People are trying to make money off the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial as a cottage industry of pro-Depp merchandise has popped up in various corners of the internet.
T-shirts, stickers, and birthday cards that make light of Depp’s one-liners that surfaced from his testimony in court are all over Etsy and RedBubble. Some products make fun of Heard by printing her crying face or joking about Depp’s allegation that she once shit in his bed. (Heard has repeatedly denied the allegation and said it was Depp’s Yorkie.)
A boutique in Calgary, Alberta, dropped a Depp-themed shirt presale after a Virginia jury read out their verdict in court on Wednesday. The shirt has a picture of a young Depp with the slogan “A Mega Pint?” over his eyes, referring to the time during the trial when Heard’s lawyer asked Depp about a “mega pint” of wine he had poured himself during an argument with Heard.
“It's the trial that's captivated the nation... and has created some of our fave new catch phrases that we didn't know we were missing in our lives, like ‘A MEGA PINT?’” the boutique’s Instagram post says.
27boutique declined to comment.
On Wednesday, a seven-person jury unanimously concluded that Depp was defamed by Heard. They said her 2018 Washington Post op-ed at the heart of the trial, which is about her experiences with domestic violence, was false and that Heard had acted “with actual malice” when she published it. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages.
The jury also decided it was defamatory when Depp’s lawyer referred to some of Heard’s allegations as a “hoax.” She was awarded $2 million in damages.
As businesses and creators try to profit off the trial by firmly taking Depp’s side or making jokes about the case, which dealt with serious allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, experts say the move sends signals that could further silence domestic abuse victims and survivors.
It’s all happening as the internet piles onto the abuse by spreading hateful anti-Heard memes across social media that, at times, even wished Heard dead. Content creators have earned thousands of followers for producing pro-Depp or anti-Heard reels. The social media campaigns have been so immense that several lawyers have questioned whether the jury was swayed, at least in part, by pro-Depp content.
Lawyers have noted the seemingly contradictory nature of the verdict and Heard’s team already confirmed she’ll appeal the case. But T-shirt sales are ongoing.
“What is sad about all of this… is the subtle messaging and the silencing it creates for people who see it,” said Deepa Mattoo, the executive director of the Toronto-based Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which supports marginalized women who’ve survived violence.
She said if even one person sees a T-shirt with a trial-related meme on it, then that’s too much.
“Who is the one who will be impacted the most? Whose voices will be silenced?” Mattoo said. “How many T-shirts have we seen of women when they are proven survivors?”
During the trial, gender justice advocate Farrah Khan told VICE News that a coffee shop in Canada had “Johnny Depp” and “Amber Heard” tip jars, and guests were encouraged to toss their tips into the jar they sided with. Depp’s jar had hearts drawn all over it, while Heard’s had a single sad face.
We need to remember that survivors see our actions, Khan said.
“Look at how we dehumanize [Heard],” Khan said. “She’s not a person—she’s a tip jar.”
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