It’s gotten to the point where I might as well start sending these out entitled Apologies from the Engine Room. An apparently significant downside of switching from a weekly schedule to fortnightly is the weekly inner narrative: “Wait, is this a writing week, or a non-writing week? Surely I’ve only just sent one out, right?” Generally, if I’m asking myself that question, the answer is ‘No’. Generally I check, sigh, and go and find my unfinished draft, sit my butt in a chair and get it out. But that’s not what happened last week. There was no half-finished draft, my notebook had nothing but a hollowed-out shell where ideas should be.
I don’t think relaxing a release schedule further would help me. Sometimes the weeks are just bad, sometimes there’s just not much left of me to share. Sometimes I’m nothing but a hollowed-out shell where ideas should be.
This week saw the conclusion of what has been referred to as The Greatest Show on Earth, An Irrelevant Distraction, or A Horror Show with Immeasurable Aftershocks. I’ve not watched the Heard/Depp trial myself, but then neither has almost anyone. As far as I can tell, barring the odd exception, the vast majority of people have received their pre-selected segments via memes, reels, TikToks, and Facebook posts. Legal nuance of the defamation trial and counter-trial has been glossed over by armchair activists, Depp fans and … well I’ll get to that third category in a second.
I have no knowledge of US defamation law. I have not read the specific details of this case or the preceding UK case that found in Heard’s favour. I have no personal attachment to either of the celebrities involved. But I do have a deep concern, and it is born of the gradual and relentless attack that women have been subjected to in the media, social and traditional.
Sometimes we have to look a little deeper. For example:
- Sometimes we have to look to who is celebrating: We were concerned when Putin celebrated that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine.
- Sometimes we have to look to who is embedded in a community: The crossover of the spiritual and New Age communities with conspiracy theorists and white supremacy is shockingly deep.
- Sometimes we have to look at the repercussions of what seems like a one-off decision: Ruth Bader Ginsburg choosing not to step down from the Supreme Court in 2014 led to an imbalance of the court, which is leading to the unraveling of Roe vs Wade.
And in this case:
- Sometimes we have to look to who is celebrating: People who are thrilled that Me Too is now tainted, especially in media industries.
- Sometimes we have to look to who is embedded in a community: Men’s rights activists and right-wing media.
- Sometimes we have to look at the repercussions of what seems like a one-off decision: An increase in normalised casual misogyny that I have heard out in the real world, an increase in the fear of reporting domestic abuse, and Marilyn Manson suing former fiancée Evan Rachel Wood for defamation.
Depp’s partial, murky legal victory has resulted in walking back progress. The jury was able to decide her allegations were not false yet simultaneously find that she had “defamed” Depp by making them, as it suggests that truth is subordinate to the reputational damage it may cause.
Whoever ‘won’ this case, to me it feels like it has made the world a slightly darker place, and I just don’t feel that our love of Depp’s movie career is worth it.
The denouement?! Already? We haven’t even hit 600 words! What is this half-arsed slackery?
Now, I’ll be honest, after writing the above I did need a musical palate cleanser, so there’s definitely a new playlist this week. But it was hard to write, hard to find the right balance, the right tone. And I don’t think I have. I don’t think I’ve either truly expressed all of my views, nor have I walked the tightrope of opinion. This newsletter never purported to be about objectivity, but I can’t deny that the 10th edition of 2022 is a change of pitch.
I hope you’ll forgive me though; both my failure to communicate my thoughts lucidly, pleasingly, and my failure to bring timely pop culture content.
I hope you’ll join me again in a fortnight.