According to an examination of online videos and comments about Jolie by NBC News, Jolie has become the most recent famous person to experience online abuse in the form of comparisons to actor Amber Heard after a legal filing revealed new details of the abuse allegations made by Angelina Jolie against her ex-husband Brad Pitt.
The allegations against Jolie are a part of a pattern of misogynistic stereotypes leveled at high-profile female accusers, according to a domestic violence researcher and an instructor in unconscious bias. People who make films criticizing Heard are motivated by the thousands to millions of views they get on social media and the money that can frequently follow that, as previously reported by NBC News.
Heard’s legal battle and trial with her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, sparked a separate wave of social media content that included false accusations against Heard as well as widely shared but misinterpreted trial recordings. As seen by the hundreds of comments NBC News obtained on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube challenging her assault claims, social media users and artists are now equating Jolie to Heard. NBC News reached out to Jolie and Pitt’s representatives for comment, but they didn’t answer.
The assaults on Jolie happened after she filed a countersuit against Pitt on October 4, claiming that he had abused her and their children physically and emotionally. Jolie detailed a tense 2016 flight on a private jet in the countercomplaint, during which she claimed Pitt “choked one of the children and punched another in the face.” Days following the trip, she claimed that the experience prompted her to file for divorce.
In a prior statement to NBC News, a spokesman for Pitt denied the charges and promised that he wouldn’t “own anything he didn’t do” in court.
Pitt initiated the current civil lawsuit in February in response to Jolie selling her share of their French winery. However, the charges of abuse made by Jolie in her countercomplaint have gained prominence online, where a long-running cultural war has been fought between proponents and opponents of the #MeToo movement.
This year, the conflict gained widespread publicity, attracting the interest of millions of internet viewers during the civil trial involving Depp and Heard.
When Heard was found guilty of defaming Depp in a Virginia jury trial after declaring herself the victim of domestic abuse in a 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post, she quickly became an online obsession. Damages of $10.3 million were assessed against Heard. Depp was also found guilty of defaming Heard and given a $2 million damage award.
Numerous Depp admirers and friends applauded the move, but victim advocacy groups expressed concern that it would discourage abuse survivors from coming forward with their stories. Heard submitted her grounds for appeal on Tuesday, arguing that there was not “clear and consistent evidence” of genuine malice and that the jury’s finding that each party had defamed the other was “inherently and irreconcilably incongruous”
The Depp v. Heard trial was heavily discussed on social media, particularly on video sharing sites like TikTok and YouTube, where content makers who switched to pro-Depp, anti-Heard content attracted big audiences and lucrative advertising revenue.
“Everything we saw—the memes, the trial videos, and so forth—was massively against Amber Heard. According to television personality and former lawyer Adrienne Lawrence, they depicted her as this femme fatale who is unreliable.
The accusations made by Jolie against Pitt and those made by other women online are currently being viewed through a similar lens by social media makers and audiences.
12 YouTube channels that directly compare Jolie and Heard’s titles and thumbnails were discovered by NBC News. While the largest channel, a Spanish-language pop culture channel, has more than 3.2 million subscribers, the smallest channel to do so has a little more than 5,000 subscribers. Each video had an average of more than 20,000 views.
Some of the videos labeled Jolie as a liar in their titles and thumbnails, while others questioned whether she was “the next” Amber Heard or merely used “Amber Heard techniques.” Some of the YouTubers concentrated on the legal matter, speculating that it might turn out to be “the next Depp v. Heard.”
Vice News reported seemed to publish a job ad on the freelance website Upwork in August looking for a researcher to provide content that “goes against Amber Heard and promotes Johnny Depp.” One channel, Just In, has contrasted Heard and Jolie in the titles of at least five programs. The advertisement, which was later taken down from Upwork, was seen by NBC News. The channel, which has over 350 million views and 269,000 subscribers, frequently publishes films that make false or sensationalized claims.
A video with the title “Gisele Bündchen FINALLY Reveals What Tom Brady Did To Cause The Divorce” was posted in the last 24 hours, making reference to the rumored actions the famous pair may have done to end their marriage. The sole statement from Bündchen that is included in the video is an emoji comment she made on someone else’s post regarding the nature of relationships, despite the title’s implication that Bündchen had made a lengthy statement.
Another video that was just uploaded features Heard grinning when asked about “beating Johnny,” according to the title. Heard grinned in the actual video footage when a paparazzi questioned her about those who don’t think “that Johnny beat you.” A request for comment from the channel did not immediately receive a response.
Lawrence, a professor of unconscious bias, claims that Heard’s treatment online served as an example for many individuals of how other women can be handled in public.
Having cases like Amber Heard’s and the way they were handled in the public sphere of social media and the media, Lawrence said, “creates more avenues to doubt women who come forward against powerful men, which was already thought to be the case with the MeToo movement being unfair to men and unfair to people who are being held accountable for their behavior.
Other “Amber 2.0” women include government employees and generally unrecognized attack victims. After testifying about former President Donald Trump’s alleged behavior during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House employee, was referred to as “Amber Heard 2.0” and called