TikTok’s Amber Heard Hate Machine

Anyone else who appears in court is likened to an internet lock hero or a liar. Heard’s attorney, Ellen Charleson Bradyhoft, is referred to as “Karen” (once a term for a racist white woman, she has since been pinched as an all-purpose abusive slur) and the conspiracy is hatched as an undercover dap fan, while Vasquez’s Day As has been cast. Love interest, known as the internet sensation for her “intimate” interactions with her client. Apparently every woman involved tangentially in this case is surrounded by imaginary deep-lust. Dr. Shannon Curry, an expert witness called by Depp’s team, is celebrated for “exchanging glances” with Depp on the stand; Kareena’s husband, whom she once mentioned delivering muffins to her office, has also grown into an invaluable fan fictional character known as “The Muffin Man”. Depp supporters, meanwhile, have annoyed Heard’s two expert witnesses from the medical professional site WebMD, filling their profiles with one-star reviews.

The trial’s internet livestreaming has created its own virtual sport. Every day thousands of viewers flock to YouTube livestreams, hosted by the law and crime network, and write comments in racing sidebar chats. Some pay as much as 400 to highlight their comments and pin them to the top of the chat – the more you pay, the longer your commentary lords will be on the proceedings. During Wednesday’s stream, one participant paid to say that Heard had “a snake’s nest on his head”; Another promoted his YouTube novelty song about Heard’s legal team.

The immediacy of the livestream and its commentary give viewers the illusion that they can somehow influence the outcome of the case; Someone always asks for “forward to Camille” for internet artifacts, as if the attention of a single fan could break the case. This week, Depp’s team called a witness who surfaced after posting a tweet in response to coverage of the pro-Depe Twitter account of the trial.

Even if they can’t influence the trial, viewers can shape public opinion in real time. Once the fan gets enough momentum to gain a fantasy scene escape momentum, it escalates into mainstream tabloids, matured by reports from Depp’s courtroom flirtation and epic witness-stand-one-liners. At one time gossip reporters had to create celebrity story lines themselves, but now the stories have been taken straight out of social media and established as a Hollywood canon. Gossip sites are retrieving modest celebrity internet activity as heartbreaking Depp content: Jennifer Aniston follows Johnny Depp on Instagram as a “subtle sign of support,” and the magazine claims, and Depp follows Aniston as a “sweet gesture.”

But when Julia Fox supported Hurd on Instagram, she soon became the center of articles about how hypocritical and “completely stupid” she was. When a celebrity doesn’t provide such dubious content, it can be discovered: Recently, YouTuber’s edited and dubbed trial footage makes it seem as if Heard’s “Aquaman” co-star, Jason Momoa, appeared on a roaring stand in front of Depp. Were. Lawyer.

It’s tempting to ignore all of this – refusing to feed the machine with too much attention. But like Gamergate, who took on a vague gaming-community controversy and escalated it into an internet-wide feminist harassment campaign and broad right-wing movement, this nihilistic circus is a potentially radical phenomenon. When the trial ends this week, there will be an expanded grassroots campaign to smear a woman, now with a plug-in support base and a field-test harassment playbook. It just needs a new target.

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