Culture

J.K. Rowling Under Fire for Keeping Johnny Depp Employed

J. K. Rowling attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London. Picture (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

J.K. Rowling is proud of her left-leaning politics. She’s spoken repeatedly about her support of various leftist programs and positions. No one is going to confuse her for an American-style conservative anytime soon.

However, she’s finding herself under fire, almost being treated as if she’d sided with Roy Moore for the Alabama Senate seat.

You see, she’s defending her decision to keep Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel, this amid the whole #MeToo situation.

Why does this matter?

Well, while there don’t appear to have been any allegations of sexual misconduct against Depp, his now ex-wife Amber Heard claimed Depp was physically abusive to her. Photographs surfaced of a clearly battered Heard and it looked like Depp was someone with an anger management problem.

Over at Daily Caller’s Smokeroom, writer Jena Greene took issue with Rowling siding with Depp for the role.

Rowling’s indifference reflects a sad moral truth about much of the entertainment industry. If this year in Hollywood has taught us anything, money and notoriety almost always override morality. There are several exceptions to this rule — Ridley Scott just replaced Kevin Spacey in his upcoming film after harassment allegations mounted against the actor.

Given J.K. Rowling’s colossal success and impact, she could likely replace Johnny Depp without much fallout. Her insistence on keeping the disgraced actor is confusing and seemingly hypocritical, though not entirely unexpected. Since the millionaire writer has difficulty taking criticism on social media, she likely doesn’t have enough of a backbone to fire Depp, either.

I don’t completely disagree.

However, with Depp, the waters are muddied a bit because of a statement issued after Depp and Heard reached a settlement.

Both actors issued a joint statement drawing a line under a saga which has appalled, titillated and divided the film industry and fans.

“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,” said the statement. “There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains.”

The statement said Heard would donate proceeds from the divorce to charity, without specifying how much, and struck a tone of reconciliation. “Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future.”

While it doesn’t explicitly say what happened one way or the other, it’s easy for someone predisposed to think well of Depp to see this as an admission that the whole thing was nothing.

I’m not a fan of Johnny Depp, personally. I feel like he’s gone too far off the deep end with his roles and is completely unable to perform any role that involves him being an actual, normal human being.

Meanwhile, I’ve been an Amber Heard fan since I first saw her in a film called Never Back Down. While not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, she was an absolute delight, and I’ve seen nothing from her since to dissuade me from that. She and William Fichtner took the Nick Cage schlock-fest that was Drive Angry and made it into one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

Hell, the few minutes she’s on the screen in Justice League are among my favorite in the movie for no other reason than she’s in them.

I say this because it’s important to note that yes, I have biases when it comes to these two. I’m very inclined to believe Heard over Depp as a general thing.

That said, Rowling is also in the position of having to decide whether to take allegations that have seemingly been recanted (or maybe not) into account while casting a big-name movie star to play the villain in the next movie based on her magical universe. It’s not hard to see why she’d side with Depp and believe him over Heard.

At some point, we’ve got to allow allegations that never progress beyond the allegation stage to be ignored. Even if they’re legitimate, they’re apparently not so egregious that Heard continued to fight, so why is everyone else so vested in this?

Yes, point out Rowling’s hypocrisy, but understand that, in time, it’ll come back in this direction.

Personally, I say if Depp is a wife beater he should be arrested, charged, and convicted. If his alleged victim isn’t pushing that narrative, neither will I.