Johnny was my idol.
Johnny Crawford. Son of RIFLEMAN.
Then, Ringo Starr. Mickey Dolenz.
And, David McCallum. To use a borrowed term: “…….Yumm.”
(Who knew why blond curls captured me, but my Kindergarten crush had so many.)
Heck, my own father – the first crooner, the first bones player…….he’d set the bar high.
How does a girl choose?
Before the hormones descend, it’s purely an aesthetic. Pretty faces. Strong bodies. Drummers. But, as the female child transforms, all her sought after features manifest on the random character in the story which tells her own……
Johnny Depp never drew me. His characters were cartooned buffoons. His skin was painted. He was masked.
By the time he showed his face, I had moved on. From 1987 through the 90s and beyond, after a five year dalliance into slumtown as a diner waitress/ pop band keyboard backup I had become a working professional, both accepting my first position in the related arts department of the school district for which I had spent my college years preparing, and taking the stage as a live musician. I was done with idol worship. There was real work to do.
Turns out, my commitment to reality vs. fantasy blew right past the two major heartthrobs of my first graduating class: Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise. I would play catch up a decade hence, renting everything Mel ever did and writing him a screenplay which he never read because I, longtime step- skipper, attempted to bypass acquiring a literary agent by calling Ed Limato’s office on July 4th. Sharon Stone answered the phone. But, I digress.
So, my world unfolded, populated by literal men, competitive women, and hundreds of children – a gritty gruel of thrill and toil. There was hardly time to experience anything except all the forms of work that a functioning artist generates – rehearsing; performing; teaching; practicing; rinse, and repeat. A teacher by day, professional musician by night, if fantasy had fed imagination this was displaced by actuality. I had entered the realm of that about which others dream.
Perhaps because I was slave to my work, any men who entered my personal sphere saw an easy take. Never any energy left at the end of a week to protect myself from opportunists, the busier I got the less I could discern what was coming at me.
And so, the teacher became the reluctant student. I learned about what makes men seek women, why they keep them and why they discard them. I found out that relationships can be treacherous ground, best left for those who have the time at the end of a day for somebody else.
But, through my role as a public performer I developed a sense of kinship with those others glorified. I knew they were just worker bees, cloaked in familiar persona. I recognized their foibles, afflictions, and failings. And, it was this familial sensibility which drew me to Johnny Depp’s public display of one not so private life.
As captivated as the rest of the some two million, I paid keen attention to his daily, live testimony – whether on the witness stand, or seated at his doodle pad. I had, by this time, seen his dramatic roles, and respected the actor’s depth and timing. I watched his every move, training my ears to every word. His adversary also piqued my interest, as did the slew of ridicule which seemed to follow her everywhere. They each presented the selves they wished us all to see.
And, I peeled them apart.
What did I find? Johnny had ardent fans, but they mirrored what his life had become; Amber had virtually none, at least according to the media blitz. But, what Johnny revealed to me was a quiet child miserably abused, a young man with a gentle, soft heart for the mistreated, and a soul so tortured that benumbing it seemed the only act worth taking on his own behalf. Furthermore, he’d evolved as the commodity of those who saw in him what he’d never recognized in himself. His whole life had unfolded almost entirely outside of his own design.
As creative polymath, he set aside the artistic gifts he naturally possessed in favor of living out characters which seemed attached to an increasing number of external players – agents; producers; directors; writers; casting departments. And, as if to balance that precarious scale, he’d taken to gathering his trusted friends close and handing them extravagance on a silver platter. His indulgences escalated. Ultimately, his ill fated convergence with Amber the tipping point, Johnny’s life was now unmanageable.
The video and audio testimony convinced me of that about which I was very familiar; Johnny was a nearly lifelong substance addict. Many such unfortunates had been in and out of my life. And, Johnny was given to binging, these episodes likely producing periods of amnesia. If he testified to an action, his confession was only as good as his memory of the event.
Regardless the jury verdict, Johnny is still caught in a delicate situation. Were he to admit to the possibility of physically abusing his partner, acknowledging what he might not remember as potential fact, this would vindicate him as a man. But, his heart might not let him. He likely cares too much about those who, for decades, have come to both own him and depend upon him for their livelihood. Coming clean would, ironically, only serve him; by contrast, doing so could leave those he loves as well as his dependents bereft.
Some may also say that “wife beater” is a label to doom any career. I don’t disagree. All labels diminish, reducing every story to its most common denominator. The same is true of “Sexiest Man Alive”; one can neither top nor bottom out from under either. In this case, domestic abuse was proven in court, on both sides of the argument. It’s possible restoring honor is important to some, but for those too humble to crave it the point is moot.
I won’t idolize you, Johnny Depp.
I could forgive you, but you’d have to confess.
And, who among us would remove our mask, first?
Copyright 6/10/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo littlebarefeetblog.com All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Sharing by direct blog link, exclusively; no RSSING. Thank you for respecting the writer’s honor, however craven.