Rowling’s remarks about Depp remind me of a favorite Dumbledore quote of mine, where the shrewd headmaster talks of choosing between what’s right and what’s easy.
Yesterday, Rowling released a statement regarding Johnny Depp’s title role casting in The Crimes of Grindelwald movie. The film is set for a monumental box-office success. Fans have, however, been voicing their dissatisfaction with Depp’s casting, and this has to do with the fact that Depp was accused by ex-wife Amber Heard of domestic abuse.
Rowling, a viciously active person on social media, had remained unusually quiet but broke her silence on the matter in a post published yesterday.
Despite defending Johnny Depp and their decision not to recast him, the statement ended: all of us have to do what we believe is the right thing. This immediately reminds one of the famous Dumbledore quotes of choosing between what’s right and what’s easy.
To Rowling, she has a deep conviction that what she did was the right thing. However, as fans continue to share a video of Depp being openly aggressive, breaking glasses near her then ex-wife, as well as the pictures of Amber’s bruised face one finds it very hard to agree with Rowling that she did the right thing. She chose the easy way out.
Heard has even made public the joint statement that she made with Depp on her Instagram page. She says that it was their full JOINT statement. She goes ahead to say that it’s wrong to pick a few lines in isolation and quote them out of context. She then continues by urging women to stand up and remain strong.
In the statement, she acknowledges that though their relationship was volatile, it was ever bound by love. The statement adds that no party made dishonest accusations to gain financially. She ends by saying that she will donate divorce settlement proceeds to charity.
However, we cannot just ignore the actor’s wrongdoings on account of Heard’s magnanimous and temperate response. We need to give Heard the room she badly needs and allow her to attain catharsis that usually accompanies forgiveness. By holding Depp accountable, we let her free to recover and resolve the situation in a way that is best for her.
Rewritten the Story
David Yates, who is the director of the new film, seems to have entirely rewritten the story. When asked for comments about the domestic violence allegation, he responded by saying that he only sees kindness’ and decency’ in Johnny Depp.
Yates comments reflect a serious misunderstanding or understatement of abuse. The biggest challenge victims of sexual abuse often face is that, in most cases, their abuse does not leave any mark. In fact, victims are often forced to explain why the sexual encounter was not consensual. But you can’t possibly discount images of Heard. In her case, the physical abuse obviously left scars, and it’s hard to argue that she created her injuries, as people are quick to say of sexual assault victims.
Insult to women
Yates and Rowling’s reluctance to criticize Depp feels like an insult to the womenfolk in a society that continues to minimise and disbelieves women’s testimonies regarding abuse.
Unable to state that there is no evidence for Amber Heard’s accusation, the filmmakers instead argue that painting Depp as domestic abuser doesn’t conform to their perception of him. Rowling continues to write that together with the filmmakers they are happy to have Depp play a principal character. According to Yates, Heard’s account doesn’t match the person he’s been working for’.
My take on all this is that Yates and Rowling have never experienced or witnessed abuse firsthand. Ask anyone who has, and they will tell you that the strongest indicator of a presence of violence is these types of explanations. This is because most abusers tend to seek refuge in their allies and friends’ good opinions of themselves.
In the meantime, a story that can be told only through a single voice, troubled photographs, and surreptitious recordings will never be broadcast to a blockbuster movie. It will be swept under the rugs and quickly forgotten.