Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week’s most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: For those of you who haven't been following the ongoing Amber Heard/Johnny Depp story, here's a rundown of what's going on: Late last week, Heard filed for divorce from Depp. A few days later, she filed a restraining order against him, telling the judge, "During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal, and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating, and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him." Heard, who showed up to court with a bruised face, provided photo evidence of the abuse (including new photos released today) and testimony from a neighbor who had witnessed at least one instance of abuse. The judge granted the order; Depp, who's been out of the country promoting his latest garbage fire of a film, didn't show up to court.
Because we're living in a deplorable society that has demanded and rapaciously consumed four (almost five) Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the backlash against Heard has been quick and dirty. Rather than believe her or at least wait for the official ruling on her claims of abuse, the majority of Earth is dismissing them and creating diabolically insane and completely illogical backstories. In the days since the allegations, Heard's been vilified in the media, on social media, and by her own peers, accused of being a gold digger, a blackmailer, and a liar out to ruin poor li'l defenseless Johnny Depp's image. Here's just a sampling of the press coverage and social-media backlash Heard's been subjected to so far.
• As an appetizer, check these eminently fair and balanced headlines.
• Antibiotic-resistant bacteria TMZ, which has been breaking some of the news about the case, is writing about Heard as if she'd been plotting this whole thing in a dungeon lair for 15 years. "It's interesting ... she's asking for a temporary restraining order claiming there's an immediate threat of harm, but Depp has been out of town since Wednesday promoting his new movie." "[Three] days after Depp's mom died, Amber filed for divorce. And one week after his mom died, she's claiming domestic violence." "Amber Heard was crying her eyes out after her court hearing Friday, claiming horrific physical abuse at the hands of Johnny Depp, but the next day she was smiling and cackling."
• Multiple outlets (inspired by TMZ) are taking issue with the fact that Heard didn't immediately report the latest instance of abuse to police, citing "sources" who claim she didn't have any visible injuries when the cops were called. Heard's lawyers get into why Heard tried to keep things quiet in their latest statement (essentially: to attempt to protect her and Depp's privacy and keep the matter out of the media — which, clearly, did not work).
• The Mary Sue has a roundup of the stunningly biphobic attacks on Heard, which imply that, because the actress has had relationships with women in the past, she is a soul-sucking, untrustworthy she-demon.
• The Thirsty-Ass Wrap posted an inane, terribly written screed from "comedian" Doug Stanhope that suggests Heard is — you guessed it — a liar, who, for reasons that are literally never explained, enjoys casually fucking with Johnny on the reg. Stanhope's piece is rife with non sequiturs, misplaced metaphors, and increasingly desperate attempts to convince The Wrap readers (all two of them) that he's "friends" with Johnny Depp. You know, the kind of friend who's so enamored with you that he refers to you as "The Emperor" and is so afraid of being "thrown out of the circle" that he refuses to speak up about your alleged emotional abuse. This tragic line actually appears in the piece: "I’ll name-drop now. Johnny Depp is my friend."
• Director Terry Gilliam inexplicably took to Twitter to discredit Heard:
• The Walking Dead's Laurie Holden hopped into the fray because, idk, she's aware of her own irrelevance? Laurie: Why, girl?
• Mickey Rourke — Mickey fucking Rourke, who was arrested for spousal abuse in 1994, for fuck's sake! — told TMZ that Depp "doesn't seem like a very violent man" to him. "He's a very low-key guy," Rourke added. "He's always been really low-key and a gentleman and not violent."
• Paul Bettany sided with Depp on Twitter, not recognizing the irony of his own "who has more insight" defense:
MTV News's own Ira Madison summed up the response to this particular brand of fuckery with a single tweet:
One of the only reporters/human beings who's taken the extreme position of giving Amber Heard the benefit of the doubt is The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon, who wrote an illuminating piece that shoots holes in the argument that she is trying to destroy Depp's image. Titled "Amber Heard Says Johnny Depp Beat Her. It Will Ruin His Career. Just Kidding!" the piece reveals that a quick Google search brings up 80 (80!!) celebrities who've been accused or found guilty of domestic abuse — celebrities like Charlie Sheen, who's gone on to make millions on the bone-chillingly named Anger Management as well as Two and a Half Men, or Chris Brown, who's gone on to headline sold-out world tours and enjoy skyrocketing album sales.
In other words, these types of allegations do very little to "ruin" or even lightly damage a man's career. Regardless of whether he's found guilty of abuse, Depp will continue to make films that fundamentally misunderstand themselves and to dress like a demented video-game villain. The only person who's suffered here so far is Heard, a woman who's done a historically extremely difficult thing: reported abuse at the hands of a powerful man who has both the means and the motivation to silence her.
The Solution: OK. Let's imagine, for a moment, the highly unlikely scenario that Heard has invented this entire thing. Technically, yes, it's possible that she woke up one morning and thought, Hm. I'm really not getting enough shit relentlessly hurled at me from the international media and the general public. Why don't I accuse one of our most inexplicably beloved actors of something that's totally untrue? Nobody will believe me, everyone will think I'm out for cash, my own peers will turn against me, I'll likely blacklist myself from working with a handful of loyal directors and actors, I'll have to expose my private life and photos to millions of mouth-breathing heathens, everyone will scrutinize every single thing I do (including cracking a single smile) for the next — I don't know, let's say decade, for funsies — and I will barely be able to leave my house without incident. Yep, sounds great, here I go! It's also possible — and much more likely, both statistically and based on Depp's past behavior — that Johnny Depp is an abuser.
Fun fact: Johnny Depp is currently on tour with his band The Hollywood Vampires. He also smiled!
All of this aside, and regardless of the truth — which will be decided, probably ham-fistedly, in court — the unduly vicious response to Heard's claims is one perfect example of why women are so afraid to come forward when they've been abused, and one of many reasons why women often stay in an abusive relationship rather than seek help (among other reasons: They don't trust the law to protect them; they're too terrified of their partner to speak up; they're financially dependent and can't see a way out). When, as a society, we have these types of responses to high-profile cases like Heard's, we're sending a deplorable message to women everywhere, young and old: Don't report your abuse. We won't believe you. We'll automatically side with your abuser. We'll distrust your motives. We'll shame you. We won't protect you.
This is the world we've built for ourselves in 2016; all of our hands are dirty here. We all suck. Our planet is broken. The only solution is to admit defeat and let the antibiotic-resistant bacteria win.
The Lady Problem: In a new interview on The Graham Norton Show, Kate Beckinsale revealed that, back when she was filming and promoting thirst-trap Pearl Harbor, self-described "director" Michael Bay constantly trashed her looks. “I don't think I fit the type of actress Michael Bay had met before,” said Beckinsale, who is a goddess (which shouldn't even be relevant, but here we are). Also, Michael Bay looks like this. "I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren't bigger than my head and I wasn't blonde," she added. “I'd just had my daughter and had lost weight, but was told that if I got the part, I'd have to work out. And I just didn't understand why a 1940s nurse would do that.”
During the film's press tour, said Beckinsale, Bay shared time and time again that he cast Beckinsale because she wasn't "alienatingly" hot, which undermines both Beckinsale and every single woman alive, all of whom Bay believes to be incapable of even glancing at an attractive member of the same sex without having a psychological breakdown. "When we were promoting the film, Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben [Affleck] and Josh [Hartnett], and he said, ‘I have worked with Ben before and I love him, and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor,’" Beckinsale said. "When he was asked about me, he'd say, ‘Kate wasn't so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.’"
Vanity Fair pulled a direct quote from one of Bay's interviews around that time that confirms Beckinsale's recollection. "I didn't want someone who was too beautiful. Women feel disturbed when they see someone's too pretty," Bay told MovieLine. “I'm not saying Kate's not pretty ... [she] is very funny, could hang with the guys. She's not so neurotic about everything, like some actresses. ... When you look at Titanic, Kate Winslet is pretty, but not overwhelmingly beautiful. That makes it work better for women.”
The Solution: Michael Bay will be transformed into The Type Of Actress Michael Bay Has Met Before. His boobs will balloon to twice the size of his bleached-blond head, obscuring his vision and perhaps, in this way, incidentally making his movies less idiotic. He will dress like he forced Megan Fox to dress in Transformers at all times, exposing his privates each time he steps up on a ladder to yell something pervy at his lead actress, his boobs constantly getting trapped inside the doors of his Lamborghini and, occasionally, exploding. Inside this new, tremulous body, Bay will only be allowed to "hang with the guys" — i.e., direct Adam Sandler movies, movies populated by mediocre men who are fascinated by the very fact of their own dicks. When he dies, his corpse will be blown up by all of his lead actresses with unmitigated glee.