Shortly after we found out that Johnny Depp’s now ex-wife Amber Heard was divorcing him for domestic abuse, the world was divided into two camps. One was hellbent on calling Heard a gold-digger and a liar, the other… believed her. Even though many of us grew up adoring Depp, it would have been foolish to let our judgement be clouded by our inner fangirls.
The fact that Disney has fired him from the massively successful Pirates of the Caribbean series can be seen as a sign of solidarity with survivors of abuse, but is it really?
Once Hollywood was hit by the #MeToo movement, people wanted to hold abusers accountable for their actions. People like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and later Asia Argento had to face very real consequences for their offenses. But, not everyone was held accountable by the studios backing them, much to our chagrin.
While Woody Allen still continues to thrive, Louise CK is back in action as well. He has been making racist, and otherwise offensive “jokes” at stand-up gigs like he was never accused by multiple women of sexually inappropriate behaviour just a few months ago.
Depp is another guy whose career hasn’t been terribly affected by the backlash against him. Even in the face of heavy criticism, Warner Bros as well as our former woke bae, JK Rowling came out with their unflinching support for Depp. He has already played the main antagonist, Grindelwald, in two installments of Fantastic Beasts, the spin-off series based on the Harry Potter universe. Depp will continue to do so in the next three installments that have already been announced as well!
But hey, at least he has been booted from the other successful franchise that made him a household name over the last 16 years. That’s some progress, right? Wrong. Disney has not clearly stated anywhere as to why Depp has been fired, which in itself is a disservice to the #MeToo cause, if that indeed was the reason. Disney now stands to save at least $90 million (approve 700 crores) per film by showing Depp the door. So, going forward this will not only ensure a smaller budget for their films, but will increase the scope of profit margins vastly.
No one else play the swashbuckling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow the way Depp can, perhaps. But it is also true that the last two films, in the series were a disaster at the box office. Add to that the fact that Depp would often show up drunk on the sets, disrupt schedules, and then eventually go on to get mired in a very public domestic dispute. Brands do care about these things affecting their image.
At the end of the day, it did affect business for Disney, and that’s the bottom-line for capitalist ventures. A production company that aligns itself with good old American family values is no place for domestic abusers and drunken ruffians, at least not the ones who have already been publicly shamed and rejected, but removing a mega movie star who has proven to be a profitable investment in the past is hardly a good business decision.