Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to leave their duties as members of the Royal Family behind sparked a lot of discussions online. But what does it actually mean to be a member of a centuries-old institution in modern times?
“Saturday Night Live” Faces Backlash for Sketch Mocking the Johnny Depp Amber Heard Trial
Many fear that jokes about the case could hurt the everyday domestic abuse survivors that see them.
SNL Mocks Trial
After “Saturday Night Light” parodied the ongoing defamation trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in its cold open this weekend, many are criticizing the show — and media at large — for making a mockery of the case.
Ever since the trial began in April, there has been an onslaught of TikToks, tweets, videos, and other posts turning the happenings in the courtroom into clickbait content. Most of the posts use Heard as a punchline as the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp narrative prevails online.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” While she never mentioned Depp by name, many believed the piece referred to previous abuse allegations she had made about him. Depp, however, alleges that Heard was actually the abuser and concocted the claims to ruin his career. She countersued for $100 million.
In its most recent episode, “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch starring Kyle Mooney as Depp, Cecily Strong as the judge, and Aidy Bryant and Heidi Gardner as lawyers in the case. The sketch took place in the courtroom as the involved parties discussed allegations that Heard defecated in her and Depp’s bed. They then watched “video evidence” of house staffers, played by Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Melissa Villaseñor, and Chris Redd, finding the fecal matter.
At various points, Strong’s judge said they should continue watching the video “because it’s funny” and she and Mooney’s Depp both said they find the trial “amusing.”
“This trial is for fun,” the judge proclaimed at one point.
Many online did not see the humor in SNL’s parody, arguing that a case involving domestic abuse accusations should not be a punchline. Some said the sketch was “disgusting and desperate.”
“Domestic violence is not a joke. Rape is not a joke,” writer Ella Dawson tweeted. “Abusers using the legal system to continue to terrorize their victims is not a joke. Abusers using accusations of defamation to silence their victims is not a joke.”
“In twenty years people are going to look back at this trial and all of the media coverage and be disgusted,” Dawson continued.
“You’re free to have absolutely no opinion on the Depp/Heard trial, but thinking it’s ‘for fun’ is for someone with a diseased heart and brain,” Meredith Haggerty, the senior culture editor at Vox, wrote.
Many felt that regardless of how someone feels or who they support in this case, those making fun of Heard are “making a joke of victims everywhere.”
Criticism of Media’s Trial Coverage
Others argued this sketch was part of an overall disturbing trend in the media’s coverage of this case where serious allegations were being played up for laughs.
The hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has trended on Twitter several times throughout the trial as fans defend the actor. Many also use it to mock Heard, share clips of her crying, and in some cases, spread misinformation about her courtroom claims. The tag is also popular on TikTok, where it has been viewed over 11 billion times as of Monday morning.
Many of the videos involve jokes about the case, memes, fan cams, and other content meant to belittle Heard. On TikTok, the tag #AmberTurd has raked in over 1.6 billion views. Some videos involve animated renderings of courtroom videos meant to make Heard look careless or dumb. Others use audio of Heard alleging that Depp hit her along with silly imagery to make those claims look like a farce. Many involve people making fun of the way Heard has cried on the stand.
Experts have told numerous media outlets that by ridiculing Heard, Depp’s supporters are potentially harming abuse victims that may come across these posts.
“I can’t imagine what this might be doing to someone who may eventually want to seek safety and support,” Ruth M. Glenn, the chief executive officer of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told NBC News. “Whether it’s Amber Heard or Johnny Depp, how dare us make fun and make light of someone who is sharing something very personal — no matter how we feel about that person.”
The trial is being broadcast live so interested parties can watch it unfold in real-time. The viral clips have allowed the case to become a massive entertainment spectacle.
Public discourse of the trial has sorted people into either “Team Depp” or “Team Heard,” and just a quick glance online will show that Depp has so far won a good portion of public favor. Still, no matter how one views the trial, many think jokes at the expense of Heard’s claims are a bridge too far.
“In the commentary, it’s almost as if people are forgetting that this is real life, that this is not a show that we’re all watching,” Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told USA Today. “Many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will go into a courtroom at some point and have an experience that is largely outside of their control, in a setting like this.”
“There’s such a strong desire in the public discourse for [Heard] to be the villain, for her to be the example of the fact that there are victims who have ulterior motives, that there are victims who are not telling the full truth,” Palumbo continued. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of folks thinking critically or wanting to understand the nuances of abuse or of unhealthy relationships.”
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (USA Today) (Rolling Stone)
Actors Equity Association Slams Nude Video Leak of “Take Me Out”
Even though audience members are supposed to have their phones locked away, one viewer uploaded a video featuring actor Jesse Williams naked.
Nude Video From “Take Me Out” Leaks
The Actors Equity Association, Second Stage, and stars of Broadway’s “Take Me Out” condemned a leaked video of the play that captured actors during a nude scene.
Actor Jesse Williams, best known for his role in “Grey’s Anatomy,” is seen fully naked in the clip, which was taken by an audience member despite the show’s no-phone policy. It was uploaded online Monday night.
The Actors Equity Association, a labor union representing thousands of theater workers, addressed the leak on Tuesday via a statement by its president Kate Shindle.
“As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable on stage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories. This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater,” Shindle said. “Whoever did this knew not only that they were filming actors without their consent, but also that they were explicitly violating the theater’s prohibition on recording and distribution.”
Shindle equated the leak to “sexual harassment and an appalling breach of consent.”
“Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences,” Second Stage, which is producing “Take Me Out,” echoed in a statement. “Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theatre community.”
Second Stage said it implemented a strict phone-free rule at the show, meaning attendees had to lock their devices in a pouch during the performance. The group said it is “appalled” that this policy was violated. Additional security will be added to upcoming shows to enforce the rules.
Second Stage is also “actively pursuing takedown requests” of the video.
Leak Slammed As Disrespectful
Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who stars alongside Williams in the play, said the leak showed “disrespect” towards his fellow castmates.
“Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater,” he wrote on Twitter.
The videos leaked on the same day Williams earned a Tony Award nomination for his role in “Take Me Out.” The show is also nominated for Best Play Revival, and Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer are nominated alongside Williams for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
While speaking on “Watch What Happens Live” following the leak, Williams said the nude scenes were not a big deal.
“It’s a body, once you see it, you realize it’s whatever, it’s a body,” the actor said. “I just have to make it not that big of a deal.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Entertainment Weekly) (CNN)
Fans Defend Britney Spears’ Nude Instagram Photos As a Form of Empowerment
The singer has been known to post revealing photos since the end of her restrictive conservatorship.
Britney Spears Posts Nude Photos
After Britney Spear’s posted several nude photos on Instagram Monday, fans celebrated the singer’s choice to embrace her body and newfound freedom.
The “Toxic” singer shared a series of photos taken during a trip to Mexico before she became pregnant. In the pictures, she covers her bare chest with her hands and places an emoji between her legs.
“Don’t underestimate the power of doing it myself and shooting with a selfie stick,” she wrote.
Last year, Spears was freed from a conservatorship that restricted her freedoms for thirteen years. During that time her father and others appointed to direct her personal life and estate controlled her finances, career, and medical treatments. Spears claimed she was forced to wear an IUD birth control implant, attend invasive therapy sessions, and take heavy medications. She has equated the arrangement to abuse on multiple occasions.
Over the last year, Spears has frequently posted nude or near-nude images of herself on Instagram, but the latest batch caused some people to criticize the singer. In the comments on her photos, some argue that these posts prove she is erratic or unwell. Some claimed that because she has two children and another on the way, she should not use her post-conservatorship freedom to share images like this. A few even suggested someone needs to “step in” to help Spears.
Fans Defend Spears
Many of her fans found these comments to be inappropriate and invasive, arguing Spears should be allowed to do whatever she wants with her body.
“The most interesting thing about Britney Spears being freed from conservatorship is that now the internet considers itself her conservator,” one person wrote, adding that none of us know the status of her mental health, and therefore, should not comment on it.
Others argued there is a double standard, as many other female celebrities post nude and are not quickly labeled as “crazy” the same way Spears is.
Spears was placed under her conservatorship in 2008, around the same time she was the subject of near-constant public ridicule and harassment from paparazzi. Because public criticism about Spears’ life and choices fueled the effort that led to her father controlling her, many thought it was cruel to again attack her now that she has her life back.
“Britney Spears had her freedom stripped from her for years,” one person wrote. “She can do what she wants now and maybe everyone should shut the fuck up about it.”
“It’s sad more people are concerned about Britney Spears posting nudes than they are about the surveillance in her bedroom, her phone comms being captured in real time (including w her attorney), and her earnings being dissipated as others made millions,” another said.
Many perceive the images as Spears’ way of empowering and expressing herself after being forced to live in silence for so long.
“She doesn’t need your permission to be, love, and express herself,” one Twitter user said.
From the earliest points in her career, Spears was sexualized and exploited, even as a child and teenager. Some found it startling that audiences accepted this version of Spears while she was underage, but are condemning it now that she is making the choice herself as an adult woman.
“It’s the ultimate irony: from the moment teenage girls are old enough to be considered ‘fair game’ we tell women they ‘should’ be sexy,” Victoria Richards wrote in an op-ed defending Spears in The Independent. “Then shut them down the moment they have the self-confidence to show it. We ‘slut-shame’ them, tell them they’re ‘too old’ to look good or assume there must be something terribly wrong. As a woman, you simply cannot win.”