Johnny Depp, famed veteran of the movie business, is no stranger to controversy — and now his ex-wife Amber Heard isn’t either.
The two met in 2009, when Depp was still with French singer Vanessa Paradis with whom he shares two children. Heard and Depp married in 2015, but had separated by 2016, with Heard filing a restraining order and alleging she had suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of Depp.
However, allies of Depp (including friends, colleagues, previous partners, and even his ex-wife) claimed that it was Heard who was the abuser in the relationship. This was substantiated by recently released audio recordings from 2015, where Heard admits to physically abusing Depp. The recordings were released not long after a $50 million defamation case Depp filed against his ex-wife, alleging that her false allegations cost him work in Hollywood, most notably his role as Jack Sparrow in Disney’s viable Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Apparently, Heard’s accusations were the tipping point for Depp’s already eccentric reputation and controversial career.
In comparison, it would appear Heard hasn’t suffered at all. Despite her confessions, she’s secured a role in the Aquaman sequel and maintains her spot as a spokesperson for global cosmetic brand L’Oreal Paris, revealing that even in 2020, the double standard for domestic abuse is alive and well.
Released Audio Recordings Expose Amber Heard as an Abuser
The crux of Depp’s evidence against his former spouse lies in the audio recordings from 2015, when the pair were married but already deep in turmoil. The recordings were released exclusively by Daily Mail in January of this year — and it’s a disturbing portrait of a glamorous couple who otherwise appear to have it all.
The recordings are proof enough that they don’t, but what’s even more egregious and haunting is Heard herself as she interacts with her husband. She has the upper hand and the advantage in the situation, and she clearly knows it. In one instance, Depp pleads with her — at one point saying, “I’m scared to death we are a f*cking crime scene right now” — and she taunts him callously, responding, “grow the f*ck up, Johnny.”
Heard told her husband to “see how many people believe you."
On a separate recording, she says “see how many people believe you” when Depp says he will come forward as a domestic violence victim. She downplays her own actions of physical assault repeatedly and emphasizes how a court would believe “a 115-pound woman” over him.
While this appears to be both an intimate and highly charged moment between two people who are clearly not healthy for one another, Heard’s actions after the fact are where the real hypocrisy comes into play. Depp originally filed the defamation suit against her as a response to an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post. Though Depp is never mentioned by name, it’s clear who she’s referring to when she writes, “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
L’Oreal Stands with Heard
By all accounts, the quote-unquote wrath Heard has suffered since her editorial was published has been relatively tame. In fact, one might say she’s more admired now than ever.
On May 24, L’Oreal included Heard among other actresses as part of their #WomenMakeCinema campaign in observance of the Cannes Film Festival. The cosmetic brand’s two posts including Heard were not merely limited to her makeup on the red carpet at previous festivals, but also included captions that read like fan mail. It even quotes Heard herself: “‘I would love to see women held to different standards, other than the superficial ones we are held to.’” As an admitted abuser, the irony of being held to a different standard than men was not lost on many, and a #boycottloreal tag was soon popping up all over social media.
While Depp has lost roles in the industry and support from many, Heard continues to triumph, even with public knowledge of the recordings. Multimillion-dollar brands like L’Oreal continue to empower that double standard, which Heard evidently recognizes and has no problem benefiting from.
Toxic Femininity Is Real
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that while 1 in 25 men have been injured as a result of violence from an intimate partner, 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of violence. Heard’s admission of guilt, and what’s more, the fact that she basks in it due to her female privilege, is something that should disturb every woman. Not only does it make Heard a liar, a hypocrite, and a victim blamer, but it also minimizes the pain and trauma male victims everywhere feel and the shame that often prevents them from coming forward.
Heard basically claims her strength as a woman lies in her ability to hit her husband and get away with it.
Heard is using #BelieveAllWomen as a cover for her abusive behavior.
It’s possible that at one time Heard was a victim, as she said in her op-ed. But her arrogance and almost sociopathic narcissism evident in the hours of recorded audio between her and her then-husband Depp make it hard to accept any of those claims. As an observer, it looks more like she’s enjoying the cushy view she has from her status as a #BelieveAllWomen icon, not that of a battered spouse. If Heard is as desperate for true equality in society as she claims to be, she should be facing as much backlash as Depp has, both personally and professionally.
The recordings are online for anyone to hear, and far be it from a brand like L’Oreal to claim ignorance. Heard benefits because of her gender, and because of a culture that is too unwilling, or too afraid, to acknowledge that women are as capable of manipulation and violence as men are. Heard is still an admitted abuser, but you wouldn’t know it from a quick glance at L’Oreal’s Instagram (which has 8.7 million followers).
When we look to media and ask whom we should admire, the response is overwhelming. We’re given examples and archetypes of who to emulate, who to look and act like. Heard basically claims her strength as a woman lies in her ability to hit her husband and get away with it. The rest of us are being encouraged to follow suit.
In an age where we’re told to learn, grow, and educate ourselves, that standard applies to the role models our favorite brands are holding up for us as well. L’Oreal is standing by their sponsorship of someone who proudly scorns basic human decency and is telling their customers to do the same.
For that reason alone, maybe it’s time to buy from a different brand the next time we look for mascara and lipstick. Remember that no amount of makeup, brand deals, or sponsorships can cover up the legacy of a truly toxic person.