7:44 p.m., June 4, 2022, modified to 9:26 p.m., June 4, 2022
Amber Heard has already announced it, she will appeal. Nevertheless, the nails continue to be planted on his professional coffin. “Although Amber Heard is still under contract with L’Oréal Paris, the brand has already stopped using her image in advertising campaigns”, indicated Friday evening the group to the JDD. Even before the verdict of the court in Fairfax (Virginia) which sentenced the actress to pay 15 million dollars in damages for defamation to Johnny Depp, L’Oréal had therefore discreetly distanced itself from its muse. Amber Heard’s last public appearance under her banner? On October 3, 2021, during a fashion show in Paris broadcast in 30 countries. At the exit, the 36-year-old Texan blonde is booed by fans of Depp, this ex-husband 22 years her senior whom she accused of domestic violence in a tribune at the washington post in 2018, surfing the MeToo wave.
Amber Heard does not name it, but everyone understood. Johnny Depp’s already faltering career takes a final blow. The actor loses contract after contract, including the one with Disney. Farewell Jack Sparrow, flamboyant hero of Pirates of the Caribbeanmuch to the chagrin of many fans.
While many turned their backs on him, Dior did not let go of Depp
After the collapse, redemption? This hope is allowed to him since Wednesday and the verdict of Fairfax. The actress will have to pay him in reality much less than 15 million (about 10, part of the sum being capped by the State of Virginia) but the symbol is there. “You gave me my life back” thank the actor. After six weeks of an extraordinary trial, who remembers that we hardly know him anymore except for his legal disputes (with ex-managers), his addictions (drugs, alcohol) and his whims (delays on filming )? That, in this crossing of the desert, only the Dior house had maintained its contract with him? Photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Johnny Depp remains on walls around the world as the face of the Sauvage perfume. The smell of sulfur that accompanies the actor did not prevent the fragrance from rising to the top of world sales, a first for a male fragrance.
Never complain, never explain. Like a snub to the great unpacking, the Dior house (LVMH) refuses to comment on the court decision, which also condemns Johnny Depp to pay 2 million dollars to his ex-wife. Like a mirror, he too was accused of defamation, more precisely one of his ex-lawyers, who had called ” prank “ the actress’ domestic violence charges. “The watchword is we don’t give up when things are going badly but we don’t brag when things are going well, explains a consultant in the luxury sector. We do not descend into the arena. A brand as prescriptive as Dior cannot yield to the injunctions of the people’s courts. To act under the pressure of the moment is to no longer be able to register for the long term. »
Online, a parallel trial
A long time which, elsewhere, seems to have disappeared. Even before being sentenced, Amber Heard had been pilloried by public opinion. A figure testifies to this planetary madness: between April 4 and May 16, on TikTok, 19 billion interactions were recorded for the hashtag justiceforjohnnydepp, according to the Irish company NewsWhip, specializing in monitoring data on social networks. Much more than the war in Ukraine or the abortion debate in the United States.
This trial embodies the victory of social networks over traditional journalism
In judicial memory, we have never seen this: “Another trial in parallel was played out with the public, analysis Stéphanie Lukasik, teacher-researcher at the University of Lorraine, doctor in information and communication sciences*. Users have seized on this information from the media to create their own information in the various forms of videos, photos, memes, with the aim of defending or accusing their stars. » The researcher goes further: “This trial embodies the victory of social networks over traditional journalism. »
The era of TikTok lawsuits?
Did Amber Heard’s digital lynching influence the verdict? The question arises all the more so since, in an American civil trial such as this, the jurors are not isolated as at the assizes. Of course, the Fairfax judge advised them not to consult social networks. But their mobile phones were not confiscated and they went home to their families every evening.
Some Internet users were accumulating evidence against Amber Heard as if they had a role to play in court. And it worked
Many are convinced that the lawsuit actually played out on TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and others. “Some netizens were accumulating evidence against Amber Heard as if they had a role to play in court, observes Stephanie Lukasik. And it worked. On Court TV, the American channel retransmitting the trial, it was noticeable that even the public at the hearing consulted the networks inside the court itself. »
Welcome to the era of TikTok lawsuits? Accustomed to ultra-media hearings (she notably defended Bernard Tapie, Sheila and David Hallyday), lawyer Carine Piccio admits to being fascinated by those of Fairfax. “Live broadcast [une pratique interdite en France, accordée par la juge à la demande de l’équipe de Johnny Depp], this trial has taken a step forward by removing the journalistic filter, said the lawyer. If it had been passed through the prism of the media, I think the outcome would have been very different. More than 310 million people have judged them after watching them wash their dirty laundry in public the way we watch The Fires of Love. »
Every detail has been thought out for the television broadcast
Reality better than fiction. The turning point of the trial? The intervention of a lawyer for the actor, Camilla Vasquez. This puts Amber Heard up against the wall about the 7 million dollars that the actor paid her during their divorce, in August 2016. The actress finally admits not having given them to charities like her. was engaged in it. “It was imperative that it was a woman who defended Johnny Depp, deciphers Carine Piccio. They found the pearl, bright, young, pretty, giving an image of calm and responsibility. But it is above all marketing. »
Never look her in the eye, what a stroke of genius!
For the lawyer, every detail has been thought out for the television broadcast: “Never look her in the eye, what a stroke of genius! The Depp team also advised his client not to cut his hair but to tie it up, and then to keep his usual costumes, a little crazy, so as not to appear too groomed at the bar. »
The victory is all the more unexpected for the actor as he lost a first trial in London, in 2020, against the tabloid The Sun who introduced him as a “violent husband” (wife beater). Already, the two terrible children of Hollywood – and their teams of lawyers – had scrapped, for three weeks, around the accusations of domestic violence. Called as a witness, Amber Heard had listed 14 episodes of physical and sexual violence, 12 of which had been recognized by the judgment, favorable to the tabloid. “For me, the fundamental difference is that this trial was not broadcast live like the Fairfax trial”judges lawyer Carine Piccio.
Since the verdict, Amber Heard has been an absent subscriber, taking refuge in her home in the Californian desert. Johnny Depp, he will soon find the film sets. This summer, the Hollywood-banned actor will shoot Jeanne du Barry, in which the actress and director Maïwenn turns him into an aging Louis XV succumbing to the poisonous charms of his last mistress. A cocotte that will end up beheaded in 1793.
* Author of “The Influence of Opinion Leaders” (L’Harmattan, October 2021).