Amber Heard Receives Outpouring Of Support Months After Defamation Trial

Gloria Steinem and a number of activists have signed an open letter in support of Amber Heard.

By Vic Medina | Published

Noted feminist Gloria Steinem has joined dozens of organizations and 130 individuals in signing an open letter calling on the public to stop the vilification of actress Amber Heard in the wake of the defamation trial she lost to ex-husband Johnny Depp. The trial, particularly Heard’s testimony, has greatly shifted public perception of the Aquaman actress, who has now become a cultural punching-bag of sorts, and the subject of countless internet memes. The letter claims this backlash undercuts efforts to normalize the reporting of abuse, and calls for an end to the “public shaming” of Heard, according to a TMZ report.

The letter, titled “Experts Support Amber Heard,” listed a number of concerns about how the actress’ public image has taken a hit on social media. “The vilification of Ms. Heard and ongoing online harassment of her and those who have voiced support for her [sic] have been unprecedented in both vitriol and scale,” the letter read.

The letter linked the online criticism of Heard to the larger problem of abuse and harassment between partners. “We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard and join in support of her. We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation,” the letter stated.

Steinem and company dismiss the backlash towards Heard as caused by “misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment.” It’s a statement with some truth to it, as the criticism of Heard on Twitter often gets personal and sexist.

amber heard aquaman 2
Amber Heard in Aquaman

However, the letter did not address that Heard’s claims against Depp were found to be malicious lies that undermined his career. On June 1, a Virginia jury ruled largely in favor of Depp, awarding him over $10 million in damages. After Heard published her op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018, seemingly accusing Depp of sexual and mental abuse, the actor was largely ostracized from Hollywood, and even lost his lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean role as Captain Jack Sparrow.

In the months since the trial, however, Depp has seen his public image vastly improve, and rumors have surfaced that Depp would indeed return to the role, as he and Disney seemed to have made amends.

The letter also disagrees with the verdict in general, stating it marks a “fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partner and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it.” It should be noted that Amber Heard did win a counterclaim against one of Depp’s attorneys for defamation, winning $2 million in damages. Those instances involved statements made about Heard during legal proceedings, and did not involve her accusations against Depp.

The letter is mostly signed by academics and activists, as well as film producer Amy Ziering, but no major Hollywood celebrities. The Women’s March Foundation and the National Organization for Women are among the organizations that signed on to the document.

In the wake of the verdict, Amber Heard has kept a fairly low profile, moving with her young daughter to a mansion on an island off the coast of Spain, where she is largely unnoticed by the people who live there. Despite recently declaring bankruptcy, it is not clear how she is paying to live in the million-dollar home with an infinity pool.

Depp, on the other hand, as embraced the new wave of positive publicity and attention the verdict has brought. He recently appeared with Rihanna in her Savage x Fenty fashion show, which was criticized by some.

Heard has received some support from a handful of celebrities in recent months. Her Aquaman co-star Dolph Lundgren praised her work on the film and presence on the set, and Amy Schumer did post a tweet seemingly supporting her, only to delete it later.

The actress’ fortunes have indeed turned since she wrote the op-ed during the height of the “Me Too” movement. She claimed during the trial that the backlash has cost her several roles, and it remains to be seen if she will indeed be cut out of Aquaman 2, as rumors suggest.