Our Coverage of Johnny Depp: A Statement
Over the past couple of days, MuggleNet has received many messages from our readers requesting that we make a statement regarding the recent evidence that has come to light in the case between Fantastic Beasts actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife actress Amber Heard. In response, we undertook a comprehensive review of our coverage and posts across the site.
Not long after the initial allegations were made, we reported on the statement that J.K. Rowling released about Depp’s casting, stating that she was at first “deeply concerned” after stories about Heard’s allegations began appearing in the press but that, “based on [her] understanding of the circumstances,” she and the filmmakers “are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny [Depp] playing a major character in the movies.” Director David Yates had also weighed in, labeling it “a dead issue” and defending Depp’s character, calling him “full of decency and kindness” and pointing out that the accusation “doesn’t tally with the kind of human being” he knows, a sentiment echoed by multiple women in Depp’s life.
Following these statements, our readers, many of whom were not convinced by Yates’s and Rowling’s words, were clamoring for us to denounce Depp, but as we said then and still stand behind now, “This issue is one that every Harry Potter fan should consider individually. In the wake of a flood of allegations against men in Hollywood, it is up to us to maintain our values and a civil discussion environment.”
In addition to our news coverage, which we have always aimed to report accurately and without bias, MuggleNet encourages its volunteers to express their beliefs and thoughts in the form of opinion-based editorials about the series and the fandom as a whole. At the time, since many of our volunteers had strong thoughts regarding the allegations, we made a decision to represent multiple sides of the story with a series of editorials, three of which were ultimately published, reflecting the inner conflict felt among the fandom at large.
The first editorial, “J.K. Rowling and the Right to Be Innocent Until Proven Guilty,” was a passionate argument that allegations are not proof, that Depp should not be compared to the likes of Harvey Weinstein, and that we should trust the statements from J.K. Rowling and David Yates concerning Depp’s continued involvement in the Fantastic Beasts series.
The second editorial, “Johnny Depp as Grindelwald: A Hole in the Illusion,” was a lamentation about the decision not to recast the role. The author states that she would not be able to escape into the fantasy of Crimes of Grindelwald with an actor who had been accused of domestic violence and spousal abuse and that she just doesn’t think Depp was the right casting choice to begin with, despite having been a longtime fan of him and his work. The author wrote an addendum to the article just recently, noting that while she no longer feels Depp should be removed from the franchise, she stands behind her belief that all people should be held accountable for their actions.
The third editorial, “Can you Separate an Artist from His Art?: Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts,” explores the implications of supporting work done by someone whose actions go against a person’s moral beliefs. It was the most critical look at the situation, and the author has since changed his point of view, admitting that he did not know enough about the details of the allegations to make any judgment on them.
The three articles we ended up publishing are viewpoints on a tough, private situation. They’re the only “statement” we ever made regarding the allegations, and that was purposeful. Our job isn’t to slander or judge. Our job is to represent fandom, all sides, all opinions. Our goal is always to represent all readers. MuggleNet is a community of fans, by fans, for fans. When we bring on new volunteers, we make it clear to them that we collectively both love and loathe Snape, believe that Cursed Child is and isn’t canon. Our volunteers don’t have to represent all sides, but collectively, as MuggleNet, we do.
We will not apologize for giving our volunteers and guest writers a platform to share their voice. Our readers have always been critical thinkers, and we have hosted over 1,000 opinion-based editorials in our 20 years. That will not change merely because Internet culture now digests information differently. We feel, then and now, that not only did we report news on the situation accurately and without bias but that we also made the right choice in giving our volunteers the freedom to voice their opinions.
We did look back and evaluate the captions on our social media posts. Admittedly, they were not as clear or thoughtful as the verbiage within the posts themselves, and we understand how they could be misconstrued as libel. For that, we apologize. We have implemented new standards in the years since and recognize our failure in that instance.
Since we aren’t in the business of “canceling,” believing this to be highly problematic behavior, we have since continued our news coverage of Johnny Depp, his works and achievements, and his involvement in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, objectively and without judgment, while maintaining our policy of respect for his private life, as we do for all Wizarding World film cast and crew.
Our sole goal is to provide reliable, fun content and a welcoming, safe environment for all. It is not our goal nor our job to rally for or against any person or entity. We welcome and encourage our readers to use our platform to magnify their own voice by submitting guest editorials.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to post below or contact us anytime. We welcome your input and your thoughts.
In our closing remarks, we want to make clear our immutable stance that domestic abuse is not acceptable in any relationship, regardless of gender, wealth, or status. If you or someone you know is in such a situation, we urge you to seek help by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Felicia, Managing Editor
Kat, Creative & Marketing Director