With the Depp-Heard trial over, the public lusts for the next lurid spectacle

Johnny Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages after weeks of a humiliating televised defamation trial, while Heard was awarded only $2 million in compensatory damages and no punitive damages. Heard received small comfort from the fact that punitive damages in Virginia are capped at $350,000, which reduces her debt to her former husband to $8,350,00.

Media conglomerates made a fortune running advertisements while stoking the flames of the public's morbid fascination with a dark, ugly, lurid spectacle. The rubbernecking public got a front-row seat to a train wreck, and they relished it. Is there anything more captivating to the public than a famous couple airing the sordid details of their toxic relationship live on television, with high-resolution cameras capturing every microexpression on their faces? Certainly not global warming, a devastating war in Ukraine, or the death throes of democracy in the United States. No, the public wants to see two rich, beautiful people tear each other to shreds.

[The American TV viewer] is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections. — William Gibson, Idoru