The most overrated actor of our time

Alice-in-Wonderland-Johnny-Depp-The-Mad-Hatter

Anybody who has known me for more than a day will know how much I dislike Johnny Depp’s acting. He is the most overrated actor of all time and serves only to enable straight men to feel what it’s like to be gay for 90-120 minutes at a time. Granted there are a couple of his films I quite like, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (I thought De Caprio really was a special needs kid and at the end of the film I commended the producers for ‘giving him a go’) and Donnie Brasco. However, the rest of his films are crap and this is why.

Two words, Tim Burton. The merest mention of this man’s name has me taking shelter under a pile of soiled mattresses. I remember going round to a friend’s house circa 92’ for a movie night and I was told that she’d found ‘the most amazing film ever’ and that I was in for a treat. Thirty minutes after I arrived I found myself running down the street towards the nearest pub in a state of abject agitation. I’d just sat through the first twenty minutes of Edward Scissorhands. I’ll never forget Depp’s simpering face under all that make-up and the thieving pikie, Winona Ryder swanning around enjoying the halcyon days of her short-lived career. Every frame of that film exemplified everything that’s wrong with post modernity, a concept dreamt up by the French and promptly denied in true postmodern style.

The world Burton delivers is occupied by the kind of people this world has been built to oppress. It’s a cross between The Big Bang Theory and Hansel and Gretel, basically, Saccharine Gothic, peppered with good intentions and half-baked homilies. Depp is in most of Burton’s films, pretty much reprising the same role over and over again: the hapless hero, often misunderstood by the community, who obviously wins the day because that’s the whole point of Burton’s transparent philosophical outlook; the weak endure and succeed if they try hard enough. I remember being told that in primary school and thinking, “Well, that’s that sorted. Can I go home now?”

The next reason I dislike Depp is because he has desecrated the good name of one of my heroes, Hunter S. Thompson. I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was 19 and I’m confident in saying that it completely fucked up my life in a good way. It served as a green light to a life of hedony and self-indulgent abandon, and I’ve been staggering up that tarnished road ever since. I’ve never found God but I have found something similar in books, and Fear and Loathing is up there in my top 5.

Thompson

Depp crucified Thompson with one of his worst characterisations to date. Instead of portraying one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, Depp gave us a bumbling journalist devoid of Thompson’s sense of style and erudition. The book is replete with deep philosophical insights into life and it charts the death of the American dream. Depp and the director, Terry Gilliam, placed far too much focus on the magical realism of excessive drug use and not enough on Thompson’s unique stance on life. And don’t even get me started on The Rum Diary.

Exhibit three is Chocolat. 90 minutes I will never get back and I did it for sex. Years later, I was to do the same thing for The Notebook, whilst seeking medical attention for drug and alcohol problems in a facility that taught me how to effectively conceal what’s really on your mind. Chocolat is the worst film I have ever seen and the Irish nation should have sought the extradition of Depp for the worst Irish accent in a film or television series since Brad Pitt in The Devil’s Own. All Depp did in that film was smolder on cue and openly denigrate one of the finest Celtic accents. He didn’t even try to make it county specific. To make matters worse, I had to put up with Juliette Binoche getting sexy with chocolate and not in a good way, like Nigella Lawson does but in a preconceived kind of way devoid of Nigella’s sensual movements of the fingers.

When I announce my dislike for Depp’s acting it upsets people, to the point where they’ve written me off or I’ve been asked to see myself out. Especially by men. I’ve noticed that men are the greatest defenders of Depp, which used to confuse me until I thought it through. As I said earlier, Depp enables straight men to experience homosexuality in short bursts. There is no denying that Depp is a handsome man and he’s always well turned out but there’s that twist of femininity to him that straight men are unconsciously drawn to. The immaculate skin, the symmetrical features, the deep brown eyes, the lithe, perfectly formed body and the underplayed masculinity of his roles – a straight man’s guilty wet dream, wrapped up in fame and fortune. He is the heterosexual man’s pin-up boy.

But let me finish with this irrefutable fact: Even if you love Depp and regard him as one of the greatest actors of our time, can you forgive him for the Futterwacken Mad Hatter Dance at the end of Alice in Wonderland? Did that moment make you doubt Depp? Perhaps, even for a nanosecond, force you to reconsider your admiration for the actor? Burton should be ashamed of that film, truly ashamed but Depp should be cast out into the wilds for that dance, and told to see himself out.

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About callumrscott

I am a Learning Consultant and writer, who oscillates between being elated and very angry and sometimes both at the same time. I have been studying many forms of masculinity for almost 15 years now, in particular, hyper and protest masculinity. My other main field of research is transgression or the rituals of transgression and the performative nature of this behaviour. Apart from researching and developing eLearning solutions, I enjoy a good pint and I live in a flat in Brunswick, close to my favourite place, Barkly Square. My greatest disappointment in life is that my first memory turned out to be a lie. I didn’t lose a red wellie on a beach in Orkney and now I have no first memory, just a lot of stories about alcohol and bad decisions. Take it. All the best - Callum R. Scott

22 responses to “The most overrated actor of our time”

  1. Lee Kofman says :

    Callum, thank you for another wonderful, and wonderfully hilarious entry! I’m a big fan of Depp, but mostly because of his looks (although Don Juan de Marco isn’t a bad movie, have you seen it?). Still, your blog got me rethinking my Depp-attitudes plus made me want to read Hunter S Thompson. I found your discussion of the latter really tempting.

    • callumrscott says :

      Thanks Lee glad you enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of Thompson’s writing, been reading him since I was 19. And thanks for tweeting my blog, I’ll do the same for you. Cross promotion is a great method of getting your writing out there, I do that with a few other writers. I haven’t seen Don Juan de Marco, so I’ll have watch and I see Marlon Brando in it, which is a real draw card for me.

  2. Ken Wilson says :

    ‘A straight man’s guilty wet dream’ seems to sum it up for you, right? Whatever turns you on. Or you could simplify your life and just enjoy Depp’s quirky acting. I absolutely agree about Chocolat, though.

    • callumrscott says :

      Wrong Ken. There’s more to the piece than that. For example the vapid films of Tim Burton and Depp’s appalling portrayal of Hunter S Thompson. It’s like Depp is this pre-packaged catch all for people who want to be seen as making intelligent media preferences but are merely boarding a mundane band wagon. I’ve never had a simple life so I’ll settle for a Shane Meadows film any day because the gritty realism and character development does turn me on.

  3. Marisa Constantinides says :

    I have always hated Scissor Hands with a passion. The aprate-Carribean Jonny Depps folIow close suit and I agree with most of what you said – not that I disagree with the rest; I just could not bear to watch all of the films you mention.

    Depp is a cuter version of Charles Bronson – same expression whether mad – bored – sick – in love…. Just too engrossed in his own cuteness to really act.

    • Marisa Constantinides says :

      pirate – sorry 🙂

    • callumrscott says :

      Hey Marisa – Many thanks for reading my blog and commenting, always much appreciated. I was intrigued by your Bronson/Depp tie in, so I did a bit of Bronson youtubing over lunch today and I can see the similarities, the way they eye the camera and rarely change their facial expressions because they are transfixed by their own sense of greatness. Maybe Depp should fund a remake of Death Wish instead of reprising his role as the Mad Hatter in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland 2. Didn’t they learn from their first attempt. Cheers – Callum

  4. tomgeorgearts says :

    I think Depp has a strangely characterless voice, and that’s what makes him flexible as an actor and slightly mysterious. I think because of his close friendship with Thompson, the actor has managed to kind of monopolise the stewardship of his legacy, playing him in two films, financing and planning his ‘gonzo’ funeral and reading his work in a documentary. Depp exemplifies a fake kind of literate bohemian rock’n’roll cool, combining the spirit of Keith Richards, Thompson, Tom Waits and anyone else he can manage to hang out with. I loved Edward Scissorhands though…

    • callumrscott says :

      Excellent appraisal Tom and you’re bang on about the Thompson legacy. I read the Rum Diary years ago and what struck me the most about the book (having read most of the other books first) was how fresh and unjaded Thompson’s writing/personality was. It was like a glimpse into his youthful soul before the loathing began. Depp completely missed this and so did the screenwriter Bruce Robinson who wrote and directed one of my favourite films Withnail and I. It was like somebody put shit in my tube of toothpaste. Thanks for reading Tom.

  5. ManFluStrikesAgain says :

    Hi Callum, thank you for another amusing post.

    I understand why Johnny Depp might inspire a qualified rant, and think you outlined your reasons to varying degrees in your four main contentions.

    That being said, the opening statement of your conclusion asserts an irrefutable fact, which I was unable to find. There were three questions and an opinion but no fact presented.

    I would love to read a new treatise on Withnail and I, should you ever feel inclined, and look forward to your next work.

    • callumrscott says :

      Hey Spiltwine – Glad you enjoyed the piece. Always a pleasure to get your feedback. I agree, I need to get more in depth on Depp, which I plan to do in the coming months once everybody has stopped hating me for being mean to Johnny!! I like the Withnail and I idea very much and I’m going to get stuck into that one soon. Just posted a new blog, hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading the last blog. Cheers – Callum

  6. Tom says :

    Oh please, exaggerating much? So you disliked a few beloved movies/characters he did and now he is the most overrated actor to you?

    His characterisation of Hunter S Thompson is brilliant and iconic and how exactly is he playing the same role in movies like Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow? Or Sweeney Todd and Alice In Wonderland?

    • callumrscott says :

      I’m not sure if your comment is a critique or a series of rhetorical questions with a petulant tone. My advice is to think through your assessment of any piece of writing, deliberate for a while and then deliver a more coherent opinion/argument based on this assessment and deliberation. I’m always more than happy to engage in lively debate, if the opposing view has been well considered. Cheers – Callum

  7. Nate says :

    Johnny Depp is a star fucker of the highest order… Keith Richards, Shane MacGowan, HST, Ginsberg. Tom Waits, Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, etc. Can’t really blame him though. Plenty of people exploit their stardom to bang hot chicks. At least he exploits his to hang out with cool people as well.

  8. Rachel says :

    Fantastically well said.

    I loathe Johnny Depp and cannot for the life of me understand why anybody likes him, or the films he’s in, at all.

    As Lee Kofman admitted, I suspect many people like Johnny Depp because of his look and not because he’s actually very good at acting.

    His films are all repetitive tripe with him playing the same zany character throughout each. He has the acting depth of a puddle.

    To address Tom’s point about playing the same character, here is a list of films that I know of where he has played the exact same character, each of which could easily be substituted for any of the others:

    Edward Scissorhands
    Sleepy Hollow
    Alice in Wonderland
    Willy Wonka
    PIrates of the Caribbean
    The Lone Ranger
    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
    Sweeney Todd

    Go on, admit you fancy the pants off Johnny, or at least think he’s a “lad”.

  9. American Punk-Front 13 says :

    Common hipster junk article.

  10. Nick says :

    You shared my thoughts on paper. Although my observations weren’t as rigorous as yours, I can pretty much say you hit the nail on the head. I’ll never say he’s a bad actor, but overrated – he bloody well is.
    Probably the most over-rated actor ever. It’s a damn shame when people call him “one of the all-time greats”.

    • callumrscott says :

      Thanks Nick! I agree, he’s not a bad actor but definitely overrated. He’s made some very poor choices with Tim Burton. However, I’ll always love What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

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