About four years ago, my dearly beloved husband was away from home and I was keeping a motherly eye on our second son, who was about nineteen at the time and ‘between jobs’. He didn’t need much looking after, but I tried to make sure that minimal amounts of the content of his room leaked out into the rest of the house, while at the same time trying to prevent too much of our crockery and cutlery disappearing INTO the Black Hole. Anyway, one day he said he fancied renting a movie and I let him choose.
He said he wanted to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, and my heart sank. I didn’t know much about the movie, but what I did know wasn’t encouraging: it was Disney (strike one) it involved pirates (strike two) and a ship with a skeleton crew (strike three). But Son No. 2 insisted that he’d seen it at the cinema and it was a great movie and it occurred to me that it would mean a welcome break from the constant battle against the Cartoon Network, video gaming and the dreaded drum kit, so I agreed and sent him up to the video store to fetch it.
Five minutes after Captain Jack hove into view my chin dropped to my chest and stayed there, and my eyes became mysteriously superglued to the screen.
There really is something about that character that hooks deep into the imagination of a very large cross-section of the population. People from five to seventy-five have had the same experience as me, in fact I’ve heard it said that you’d have to be dead to avoid it altogether, although I think, on balance, that’s probably an exaggeration.
Anyway, after reluctantly returning The Curse of the Black Pearl, I began to work my way through Johnny Depp’s back catalogue, discovering such gems as Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and Benny & Joon. I began to make a point of renting a movie for the weekend, when my Other Half would be home, so I could share with him my latest find. Luckily for me, he quickly came to appreciate Mr Depp’s phenomenal gifts – though not, it has to be said, in quite the same way that I did.
He began to look up Depp movies on IMDB, and requested Ed Wood. I found that I loved it. I picked up Don Juan de Marco, which he looked askance at, but we both loved that one too. For a long time I would not watch Once Upon a Time in Mexico because I’d heard what happens to Agent Sands, but .. well, I began to run out of movies and my friends assured me it was actually pretty funny, so I did watch it. Much to my surprised, yep, I laughed. I flatly refused to consider From Hell because I don’t ‘do’ slasher movies, but, well .. eventually I rented that one too, which caused raised eyebrows at Blockbuster Video, but guess what? It’s now my favourite Depp movie.
So, OK, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill story so far. One woman and (to a somewhat lesser degree) her husband become Johnny Depp fans. So what? And that still doesn’t explain the term ‘The Depp Effect’, does it?
I’ll try to put this as briefly as possible. At the time, I was a fat, middle aged woman with two grown sons and a multitude of health problems. My husband of more than 25 years was also going through a health crisis. I’d become tired, jaded and over-anxious, and reluctant to do anything very much.
Now, much as I had begun to love him, I did not want to know anything about Johnny Depp’s private life, his character or his personality, or his shoe size. I had learned from bitter experience that most idols have feet of clay and I tend to lose interest in people who prove themselves by word or deed to be bastards, and I was so enjoying being a fan of his that I wanted to keep right on being a fan. But you know how it is, when people discover that you have an interest (alright, call it an obsession if you must), they start to give you things. They mark it down for birthday and Christmas gifts and random stuff appears in the mail – and before you know it, despite your intentions, you begin to learn more about said ‘interest’ that you ever wanted.
What did I learn about Johnny Depp? Why, nothing at all to his discredit. He appears to be a Jolly Nice Chap. He seems to be not only hugely talented, but intelligent, witty, warm and funny, a true family man and just plain nice. And best of all, he is inspirational. His life’s motto seems to be, well … ‘Fuck it!’. As a role model for an insecure stuck-in-the-mud housewife, he couldn’t have been better.
And so, when I was invited to go and stay with a bunch of fellow fans I met on the internet and who happened to live in the US, instead of saying ‘Oh, that would be too risky and I’d have to fly across The Pond and I’m not sure my health would allow it and I might not like them and .. and .. and … ‘ I said ‘Fuck it – I will!’ and I had a GREAT time and made some new, real-life, honest to goodness friends. However, I still occasionally refer to my very best US friend as ‘the Axe Murderer’ in recognition that she could have turned out to be some great hairy homicidal maniac called Dave instead of the lovely lady that she is.
Since then, I’ve said ‘Fuck it – I’m tired of being fat and ugly, I’m gonna do something about it’ and ‘Fuck it – I’m gonna dye my hair’ and ‘Fuck it, I might be a tad late, but I’m gonna get my ears pierced’ and quite a lot of other ‘Fuck its’ and I’ve made friends, travelled a lot, and done many things I thought were for ‘other people’, including manning the barriers for eight hours on the hottest day of the year to take the picture above at the premiere for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and exchange a few words with the man himself.
My husband is delighted with the new me, too. However, I do worry about him. I think he may possibly be suffering from the teeniest smidgeon of jealousy.
I found this on the side of the fridge the other day -
Do you think he’ll notice?