To be clear, no one really knows what happened between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, though he’s currently suing her for $50 million for defamation. Johnny says Amber accused him of domestic violence when she, in fact, was the abuser; at worse, his legal team claims, it was “mutual abuse” between the two. Back when the couple initially fell out, the media and social media took Amber Heard’s side. Now, we’re questioning cancel culture and asking what a “victim” really looks like.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a 2016 book by blogger Mark Manson. Part of Mark’s argument in said book is, some people like playing the victim and social media fuels this. His point is not to blame the victim. His point is, we give too much credence to those only playing the victim, as some would argue in Amber Heard’s case.
There are controversial social media sensations like Kevin Samuels who contend women abuse men but society doesn’t take it seriously. In a tape played by Johnny Depp’s defense team in court, Amber seems to argue the same thing. In the audio, she says, “Tell the world Johnny, tell them Johnny Depp… I, Johnny Depp, a man… I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence. Let’s see who believes you. Let’s see who believes a white man, a white man of privilege can be a victim over a woman? Go on.”
What Amber says is inflammatory but true. Johnny is in a bad situation because of his gender and fame. As a white female, Amber could do just about anything to him and without hardcore proof, Johnny would be dragged and made to seem like the bad guy. Indeed, it is was happened, some argue. So, what does this say about cancel culture?
Cancel culture’s purpose is to challenge controversial figures who would otherwise go unchallenged. It is supposed to be a system of checks and balances to ensure we the people don’t empower people intending to tear us apart. In that way, it is an honorable idea. In practice, it is like a blunt object wielded by a toddler who likes to throw temper tantrums.
Again, Johnny and Amber are pointing fingers at each other, so it is hard to decide who’s telling the truth. However, the aforementioned audio may convince some that Johnny isn’t the bad guy in this case. But what if Johnny Depp really isn’t the bad guy?
With the way the media sometimes jumps on claims without verifying them and how rumors spread like wildfire on social media, an innocent man being attacked is natural collateral damage. The accused will remain guilty, and, even if he’s found not guilty in court, he will remain guilty in the public eye.
Therefore, cancel culture as whole must be checked. Social media platforms must remain objective and moderate posts with false news so that the image of good people isn’t ruined. This is an age of information and an era of victims. Everyone shares everything, and some overshare for attention. Some love the support that comes with being a victim. We must check cancel culture or watch our world become a cesspool absent self-accountability.
Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.