Save Johnny Depp from Rape

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Johnny Depp confessed something alarming that has been happening to him when someone takes publicity photos of him:

Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped … It feels like a kind of weird — just weird, man. [I’ll pose with fans], but whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it’s like — you just feel dumb. It’s just so stupid.

I think everyone who has been raped can attest that this is exactly what being raped makes you feel like. Dumb! Dumb and weird.

My fellow Skepchick Amy pointed out that being filmed is like having your photo taken 24, 48, or even 72 times a second, which to Johnny must be the equivalent of being gang raped in front of a large group of industry professionals. So why would Johnny continue to put up with being raped day after day?

Basically, if they’re going to pay me the stupid money right now, I’m going to take it. I have to. I mean, it’s not for me. Do you know what I mean? At this point, it’s for my kids. It’s ridiculous, yeah, yeah. But ultimately is it for me? No. No. It’s for the kids.

For the children. As fellow Skepchick Elyse said, “Much like the women who are forced into prostitution to pay for milk and cereal and are beaten by their pimps and raped. It’s the same thing.”

There’s a way to stop this, though, and you can help. We’ve started a fundraiser that, if successful, will cover the cost of raising Johnny’s kids so that he no longer has to work in Hollywood. This might seem like a difficult job since Johnny is the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records‘ highest paid actor with $75 million. However, we think we can still afford to raise the kids with just $10 million – it’ll be a tight squeeze, but so long as they’re willing to give up a few comforts like, I don’t know, diamond smoothies and life-size Monopoly games using real money, we should be able to make it work.

And it goes without saying, but please, no victim-blaming in the comments. We’ll be banning the first person to suggest he was asking to get his photo taken because he’s so pretty.

EDIT: Okay, Johnny apologized for the comment but WHY? You don’t have to feel so dumb, Johnny! You don’t!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Just because Johnny recanted doesn’t mean he wasn’t raped. Victims are often pressured into changing their statements.

    This is just like DSK.

  2. We should cut Johnny some slack. He has it tough. Filming an action movie is sometimes exactly like being dragged to death behind a pickup truck.

    1. Though to Depp’s credit, he did seem genuinely apologetic and gracious in his recanting, unlike so many of those “I am sorry if anyone took offense” ones. Everyone says stupid shit sometimes, and the problem is going to be magnified wen you have a microphone in your grill 24×7.

        1. HA! The problem is magnified even more when you’re actually a moron that says stupid shit constantly. Did you see the clown car full of teabaggers that want everyone to boycott Monday Night Football and for HWJr to run for Senator? I may have to watch more pro football knowing that it’s an experience I’m not sharing with them.

          I must remember to watch for Hank’s apology. I bet it takes the form of “I am sorry we elected Hitler as president.”

  3. Well it’s good he spoke out about this. So many times the victims are afraid to speak up or won’t speak up because they feel embarrassed and ashamed. Good for you for speaking up, Mr. Depp.

  4. I’m almost afraid to ask this, but what is it about the ‘rape-as-metaphor’ that makes it so socially unacceptable?

    It’s not that I don’t understand the basic objection, and it’s not that I feel all that differently, and it’s nice that Depp apologized.

    But criminal acts, including physical criminal acts, are commonly utilized as metaphors for uncomfortable personal experiences. There would be no complaint if Depp had said that the photographing sessions made him feel “assaulted.” There would be no complaint if he’d complained about being “mugged” by the paparazzi. “Killing” as a metaphor is so common it has multiple secondary definitions to that effect. I don’t think any of those engender the reaction that the speaker is downplaying the seriousness of the crime being referenced, or insulting the victims of such crimes.

    Even sexual crimes get used as metaphorical devices; “I felt violated” gets tossed around a lot more than “I felt raped,” but it carries much of the same implication. And there is no shortage of colorful uses of the f-bomb.

    So what is it about the crime of rape in particular that makes it unacceptable as a metaphor, in contrast to the above? Is it ever appropriate, or is Depp’s error here just using it for *too* inconsequential an event?

    1. It is only ok to use rape as metaphor when you are talking about inanimate objects such as the Earth, the environment, one’s mind, etc.
      Johnny Depp, despite how gorgeous he is, is decidedly human therefore of limits.
      Please update your current vocabulary to reflect these changes.
      Thank you and remember, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

    2. @Loren:

      “But criminal acts, including physical criminal acts, are commonly utilized as metaphors for uncomfortable personal experiences.”

      I am not a survivor of rape, so I can’t speak to this as knowledgably as some, but my understanding is that a key difference here is that within the context of institutional misogyny, victim-blaming, etc, rape actually is trivialized and overlooked to a degree that other crimes are not.

      When someone is mugged, it is not suggested that they actually consented to the act at the time and have now changed their story. When someone burgles a house, no one argues that the homeowner leaving the windows open was inviting the burglar in. If someone is murdered by a friend or acquaintance, no one suggests that the deceased should share the blame for being alone with that person. Yet analagous arguments are made about rape.

      I would imagine there’s also an issue with someone who has never been raped using it as a metaphor. To implicitly presume to know what the experience is like by comparing it to some lesser experience strikes me as disrespectful and thoughtless (to say the least).

    3. I don’t think that one can never use rape as a metaphor, but when one compares rape to getting paid millions to have your picture taken in expensive clothes, can’t we all agree that that’s pretty god damned disconnected?

    4. @Loren

      I think the better term would be “used/exploited”, though again – he gets a LOT of money for that, and he CAN always say no.

      “Violated” works alright, if only because it IS a word with a broad application, even in inter-human interactions.

      “Rape” is a very specific term with a very specific meaning.

      There are a couple uses of the word that don’t have to do with sexual assault – one is a plant, and the other is a winemaking term – but when they are used, they are generally carefully defined, and nobody compares human interaction to them.

      Comparing a slightly uncomfortable experience that makes them a lot of money to one of the most horrible experiences out there, is beyond the pale.

      It’s a little like a millionaire complaining that after taxes and business expenses, he only has $400,000 left over, which makes him just like the person who earns $25,000 and after all expenses has $4 left over.

      It’s extremely poor taste, and is a comparison usually only made by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

      It also contributes to societal dismissal of rape and sexual assault as “not that big a deal”. Constant, casual use of the term, and constant casual referral to it diminish its impact, and keep people used to it, which means they don’t get as upset. When people aren’t upset, they don’t recognize how damaging it can be to blame the victim, or tell someone to “just get over it”.

      For most people, this is done in ignorance – it’s how you deal with it after someone explains it to you that matters more.

  5. Loren, it’s rape, it’s special.

    So until men are rape victims as often as women and children are, it’s not acceptable to use it as a metaphor.

    Even though I am just giving my 2 cents worth of a lame attempt of humor, I’m sure I’ll get this comment twisted around and or since I’m writing this, for putting qualifiers up and holding the “I’m gonna get persecuted for this comment” sign.

    oh dear :)

    1. …you don’t even really make any sense.

      And, yeah, if you have to add qualifiers and “LOLZ! Just jokkkkking” then … 1)you’re not funny and 2)you’re kind of a dick.

    2. “So until men are rape victims as often as women and children are, it’s not acceptable to use it as a metaphor.” — its not a competition. BTW where I’m from the number of male and female children raped is close to equal. (1 in 5 children). Also as a survivor I gotta say that being treated as an object always feels the same, its the magnitude of the feelings that changes. Of course that’s me personally, I do not know if that is a everyone thing or a some people thing. If it is a everyone thing then maybe we could use that as a way to increase the amount of empathy us victims receive as I would assume most people who read this blog would agree we do not receive the empathy we need/deserve.

  6. Loren, I think you’ve raised a very good question that deserves a decent answer. What is wrong with using exaggerated language to express yourself?

    Well, it’s inaccurate, for one. Americans (and perhaps other cultures, I don’t know) tend to use exaggerated metaphors, statements, and quids quite often, not just when speaking but when they blog as well. This is one of the many ways that communication breaks down, causing misunderstandings.

    Here, I’m reminded of a recent event between a friend and myself. Apparently I snapped at her in public (rightfully so, if you ask me) and she equated my “treatment” of her with being ‘punched in the face’. As if that wasn’t enough to describe how I made her feel, she went on to say that I had “treated her like a criminal.” Now I’ve never been to prison (I was planning that for retirement) but I do have friends who have been arrested. I’m pretty sure that most people who are incarcerated and jailed are stripped naked and given rectal exams. They are also stripped of their personal belongings, and told when to eat, sleep and sh*t.

    Needless to say, I haven’t spoken to this friend in quite some time. I just can’t muster up enough courage to do some other horrible thing to her like…I don’t know…beat her over the head with a stainless steel appliance.

    My point here is that accurate language with realistic terminology is far more effective in communication than exaggeration is. If my friend had said, “You hurt my feelings by snapping at me,” the conversation would have gone in a much different direction and I would have been made aware that this friend was just sensitive. But now I’m under the impression that she can’t handle her emotions and that I should stay away.

    I hope this helps. It certainly wasn’t a scientific response but I am educated in interpersonal communication. Bottom line: We should say what we mean and mean what we say in order to avoid confusion and further conflict. Especially if we’re multi-million dollar movie stars who have had years and years of practice in public speaking.


  7. He apologized:

    -I am truly sorry for offending anyone in any way. I never meant to. It was a poor choice of words on my part in an effort to explain a feeling,” Depp said. “I understand there is no comparison and I am very regretful. In an effort to correct my lack of judgment, please accept my heartfelt apology.”-

    I think it was a pretty good apology. People say stupid shit without thinking sometimes. It happens. Humans aren’t perfect. Can you imagine if everything you said became a sound-bite? I’m sure I’ve said plenty of cringe-worthy shit that I’d rather the entire fucking world not hear.

    IDK, I just don’t think it was that big of a deal. He said something stupid, as we all have at one point or another, and apologized.

    1. I have to agree. Are we really going to pillory everyone who engages in hyperbole and says something stupid? I’m pretty sure we’d all be too afraid to ever open our mouths if every verbal misstep became the object of universal criticism.

      1. Exactly. Celebrities have it a bit harder when it comes to this because EVERYTHING they say is said on a stage for millions of people to witness.

        If he didn’t apologize, or if his apology didn’t seem sincere, I could see being annoyed/upset, but his apology was spot-on.

    2. But, I linked to the apology in an edit that was in place within two minutes of this post going live, which is when I saw the apology. And this is hardly a pillorying . . . it’s a joke post meant to highlight the fact that we should probably stop casually throwing around the word “rape,” especially when we’re talking about someone taking picture of us for millions of dollars.

      I re-read my post and I seriously can’t see where I was overly harsh.

      1. Rebecca, I have been an avid listener to the SGU for about a year and I have really enjoyed your humourous take on skeptical topics. You have often made me laugh while, at the same time, providing insightful and nuanced commentary. I couldn’t say that about this post. I’m afraid it came across (to me) as snarky and sarcastic, my impressions of you notwithstanding. It is very difficult to project humour with the written word, given that many of the visual and auditory cues of verbal communication are absent.

        I have noted an unwritten tenet of the skeptical community: challenge the ideas, not the people. I am 100% behind your central message that language matters and we should all be more careful in how we use it. I would even say that Johnny Depp’s off-the-cuff comment warranted a letter of objection to his publicist demanding an apology.

  8. Yeah, I agree with Marilove – it was a stupid thing to say, but I am sympathetic to that whole fishbowl fame thing too. It’s a chosen path, but it doesn’t mean that the fame stuff must be easy.

  9. Reminds me of a comment by Kevin Bacon. He would sometimes go out in public wearing a disguise. He said he didn’t like it because people weren’t as nice to him.


  10. I would think if anyone could appreciate saying something dumb in public, retracting it, but then getting mocked anyway it would be Rebecca. I noticed the Galileo slip the first time around. Didn’t think it was a big deal. Some assholes on the net like to mock it endlessly. I think they are wrong. I think this post was wrong for the same reason. Dep’s apology was made and sincere. This fact should at least be noted at the top post. Instead the original mockery stands, a small note made about the apology, followed by more mockery. Not classy.

    1. I think the point of the post was to bring on a discussion of why such exaggerations are used, sometimes thought of as “okay” to use because “it’s just a word!”, and why it’s problematic to use such exaggerations/words. Which is a valid discussion. But it just came across as needlessly mocking someone who already apologized sincerely.

    2. I think what he said is a hella lot more mockable than what Rebecca has ever said. It was also a lot more gross and made it obvious that he was rather unfamiliar with the issues surrounding the word…with Rebecca’s slip-up was pretty minor in comparison, since it was just an honest, random mistake, and last I checked, mainstream media doesn’t cover Skepchick like it does Johnny Depp.

    3. A. Comparing having photos taken of you to rape is not at all equivalent to confusing Galileo with Bruno.

      B. Making a light-hearted post that points out the absurdity of that comment is not at all equivalent to, say, calling Depp dumber than dog shit or asking people to harass him for the rest of his life.

      C. I linked to his apology in the post.

      1. Oh Rebecca don’t you know? You can never joke around about anything again. Everything must be serious and snark-free. You must only look at issues analytically and you can never bring up mistakes made by you or others, or address mistakes, or correct mistakes. Nope, just won’t fly. Constant scrutiny for you.

        Now if you will excuse me, I have to go fondle strangers from afar with my flip-cam and then objectify myself in a google+ hangout.

      2. I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal, either way. I don’t think any kind of mocking is going to harm Johnny Depp, anyway. So, really, who cares? I still love ya, Rebecca. :)

  11. Look, if he didn’t want to have his picture taken constantly, his privacy violated, be written up in tabloids or have people dig through his garbage, he shouldn’t have tried to express himself creatively!

  12. I fail to see what everyone’s problem with his comment was. But he apologized so I assume it’s a non issue now?

  13. I like the fund raiser response, just the right amount of snark and zing IMO. And clearly Johnny realized how toadish his analogy was. So there ya go, all kinds of win for everyone, especially the kids.

  14. Eh,

    This seems article seems to be pandering to conflict. It’s very typical of how most press outlets create articles just to stir emotions – especially as it relates to celebrities.

    Was what he said insensitive to rape victims? Sure. But he didn’t say it with intent or prejudice, it was a slip that he apologized for. It was nothing like Dawkin’s intentional belittling of the feminist cause.

    Why am I even bothering to criticize this though? It’s because press outlets often use soundbytes like this to inflame emotions and obscure what details are actually important which leads people to ignorant conclusions. These type of articles meant on inflaming emotions is what allow politicians to win soley on image.

    So do I think people should use rape lightly? No. What I do think though is that journalists should avoid this kind of emotion-baiting and write with more integrity.

  15. I was held down and raped by a bunch of older boys when I was 12.

    I did not suffer any permanent or even temporary harm from the experience and neither did anybody else (because I say so, even though I do not know all the other “victims”. Those I did know are the only ones that count. They enjoyed it, I tell you!).

    You should take my word for it – do not consult my shrink.

    Johnny Depp should suck it up because my experience allows me to dismiss and belittle his. Whiny little cunt! What about the men being raped in Africa!

    To prove my maturity and intellect, I must now go set up a pornographic Encylopedia Dramatica page.

  16. My apologies to the gentle Skepchicks and readers for the foul language and misogynist attitudes expressed above.

    The author of the above post has now been sacked, and all future communications will come from the real Jack99.

  17. Is this another thing where every aspect is going to be blown out of proportion by someone somewhere? Jeez, I think I’m going to go back to playing Duke Nukem Forever and re-reading Catwoman #1…

  18. Hi. I was raped. It doesn’t feel dumb. It doesn’t feel anything like having my picture taken. It actually, physically hurts. It feels like having someone’s dick physically shoved into a pretty sensitive spot over and over again while crying, wishing it would end and wishing someone would help you. It hurts your wrists and your stomach and your triceps and your chest because he keeps pushing at you with the heel of his hand. Then you have bruises for weeks that you have to look at and cover up. Also, you kinda don’t want anyone to ever push their dick up in you again because that one time, that guy did it when you didn’t want him to and it reminds you every single fucking time. It’s hard to concentrate for weeks or months or years every time you think of the fact that some guy got angry and hard and actually opened up your body and put his body inside yours without your consent.

    That. That is what rape feels like.

  19. Mr. Depp doesn’t need donations, he just needs some good financial advice. Well, one of the first things would be to not smoke. That would free up several dollars per month and give him a better chance of seeing his grandchildren.

    Then perhaps he can pare down his expenses by downsizing his home to a less costly neighborhood. And take the savings to save for his retirement and his children’s college funds.

    With three kids taking college classes, I wish we had saved more for tuition and books. But, alas, that was cut short when we had to pay weekly therapy bills to that the oldest could actually learn how to speak. Oh, and then all of his medical bills (we just got the bill for his last trip to the hospital by ambulance, it is still not pleasant even with good insurance).

    Oh, yeah. Poor, poor Mr. Depp.

  20. I remember trying to convince a group of junior-high kids that tossing the word rape around like a joke (“Ha ha I am going to rape you” was totally and utterly NOT funny or appropriate. They really didn’t understand. I was glad that most of them hadn’t experienced this kind of abuse and could therefore joke about it, but there were others who had, and I was trying to point out how insensitive that could be. Hard to explain politeness to a 13 year old though.

  21. Rebecca: Welcome to one of the hardest lessons in comedy.

    If I recall, the explanation goes something like this:

    A: “I’ve just learned the greatest secret of comedy.”
    B: “Oh, really?”
    A: “Yup.” *Looks around, aimlessly.*
    B: “Well?”
    A: “Well, what?”
    B: “Well, are you going to tell me?”
    A: “Tell you what?”
    B: “Are you going to te–”
    A: “TIMING!!!”

    Your piece itself was amusing–just the right levels of snark and sass, with a hint of schadenfreude. And all wrapped around a genuinely serious point about language and rape culture, one that needs to be made more often. But because it came out (unbeknownst to you) after Depp’s apology (and kudos to him for that–I’d like to send a copy of that missive to every not-pologist of the last year, starting with that idiot nursing student), it lost its punch, and felt like dog-piling.

  22. To Depp’s credit, when called on it he apologised genuinely and unreservedly. Not like that asshole Ben Cochran, who considers raging misogyny less important than a spelling error.

  23. Would calling Poe’s law be a violation of said law or just a further enhancment of it’s effect in this case. This may be a singularity event of sarcasm(or perhaps irony).

  24. Depp made a stupid analogy. He then made a very sincere and graceful apology that should stand for a long time as an example of How To Do It Right.

  25. So, the next time a sports announcer describes an loss as a “massacre” I expect everyone here will be just as outraged.

    I can see it now: “Dear Sports Announcer, I am appalled at your use of the term ‘massacre’ to describe the everyday minor event of a loss in sports. My third cousin was killed by a machete in Rwanda, how DARE you compare what he went through to some silly contest? Have you no decency, sir? APOLOGIZE NOW! Oh, wait, you already apologized? WELL APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED, YOU INSENSITIVE BASTARD!”

    1. Of course, you are right, but then again, sex and gender will probably remain hot issues as long as screwing is more popular than dying.

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