.

LAYNE: Yeah. I don’t forget.

KRISTEN: No, never.

LAYNE: And he was another example of like, he was saying really horrible things that, even if he didn’t act on them, the things he was saying were abusive. There’s a lot of different kinds of abuse, but it’s always about that power imbalance.

KRISTEN: Yes.

LAYNE: It’s a specific thing. I think, especially now, people love to throw around the term abuse, like it means someone made me uncomfortable, or—but it is a very specific thing, that is based on unequal power structure, and has very specific patterns that people have studied and documented. And I am going to try and learn from this and not use it so casually in the future.

That’s a good lesson for all of us. Don’t use the word abuse casually, and don’t make memes about domestic violence trials.

KRISTEN: No. Don’t ever do that. Just don’t do it

LAYNE: Yes. Simple rules for living from your friends here at Unlikeable Female Characters.

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