Top Twitch Streamers Capitalize on Depp V. Heard Trial Trauma

A screenshot from a recent Pokimane Twitch livestream of her reacting to the ongoing Amber Heard v Johnny Depp libel lawsuit.

A “tears” counter?
Screenshot: Pokimane / Kotaku

If you’ve visited Twitch recently, you may have noticed that the most popular “Just Chatting” category and the front page were dominated by one thing: the defamation lawsuit between actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. What began on April 11 as a battle in court recounting a toxic relationship filled with abuse and trauma has since attracted top streamers like Pokimane and xQc, which react to the process and memorize it. In other words, broadcast the Depp v. heard Court cases have become a growing trend on the Amazon-owned platform for creators large and small to maximize their audience, with some capitalizing on the “entertainment value” of salacious allegations.

Depp and Heard have a history together, having been married from 2015 to 2017 before going their separate ways. After their split, Heard accused Depp of abuse throughout their marriage, recounting parts of that trauma in a 2018 Washington Post editorial without naming it explicitly. Since then, the two have been pursuing multimillion-dollar lawsuits, leading to the libel lawsuit that officially entered Virginia court on April 11.

There’s a lot to analyze in the trial, from harrowing stories of physical and sexual abuse to very intimate details about drug addiction. Alongside these serious subjects, the trial was punctuated by unexpected asides, such as the testimony of a guy who was vaping at the wheel of his car and Depp doodling during the procedure. There is an element of humor alongside the seriousness of the defamation case, where the streamers have inserted themselves. Many of the platform’s top broadcasters owned by Amazon, from wow Asmongold aficionado for socialist political commentator Hasanabibroadcast the case to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of subscribers, creating content their audiences can binge consume.

It’s become the new meta, with streamers pulling in viewers in the thousands. Content creators on Twitch put both actors’ names in their titles to entice curious viewers, opting for variations like “Justice for..” which side they’re on and “Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp Watch Party.” . And as streamers lure people in to watch the trial with them, it risks becoming one big watch party full of laughs and memes at the expense of trauma. Streamers like Pokimane have had on-screen counters to track certain behaviors in court, like Heard crying or Depp laughing. Others, including Rainbow Six Siege streamer shortyyguydebated their chatter about the merits of the testimonies of the two actors, especially Heard.

Streamers may be using this cultural event to grow their audience, but some viewers – and other broadcastersaccording to Launcher journalist and former Kotaku Staff member Nathan Grayson wasn’t too keen on the trial becoming a “little effort” content grinder. People took to Twitter to express displeasure to apparent strangeness of Depp v. heard defamation case being considered as a kind “athletic event” on Twitch in which streamers choose one side and destroy the other. As of now, people seem to side with Depp.

Richard Hoeg, lawyer specializing in digital and video game law and creator of the Virtual Legality YouTube Channelexplained to Kotaku by email part of the reason why people are in love with the Depp v. heard trial.

“Almost everyone knows Johnny Depp, either for his more avant-garde work or his belated Disney revival,” said Hoeg, who himself streamed the lawsuit along with other YouTubers like California attorney Alyte. Mazeika of Legal bytes as part of a collective colloquially known as LawTube. “From there, the actual details involved are themselves more salacious than normal, even for a case like this, with cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, severed fingers, bloody writing on the walls, hours and hours of intimate audio clips and two mutually exclusive descriptions. of the world all vying for attention. Outside of the OJ Simpson trial, we’ve perhaps never seen a case with such a potent combination of celebrity and salaciousness.

Although he “doesn’t think the trial was staged as a prank” despite its many comedic moments, he is concerned that streamers are spreading false information.

“I think there’s always a fear that people covering a story will do it in a way that lowers the level of good news rather than enhancing it,” Hoeg said. “That’s why Virtual Legality and Legal Bytes work so hard to inform from a position of legal expertise (as well as to entertain). I also think there is a risk from certain quarters in terms of decorum. This is a real case, with very serious allegations on both sides, and some may tend to treat it more as a a soap opera or a sporting event than a legal trial. But with that risk comes opportunity, and I think that’s really the future of “entertainment” like this. Unfiltered streams of real-world events with commentators helping people understand what they’re watching.

the Depp v. heard the trial will take a short break from May 9, but plans to resume on May 16, with an expected end date scheduled for May 27.


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