Carter has fallen into a familiar trap over Johnny Depp - GulfToday

Carter has fallen into a familiar trap over Johnny Depp

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter

Katie Edwards, The Independent

Helena Bonham Carter’s a bloody good actor. Her performances have won her industry accolades and acclaim — and rightly so. But for me at least, her cultural commentary, it turns out, is far less sparkling than her acting career.

In an interview with The Times, Helena Bonham Carter gave it good style about her mate Johnny Depp, who’s also godfather to her kids. You’ll remember Helena and Johnny as two-thirds of the gothic-lite trio they formed alongside Bonham Carter’s ex-partner, Tim Burton.

At one point in the 2000s, Team Burton was so prolific that it spawned a Ricky Gervais joke: “And of course, Helena Bonham Carter is Johnny Depp’s leading lady in the new Tim Burton film.” I agree, it’s hardly a side-splitter, but you get the picture.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that Bonham Carter was speaking in support of her dear old friend Johnny in her latest interview with The Times. Depp, you’ll remember, was embroiled in a now-infamous legal battle with his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

After a British court had ruled in favour of The Sun after the paper described Depp as a “wife-beater”, the Pirates of the Caribbean star took his defamation case to the US and sued Heard for her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence, alleging that she defamed him by implying that he abused her during their marriage.

This time, the court found that Depp and Heard had defamed each other. The ruling was murky and confused and Heard is currently appealing; however, the verdict has been spun as a moral win for Depp, who, on the stand, flipped the previous narrative and presented himself as a male-victim of domestic violence at the hands of Heard.

Depp v Heard was about defamation, not about assigning victim/perpetrator roles, but that’s what’s happened on social media anyway. In the popular consciousness, Heard lacking the charisma, wealth, star power, fan base and clout of Depp — became the woman everyone loves to hate. Heard has been cast as a 21st-century version of the fin-de-siecle fatal woman — bringing about the downfall of an innocent man through her maleficence and duplicity. She can be blamed for everything about Depp’s professional demise, making his aggression, his vitriol, his misogyny, his vanity and profligacy more comfortable for his fans — those who fell in love with a quietly-spoken man with a startling androgynous beauty and “old-fashioned” manners.

We didn’t get it wrong, we can say to ourselves, it’s not our judgement at fault, we can tell a domestic abuser when we see one, we don’t get hoodwinked and dazzled by beauty and fame, no — it’s all Heard. And Bonham Carter, it seems, is no different. She reckons the US verdict “vindicated” Depp. Heard, of course, was jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon to position herself as the poster girl for domestic abuse.

Putting aside the fact that Heard’s restraining order against Depp was in 2016 — the year before #MeToo went viral — so there was as yet no “bandwagon” on which to jump, the treatment of Heard since the op-ed, and especially since the defamation case verdict, confirms what we already knew: disclosing intimate partner violence is a win for no woman.

Years ago, when I was being sexually harassed by a senior colleague, I approached a senior woman for advice. I was, quite literally, sick with worry. What should I do?

In my opinion, Bonham Carter is privileged, as well as wrong, to consider the exposure of the widespread abuse and harassment of women a “trend”. I’m so glad – genuinely glad – that Bonham Carter has managed to live without the knowledge that so many women learn young: harassment and abuse is a part of women’s everyday life, but speaking up remains a significant risk.

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