Unless you’ve been giving social media a very wide berth for the past month, then you’ve definitely caught wind of the endless drama surrounding the Johnny Depp-Amber defamation trial.
One would have to harken all the way back to OJ Simpson’s 1995 murder trial to find a celebrity court case that so thoroughly captivated the public.
Both parties have leveled appalling allegations of abuse at one another, and it should be evident to any who’s even passingly familiar with the testimony that this relationship was deeply toxic from the very beginning.
Depp took the stand first and alleged that Heard punched him, put out cigarettes on his face, severed the tip of his finger, and defecated in his bed as an act of revenge.
Heard completed her testimony on Monday, and those who were willing to listen with an open mind were stunned by her claims about Depp’s behavior.
Unfortunately for the actress, by that time, the court of public opinion had mostly made up its mind.
Heard recounted one incident in which a drug-addled Depp performed a "cavity search" after accusing her of stealing and hiding his cocaine.
She alleged that Depp sexually assaulted her with a glass bottle during a violent confrontation that took place in Austalia while he was filming the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
In the years since the #MeToo movement began to shine a light on abuse and sexual violence against women in Hollywood, many victims have come forward with stunning survival stories.
But Heard’s situation is different from most, in that she’s encountered far more resistance than support from the public.
Not only that, many of those who openly doubt her story are women, and their skepticism about her allegations often takes the form of seething vitriol hurled at Heard and her supporters.
And it’s not just social media users who are angry at the actress.
This past weekend alone, both Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live played the trial for laughs, with Maher accusing Heard of using fake tears to manipulate the jury.
That sort of snide commentary has been a constant throughout the trial, and Heard has been on the receiving end of far more snark than Depp.
The case is undeniably complicated, and it appears that both parties struggled with addiction and behaved violently toward one another.
But the fact remains that Heard took the stand, leveled appalling allegations of abuse at her ex-husband, and the response from millions of Depp fans has been one of mockery and smug disbelief.
A recent Atlantic article about this phenomenon used the term "Deppford Wives" to describe the army of women — many middle-aged or beyond — who have remained firm in their support for the actor.
“Makes me sick listening to Amber Heard,” one Twitter is quoted as saying.
“Literally amber heard is the plague,” another wrote.
A Heard supporter identified only as Rebecca (she wished to remain anonymous so as to avoid harassment from Depp fans) attributes this ill will to a toxic mentality among Depp’s most obsessive fans.
“We hang so much of our own identity on these things that we love,” she told The Atlantic.
“So if those things are threatened, you either have to admit that you’re sort of a bad person for liking those things or you have to convince yourself that everyone else is wrong.”
The article also quotes Hilde Van den Bulck, a professor of communication at Drexel University, who describes the phenomenon of "anti-fandom."
The term describes people who derive part of their identity from the things that they hate, in much the same way that fans express themselves through the things they love.
Anti-fans of Heard’s, Van den Bulck explains, might not be fans of Depp’s at all, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent them from finding a sense of community and belonging among people who hate the actress.
We probably don’t need to tell you that this mentality is distressingly common on social media these days, and it infects everything from sports coverage to political discourse.
And now, a televised trial is fanning the flames of blind hatred toward a 36-year-old actress and single mom who’s involved in a nightmare legal battle.
Even if she wins the trial, which seems probable, it’s unlikely that Amber Heard’s life will ever return to any semblance of normalcy.