Is Johnny Depp The Subject Of Schadenfreude? Why Do Some People Want Depp To Fail? [Opinion]

Johnny Depp is beloved by a great number of people. He’s won many People’s Choice Awards and been voted Sexiest Man Alive, not once but twice. Any honor for an actor that involves the public vote, Johnny has a good chance of winning, even after his scandal-filled divorce from Amber Heard.

Johnny Depp was awarded the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Hollywood Icon this year. Depp has never won an Academy Award though. The people who judge the Academy Awards do not seem to vote for him. Perhaps they do not like his acting methods or his characters, but many ordinary Americans love Depp and find great meaning in his work.

Johnny Depp by that measure would be an odd candidate for schadenfreude, but that is exactly what the Irish Times is speculating.

“Johnny Depp’s going broke and the schadenfreude feels good… The ability to derive pleasure from another person’s misfortune is a foundation of civilization. Never mind delight in failure as a complement to our own triumph. Laughing at catastrophe is even more useful as fillip when our lives are unsatisfactory.”

Firstly, Johnny Depp has not said he was going broke. This is all being put forth by TMG the financial management group Johnny is suing. He is alleging they mismanaged his money, so they are allegedly releasing his private information to the media.

Johnny Depp, has reportedly said at least some of the information is incorrect but is their strategy working? Do people really enjoy hearing about Johnny’s alleged misfortune? Is schadenfreude really that common?

Secondly, is schadenfreude really “a foundation of civilization?” The concept is only found in two human languages, Greek and German. How can schadenfreude be construed as somehow universal?

Schadenfreude is an unusual word of German origin meaning to delight in another’s misfortune according to Taken literally from the word’s root origins Schaden means “damage, harm or injury,” while freude means to frolic, or literally “hopping for joy.”

Is Johnny Depp’s alleged financial trouble really making some people happy because of schadenfreude? Are some people hopping for joy over Depp’s alleged misfortune? How could this be? Is there any major demographic of people out there who specifically do not like Johnny? Is Schadenfreude so powerful that some people just enjoy seeing virtually anyone down? How is schadenfreude normal or civilized?

If schadenfreude really exists, then it certainly has its opposite. Not everyone takes joy in the misfortune of others, though perhaps most people feel a bit of satisfaction when their enemies or oppressors fail, especially if it benefits them. For example, in a war or competition, people usually like to see the other side fail because that means they win.

Still, schadenfreude seems like an odd reaction under any other circumstances. Don’t most people rejoice at the success of others, rather than their failures?

Johnny Depp has a loyal following of fans who got together for the specific purpose of defending Johnny from the Amber Heard scandal. The group We Support Johnny Depp under the hashtag #DeppHeads4Life worked to disprove Amber Heard’s allegations. They fight against the haters. Does schadenfreude explain haters?

These Johnny Depp fans at #DeppHeads4Life would be hopping mad at the idea that someone would enjoy Depp’s misfortune. Schadenfreude aimed at Johnny would not be acceptable to them.

Johnny Depp AKA Jack Sparrow and Hollywood Vampires member
Johnny Depp AKA Jack Sparrow and Hollywood Vampires member [Image by Matt Sayles/APImages]

TheIrish Times cites tough times as the reason for a modern resurgence of schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is allegedly delicious to those suffering on the bottom of society, but that isn’t the full extent of it. TheIrish Times further quotes Gore Vidal.

“It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.”

Still, Johnny Depp would be an odd candidate for such a hate filled preoccupation, if it is based on envy of privilege, according to the theory proposed in the Irish Times. They cite Louis XVI’s guillotine execution as an example of schadenfreude.

Johnny Depp would be an odd person with whom to compare Louis XVI. Johnny Depp isn’t oppressing anyone nor is he a political figure. Depp has taken a powerful stand against societal oppression on many occasions.

Most recently Johnny Depp has protested the execution of impoverished death row inmates in Arkansas and pointed out the socioeconomic inequalities in the American justice system. No, if anyone is taking joy in Depp’s public humiliation it seems unlikely to be coming from those less fortunate unless they are seriously misinformed.

Johnny Depp was himself a member of the lower class. It seems that the Telegraph alleges Johnny Depp is slowly turning into Marlon Brando. That isn’t necessarily bad, even if it were true, but it is being projected as bad. Depp is quoted in what perhaps could be a schadenfreude motivated article in the Telegraph.

“My favorite way to eat anything is fried. Gotta be fried. I’m a big advocate of fast food. I’m from the South. I’m complete and total and utter white trash, and that’s okay, you know?”

Johnny Depp did come from humble beginnings. He was hardly born with a silver spoon, and he worked his way up. Johnny dropped out of school to pursue a music career, and had he not been so talented, he would have ended up on the streets of Los Angeles like so many young potential actors and run-a-ways.

Johnny Depp didn’t arrive in Hollywood with connections. He made his own connections. Johnny didn’t arrive with any financial backing. He made his own fortune, and if he spent that then so be it. It was his to spend. Johnny Depp did stand up for himself explaining his right to spend his own money as he sees fit, according to this from the Inquisitr.

If Johnny Depp is being victimized in the name of schadenfreude, it seems unlikely that it is because he is rich. Perhaps it is out of snobbery and coming from those who imagine themselves to be of a superior station, intellectual level, or social class.

Johnny Depp has very little education, but he can hold his own in conversations with people of high intellect. His friends, people like Hunter S. Thompson, Marlon Brando, Kieth Richards and others are quite intellectual.

Johnny Depp, the self-proclaimed “white trash” is hobnobbing with the rich, the educated, and the famous. Are there people out there who don’t like that?

Schadenfreude is not specific to reason, but only defined as joy at the misfortune of others, but who does that? quotes Richard C. Trench on the subject of schadenfreude.

“What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others; for the existence of the word bears testimony to the existence of the thing.”

Johnny Depp has championed many underdogs, including Damien Echols, the wrongfully accused death row inmate he managed to save from execution, along with two others. Depp was disadvantaged as well at one time.

Johnny Depp and Damion Echols
Johnny Depp and Damion Echols [Image by Evan Agostini/Getty Images]

Johnny Depp is interesting and intellectual, despite his lack of education. He is very talented. Johnny is highly respected by his peers and by ordinary Americans, so where exactly is this perpetual shade coming from?

Johnny Depp picked up many slang words from Hunter S. Thompson, and he has complained of chupacabra a bit. Are the vampiristic, parasitical, upper class the ones glorying in Johnny’s misfortune?


Johnny Depp’s Friend Damien Echols Would Have Been Executed Today, But Lives Thanks To Musicians [Opinion]

Johnny Depp And Thomas Gibson Fans Protest ‘The Mistreatment Of Good Men’ [Opinion]

Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson, and Damien Echols: A Tale Of Rock And Roll On Death Row [Opinion]

Johnny Depp Makes A Good Point: ‘It’s My Money’ Says Depp To The Management Group [Opinion]

Does Johnny Depp inspire envy, snobbery, and thus schadenfreude in some people? If so, what about the other people? What about the people Depp inspires to make a difference in life? What about the people he fills with the hope of making it in the world despite the station they were born in.

Johnny Depp is inspiring schadenfreude in some, but what of the people who see his success as a source of hope and joy?

[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]