We can all learn from the recent trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s trial is raising awareness about domestic abuse being a two-way street. If you want to learn how to speak English conversationally, then this podcast is a great place for you to practice following an English conversation. I think you’ll find my conclusions don’t match the views of most of the online commentary.
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To be honest, initially I was completely unaware of this trial. It was only when some of my clients asked me what my view was did I take it upon myself to find out more. I was hooked almost immediately. It’s amazing to have a deep look into the lives of two very wealthy and privileged people. To see the world as they see it, and to learn that they are as vulnerable to relationship problems as us normal people.
If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.
⭐ Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor
I think there is a lot of interesting English vocabulary used in this podcast. Specifically, words you would find in a legal setting. It’s the type of vocabulary you would hear if you were watching legal or law and order TV dramas. I also think the trial shows some ideas like #metoo, as well meaning as they are, are being undermined by being overused. Lots of interesting conversation points to keep you engaged in your listening practice.
Conclusions Commentary Privileged Defamation Misogyny Therapist Divorced
Today, I'm going to give you some practice that every day English conversation. And I'm going to talk about an item, a story that's been on the news and one, which has had people all across the world transfixed. What does 'transfixed' mean? It means 'fascinated, watching their TV screens, watching their computer screens with great interest'. And while I talk about that interesting topic, your brain is going to be learning some everyday English conversation. Great!
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
OK, so what's this news story that people all over the world have been fascinated by? Well, it's the trial, the court trial involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Johnny Depp you've probably heard of - he's a well-known actor and Amber Heard was briefly his wife and she's an actor too. They married in 2015 and it didn't last very long. They divorced in 2016. And then in 2018, Amber Heard wrote an article for the Washington Post. And in it, she talked about herself as a 'domestic abuse victim'. 'Domestic' means 'at home', 'abuse' is when you treat someone badly - so that might be sexual abuse, physical abuse, that means violence, hurting somebody. It can be emotional abuse, where you treat someone badly, you get them to 'feel bad' on purpose and 'verbal abuse'. That means that you 'abuse them with words'. There's lots of different ways of being abused. She talked about herself in that article as being 'a victim of domestic abuse'.
She didn't name names. She didn't say that it was Johnny Depp, but it was pretty obvious that this was who she was meaning. After that article was published, there was a big effect on the life of Johnny Depp. He lost his role in the film Pirates of the Caribbean - there was about to be a new Pirates of the Caribbean film. He was dropped and he was also dropped from the Fantastic Beasts series as well.
When these kinds of allegations are made - so an 'allegation' is something somebody says - not clear at that point, whether it's true or not. But the mere allegation means that businesses, companies, films, organizations drop people. They want to distance themselves from the person who is 'contaminated by the allegation'.
So Johnny Depp - you could say that 'his brand has been toxic' since 2018.
So this court case - Johnny Depp was suing ex-wife Amber Heard for $50 million for 'defamation' - that's D E F A M A T I O N. 'Defamation' means when you say something bad or damaging about a person, that ruins their reputation and which isn't true. He decided to try to sue her for $50 million and Amber Heard countersued for $100 million.
So this trial has been going on for the last six weeks and last Wednesday, the verdict was known - 'the verdict' is the decision at the end of the trial. Johnny Depp was awarded $15 million in damages and Amber Heard was awarded $2 million in damages. The message really from that was that both defamed the other, but that Amber Heard was 'more guilty', if you like than Johnny Depp, of defamation.
In this trial, many intimate details of the relationship between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were talked about and discussed, and people have been fascinated. As I say, I hadn't paid it much attention until my clients were talking about it. And if you look at the viewing figures for TikTok say, the trial has had something like 19.4 billion views on TikTok. So it's certainly got people's attention. Why? That's a lot of views. That's crazy.
Johnny Depp is well-known. He's 'the bad boy of Hollywood'. We all know Johnny Depp and he's been around a while. He's dated lots of beautiful women. Examples? Sherilyn Fenn, known for Twin Peaks, Jennifer Grey known for Dirty Dancing. Winona Ryder - very famous! And currently well-known for her part in the series Stranger Things. Juliette Lewis and Kate Moss, the supermodel. Johnny Depp was also married to the singer, and model, Vanessa Paradis from 1998 to 2012. And the couple have two children, now grown up from that relationship.
It's really interesting how many of his former partners, Johnny Depp is still good friends with. M any have said that it has been, or was 'a big rollercoaster ride' being in relationship with Johnny Depp, but they remained friends with him afterwards. And in fact, Kate Moss testified at the trial. There's been a story around for years that he pushed her down a staircase. She testified in the trial that actually this is incorrect. And what happened was that she slipped on some stairs that were wet because of a rainstorm and Johnny Depp was nothing but caring and concerned for her. He picked her up and he carried her to her hotel room so that she could receive medical attention. That's a long way from the story that he pushed her down the stairs.
That's not to say that I think that being married to Johnny Depp wouldn't be difficult! He owns that he's had problems with alcohol and drugs and prescription drugs as well. In fact, in the trial, he was refuting allegations of abuse that were made by Amber Heard. And he said, 'The only person that I've abused is myself.' So he fully admits this.
Apparently there was one night in New York when he was in the relationship with Kate Moss, where there was damage to a hotel room, totalling $9,000. He did pay the bill in the end! But despite what was clearly a roller coaster of a relationship, Kate Moss still speaks highly of him.
She said it took a long time to get over her relationship with him because he was so caring and she trusted him. She spoke of years and years of crying when they broke up. This doesn't sound like someone who was in an abusive relationship. He's certainly no angel and you wouldn't expect him to be. But I think that it's interesting that many of his ex partners still speak highly of him. Only Amber Heard claims that he was abusive.
So, what about Amber Heard? There are such a range of opinions about her and much of the interest in the trial is focused on Amber Heard.
Given the #MeToo movement, which followed the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, w omen who have been victims of abuse have had a much more sympathetic hearing. Women can be subject to abuse in relationships and also in the workplace. The #MeToo movement has raised people's awareness around this, which is a very good thing.
A photograph of women holding metoo posters. Boost your English by listening in to a native speaker. It improves your English comprehension and listening skills.
You might expect with this in the background, that Amber Heard would get a very 'sympathetic hearing' - that people would automatically be 'on her side'. But what's happened since the start of the trial - she's been vilified by the press and online. Vilified' means 'portrayed in a very negative way'. People have said horrible things about her.
And campaigners for victims of domestic abuse have expressed concern that maybe other people won't come forward when they see how Amber Heard has been treated.
I think what has happened with this trial is that people have begun to talk about the ways that men can be abused in relationships too. They were both found guilty of defamation, but essentially they abused each other. Some of the things that Amber Heard did within their marriage could be said to be abusive.
In the wake of #MeToo, Amber Heard became a spokesperson for an organization called the American Civil Liberties Union. So she was speaking out against domestic abuse. Given the details that came out in the trial, I would say that she was also someone who was abusive in relationship and was making false representation, which doesn't really fit well with that role.
For many people watching Amber Heard give her testimony in court, just listening to her evidence, reminded them, triggered them even, into memories of their own experiences of being in an abusive relationship. One YouTuber Haider Ali from Islamabad, Pakistan, a 27 year old designer has commented on YouTube about how he experienced violence in a relationship. And he identified with Johnny Depp's experience as have many other men.
During the trial, a Forensic Psychologist, Dr. Shannon Curry gave evidence. She spent time in December 2021, doing personality assessments on Amber Heard, and she found her to have two personality disorders - Borderline Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Dr. Curry said that people with these disorders 'may in reality, be very destructive, dramatic, erratic, unpredictable, and possessed of an underlying drive not to be abandoned, but also to be the centre of attention'. These personality disorders are very familiar to me in my work. And they're a whole other podcast if you want to know about them! But looking at the criteria for these personality disorders, then I think many of these personality characteristics were evident in the trial. They're evident when you listened to Amber Heard.
When a court trial is live-streamed and the cameras are very 'up close and personal', then ordinary people watching it can see what's going on, can perceive subtle expressions and subtle indicators around personality, themselves. They can assess a person's character themselves.
And time and time again, Johnny Depp's lawyer, Camille Vasquez, when questioning, cross-examining Amber Heard, she called her out. She challenged the way in which Amber Heard twisted the truth.
Another witness, the Couples Therapist, the person they did, their couples therapy with Dr. Anderson said that she felt the relationship was 'mutually abusive', but also that Amber Heard was often the instigator of fights and escalation of trouble in the relationship. So this isn't me saying that I entirely condemn Amber Heard, but those personality disorders sound right. And probably account for some of people's reaction to her. It also makes Johnny Depp's account of their marriage. Much more believable.
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Where I think the massage money does come in. That's misogyny, M I S O G Y N Y that's hatred of women is in the fact that Amber Heard apparently receives hundreds of death threats online every day. 'Death threats' - that means people who are threatening to kill her. That's not deserved. That is misogyny. Let me be clear on that.
Let us know if you've been watching this trial. Let us know if you've been affected by it. I think it's really interesting because it raises the subject of the abuse of men in relationships , which is something that hasn't been talked about that much.
What do you think of this podcast? Do you have a different opinion?
Let us know in English, of course!
Listen to this podcast a number of times - it's quite a complicated one! There's lots of vocabulary to learn in it and get to the point, if you can, where you understand most of it. That's really good. English listening practice! Really good for your everyday English understanding. Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.