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Johnny Depp & Natalie Portman Under Fire For WHAT!?!

| Filed under: Music MinutePaul McCartneyJohnny DeppNatalie Portman

natalie portman johnny depp my valentine sign language controversy

Uh Oh!!

Someone is breaking Paul McCartney's heart!

In his new music video collection for My Valentine, Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp pay homage to the beautiful language of sign.

Unfortunately, the sign amateurs hit a few wrong gestures and ended up saying "tampon" instead of "appear" and "enemy" instead of "valentine."


So a rep for the British Deaf Association has spoken up:

It would have been nice if genuine deaf people had been used.

Luckily, he acknowledges that only the best intentions were made. He says the videos should be praised for their "poetic expression" but definitely not taken as a serious sign lesson. He continues on to say:

It's great that famous people such as Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman are highlighting the use of sign language.


Yeah, they messed up… but at least they gave their time to a worthy cause!

We bet Natalie and Johnny feel horrible about this… but we'd also bet they did the best they could with the (probable) short amount of time they had to learn it!!

CLICK HERE to watch the "tampon enemy" videos, LOLz!!!!

[Image via Brian To/WENN.]

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16 comments to “Johnny Depp & Natalie Portman Under Fire For WHAT!?!”

  1. Jax says – reply to this


    If I'm not mistaken- Natalie and Johnny are doing American Sign Language not, British Sign Language. The signs are different. The only thing I did see wrong was at the end when Johnny was signing "heart" he used his middle fingers instead of the index fingers.

    "It would have been nice if genuine deaf people had been used" The quote bothers me. As a hearing person who knows ASL, I think it's a great thing that Paul featured sign in his videos but, it would have been even better if he maybe also, added Marlee Matlin or another famous deaf actress.

    I think the rep for BSL also, contradicted himself when he saids "It would have been nice if genuine deaf people had been used." and then say it was a great thing.

    I wonder what Marlee Matlin's thoughts on this is!

  2. burt says – reply to this


    Bull piles. Love makes those peiple vomit. They are programmed to program u. They just didn't think deaf people were unretarded enough not to notice the bad sighning. It's a pretty song but a real example of thier staged ignorance. None of the particiants have spoken about it.

  3. 3

    Re: Jax – Here's a quote from another source:

    "A spokesperson for the Association said, "The sign for tampon does seem to come up from both Johnny and Natalie, which causes some confusion, especially as American and British sign languages are different."

    "To be fair, sign is a very subtle-but-specific language and even the slightest changes in motion and/or facial expression can dramatically alter the meaning of something. The organization laments that McCartney did not use actual deaf performers for the clip, but is effusive with praise, regardless of the minor problems."

  4. 4

    Re: burt – It's time for your meds.

  5. Tom Willard says – reply to this


    The criticism is ridiculous because it's coming from England, where the signs are different. Portman's sign for "appear" was spot on. It might mean tampon in British Sign Language, but it means appear in American Sign Language, and she got it right. As for Depp, when he signed Valentine, he should have had his middle finger bent and the others straight out. He did the reverse, and ended up giving us the finger. But it doesn't mean "enemy" in ASL.

  6. 6

    Re: Tom Willard – But this is Paul McCartney's song and he's British, so the BSL takes precedence over the ASL.

  7. Astrid Bidanec says – reply to this


    Re: Meggie246524 – I disagree. The featured actors were Americans. Only natural for anyone to assume they are using ASL, as in AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE.

  8. Tracie says – reply to this


    It's not BSL, British Sign Language! It's really ASL, American Sign Language! and by the way the word tampon and appear is almost same sign for both words but have different face expression/body language toward those words. Plus saying the word itself it does make whole a lot different as well. Yes, having the actual deaf people in this music video will make it 10x better! Trust me! Because I am deaf gal!

  9. Lee says – reply to this


    The thing is: This video is getting so much attention because of the very fact that it's NON-deaf people who are doing the signing. (Some very beautiful non-deaf people). There would have been nothing surprising about Marlee Matlin or some other famous deaf person signing. We expect that. We KNOW they can sign. What's great about this video using famous non-deaf people is it suggests that sign language is a language MORE of us should know.

    And it's just provincial of the British tabloid to report this as if there was only one version of sign language (the British version).

    Also, whoever trained the actors to sign for this video — and Paul McCartney did hire a sign-language company in LA who supposedly knew what they were doing — should speak up and explain, instead of just sitting silently while Natalie, Johnny and Paul take the heat.

  10. 10

    [re=6055568]Re: Lee "Also, whoever trained the actors to sign for this video — and Paul McCartney did hire a sign-language company in LA who supposedly knew what they were doing — should speak up and explain, instead of just sitting silently while Natalie, Johnny and Paul take the heat.
    "[/re] Exactly! (I don't know if I've done this right.)

  11. 11

    I think it's very petty and small minded to criticise Natalie Portman and Johnny for what are only minor mistakes - they gave their time and efforts generously for this beautiful video, and they should be respected for doing so. As someone else said, more people should know sign language - and whether that's in America or Britain doesn't matter.
    I have to say, though, that the rep. for the British Deaf Association should have kept his mouth shut - by carping and criticising, he is showing himself to be small minded.
    Oh, and Johnny looked wonderful in that video - so graceful and beautiful.

  12. Becky says – reply to this


    @Jax, I'm a native ASL user, and a nationally certified interpreter - I grew up signing heart with the middle not index finger … so I don't agree that those signs were "wrong"

    What I thought was lacking was facial expression, however I love that Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp would embrace this project! I thought it was clear on some of the ASL translation that they did use someone familiar with ASL. I also wonder how much time they had to actually learn the song in ASL?

    Overall I think it's positive exposure for ASL, so we can embrace it or be negative about it and as long as we continue to be negative, we weaken our own community.

  13. Becca says – reply to this


    I know ASL and there is nothing wrong with the signs used in the music video. If Bristish Sign was meant to be used than they should have hired somebody to teach the actors British sign and not American sign, simple as that. I think this is a beautiful project.

  14. r says – reply to this


    Give them a break. I think ASL OR BSL nazis needs to understand that learning sign in a short peroid of time is not easy.

  15. Katie says – reply to this



    As a deaf individual, I found this video to be amazing. Language should be accessible to all with the mature (yes mature, you internet trolls) understanding that learning a new language is difficult and requires months and quite possibly years to perfect. For these busy celebrities to take the time to learn the basics and make something as beautiful as this… That is an accomplishment. McCartney and all involved in this video recognized the beauty of ASL (and yes, this is ASL but let's not forget that there ARE similarities between ASL and BSL) and chose to use the language for artistic purposes.

    Just enjoy the asthetic value of this video, the message it is trying to convey, and lighten up. It's art!

  16. Eve Hunt says – reply to this


    The sign language used was not 'wrong'. The latest articles point out that American Sign Language differs from British Sign Language. ASL is a concept language. Many signs look the same, but will be understood in the context of the message. The sign some people use for 'tampon' could also be used to demonstrate a blade of grass growing through the dirt or a post sticking up from cement…..it's all about the context. The ASL sign for enemy is completely different from the British sign. This is how news gets out of hand when people really don't know what they're talking about. Enjoy the music and the videos. They all did a fabulous job.