‘Johnny Vs Amber: The US Trial’ Review: A “He Said, She Said” Of The Amber Heard Vs Johnny Depp Trial Which Does Not Add Much To What We Already Knew
One of the most historic celebrity feuds we have had this year (and probably this decade) is the Amber Heard Vs Johnny Depp trial. As a writer myself, I recall reading and writing about this trial with harrowing testimonies and allegations of violence and abuse from both sides. However, it is safe to assume that most people on the internet turned this trial into a joke rather than a pursuit of truth wherein those that sided with Johnny went on to make jokes, videos, memes etc mocking Amber, straight up saying that she is lying. Amidst all this, it was easy for one to get drowned in all of the Amber hate and completely gloss over her side of the story. Hence, when I got an opportunity to review the first 2 episodes of Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial, a docu-series by Discovery+, I was more than interested to see the way this trial is portrayed in a sequence from a neutral perspective. However, I don’t know if the documentary was actually able to reveal anything new or was simply just a way to capitalise over something that was already broadcasted to the whole world.
The Coverage Of The Trial
Since Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial is a two-part docu-series about a topic that was broadcasted in real-time in front of the entire world, there is no scope for talking about the people involved here. Which made it seem as though this entire documentary was just a way to capitalise on something people are already interested in but knew almost everything about. Nevertheless, let’s just discuss the manner in which the trial was portrayed. Now, the way this series dissected the trial was to show both sides: Johnny’s and Amber’s individually. This means, unlike the original broadcast where everything came to light in real-time, you will get to see the entirety of Johnny’s side first and then Amber’s. I personally liked this approach as it allows the viewers to objectively watch and make opinions about both people without marring their perspective with factors other than the party themselves.
Now, there were a lot of experts who had been invited to give their opinion and commentary on the trial in Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial. This is especially important considering the fact that Amber’s legal team refused to be on the series and hence, her side of the story was said by experts who had covered the trial. However, Johnny Depp’s lawyers, Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew were a part of the series which made his side of the story seem a bit more solid than Amber’s.
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Another thing I noticed was that while Johnny’s side of the story was based more on facts and evidence, Amber’s appeals more to the viewer’s emotions. Let’s dissect this a little. Johnny Depp’s side of the story covered: the allegations made, the pieces of evidence presented by Depp’s team against Amber, their commentary of the case and the overall social media support Johnny got out of it. As you can see, a lot of Johnny’s side of the story is presented using a lot of factual evidence and expert opinions. But, because this case was up for public scrutiny, most of the things presented in Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial was already known to me having followed the case. I will admit that watching Johnny’s case being built and the attorneys talking about their process was super interesting. It was even more intriguing watching experts dissect everything that was revealed and alleged in court and the kind of effects these individual elements had on the case. Moreover, the series also uncovered a few strategic decisions taken by Johnny’s legal team that might have contributed to his win which is even more riveting to watch.
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I feel like due to Amber’s lawyers being unavailable to talk about the factual evidence of the case and how they went about approaching it, her side of the story didn’t have the same impact as Johnny’s. However, when I say “same” I mean that it had a different impact on me. As I stated earlier, due to the social media outrage over the trial, it is very easy for one to dismiss Amber’s side of the story. But then again, is that really fair? To be fair, the trial was more about the defamation rather than the abuse and that is what the verdict was based on too. So who are we to assume that everything Amber said was a lie? And as a woman and a victim of abuse, I won’t lie, the way people were making a mockery out of something this serious was downright concerning to me. And that is exactly what Amber’s side of the story in Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial appeals to.
The series covers her side by majorly discussing the social media backlash Amber had to face for talking about something so painfully sensitive and personal. While it is okay for people to have whatever opinions they wish to and side with whoever, is it okay to make someone testifying of abuse the butt of so many jokes? Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial will make you question this. While I am not completely mad at this, at the end of the day, we are talking about a trial. And an extremely publicised one at that. Trying to simply base one side on emotional appeal while the other contains cold, hard facts imbalances the arguments which kinda renders dissecting the documentary into two parts pointless. It seemed as though by trying to appeal to the audience through a more emotional angle, Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial almost tries too hard to alter one’s perspective of Amber Heard or make her seem just as plausible as Johnny Depp. While I am not saying she was lying, I am saying that Johnny did seem more consistent about his side which shows through no matter how hard the series tries.
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Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial has seemingly tried to objectively cover both sides of the stories in the most holistic way possible. Backgrounds, allegations, testimonies, people’s reactions, expert opinions etc, and many pieces of information have been shown with the goal to present both sides of the trial as neutrally as possible. However, all the emotional appeal of Amber’s side, while perspective altering, does not make up for her lawyers’ absence. Also, as mentioned, the series tries to make Amber seem just as plausible as Johnny which has fallen a flat. Also, to be fair, this docu-series doesn’t really add anything new to the already existing narrative of what happened in the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial which makes me question the point of this documentary in the first place. With that, I give Johnny vs Amber: The US Trial 2/5 stars.