meIf you’ve been anywhere on the internet these past six weeks, it’s been impossible to ignore the Virginia-based company. depp against ear defamation trial. It’s been heavily publicized and criticized by journalists, comedians, and just about anyone who thinks they’re an expert on Twitter.
But last week, just days after the trial jury retired for deliberation, Johnny Depp – accused of sexual, physical and emotional abuse abuse by amber heard, which he denies, got on a jet and went to the most unlikely place: Sheffield. Here, he performed on stage with his “musical soulmate” Jeff Beck.
The following night, Depp flew to London to perform with Beck once more. “I will die happy,” said one fan, as Depp received a standing ovation. Depp performed for the third time at the same venue the following night. “We kept it quiet for obvious reasons,” Beck told the crowd at the iconic Royal Albert Hall, before the pair performed “Isolation” by the late John Lennon.
To me, this is indicative of accused abusers avoiding lifelong consequences for serious accusations of sexual violence and emotional torment. Depp claims that his ex-wife Heard has defamed his character by writing an opinion piece in washington post alluding to domestic violence, but it seems like her character is possibly more intact than ever, from the looks of her public appearances.
Inviting Depp on stage to perform in another country, with hordes of surprised fans cheering him on and media outlets broadcasting him to the nation, makes a mockery of allegations of domestic and sexual violence, in my opinion. Even if the jury finds in favor of Depp, I think his appearance on stage, not once, but three times, glorifies and exalts allegations of sexual violence and emotional abuse.
Thankfully, reactions to Depp’s appearance were mixed, with one male fan telling press he felt “cheated.” It begs the question of why Beck assumed his legions of admirers would simply accept “the obvious” and ignore the serious accusations against his stage partner.
It is a classic example of abusers, both accused and acquitted, avoiding the same lifelong consequences suffered by survivors of sexual abuse and violence. Such claims are apparently mere setbacks for the accused; written in erasable footnotes in their life stories, leaving the alleged victims to endure the trauma of the justice system and the life sentence of enduring such abuse
In the UK, only one in 100 rape cases were reported to the police in 2021, with charges and conviction rates falling to the lowest level since records began. In fact, 40 percent of survivors said they didn’t report their trauma because of “shame,” and 34 percent said they thought it would be humiliating. What will seeing an accused abuser on stage at that rate do next year?
Sadly, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. He looks eerily similar to Chris Brown recently announced as headliner for the upcoming Wireless music festival. Brown’s performance will be his first in the UK since he was found guilty of assaulting his former partner Rihanna, a charge that reportedly banned him from entering the country. Since then, Brown has appeared in his own documentary about him, explaining the abuse, and has an album out in June. His career, like Depp’s, appears to be intact.
Many accused abusers still enjoy star-studded careers; for example, Dustin Hoffman, currently with two movies in the works, was accused of sexual assault by six women in 2017 (two of whom were under 18). Hoffman has since apologized for an allegation by a 17-year-old, saying it “doesn’t reflect” who he is. He said: “I have the utmost respect for women and I feel terrible that anything I did could have put her in an awkward situation.”
Louis CK has announced his first UK tour dates since admitting and apologizing for several sexual misconduct cases from 2017. “These stories are true,” he announced, stating that he was “sorry”. And he added: “The power that I had over these women is that they admired me. And I exercised that power irresponsibly.” CK continued to perform stand-up and even won a Grammy last month.
In January 2018, Aziz Ansari was accused of pressuring a woman to have sex after a date, leaving the survivor distraught and in tears after the encounter. The comedian has spoken about the sexual misconduct claim against him in several Netflix specials since the indictment, but has not publicly apologized. He said he was “surprised and concerned” that his date had felt “uncomfortable.”
Morgan Freeman has been accused by eight different women of inappropriate behavior and harassment, although he still has four movies to release this year. Freeman has since apologized to “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected,” adding, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uncomfortable.”
James Franco has seen five women accuse him of sexually exploitative behavior since 2018, and he is expected to make a comeback on film. Mallet, which will be released later this year. This is after he paid $2.2m (£1.7m) in 2021 to settle a lawsuit against him alleging he forced students to perform sexual acts on camera. Franco finally addressed the claims in 2021 in an interview with The Jess Cagle Podcastbut has not publicly apologized.
Let’s not forget that it took 87 actresses to file sexual abuse claims against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein before he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. Do I need to continue?
There is a disturbing story of high-profile men, accused of sexual misconduct or violence, continuing to flaunt a place in the spotlight while their alleged victims remain in the shadows, unknown and forgotten.
Depp being invited to appear on stage with a musical legend proclaimed not just once, but three times seems completely surreal to me. The fact that it was just days after a jury retired to deliberate in a case involving a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her with a bottle is obscene to me.
This dangerous rhetoric that accused men are allowed to continue to garner praise and with such accusations on their shoulders is vile. What examples are we giving our younger generations about alleged abusers that deserve the attention of the press and the public?
This can’t go on. Like many high-profile accusations by men, the victims are being ignored and forgotten, while survivors with secrets are forced to quietly absorb the mockery made of their trauma as the world watches and applauds.