Why are there Alpacas at the Johnny Depp / Amber Heard trial?

The Depp vs Heard defamation trial is in many ways more of a PR trial and three-ring circus than an actual trial. Part of this circus includes real live animals who have become a mascot of sorts for this cultural moment Why are there so many alpacas, both real and stuffed, attending the trial?

While everyone is enjoying the extreme voyeurism of peering into Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationships, meming jokes, and picking sides, there’s a very real chance that neither party will win their defamation claims. Furthermore, while there is a lot of chatter about who is “guilty” or “innocent” in this case, it’s not a criminal trial or a domestic violence trial. No one will be found guilty, and no one will receive jail time (unless some people who testified get charged with perjury.)

This all started when Johnny Depp testified on the stand: “If they came to me with $300 million and a million alpacas, nothing under this earth, on this earth would get me to go back and work with Disney on a Pirates of the Caribbean film.”

Although this obviously was a jokingly hyperbolic statement, Amber Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft later questioned Disney executive Tina Newman about it in a literal manner.

Elaine: “Are you aware that Mr. Depp has testified under oath that he would not take another Pirates of the Caribbean franchise role for $300 million and a million alpacas.”

Tina: “No.”

Elaine: “Did Disney entertain paying Mr. Depp more than $300 million and provide him more than a million alpacas to be able to obtain his services for any future Pirates of the Caribbean role?”

Tina: “No.”

All these alpaca references created a symbol for Johnny Depp supporters to embrace. Alpacas owners have brought their animals to the Fairfax, VA courthouse, and stuffed animals and artwork of alpacas are abounding at the trial and online. You can even buy alpaca merchandise connected to the trial on Etsy.

On Thursday, May 26, one of Johnny Depp’s lawyers Ben Chew brought a stuffed alpaca into court and placed it into his pocket while speaking to the judge, like good-luck talisman.

Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez also hung out with the alpacas outside of court one day.

Johnny Depp told the cameras it was “Alpaca Day” while leaving after a day in court in April.

Photo by Josiah Farrow: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-brown-lama-3396657/

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