When you Google the term “actors charged with domestic abuse”—as I did following the TMZ report that actress Amber Heard is seeking a restraining order against Johnny Depp, whom she filed for divorce from after one year of marriage this week—you are greeted with a slideshow of 80 celebrities who have been charged with the crime.
Ten times the number of people who attended my last birthday party.
Half the people who will attend my sister’s wedding.
The number of those celebrities for whom those charges negatively affected their careers? Roughly, zero.
This most casual jaunt of investigative reporting—literally just a Google search—was spawned by TMZ’s scandalous headline reporting that Heard arrived at court Friday for divorce proceedings alleging that Depp physically assaulted her during their short marriage. According to TMZ, she arrived with photographic evidence of bruises she says Depp inflicted. As the celebrity news site writes, “Three days after Depp’s mom died, Amber filed for divorce. And one week after his mom died, she’s claiming domestic violence.”
It’s important to note, I guess, that these are allegations. As we always do, we will wonder whether this is a victimizing cash-grab ploy by the woman. The celebrity couple did not have a prenup and Heard is seeking spousal report, which Depp is asking the judge to reject. Depp is reportedly worth $400 million.
It is also important to note how Hollywood reacts to male celebrities when there are allegations of domestic violence, which is not at all.
There are glaring, despicable examples of this, such as the equivalent of a cultural hug we’ve given Chris Brown.
In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault of his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Photos of her bruised face went viral online. Here they are. You should look at them again.
Later that year he released the album Graffiti. Its lead single “I Can Transform Ya” charted in the Top 20 on the Billboard singles chart. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award. At the next ceremony he actually won a Grammy, for his album F.A.M.E.
Following the publishing of the photos of Rihanna’s beaten face, Chris Brown suffered a brutal assault of thinkpieces and blogger condemnation. That must have been really hard for him. He must think about that every night of his sold-out world tour. In 2015, he was barred from entering Australia, where he had a scheduled tour date, because of his conviction for assault. Tickets were still on sale for $600 nonetheless, while he considered an appeal.
Here are other celebrities who have been charged with domestic violence.
Charlie Sheen was arrested for it 2009. A few short years later, he was being paid roughly $2 million an episode for the FX comedy series Anger Management.
Tommy Lee served four months in prison after admitting to kicking then-wife Pamela Anderson while she was holding her infant son. Six years later, he reunited with Motley Crue. Their album Red, White & Crue went four-times platinum. The 2005 tour grossed $33 million.
In 1989 Ozzy Osbourne was charged with attempting to murder Sharon Osbourne. In 2016 Ozzy Osbourne is still a celebrity.
Christian Slater was sentenced to three months in prison for assaulting his then-girlfriend. Christian Slater is now very good on Mr. Robot and we all have renewed crushes on him.
Remember when when Nicolas Cage was arrested for domestic battery? James Caan? Josh Brolin? Terrence Howard?
No? Check under the rug. That’s where those memories have been dusted.
In August 2013, Scandal actor Columbus Short was sentenced to three years probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He was fired from the hit ABC show. Thank you, Shonda Rhimes.
This is not to vilify any of these male celebrities. Perhaps they are truly apologetic for their actions and have completely reformed. Luckily, their industry has never rebuked them, making that reform so much easier!
We live in an age when, if someone sends a bad tweet, we put their career in a casket and dance on their grave. Beating people is OK, though.
This is where we say, again, that these are charges. Johnny Depp, who is a very good actor and was unavailable to appear with his lawyer to meet Heard’s claim because he is busy promoting his $170 million blockbuster Alice Through the Looking Glass, might not have done it. But he also might have.
We’re all excited to see what he does next.
[Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated that Sean Penn had been "charged with a felony" for allegedly abusing Madonna. Penn was never charged, and Madonna has stated in a court document that Penn never physically assaulted her.]