This is a tale of two men.
Celebrities of the highest caliber. Both Hollywood royalty. Both embroiled in personal issues that tainted their careers.
And as the world watched Johnny Depp’s most intimate relationship failings as they were aired for all to see…another man was literally flying to a new career high.
The Celebrity is Dead. Long Live the Celebrity.
The annals of history will show that the Age Of The Influencer was the penultimate gasp for life for the Cult Of Celebrity on its death bed.
A final grift bequeathed to Gen Z before spinning into irrelevance for the foreseeable future.
Gone are the days of curated star profiles. The glamor, the pomp, the professionalism. What made celebs special was how rare they were.
But all that started to curdle with the OJ Simpson trial and it’s only fitting that the cult of celebrity’s time and place of death was in a courtroom 28 years later.
Now instead of being heavenly bodies we look up to, celebrities are ants in a farm we look down on and chuckle at, shaking up their world with a dunk in the comments and regard as fun oddities to play with and discuss with friends.
And Johnny Depp was no exception.
Too Much Rum
John Christopher Depp, a son of the great state of Kentucky has been a Hollywood punchline for the past several years.
His extravagant spending made Nicolas Cage look like Warren Buffet. His work ethic was often questionable and sometimes disruptive.
But his career defining role of Captain Jack Sparrow had all the trappings of a golden parachute. Johnny could do no wrong.
Until he starred in Dark Shadows in 2012, followed by his role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger in 2013, which was a 190 million dollar write off for Disney…after that The Mouse made sure Depp was persona-non-grata in Tinseltown.
He made a series of poor choices professionally to try and salvage his career but none of them could correct for his disastrous personal life.
His union to Amber Heard in the early 2010’s was a scripture lesson on why high value men should never date low value women. Allegations were made about Johnny physically assaulting Amber. His career fell to pieces. Contrast that with:
The Ascension of Tom Cruise.
A Hollywood megastar in his own right was at an all time low in the late 2000’s following his divorce from Katie Holmes and scrutiny about Scientology.
Love him or hate him you have to admit that Tom kept his focus and trusted the process. He maintained his image, even in the face of professional and personal flops.
He never stopped grinding. He stayed affable, professional and above all: rare.
So now in 2022 the grind is paying off and Tom is single handedly raising from the dead something Hollywood had been mourning for years: the leading man blockbuster.
This Ship Needs A New Captain
Which leads us to the trial of the year. Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard.
From the get-go, pundits were skeptical of Amber, and after the first day of the trial the High Court of The Internet chose Johnny as their man.
Because Johnny had kept one thing going for him this whole time…we liked him. Johnny Depp was still Captain Jack. He was the guy everyone wanted as their crazy rich uncle.
He was a respected musician, bragged about spending 30k a month on wine and made appearances in children’s hospitals in full Jack Sparrow character and costume.
The sight of Americas Over-Sexed Uncle sitting forlorn in a Virginia courtroom painfully recounting the heinous depredations of his former lover was the perfect mixture of sympathy, schadenfreude and cringe.
Add in generous servings of Amber Heard in her best role yet as “psycho-bitch from a Lifetime Movie” and you have must-stream TV. As of Wednesday a jury has granted Captain Jack a chance at being in control of his life once again.
In a week we’ll all forget the trial. Someone is sure to dress up as Amber Heard defiling a mattress for Halloween this year but that’ll be about it.
Johnny will go on to do things that regain some professional stature and climb back a little into the celebrity heavens. If he’s lucky, he may get retconned back in to Harry Potter.
It’s a fitting end to Celeb Culture. Started and finished by leading men. Instead of going out on a whimper of Island Boys, Youtuber Boxing Matches and Hype Houses we get to see two of the greats go out on a high note.
One screeching into the horizon in an F-16 on an impossible mission and another as our mercurial Uncle Johnny, all pony-tailed up, soulfully playing the blues, beckoning Millennials and Gen Xers to burn and rage against the closing of their days.