A Christian audience may not be receptive to the idea that a legal battle between a now divorced celebrity couple is important, let alone has major cultural implications. But that is exactly what the lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard was. Since the days of Harvey Weinstein, the feminist movement in the United States has developed a convenient tool to bring down powerful men both malicious and benign. On Wednesday, June 1st, 2022, the #MeToo Movement suffered its greatest defeat yet.
Prior setbacks for the #MeToo Movement include Tara Reade, the woman who accused Biden of sexual harassment before adding more to her story. The movement also suffered a major defeat with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, but the boy scout of a justice did not receive the cultural vindication. Instead, the sheer might of partisan politics levied the necessary blow. These two examples failed to see major cultural cohesion, as opposed to political cohesion. Aziz Ansari was #MeToo’d over a bad date, but a D list actor surviving this scandal doesn’t defeat a movement. Additionally, Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr mocking feminists in their respective specials, Sticks and Stones and Paper Tiger only laid the groundwork for what we are seeing now.
Johnny Depp is undoubtedly an A list movie star and method actor. After being accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife Amber Heard, a rising actress at the time, he suffered a career setback, including losing Pirates 6, a movie that probably would have sucked but made hundreds of millions at the box office. In court, a jury found that Amber Heard knowingly lied in her Washington Post column about Johnny Depp. He would net $8.35 million against Heard as a result of the verdict.
Despite Amber Heard’s best efforts to censor social media posts critical of her (via PR firms) and corporate media bias being favorable towards her during the trial, the populist overwhelmingly supported Johnny Depp, and largely had since the Amber Heard tapes were circulated. This trial was like an election or a sport where an underdog worked long and hard to achieve victory, the prize in this case was a man’s reputation. Johnny Depp became the hero of his own story, and Amber Heard the villain. Johnny Depp represented innocent men wrongly accused, while Amber Heard represented feminism and the #MeToo Movement.
The defeat of Amber Heard and, by proxy, feminism signifies that the culture is more willing to hold women accountable for their actions than at the time when Heard libeled Depp in the Washington Post. In sharp contrast, however, we have seen the Evangelical industrial complex, Big Eva, shutter at the idea of holding women equally accountable for their actions.
The possible overturn of Roe v Wade led to multiple members of Big Eva come out denying a women’s culpability in an abortion. This happened in the pro-life movement, even though in over 40% of abortions, the mother is the only abortionist.
Additionally in Southern Baptist circles, women like Jennifer Lyell are paraded around as victims of sex abuse, despite the fact that she was a fully grown adult women having a sexual relationship with a married man while being a higher on the corporate ladder in the Southern Baptist Convention. He had to resign while she would eventually get paid. Moreover, Johnny Hunt has dubiously been accused of sexual assault, in an account that would never hold up in court. Far from saying the men in these situations were innocent as doves, the women are hailed as victims this day just as Amber Heard was.
In the broader culture we see a desire to hold women accountable for their actions, yet in religious elite circles, we see internalized feminism reigning over biblical notions of due process. The world is ready to move on from #MeToo, but the church is not.
Yet we will have many pastors complaining about why their flocks take Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan more seriously than their mangina monologuing on Sunday mornings. Truth matters. Culture matters. Applied theology matters. It’s long past time for the church to rid itself of its internalized feminism.