Judge Azcarate agrees to a last-minute venue change and the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial moves to Ukraine. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard get in Russian T-90 tanks spray-painted with “Z”s to fight each other. One is in a Russian tank, and the other one is in a Russian tank appropriated by Ukraine. No one knows which is which. The celebrities pursue each other shooting high explosive rounds from the 125 mm smooth-bore tank guns. Their “cope cages” and reactive armor spectacularly fail. The roads clog with burned-out tanks as the battle takes longer than legal analysts expected.
Bogged down in the countryside by the infamous Ukrainian mud, the venue changes again. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard pursue each other through the bowels of the sprawling steel plant complex at Mariupol, on the north coast of the Sea of Azov. Miles of tunnels under the plant conceal what really happened in the fog of war. All we know is they are both actors on the destabilizing world stage, cogs in a grinding apocalypse.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard level each other’s cities in a great humanitarian crisis. Threats of a Johnny Depp chemical weapons attack haunt Amber Heard who puts on an aging gas mask and thinks, “This might be it” as she rushes into the fight. But the threats were a bluff: Johnny Depp has snorted all the nerve gas.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard pioneer drone warfare in what some are calling World War III but some are calling Drone War I. Drones pinpoint the legal teams’ positions and feed that data to artillery for precision strikes. Artillery battalions stay on the move; once a bombardment is launched, the opposing counsel gets a drone fix on their coordinates and begins a flurry of objections and counter-bombardments. Suicide drones prowl the air watching for false moves on the witness stand.
The information war is crucial. Each side speaks to its global partisans and emphasizes victory, covers up mistakes, and redirects unflattering narratives. The internet floods with military and legal analysis, as well as reaction videos from average citizens. Everyone’s an expert. The information space saturates with Twitter threads, weaponized TikToks, and bot-farm bottom-feeders manufacturing designer outrage clickbait. The conflict pushes international agendas meme by meme. Johnny Depp plants stories in the world press about Amber Heard’s airport meltdown while he re-captures small towns. Amber Heard plants stories about Johnny Depp’s drunken tirades, encircling his exposed salients. The low-information public shrugs about the larger issues, while panting for the next explosive twist in the war of attrition.
Women’s rights groups and campaigns to end domestic violence arrive at the frontlines in the Donbas region. Some privately doubt Amber Heard, but they engage in fierce firefights on principle once they see the enemy: rabid apolitical Johnny Depp fans marching alongside misogynist “men’s rights” groups maximizing a target of opportunity.
Personality disorders are used as a pretext to round up civilians in the occupied areas. Since everyone speaks Russian, it’s impossible to tell who is a national and who is a Ukrainian speaking Russian as a first or second language. So the secret police use the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to ferret out narcissistic security threats. Campaigns against sexual violence run insurgencies to stop the DSM-5 from being used against women in abusive relationships. Male victims of female abusers are cut off from supply lines at Izyum. Captured personnel are tried for war crimes as the public fears the conflict might expand. The specter of multiple suits and countersuits, in more venues and jurisdictions, looms on the horizon. It’s impossible to tell how the war will end but everyone has a stake in the outcome.
Food shortages from the Black Sea blockade ripple across the world as Johnny Depp accuses Amber Heard of pooping on the bed. The nuclear saber-rattling continues as Amber Heard blames the dog. The international crisis bubbles over as NATO expands and Australia considers charging Amber Heard with perjury for her testimony about smuggling the couple’s dogs. Major movie franchises reel as the Pirates of the Caribbean somehow remains standing after a direct artillery hit leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the structure. Johnny Depp flicks a cigarette and a convoy of Amber Heard’s military vehicles lays burning in the road. Amber Heard blows up Johnny Depp’s bridges and says she can’t promise she won’t do it again. Satellite imagery reveals the landscapes of Amber Heard’s bruises and Johnny Depp’s shiners.
No one achieves air superiority. Amber Heard blows Johnny Depp out of the sky with a shoulder-fired missile. Johnny Depp stays in the game despite mortal wounds bleeding cash. He wins the battle of glib charisma but it is a pyrrhic victory. Her overacting on the stand costs her, but she projects spirit — will it be enough?
International volunteers from the entertainment-industrial complex stream across the Polish border to defend freedom and are immediately sent to the front. Kate Moss takes aim at Ellen Barkin in a wheat field. Paul Bettany picks through looted rubble and comes under fire from James Franco and Elon Musk. Jason Momoa conducts a daring night-time helicopter raid on Warner Brothers leaving Amber Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 in flames. A media assassination campaign decimates Johnny Depp’s generals. Amber Heard’s attorney is so annoying the mayor of Kremenna in the Luhansk region changes allegiances and allows Johnny Depp to make another movie. But then the mayor is assassinated by Amber Heard’s sister.
Johnny Depp’s psychiatrists lay down cover fire as Johnny Depp escapes through the trench system into the woods. Amber Heard’s psychiatrists send Turkish Bayraktar drones to drive Johnny Depp’s enablers off Snake Island. Moscow’s flagship sinks, taking hundreds of lives while Amber Heard and Johnny Depp argue whether it was hit by supersonic missiles or just suffered an accident.
Russia accuses Johnny Depp’s business manager of grifting the superpower’s military into broke irrelevance. Kremlin sources claim Putin is purging the security apparatus for failure to requisition Amber Heard’s divorce settlement. Suspicious fires at Russian munitions factories hint at an undercurrent of public disgust and mixed allegiances. The proxy war shakes the continents.
Heading off a coup attempt, Putin micromanages military and legal decisions at the tactical level, while wrestling with larger political questions, like: Should everyone in Hollywood be conscripted into the Russian Army, and fed into the meat grinder?
An index of Jim Richardson’s essays may be found here.
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