No one should need to be reminded of this, but clearly some on social media have not yet received the message: Actors are not the same as the characters they play. Actors are real people. On television or on movies, they play a part. Do not confuse the actor with the character.
The latest to suffer from the King Joffrey effect is Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene, the mullet-haired wonder on The Walking Dead. By all accounts, McDermitt is a nice guy. I’ve heard him on podcasts. He’s smart and funny and personable. His character on The Walking Dead, however, is a self-confessed coward, a man who turned on his friends to spare his own life. Whether the rest of us would choose the same path as Eugene on The Walking Dead is irrelevant here, however, because Eugene is not a real person.
Josh McDermitt is.
Nevertheless, some folks on social media have seen fit to treat McDermitt as though he is Eugene, and they have begun to attack him for the misdeeds of his character.
McDermitt received death threats because of something his character did on a fictional show set in a fictional world where zombies exist.
The harassment got so intense for McDermitt that the actor eventually chose to quit all of social media. He pulled down his Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages, which contained scores of candid photos, messages and witticisms. Before he deleted his social media accounts, however, he did leave one message:
“Death threats, don’t send me death threats, because I will report all that s— to the cops. I’m just sick of it. You can hate Eugene, I don’t care. You can think whatever you want but when you start saying you hope I die, I don’t know if you’re talking about Josh or Eugene. I gotta report that s—, so, just don’t be an a—hole. And just stop complaining. Just stop complaining about everything on the Internet. Just go spend time with your family or friends or loved ones. Just get off the Internet. I love you, I do. I love you guys.”
McDermitt has spoken out against cyberbullying in the past. Last year, he took issue with fans for body-shaming Alanna Masterson after an episode last November. From Huffington Post:
“People need to chill the F out with the crap that they’re putting on the internet. It’s very disturbing because we are people, everyone. And I’m not talking about actors. I’m talking about anyone on the internet. I mean, I just read something on CNN the other day where a teenage girl committed suicide who was cyber bullied. This is bullsh*t. This should never happen.”
McDermitt is not wrong. Nevertheless, since he quit social media, fans have not only come to his defense, but offered an outpouring of support on social medial.
Again, this sort of harassment — or any sort of harassment — is unacceptable. We apologize to McDermitt on social media’s behalf.