Don't trivialise violence
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in SPLITSVILLE
Can Johnny Depp do no wrong?
That seems to be the case in the court of public opinion on social media.
Countless pro-Depp commentaries have been posted online, in which keyboard warriors seem hellbent on vilifying his estranged wife Amber Heard.
Malicious labels such as "gold-digger", "talentless w****" and "home-wrecking s***" have come fast and furious, accompanying the ugly divorce proceedings between the US actors.
The couple, who first met on the set of the 2011 movie The Rum Diary playing lovers, married 15 months ago after four years of dating, but drew their battle lines almost immediately after Heard, 30, filed for divorce on May 23.
What started out as a typical Hollywood break-up quickly turned ugly when details of alleged physical domestic abuse surfaced in court papers. (See report at right.)
Heard's accusations were swiftly criticised.
People questioned her motives of washing their dirty laundry straight after her petitions of spousal support were denied.
They even doubted that the bruises were real, and that she was simply playing the victim role. After all, she is an actress, right?
Blame it on bad timing or poor legal advice from Team Amber, but the fact is that no one wants their beloved Depp, 52, to be tarnished.
Frankly, I was initially shocked to read that Hollywood's adored oddball could be a wife-beater.
Not the man who won't even hurt a fly even when born with scissors for hands. Not the guy who yearns to bring happiness to kids with chocolates. And certainly not my Captain Jack Sparrow.
Depp has cultivated this cool, quirky and suave image over the past 30-plus years.
He's the guyliner-wearing rocker who has always operated outside of the Hollywood system - one who is still living it up on tour in Europe with his rock band Hollywood Vampires, while Heard's reputation is dragged through the mud by his loyal supporters.
Let's crucify Heard, who is bisexual and used to date women, for being the third party who caused Depp to leave his long-time partner and mother of his two children, French actress Vanessa Paradis.
Let's persecute Heard for being opportunistic, riding on Depp's coattails, and thus going from the struggling starlet who can't act to a household name.
Amid all the noise, the crux of the divorce has been overlooked - domestic violence should never be trivialised.
If there really had been all that abuse, is it Heard's fault that she did not open up about it earlier?
And now that she has spoken, does she deserve to get "hit" all over again?
We may not know yet what went on behind closed doors, but let's not forget that Depp is not always the saint he is often painted as.
He has had a history of substance and alcohol abuse, and is no stranger to violent outbursts.
So even as Paradis wrote glowing words in defence of Depp, his former flames have testified to his terrible temper tantrums.
Actress Winona Ryder mentioned in a 2010 interview that Depp used to smash everything.
She was engaged to her Edward Scissorhands co-star for three years from 1990 to 1993.
A year later, Depp was arrested for trashing a hotel room after an argument with then-girlfriend, supermodel Kate Moss.
Police found Depp intoxicated, but Moss was uninjured. The couple broke up in 1997.
So who's the real Depp? Is he the sweet Edward Scissorhands misfit the world fell in love with more than 25 years ago?
Or has he turned into a cruel, cold Whitey Bulger figure (from his 2015 flick Black Mass)?
Until Heard decides to press charges for abuse, and police investigations start proper, let us not point any fingers.
As English actor and Depp's pal Paul Bettany - they co-starred in The Tourist (2010), Transcendence (2014) and Mortdecai (2015) - tweeted: "Domestic violence is a serious allegation. Trial by Twitter is unhelpful. Let the facts come out before rushing to judgment."
Share your views with Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heard files for divorce from Depp three days after his mother, Betty Sue Palmer, died. She cites irreconcilable differences, and asks for spousal support to the tune of USD$50,000 (S$68,780) a month. The couple reportedly do not have a prenuptial agreement.
Depp's rep makes a statement on his behalf, emphasising that "hopefully the dissolution of this short marriage will be resolved quickly".
His lawyer asks the judge to deny Heard's request for spousal support.
Heard files with photographic evidence for a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp. She is pictured leaving the courthouse with a bruise near her eye after being granted the restraining order.
"During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me," she says in the documents filed.
On the same day, Depp plays a concert in Lisbon, Portugal, with his band, Hollywood Vampires.
His divorce lawyer Laura Wasser states that Heard is "attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse".
Depp's teenage daughter Lily-Rose posts an old picture of herself with her father on Instagram, writing in the caption that he is "the sweetest, most loving person I know".
Comedian Doug Stanhope, a close friend of Depp's, writes a piece for TheWrap.com accusing Heard of blackmailing Depp.
"Johnny doesn't abuse anyone," he states. "Johnny Depp got used, manipulated, set up and made to look like an a**hole."
TMZ obtains and publishes a letter written by French actress Vanessa Paradis, Depp's partner from 1998 to 2012 and mother of his two children. The letter expresses Paradis' support for Depp, and called Heard's claims of abuse "outrageous".
Heard releases a statement explaining why she didn't report her alleged abuse earlier.
According to her lawyers, she remained silent even after a 911 call resulted in the police coming to her and Depp's home on May 21 to "protect her privacy and Johnny's career", and eventually reported the abuse on May 27 to "set the record straight as to the true facts".
A photo of Heard, said to be taken by friends in December 2015, appears on the cover of People magazine's newest issue. Other photos show Heard with a cut lip and bruised eye.
Entertainment Tonight obtains and publishes a text conversation from 2014 supposedly between Heard and Depp's assistant, Stephen Deuters, in which Deuters seems to apologise on Depp's behalf after a purportedly abusive incident.
But Deuters tells TMZ that these text messages are doctored, and says he is willing to testify that he never had a conversation with Heard about the alleged abuse.
Hollywood Vampires' rep announces that Depp will continue touring with the group when they begin their US tour on July 1. After their European tour ends on Monday, he will appear in court on June 17 to address the allegations made by Heard.
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now