Amber Heard and Johnny Depp are currently embroiled in an incredibly public court battle after he filed a defamation lawsuit against her for writing an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2018.
In her piece, Heard detailed her experiences of being a survivor of domestic abuse, and while she didn’t name Depp, her ex-husband, by name, his legal team has argued that it was heavily implied that he was the abuser.
Depp has denied being abusive toward Heard and has claimed that he lost out on movie deals as a direct result of her op-ed. She countersued him for $100 million, and the case went to trial last month.
Throughout her testimony, Heard has accused Depp of physically, sexually, and emotionally abusing her since 2012, recounting some of the alleged encounters in extreme detail.
Depp denied her claims during his four-day testimony, and accused her of being the aggressor in their relationship.
The trial is taking place in Virginia, and the state’s laws that allow the court to be livestreamed and watched by the public has secured it a captive audience across the globe.
In fact, the accessibility of the trial has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after social media users started taking audio snippets from Heard’s tearful testimonies and turning them into viral sounds for comedy videos on TikTok.
Depp’s supporters have also been making memes out of the endless footage that they have been afforded, with it being argued that the severity of Heard’s allegations is being completely overshadowed and instead turned into public ridicule.
In addition to showing up at the courthouse to share their support for Depp, his fans have been rallying together on social media in his defense.
Part of Heard’s testimony that detailed her sexual assault allegations against Depp triggered an onslaught of TikTok reactions from his supporters, who claimed that the alleged abuse she was describing was “every woman’s fantasy.”
“I was just sitting there on this carpet, looking at this dirty carpet, wondering how I wound up on this carpet and why I never noticed that the carpet was so filthy before,” Heard goes on. “I didn’t know what else to do, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to react.”
In the video, Lance has leaves thrown at him as he lies on his floor, with the TikTok’s caption reading: “I’ve heard of dirty pop, but dirty carpet… that’s a new one. 🤔”
“In honor of the trial starting back up…Had 👏 to 👏 do 👏 it!” he added in the comments.
But this wasn’t a sentiment that everybody agreed with, with one viewer commenting: “Making fun of violence? That’s funny to you?” and it wasn’t long before Lance’s video was circulating on social media as people reacted to his decision to make it.
“This trial is about domestic violence, emotional abuse, and sexual assault. And this is what Lance Bass is choosing to do. These folks really are determined to dissuade victims from ever coming forward again,” someone wrote.
The Rep Project acknowledged the wider issue with social media trends as it tweeted: “Mocking or making light of domestic abuse and sexual assault is never okay – and it's not just Lance Bass, but a troubling trend taking over social media.”
Another wrote on Reddit: “What a pathetic loser. He's seriously grasping at whatever last bits of relevance he can get by spending his time making misogynistic TikToks. Really sad.”
“This is disgusting and disturbing -- and of course, it's exactly why Johnny Depp filed his defamation lawsuit in Virginia in the first place, for the live broadcast, so stans and bots could engage in this emotional terrorism campaign and edit footage to manipulate public opinion,” someone else suggested.
Lance has not commented on the backlash to his post but the TikTok video has now been deleted. Buzzfeed News has contacted his representative for comment.
In addition to the memes and TikTok audio, Depp’s supporters also sparked controversy over the weekend when it was revealed that they’d been bombarding his 22-year-old daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, with abusive social media comments.
Lily-Rose has not posted to her Instagram account since before the trial began, but her old posts have been flooded with messages demanding to know why she isn’t publicly supporting her dad.
Meanwhile, this is the second time that Depp has taken domestic abuse allegations to court. In 2018, he filed to sue British tabloid the Sun for libel after he was called a “wife beater” in an article.
The case went to trial in 2020, with Heard testifying in support of the Sun and claiming that Depp had been abusive throughout their relationship. Depp ended up losing the case after a judge ruled that the Sun’s statement about him was correct.
Despite Depp already losing a court case about the allegations, the judge’s verdict was not grounds to dismiss his second lawsuit against Heard as he’d filed to sue the publication, not her.
The current trial was scheduled to end on Thursday, but due to a significant amount of evidence that is yet to be presented, it has been extended to May 27, when the jury will then consider their verdict.