Twitch streamers turn Depp W. Heard trial into a meme, React Fest

Screenshot from a recent Pokimane Twitch live stream showing her reacting to Amber Heard's ongoing libel lawsuit against Johnny Depp.

Tears counter?
Screenshot: Pokimane / Kotaku

If you’ve been visiting Twitch recently, you may have noticed that most popular category “Just chatting” and one thing dominated the front page: Libel trial between actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. What began on April 11 as a legal battle that chronicled a toxic relationship filled with violence and trauma has since attracted top streamers such as Pokimane and xQcwho react to the trial and remember it. In other words, streaming Depp vs Heard Litigation has become a growing trend on the Amazon-owned platform for creators large and small to maximize their audience, some capitalizing on the “entertainment value” of obscene accusations.

Depp and Heard have a history together: they were married from 2015 to 2017 before they broke up. After their breakup, Heard accused Depp of abuse throughout their marriage, talking about that trauma in detail. 2018 Washington Post speaker without an explicit name. They have since filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against each other, leading to a defamation lawsuit that officially entered a Virginia court on April 11.

There is a lot to be sorted out in court, from heartbreaking stories of physical and sexual abuse to very intimate details about drug addiction. Along with these serious themes, the trial was marked by unexpected digressions such as testimony of a dude who smoked while driving his car and Depp draws during court hearing. Along with the seriousness of the defamation case, there is an element of humor that the streamers have inserted themselves into. Many top broadcasters of the Amazon-owned platform from Blimey Asmongold fan to socialist political commentator Hasanabibroadcast the case to tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of subscribers, creating content for their audience to consume to the point of disgust.

It has become a new meta where streamers attract thousands of viewers. Content creators on Twitch included the names of both actors in their captions to attract curious viewers, choosing options like “Justice for…” whichever side they’re on, and “Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp Watching the Party.” And as streamers bring in people to watch the trial with them, it risks turning into one big party full of laughter and memes at the cost of trauma. Streamers like Pokimane had on-screen counters that tracked certain behavior in court, like Heard crying or Depp laughing. Others, including Rainbow Six Siege streamerdiscussed their chatter about the merits of the testimony of both actors, especially Heard.

Streamers can use this cultural event to increase their following, but some viewers other broadcastersin accordance with Launcher correspondent and former Kotaku employee Nathan Grayson – they didn’t really want the court to turn into “low effort” mill content. People took to Twitter to express one’s dissatisfaction in apparent strangeness from Depp vs Heard defamation case is seen as a kind of “sport’s event” on Twitch, where streamers choose one side and denounce the other. At the moment, people seem to be on Depp’s side.

Richard Hogue, Digital and Video Game Lawyer, Creator YouTube channel of virtual legalityexplained Kotaku email is part of the reason people are fascinated Depp vs Heard trial.

“Almost everyone knows Johnny Depp either from his more avant-garde work or from his late Disney revival period,” said Hoeg, who himself streamed the lawsuit with fellow YouTubers such as California lawyer Alit Mazeika of Valid Bytes as part of a collective colloquially known as LawTube. “Hence, the actual details themselves are more obscene than usual, even for a case of this type, with cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, severed fingers, bloody graffiti, hours of intimate audio clips, and two mutually exclusive descriptions. The world is all vying for attention. With the exception of the O. J. Simpson trial, we may never have seen a case with such a powerful combination of notoriety and obscenity.”

While he “doesn’t believe the lawsuit was staged as a farce,” despite many comedic moments, he is concerned that streamers may be spreading misinformation.

“I think there’s always a concern that people who cover the news might be doing it in a way that reduces the level of useful information rather than improving it,” Hoeg said. “That’s why Virtual Legality and Legal Bytes work so hard to inform from a legal perspective (as well as entertain). I also think there is a risk in terms of decorum from some quarters. This is a real case with very serious allegations on both sides, and some may view it more like a soap opera or a sporting event than a trial. But with that risk comes opportunity, and I think that’s really the future of this kind of “entertainment.” Unfiltered streams of real-world events with commentators to help people understand what they’re watching.”

Depp vs Heard The trial will take a short break starting May 9, but plans to resume on May 16, with an expected end date set for May 27.

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