After watching Johnny Depp testify in court maybe it's time to rethink celebrity culture
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Johnny Depp

You’d be pretty hard pressed to take even a three-second scroll through the internet without seeing headlines about the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

Depp, who is suing Heard for $50 million in part over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed piece alluding to her being a victim of domestic abuse (the abuser being Depp), recently gave testimony in court. And, like many personal matters belonging to a celebrity, it has been the subject of public scrutiny.

In the video (see below) Depp touched on his own experience with abuse in his childhood, wanting to protect his children, his drug addiction, disturbing texts he had sent to friends about Heard and how heartbroken he was that those he mentored or had given advice to might be questioning themselves now, thinking him to be a fraud. Just to name a few points.

Johnny Depp Testifies On Why He's Suing Amber Heard For Defamation www.youtube.com

While there is certainly lots to unpack there, there is still one bit that I find more striking:

“One day you're Cinderella and then in zero point six seconds you’re Quasimodo. I didn’t deserve that and neither did my children.”

If this isn’t the epitome of what’s problematic with our culture's misguided celebrity worship, I don't know what is.


It's been an interesting year so far for movie stars. With one slap, Will Smith went from one of Hollywood’s most likable guys to its most notorious. Ezra Miller, once regarded as a beloved LGBTQ savior, is now reduced to the punchline of some odd Spongebob meme. In his “Cinderella” days, Depp was by and large a consummate actor who, performance wise, could do no wrong. Now franchises find him untouchable.

The rate at which household names can go from “greatest” to “worst” of all time is enough to cause whiplash if you’re looking too closely. And what’s worse, in this act of dehumanizing, we are often at risk of losing touch with our own humanity. Which is especially ironic and tragic given that artists in particular serve a purpose to connect us to our humanity.

If it’s not obvious: I wanted to add a small disclaimer that I am not excusing bad actions, or waving the flag of anti cancel culture. There is definitely something to be said about how celebrity status often exonerates wrongdoing unfairly. But really, I find that worship and vilification are two sides of the same coin. And maybe, just maybe, what we really need to do to break us of the movie star spell is to toss away the coin altogether.

There was a time when actors and artists weren’t seen as beyond human. In fact, it could be argued that back in the days of traveling thespian shows, actors were seen as subhumans, but that’s beside the point. Perhaps this recent fall of the movie star is a chance for us to collectively reclaim some mental freedom away from fame’s siren song. As we have recently seen, it’s certainly not the guarantee for happiness it once was.

A growing number of Americans no longer have gods to revere or royalty to idolize. In their absence, celebrities have taken up that mantle for many. But in this modern age of information traveling at the speed of WiFi, illusion and mystery are no longer the great shields they once were. Now, the spotlight mercilessly peers down into every crack in the veneer. And much like a real dying star, it’s as though these people are collapsing in on themselves, crushed by the massive weight of their own fabricated persona.

Perhaps it is unfair to view any human as some sort of celestial being. As we have seen multiple times, this leads to disappointment, abuse of power and unrealistic expectations. And perhaps worst of all, it removes us from compassion. Tons of debates are being had about whether Depp or Heard is lying, about whether this will be Hollywood’s “ugliest” breakup or if that will go to Will and Jada, and about whether or not we’ll ever see Depp on the screen again. Few are discussing the tragedy that their family must be going through, or talking about the heartbreak of love turned toxic. And then there’s the question: should we be weighing in on their life at all? It’s a fine line, being a public figure and all, but something worth considering.

Hollywood continues to adapt (for better or worse is up to viewer discretion). And as it does, movie stars like Depp might continue to lose their luster … if not eliminate it altogether. But hopefully that leads to a new renaissance. One where no one is beyond accountability or unworthy of empathy. Hopefully we don’t find new false idols, but instead value discernment above all.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

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I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

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