Monica Lewinsky says the public 'are guilty' after consuming Depp v Heard 'courtroom porn'

Monica Lewinsky has called the trial Depp v Heard 'courtroom porn' as she condemns the way the public have consumed this case

Monica Lewinsky on Depp v Heard 'courtroom porn'
(Image credit: Future: Canva / Getty)

Monica Lewinsky has shared her opinion on the Depp v Heard 'courtroom porn' that has exploded over social media over the past few months as she claims the public is 'guilty' of becoming 'virtual jurors.'

Depp v Heard concerns the actor Johnny Depp suing his ex-wife Amber Heard for $50M Dollars. The case which lasted for several weeks was live-streamed across a number of sites and has become one of the most talked-about news stories in the past few months. The public interest in this case has led to many people publically sharing their opinions about this domestic violence case, an action which American activist Monica Lewinsky has condemned. 

In Vanity Fair (opens in new tab), Monica Lewinsky penned an opinion piece and explained why she thinks the public consumption of this case which some have referred to as a 'Trial by TikTok' should be condemned.

The activist explained that the trial had become 'courtroom porn' that was consumed through social media snippets that are 'biased, curated, and cursory'. She then added that underpinning the public consumption of this case was misogyny and as people continued to comment and make memes about this case they 'stoked the flames of misogyny'.

"I wasn’t surprised that the memes about Amber Heard far outnumbered those about Johnny Depp. I wasn’t surprised that the cruel and vitriolic discourse was predominantly aimed at the woman. And I shouldn’t have been surprised (but I was) that shortly after my search, I began to be served suggested posts on the trial," said Monica.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp

(Image credit: JIM LO SCALZO / Contributor / Getty Images)

Monica added that this wasn't necessarily the public's fault and perhaps it was a confusing culture shock to consume the trial in this snack-sized way.

"Because the trial has also been available live on our screens, we think, subconsciously, that we have a right to look and watch. To judge. To comment.
And we end up with this confusing cultural crossover of watching two people (whom we are used to seeing as actors acting on a screen) in a setting—a courtroom—where we would normally expect them to be assuming their characters’ roles," she said.

Monica explained that this had led many members of the public to feel like 'virtual jurors' who were entitled to condemn Amber Heard.

Monica questioned, "But what is too much? What is defined as “too far”? As we have watched this story unfold, what does our opinion entitle us to? Does it entitle us to say whom we 'believe'? To restate the cherry-picked facts we’ve glommed on to that have led us, as virtual jurors, to 'just feel it in our bones'?"

"Yeah, sure. But does it entitle us to be cruel? I’m not talking about freedom of speech. I’m talking about social media participants recognizing that they are also part of a society of human beings," said Monica.

Amber Heard

(Image credit: JIM LO SCALZO / Contributor / Getty)

Monica concluded by saying that following her past involvement in the Bill Clinton scandal that has followed her for decades, she understands how this type of public bashing can be permanently damaging for someone.

"Having been on the receiving end of this kind of cruelty, I can tell you the scars never fade," said Monica as she added, "Does our opinion toward this case entitle us to feel so superior—or inferior—that we can create a meme or a TikTok or a tweet saying something that gets other people to laugh at someone who is already suffering?"

Monica Lewinsky

(Image credit: Getty)

This 'trial by TikTok' is another argument that has been discussed by the BBC (opens in new tab) which revealed that fake TikTok accounts had been set up during the trial to stream snippets of the case to the public. It was revealed that 11% of the accounts discussing the trial were bots, which is a 'very high number' of fake accounts.

Like Monica Lewinsky, the BBC argued, "There have been essentially two cases here - one decided by a jury and another by the public." 

The BBC also concluded that despite the fake bots creating content, there was also a more important issue about the general public becoming virtual members of the jury through the consumption of media. "There may be bots, there may be fake accounts, but the vast majority of the traffic is made up of real people who want to join a boisterous, global conversation about justice, truth, and conflict in relationships," concluded the article.

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.