Johnny Depp recently attracted a great deal of negative press for a very dumb joke wherein he posited that perhaps it is time for an actor to once again assassinate a president. A quick breakdown of all the dumb surrounding this exact moment in this cultural avalanche we’re all currently existing within: 1) you shouldn’t talk about assassinating a president, ever, at all; 2) favorably comparing oneself to John Wilkes Booth with the implication that in this present scenario Wilkes Booth is the hero is a bad idea, generally; 3) people cared far more about this than the fact that he routinely abused his wife.
Now, of course, we as humans are capable of caring about more than one thing. You can be horrified by Depp’s statements, his abuse of Amber Heard, and what I am sure is a powerful stench that emanates from his scarf collection, all at once. But it is deeply irritating that a joke—however terrible—is more inducing of outrage than actual physical violence. And, yes, I chose the word irritating. Because it’s so common it’s impossible to be fully horrified by this, though it is obviously horrific. Just like it’s horrific that news outlets discussed Depp’s former manager corroborating Heard’s abuse allegations as though this was the confirmation that something had happened rather than Heard’s videos and statements.
Despite all of this, Depp will be fine. They always are.
As opposed to Kathy Griffin, who is now blacklisted from all major engagements, his employment news occupied the same news cycle as his “joke.” Just days later, it was announced that he’s working on a new series based on James Renner’s memoir True Crime Addict. His biggest legal woe is still that dumb Australia thing with his dogs. His latest Google News item is that he wore a leather jacket and the Daily Mail is INTO IT. In a few more cycles, his bad press will fade, only brought up by people with #MAGA in their Twitter bios, forgotten by everyone else. This will be forgotten. The abuse, on the other hand, never stuck at all.
Something cannot be forgotten when it never mattered to most people in the first place. When its average impact ranged from disbelief to “she asked for it.”
We exist in a time where Donald Trump is considered more of a victim than an abused wife. And because of that, Depp will be fine.
Because abuse and harassment allegations against powerful men are essentially minor dandruff. Easily brushed off and eliminated after a couple shampoo treatments. Maybe a couple flakes remain but only noticed by those of us who cared, who ache at the idea that we are the only ones who can see it, who remember. And maybe we don’t care as much about Depp these days, but what about Louis CK? Michael Fassbender? Why is it harder to believe when it’s powerful men we actually like? And even if more of us believed these women, would it matter? Or would they be fine too?
We already know the answer there. They’d be fine. They always are.