Helena Bonham Carter’s a bloody good actor. Her performances have won her industry accolades and acclaim – and rightly so. But for me at least, her cultural commentary, it turns out, is far less sparkling than her acting career.
n an interview with The Times, Bonham Carter gave it good style about her mate Johnny Depp, who’s also godfather to her kids. You’ll remember Helena and Johnny as two-thirds of the gothic-lite trio they formed alongside her ex-partner, Tim Burton.
At one point in the 2000s, Team Burton was so prolific that it spawned a Ricky Gervais joke: “And of course, Helena Bonham Carter is Johnny Depp’s leading lady in the new Tim Burton film.” I agree, it’s hardly a side-splitter, but you get the picture.
It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that Bonham Carter was speaking in support of her dear old friend Johnny in her latest interview with The Times. Depp, you’ll remember, was embroiled in a now-infamous legal battle with his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
After a British court had ruled in favour of The Sun after the paper described Depp as a “wife-beater”, the Pirates of the Caribbean star took his defamation case to the US and sued Heard for her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence, alleging that she defamed him by implying that he abused her during their marriage.
This time, the court found that Depp and Heard had defamed each other. The ruling was murky and confused and Heard is currently appealing; however, the verdict has been spun as a moral win for Depp, who, on the stand, flipped the previous narrative and presented himself as a male-victim of domestic violence at the hands of Heard.
Depp vs Heard was about defamation, not about assigning victim/perpetrator roles, but that’s what’s happened on social media anyway. In the popular consciousness, Heard – lacking the charisma, wealth, star power, fan base and clout of Depp – became the woman everyone loves to hate.
Heard has been cast as a 21st-century version of the fin-de-siecle fatal woman – bringing about the downfall of an innocent man through her maleficence and duplicity. She can be blamed for everything about Depp’s professional demise, making his aggression, his vitriol, his misogyny, his vanity and profligacy more comfortable for his fans – those who fell in love with a quietly-spoken man with a startling androgynous beauty and “old-fashioned” manners.
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We didn’t get it wrong, we can say to ourselves, it’s not our judgement at fault, we can tell a domestic abuser when we see one, we don’t get hoodwinked and dazzled by beauty and fame, no – it’s all Heard.
And Bonham Carter, it seems, is no different. She reckons the US verdict “vindicated” Depp. Heard, of course, was jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon to position herself as the poster girl for domestic abuse.
Putting aside the fact that Heard’s restraining order against Depp was in 2016 – the year before #MeToo went viral – so there was as yet no “bandwagon” on which to jump, the treatment of Heard since the op-ed, and especially since the defamation case verdict, confirms what we already knew: disclosing intimate partner violence is a win for no woman.
Years ago, when I was being sexually harassed by a senior colleague, I approached a senior woman for advice. I was, quite literally, sick with worry. What should I do?
I already knew that complaining about sexual harassment wasn’t a great career move. I’d worked in various industries since my teens and I knew that harassers were often treated far better than the complainants – who were, in my experience, usually ostracised in work.
If I was looking for reassurance, I was disappointed. She gave me war stories of her own. She’d been chased around like something from a Benny Hill sketch, she told me. She rolled her eyes at the text messages I’d received and countered with sexually explicit anecdotes of her own.
It felt like a prizeless contest for who’d experienced the worst harassment without speaking up. “You’ll come out worse if you complain,” she told me. “Keep your mouth shut, your head down, and be charming,” she advised. “It never works out well for women who complain about this kind of thing.”
Unfortunately, as many women have found to their detriment, she was right. The public ruination of Heard shows us that the words of my former colleague continue to ring true. For all the #MeToo and #EnoughisEnough, women still need to watch their mouths.
Heard continues to be pilloried, months after the trial’s end but, as Bonham Carter told The Times, the US defamation verdict seems to have “completely vindicated” Depp. The televised trial exposed the filth that the actor was swimming in – the obscene text messages, the intimidating, aggressive behaviour, the casual racism and misogyny – but Bonham Carter seems unperturbed by it. She told The Times: “I think he’s fine now. Totally fine.”
It feels to me like a kick to women’s collective solar plexus for Bonham Carter to refer to #MeToo as a “bandwagon”. As if the harassment and abuse of women is the latest craze, like laminated eyebrows or structured maxi skirts. “That’s the problem with these things – that people will jump on the bandwagon because it’s the trend and to be the poster girl for it.”
Yes, Helena. That’s right. Because the dream of every little girl is that one day, she too, can be the poster girl for intimate partner violence.
In my opinion, Bonham Carter is privileged, as well as wrong, to consider the exposure of the widespread abuse and harassment of women a “trend”. I’m so glad – genuinely glad – that Bonham Carter has managed to live without the knowledge that so many women learn young: harassment and abuse is a part of women’s everyday life, but speaking up remains a significant risk.
Denial of responsibility! galaxyconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.