Johnny Depp Has Become a Full-Circle Meme

For the previous 9 weeks, Johnny Depp was once TikTok. And TikTok was once Johnny Depp. Now, after only one submit thanking his fandom, his new account has greater than 12 million fans. If the defamation go well with the actor introduced in opposition to ex-wife Amber Heard became Depp right into a meme, then his look at the platform that propelled him from Hollywood famous person to social media influencer is the inevitable endgame of an international during which the entirety is content material.

The characters the actor has performed—maximum particularly Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow—have in the past grow to be memes as a result of their outlandishness, however the actor himself has now entered the sector of his larger-than-life characters. “Depp’s joining of TikTok is interesting because I’m not convinced that would have happened pre-trial, or if that platform hadn’t been so influential in producing content and shaping opinion,” says Rebecca Williams, affiliate professor in media audiences and participatory tradition on the University of South Wales.

What’s extra, Depp’s first submit on TikTok—a spotlight reel of him appearing and riding previous his adoring lovers on the conclusion of the trial, all through which a jury discovered Heard answerable for defamation for a 2018 Washington Post op-ed during which she claimed to be a “public figure representing domestic abuse” (she didn’t identify Depp)—is one thing of a thanks. “The appeal to fans’ sense of connection and recognition here is clear,” Williams says. That sense was once supercharged by means of TikTok’s set of rules, which more and more driven Depp content material into feeds, making a cycle that dragged extra folks in and demanded but extra content material.

It’s what Tom Divon, social media, communications, and tradition researcher at Hebrew University in Israel, calls “common pathways of generational memetic communication”—which interprets not to short of to really feel omitted of a watercooler second. In 2022, the best way to interact with a watercooler second is by means of making content material … numerous content material. Some movies overlaid what Heard and Depp’s interior ideas may were all through the trial, whilst others when put next every one’s court docket habits to assign guilt.

Since the trial started in mid-April, TikTok has grow to be the Twenty first-century model of Court TV, and Depp has grow to be a hero to his fans. Footage from the trial, and reactions to its twists and turns, took over TikTok. In overdue April, movies the use of the hashtag #johnnydepp had 11.3 billion perspectives, and #justiceforjohnnydepp an extra 5.6 billion. Now, that’s nearer to 34.1 billion and 20.4 billion. The hashtags have confirmed “extremely popular,” in line with TikTok’s personal hashtag analytics instrument, with #johnnydepp trending for the final 71 days, and #justiceforjohnnydepp for 58 days.

The acclaim for content material generated its personal momentum, with customers growing movies to feed the near-insatiable pastime within the trial. There had been supercuts of the important thing moments in testimony collated by means of customers who acted as speaking heads concerning the trial’s traits, and conspiracy theories about whether or not Heard’s criminal consultant was once a Depp fan, after having purportedly seemed at a film premiere for Depp’s 2013 movie, The Lone Ranger. One TikTok person even claimed, with out proof, to be one of the most jurors deliberating at the case in an effort to capitalize at the consideration.

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