Depp v Heard: The major thing the documentary gets wrong
Depp v Heard is a new series on Netflix chronicling the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial – and the impact of the social media frenzy it sparked. But, there is one major thing the documentary gets wrong.
While Depp had already taken The Sun newspaper to court over the implication that he was a “wife beater”, the attention the case received was a mere speck of dust in the vast universe that was his 2022 trial against Heard. Since the tribunal took place in Virginia – many believe to be picked by Depp’s legal team for this purpose – the judge allowed video cameras in the courtroom to provide live feed media pool coverage.
And, well, we all know how that turned out. YouTube analyses, TikTok skits, and countless memes emerged in droves, pouring over every detail of the in-depth and no doubt traumatizing testimonies of those called in as witnesses – including Depp and Heard themselves. For seven weeks, there was little else on our feeds.
Depp v Heard shines a spotlight on social media’s influence in court, including the claim that bots were used to boost online support for each party. Following the outcome of the trial, which saw Depp awarded $15 million in damages as opposed to Heard’s $2 million, there were accusations in the media that Depp won because of his stardom, and that the online discourse may have swayed the jury in some way. But, there is a major detail the documentary fails to point out.
What the Depp v Heard documentary gets wrong
In the context of the trial, what Depp v Heard and other media avoids discussing are the videos shared by Brian McPherson, better known by his YouTube alias Incredibly Average. In 2019, he uploaded his first video, titled ‘Johnny Depp & Amber Heard Abuse Claims (and the lies not talked about)’.
Since then, McPherson has posted a further 18 videos, all of which argue the case that Heard was the abuser in the relationship – and Depp was the victim. While they are opinion-led, a number of his uploads feature lengthy raw audio recordings of Depp and Heard’s conversations from 2015 and 2016 when they were going through their divorce.
Perhaps the most eye-opening entry is the hour-long, uncensored recording from which the famous line used against Heard in court – where she called Depp a “baby” for being upset that she hit him – was taken. Shortly after, another video surfaced, featuring a 35-minute recording in the aftermath of the Australia incident.
While Heard claimed it was a hostage situation, accusing Depp of sexually abusing her while under the influence, Depp alleged that he spent those days trying to hide from Heard. Neither side has been proven to this day, but what we know for certain is that Depp lost the tip of his finger in their fight, claiming it resulted from Heard throwing a vodka bottle at him.
Incredibly Average’s audio recording of the aftermath paints a picture of the mood following the incident, with the couple’s respective doctor and nurse, Dr. David Kipper and Debbie Lloyd, debating how best to medicate Heard and get Depp to a hospital as they look for his finger.
Now, you could argue that the recordings have been taken out of context. Another theory is that Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman leaked them to McPherson to help with their case. But what’s certainly true is the influence they had on people’s opinions about the relationship – long before court was in session.
When Heard first spoke publicly about their marriage, a majority sided with her. But since Incredibly Average’s videos blew up online, so many minds have been changed.
“How many of you learned something about Depp v Heard from Incredibly Average’s videos on YouTube?” asked one person on Twitter. Another wrote: “She was the one who hit in anger. You can hear it in their own words at Incredibly Average Brian’s YouTube channel. If you still believe Amber after that, you have rocks in your brain.”
McPherson’s videos have racked up millions of views, with his full hour-long audio recording amassing 6.3 million alone. So, why is no one talking about this? Depp v Heard is one of many media sources examining the social media furor surrounding the trial, but it fails to mention where the furor started – and it can be argued that, for many, it started with Incredibly Average.
Depp v Heard is available to stream on Netflix now, and you can check out our other coverage below: