With the Johnny Depp lawsuit against Amber Heard, the “tabloidization” of TikTok

With the Johnny Depp lawsuit against Amber Heard, the “tabloidization” of TikTok

By Constance Vilanova

Posted today at 6:00 p.m., updated at 7:03 p.m.

Since April 11, the Fairfax court in the United States has been the epicenter of a 2.0 war where all shots are allowed, even the most misogynistic. The trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard unleashes social networks, and in particular TikTok, where two clans are fighting a fight as unequal as it is merciless: the pro-Amber against the pro-Johnny.

In 2018, actress Amber Heard signed a column in the washington post. Without mentioning the name of her ex-husband Johnny Depp, with whom she was married between 2015 and 2016, she claimed to have become “a public figure of domestic violence”. It is on this declaration that the lawsuit for defamation brought by the actor, who claims 50 million dollars, is based today. Over the days of the hearing, the accusations of the two ex-spouses become more and more chilling, sketching the picture of a more than toxic relationship. The testimonies evoke the addictions, the blows suffered by the former lovers and the sexist and sexual violence of which Amber Heard claims to be a victim. On May 4, her voice broken by sobs, she told the bar of a marital rape.

Broadcast live on YouTube by the Court TV channel, the Depp legal battle vs. Heard looks for many Internet users between the computer screen and that of the telephone, like a series or a game of Super Bowl. So much so that Jenna Drenten, professor of marketing at Loyola University in Chicago, believes that there are now two very distinct Heard-Depp trials: one is broadcast on television, the other broadcast on the social network. Tik Tok. “Users sensationalise audiences there. They stage the testimonies, use sound clips for playback… They become the producers of the trial”she analyzes.

A form of “tabloidization of TikTok”, according to the academic. The Depp-Heard affair is causing so much engagement on the Chinese network that it has become “an opportunity to capitalize on”so that “Internet users collectively fabricate and dramatize stories and turn gossip into an investigation. (…) There is a desire to be the only one to discover something in the case, a desire to play the investigators, to publish an extract, even if it means avoiding the facts of violence.. Amanda Brennan, former editorial director of Tumblr, a specialist in memes and social networks, agrees:

“With the popularity of ‘True Crime’ documentaries and specialized justice shows, we have all become Sunday lawyers and we all want to add our opinion to the ongoing fight. »

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