Fans Expect Too Much of Stars Like Amber Heard, Ezra Miller | Opinion

It seems particularly poignant now to consider that Marvel Comics—as opposed to its rival DC stable of granite-jawed super-men—was traditionally the home of the hero who was all too human, and who must overcome his weaknesses in order to do the best for the world he found himself in, often cruelly crossed with a spider or such.

Under the knowing hand of Stan Lee, young heroes routinely suffered from self-loathing. Sometimes their flaws were rendered in a cruelly freakish physicality, as in the case of the Hulk and the Thing.

Now, in a striking example of life imitating art, recent revelations about actors who have appeared in superhero films—from Amber Heard in DC's Aquaman to Ezra Miller in The Flash—have alerted the pay-per-view public to the fact that people drawn to the entertainment industry may be more likely than other people to have personality defects.

But entertainers by their nature are strange people— that's why exceptions to the rule such as Tom Hanks stand out so—who seek mass love because the regular one-to-one kind just can't fill the void within. This being the case, it's somewhat unrealistic and prissy to demand moral purity from actors, even those who play superheroes.

Amber Heard awaits her defamation suit verdict
Amber Heard at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on June 1, 2022. The jury found heavily in favor of her ex-husband Johnny Depp in their libel trial. Evelyn Hockstein/AFP

The history of cinema—not just Hollywood—does not bear examination, from the Ku Klux Klan portrayed as heroes in Birth Of A Nation to Maria Schneider bullied into buggery in Last Tango In Paris. Where does the showbiz shunning start—with Charlie Chaplin, who preyed on underage girls? And where does it end—with the singer Nelly accused of 'ageism' for asking the sexagenarian Madonna not to pose barely clothed as "Some things should just be left covered up?" Purity spirals have a way of getting out of hand; one day social media is pillorying a sex pest, the next it's going after Chris Pratt (star of Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy) for the "crime" of being a Christian.

Though many theories and pretensions have been thought up to justify the vast salaries actors are paid—Stanislavsky, the Actors Studio, Suffering For One's Art—the best description of acting is still "make believe." Genetically-favored people make us believe that life is other than it is for a few hours, and we reward them accordingly.

We know that the world is full of Things and Hulks—and that in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, they are often clad in sheep's clothing and prey upon and depend upon the silence of the lambs, and that this needs addressing and punishing. But, if we want to continue being entertained, we should not become too sensitive about the offscreen behavior of film stars. If we wait for saints to show up on the lot—on their way to their shift at the soup kitchen, perhaps—we may find that there are no actors left to cast. After all, Tom Hanks surely can't play all those heroes by himself.

Julie Burchill is a journalist and author of 'Welcome To The Woke Trials: How #Identity Killed Progressive Politics', published by Academica Press. The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

For an alternate opinion, read: Amber Heard, Ezra Miller Should Both Be Dropped by Warner Bros