If Johnny Depp was an ordinary bloke who spent his days getting lashed on cheap lager, doped up to the eyeballs on skunk and knocking seven bells out of the missus, everyone would think he was a lowlife scumbag.
And they’d be right.
Make it a man whose skill at pretending to be a pirate has made him a multi-millionaire heart-throb, though, and it’s a different kettle of very stinky fish.
This week the pound-shop version of Keith Richards lost his libel case against a British newspaper which accused him of beating his then-wife Amber Heard.
In the biggest celebrity libel trial of the 21st Century, the pair washed so much dirty laundry in public the only surprise is they weren’t sponsored by Persil.
Depp spent 20 hours in the witness box. During that time, an agog public learned how he took industrial quantities of drugs, drank wine like most of us sup tea and had a violent temper.
Fingers were severed, walls daubed in blood, rooms wrecked and beds pooed in. Meanwhile, Amber acquired a photo album full of cuts and bruises. Shiver me timbers, as Captain Jack Sparrow might slur.
For most celebs the golden rule is avoid going to court at all costs.
Depp could have issued a statement denying Amber’s accusations and we’d have forgotten about it. But while the Hollywood hell-raiser tag is guaranteed box office gold, being outed as a wife beater isn’t.
And Depp felt so strongly about this that he was determined to clear his name. Unfortunately, £5million later, all he’s left with is a trashed reputation.
Though the hell-raiser tag is just a name A-list male actors have always used to excuse being alcoholic, drug-taking womanisers.
The reality is a sad mess of addiction, abuse and narcissism. Depp’s legal team insist he will appeal and he is also due to face Amber in the US courts. Which will be interesting as both of them sound like nasty pieces of work, if we’re honest.
It doesn’t matter that Ms Heard is a bit of a madam, though – no man has the right to beat her up.
Depp’s lunatically loyal fans have been vile about her because, to them, Johnny could have shot her while she slept and she would still have deserved it in some way.
Johnny Depp loses trial as High Court rules 'he is a wife-beater' over Amber Heard claims
And this is what stops so many domestic violence victims coming forwards. Unless you are the stereotypical, sympathy-garnering “battered wife” – pure of character, thought and behaviour – it’s your reputation and actions that are scrutinised. Especially if the man in question is rich and/or powerful.
If Amber had a quid for every time she’d been called a “gold-digging whore”, she’d be richer than the man who abused her.
Meanwhile, in real-life UK, two women every week are murdered by their partner or ex.
So if the publicity surrounding these luvvies gives just one victim of abuse in the home (female or male) the courage to come forward, some good will have come out of it.
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