DEPP V HEARD. Who is telling the truth? A review of Netflix’s documentary about the infamous trial

Millions followed this trial. Some considered it the trial of the decade.

Martyna Janasik

20 August 2023

DEPP V HEARD. Who is telling the truth? A review of Netflix's documentary about the infamous trial

Millions followed this trial. Some considered it the trial of the decade. For a moment, the media wrote about it exclusively. On August 16th, a three-episode documentary about the 2022 court case of Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard landed on the Netflix platform. Did Netflix uncover who is the true victim and who is the perpetrator in this famous scandal?

What does all of this make sense for?

Depp V Heard. I’ve been thinking for a while about what to write here. Should I summarize the documentary’s plot? Reveal the juicy details it uncovers? Take sides? Tear them both apart? All of this seems pointless because the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard case lasted so long and was continuously covered live that it would be difficult to surprise you with anything here. Moreover, even in the few moments when the documentary does reveal something we might not have known, it turns out that the information has a hidden agenda, which allows it to be undermined.

Take the segment where Heard accuses Depp of hitting her in the back during a plane flight. Did it really happen? He claims it didn’t, but towards the end of the documentary, we learn about text messages between Depp’s assistant and Heard that suggest the incident did occur. The problem is, shortly after, the production informs us that Depp’s assistant denied the existence of those messages, and court documentation reveals that those are the only files that Heard provided in a different format than the rest of her submitted evidence for some reason. Furthermore, even though the documentary was promoted as the first production to reveal testimonies from both sides, even those not allowed in court, we don’t get much from it. Just snippets of trial fragments and memes. So what to write about such a documentary?

Depp V Heard puts forth the thesis that the trial wasn’t about the truth at all but about public judgment. It emphasizes the role that social media played in this. However, that’s not where I’d focus. After all, it’s long been known how significant the internet and the platforms it offers are in shaping the contemporary world. What would be the point of making another documentary about that? If you’re looking for something more in Depp V Heard than sensation, it provides reasons to contemplate the moral state of modern society.

depp v heard amber heard johnny depp

Reflection of our times

I’ll venture to say that the documentary Depp V Heard doesn’t bring anything new to the discussion about the former couple’s trial. I’ll even ask you to dispel any illusions that the production will unveil a plethora of previously unknown details. However, I can’t help but feel that this series somewhat portrays the portrait of the contemporary world.

How many times have we been convinced that justice can be a very relative concept? How many times have we appealed for an end to violence and hate speech? How many times have we shown that we feel untouchable and unscrupulously smear someone if they’re not directly opposing us? Every time these aspects stirred up emotions and a temporary improvement ensued, they resurfaced and sold better in the media than before. This case is no different.

The Depp V Heard case has been ongoing since 2018. It has seen two drastically different verdicts. In the UK, Heard won, while in the United States, Depp emerged victorious. Every time, the media got equally involved, and people passed judgment, even though they were asking for an end to hate speech. So, I’m not surprised that anti-violence organizations express their frustration that Depp’s case against Heard has turned into a mockery, discouraging victims of violence from seeking help. Who are we to openly judge situations we weren’t witnesses to?

Johnny Depp Amber Heard

By saying that the Depp V Heard documentary is an image of our society, I mean the deepening lack of scruples in public judgment (shown in the documentary with YouTubers and memes commenting on the trial), all while maintaining an attitude of “I’m against hate speech,” and blurring the line between freedom of speech and plain arrogance. We’ve become experts at the “I know everything best” stance. Sometimes, this creates unnecessary hate, of which there was already more than enough between the estranged former spouses. Why add more to it?

To a large extent, I’ve written this text to encourage you to focus on doing good and watching more ambitious productions instead of wasting time on watching something that adds nothing new to the matter. I believe that some of us are already so fed up with the Depp vs. Heard drama that we’d rather read about something else, and such content will appear when we stop giving the media the response they’re seeking on topics surrounding Depp and Heard.

However, if you still want to dedicate three hours of your life to airing Depp’s and Heard’s dirty laundry, then log in to your Netflix account and watch the Depp V Heard documentary. Available on the platform since August 16th. Below, you can see the production’s trailer.

Martyna Janasik

Martyna Janasik

Cultural studies scholar and writer. Enthusiast of food, cinema, and sports. Probably that's why some of her favorite movies are "Rocky" and "Julie and Julia". She always wanted to write, so she will always write. In her free time, she loves watching movies and playing tennis.

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