The Daily Beast is reporting on something many of us in fandom already know: Johnny Depp’s legion of fans is scarier than the birther movement spawned by Donald Trump in opposition to President Obama.
The latest incident of mass trolling by what the online source terms ‘Depps truther army’ began last Sunday morning when Amber Heard called out Instagram for censoring the female body. To make her point, the Aquaman actress posted a side by side shot of her and the King of Atlantis himself, Jason Mamoa, shirtless to point out the social-media platform’s unfair “nudity guidelines & careful gender policies.”
That tweet was noticed by Alana Evans, an adult actress and leader of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG)—a union that represents talent in the adult industry. APAG has campaigned to get Instagram to change its discriminatory policies against sex workers.
“Our performers, sex workers and cam models have been dealing with being deleted from Instagram for head shots, BBWs are deleted for wearing bikinis. We’re not exposing any of our actual body parts—we’re not violating the rules—but performers are being deleted en masse,” Evans told The Daily Beast. “We’d been sending [Instagram] naked pictures of Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian that still sit on Instagram. These are celebrities that are a part of the elite. They have pictures of themselves fully exposing their breasts, you report the image, and you’re told it’s not a violation.”
So, Evans called on Heard to support the “thousands of sex workers” like herself who’ve been on the frontlines of the fight against Instagram’s censorship practices and she replied. In a tweet, Amber said, “You have my support! Sex workers rights are human rights. The fact this is even a topic of debate should take the breath out of any feminist, or humanist for that matter. I always have publicly supported sex worker rights but of course I would love 2 hear more about how I can help what you’re speaking 2. Thank u 4 not assuming, tho i havent been involved n ur particular fight, that it means I haven’t been aware of sex worker issues at all.”
THAT didn’t sit well with Depp truthers, who began targeting Evans for that interaction. Though not representative of all fans of Johnny Depp, there’s an awfully nasty batch of them that resemble both Donald Trump’s birther movement and the online trolling efforts to drive down ratings for popular female-led movies and TV shows (here, here, and here.) This element is apparently driven by the alt.right men’s movement who are motivated to see a famous representative of the #metoo movement taken down. The narrative they push is Amber Heard was physically abusive to Johnny Depp, a proposition the judge in their court case recently cast doubt on.
Evans was inundated with messages disputing abuse allegations against Depp that “all look like bot accounts, follow the same number of people that follow them, and use these chocolate-donut emojis to show their solidarity.” As writers for this website have also experienced, the tweets also called Evans names like ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt.’ Some even threatened her safety.
Evans told Daily Beast: “I thought, wait a minute, Amber is being attacked just for existing, and I’m being attacked just for talking to her! So, I posted a message of support for her because, at that moment, I could see all the crap that she was dealing with—all of these crazy, obsessed fans of Johnny Depp’s that are coming for her.”
For more on this story, check out Daily Beast’s full coverage, including tweets from Depp’s online toxic community.