Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Depp

Although many could argue that there are much more pressing issues at hand in current politics, one issue that has hit home for me is the lawsuit tag happening now with Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Ever since I was little, I have been a huge Harry Potter fan, reading the books and watching the movies over and over again. So, when I heard that Warner Bros. Pictures were taking on the project of creating the Fantastic Beasts franchise, I was extremely excited by the casting. My favorite actor from Les Miserables and the most iconic pirate actor in Hollywood would be starring together! Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse in 2020 when Johnny Depp was forced out of his role as Gellert Grindelwald.

In 2015, Johnny Depp married his long-term girlfriend, Amber Heard. However, within only a year, Heard filed for divorce from Depp, citing physical abuse claims against Depp. She explained how he was often under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leading to violence against her. These claims shocked many, since Johnny Depp has been one of the most well-respected and liked leading actors over the past 30 years. Their legal battle has been raging on for 5 years now, but recently Johnny Depp has been blacklisted in Hollywood due to him being labeled a ‘wife-beater.’

Although Hollywood seems perfectly fine glamorizing abusive relationships, as shown in movies such as 50 Shades of Grey and 365 Days, they don’t seem to have a tolerance for accusations happening with their A-list actors. The art of movie-making has always been mixed with crime, either physical or financial, as celebrities with huge paychecks seen to think they are bigger than the law. It could be because the roles they play allow them to get away with criminal acts, such as in movies like Ocean’s 8, or it could be because they are so detached from ‘real life’ that they think laws do not apply to them. However, this has proven to not be the case in recent years.

Since these claims about Johnny Depp have come to light, I have found myself torn between appreciating his art of acting, and feeling guilty for supporting someone who has committed atrocious crimes. I have a hard time denying that he is an amazing actor, but ignoring his crimes seems like a crime itself. Enough people within and outside of Warner Bros. seemed to believe that these crimes overshadow any talent that Johnny Depp possesses, and instead places the crime above his art. In todays day-and-age, crimes have become public opinion, leading to actors losing their jobs based on public pressure, even when it is not required by law. Although the rational side of myself believes that Depp should deal with the consequences of his actions, the other more selfish part of me mourns the movies that he could have created with his talent.

Unfortunately, the art of movie-making and crime have become too intertwined, leading to wasted talent and criminal records. Even if someone’s art form catapults them to stardom, they are still never safe from the law, or even worse, the wrath of the public. While Depp will now faces a lost job because of his crimes, the public, including myself, faces a loss of art within Hollywood.

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Maya Williams

One thought on “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Depp

  1. Hi Maya!

    I think your discussion did a very good job of explaining how one can both condemm the actions of an individual (Johnny Depp in this instance) and still enjoy the art they created. Johnny Depp has been hailed by many as a phenomenal actor, and has been seen in many movies that are dear to the public. But in the wake of the Depp v Heard trial, is brings the question: should the art stand alone, or should art be cancelled when the artist is?

    I, personally, don’t believe cancel culture is ever the solution, but that’s exactly what happened to Johnny Depp; he was essentially Blacklisted from Hollywood and replaced in the middle of the “Fantastic Beasts” series. Do I condone the abusive actions he was accused of? No, but I think it’s taking it too far to say you can never watch “Pirates of the Carribean” or any of the other multitude of movies he was in. You posed a good point that ignoring the crimes seem criminal in of itself, and I would agree. Ultimately I think we as a society need to find a middle ground where we can call out the actions of an individual and reject their actions as acceptable without cancelling them and everything they’ve ever created.

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