Why The Johnny Depp Vs. Amber Heard Trial Dominated The Internet

Why The Johnny Depp Vs. Amber Heard Trial Dominated The Internet

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What's happening

Social media is flooded with videos from the domestic abuse and defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, whose marriage fell apart in 2016.

Why it matters

People on TikTok and YouTube have turned this case into one of the most popular topics on the internet.

What's next

While views and comments climb, critics say the internet pile-on may lead people to take abuse allegations less seriously.

Marc Musso has a habit of writing a silly song about whatever he's doing. Sometimes it's about feeding his cat Malmo, other times it's about playing board games.

So it's probably no surprise that as the 27-year-old Texan was watching a live feed of the defamation trial between the blockbuster actor Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, Depp's movie star ex-wife, he found himself writing a song.

Sung from the perspective of Heard's lawyers, Musso's song pokes fun at how often they raised objections to Depp's comments while on the stand.

"I used to be respected. People took me at my word," he starts singing with pop-music beats in the background. "Then I became a lawyer representing Amber Heard."

Indeed, the weeks-long drama that is the trial between two of Hollywood's biggest stars has somehow become one of the most popular topics on the internet. In between images of the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine, the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, the national abortion debate sparking protests around the US, and rising inflation, it's video snippets coming from the same static, dark wood-paneled courtroom that are going viral. 

The case began as a reaction to an opinion story Heard published in 2018 in The Washington Post amid the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, discrimination and assault. Her piece, which discussed domestic abuse she'd experienced, did not name Depp by name. Depp sued her in 2019, alleging Heard defamed him and that she had been the abuser. The next year, Heard countersued Depp.

Now they're in court, with a camera live feed streaming free to the internet from their proceedings in Fairfax County, Virginia, and millions of are tuning in. Some people are watching because it seems entertaining to them. Others are cheering on their preferred side. Before the trial's concluding week, Saturday Night Live lampooned the case as a spectacle being put on "for fun." In reaction, critics have said they're disgusted by how callously audiences are treating the case. 

All that doesn't seem to have stopped people sharing links, watching videos by the millions and tumbling further down the rabbit hole, remixing trial footage into their own brand of parody. 

That includes Musso, who didn't initially plan to post his 87-second tune to the internet, until his girlfriend convinced him to put it on YouTube. And then on TikTok. Less than two weeks later, his song has racked up more than 15 million views.

Musso thought the trial "was ridiculous, and most people seem to agree," he said. After all, to him it's just one rich person suing another rich person while airing out their drama to the public.

@thetruegadfly#johnnydepp#johnny#johnnydepptrial#amberheard#objectionhearsay♬ original sound - Gadfly