We All Should Get Restraining Orders Against Johnny Depp

If domestic violence isn't reason enough to end Johnny Depp's career, aren't all of his other life choices?

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Complex Original

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Johnny Depp is a trash person, and we need to cut him out our lives before his actions and/or acting get any worse. We’re willing to forgive so much awfulness committed by famous men, but if these recent domestic abuse allegations aren’t condemning enough for us to be done with Depp, fortunately there is a laundry list of other reasons to jump ship. Come, let us dig through this pile of garbage together.

A bit of background for you, dear Jury in this court of Public Opinion: Earlier this week, Amber Heard filed for divorce from Depp. Soon after, she followed up with a request for a restraining order, citing domestic abuse along with photo evidence of the time he reportedly “wound up his arm like a baseball pitcher” and threw his iPhone at her face. She told the court she “lived in fear” of him and that he “terrorized [her] physically and emotionally.”

Lord knows how often we let famous men off scot-free for acts of violence. If Chris Brown, Alec Baldwin, or Sean Penn are any indication, it’s all too obvious how this Depp story is going to go down. As Kevin Fallon wrote on Twitter, “It will be interesting to see how this *doesn't* affect his career.” 

Headlines citing Heard’s allegations will induce scandalized murmurs for the next few days, before being forgotten entirely by the time Memorial Day is over. In 2021, after the Depp acting renaissance circa 2018, a stray site will publish something like, “Remember When Johnny Depp Was Accused of Hitting His Ex-Wife?” And we’ll be all *outraged whispering* until the next terrible thing happens. Except, hmm, what if we didn’t do that?! What if we internalized the reality of this nonsense, and did not let Depp coast off into hack character acting for which he is being paid ridiculously amounts of money.

Because is Johnny Depp even worth saving or defending? I’m going to come out and say it: he hasn’t been a good actor for over a decade now. Even if he were a national treasure, it wouldn’t be a valid reason to excuse this behavior, but wow, his track record since about 2002 onward is astonishing. If allegedly physically abusing his wife wasn’t enough justification to catapult Depp into space, then that dance he did at the end of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and whatever he does in Pirates of the Caribbean 5 through 24 should be.

To be totally up front, every single iota of emotion in this piece comes from a place of heartbreak. I was DEEPLY IN LOVE with Johnny Depp ever since I watched the E! True Hollywood Story on his life as a middle schooler who wasn’t entirely solid on what “sex” meant. I felt the feelings for Depp, and they didn’t subside for a long, long time. At one point, my AIM screen name was laurenndepp (after my dad told me laurgasmx03 would not be permitted, and before dramaqueen22491), and, I wasn’t kidding. I unironically decorated my freshman dorm room with cut-out pages from a book about Depp’s life that my little brother got me for Christmas.

For a time, Depp was the pinnacle of alternative dreamboats. He choose roles because they were dark and nuanced, opting for the John Waters’s parodic take on the heartthrob (Crybaby) before ever considering a straight take on the role his enchanting good looks begged him to take. And then, all too quickly, he morphed into mainstream catnip, waving his hands around and talking in his Quirky Accent as Jack Sparrow, and Willy Wonka, and a culturally-appropriated iteration of Tonto in The Lone Ranger. He worked to build a reputation built on artistry, only to become a Disney-ified item ready to be bloated and reproduced ad nauseam. 

Speaking of bloated, Johnny Depp does not seem to be taking care of himself. Also, his teeth are pretty gross now. What is happening with his teeth? If this is too mean, I’m sorry, but think about how we treat celebrity women by comparison. Poor Melissa McCarthy made one or two only-OK comedies, and there was all this hand-wringing, asking why she can’t perform at the box office and wondering if she’s gotten too many chances. All of that despite the fact that she’s never physically assaulted her spouse. So I'm guess I'm not even remotely sorry.

There are just so many strikes on Depp’s record, and if a famous woman had even one such demerit she would be locked in Hollywood’s version of the closet from Matilda. If a famous woman let herself go, or made several awful movies using the same phoned-in character, or even just did some weird thing with dogs and Australia, her entire trajectory would be threatened if not definitively cut short. And Depp allegedly did far worse than that.

What exactly is the line for rejecting men in Hollywood? Seriously, what does a famous man have to do to go too far? I’m talking about something extreme like alleged domestic violence, but also in terms of physical appearance and basic acting efforts. Female celebrities are crucified for such infractions as “getting visible plastic surgery,” while a famous man could host an anti-semitic wife beating fight club and be met with shrugs and several coveted "dark" movie roles. There shouldn’t be a universe where Depp emerges from Heard’s claims unscathed, but I'm no fool—I know how this works. Chris Brown's song about raping someone in their sleep was very recently in the Top 100. But let’s at least put the magnifying glass up against Depp's other, MANY transgressions, and put him in reputational time out for being a joke of a man who wears too many leather bracelets.

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