If Simon is going down, he’s going down swinging.
“Walking Dead” fans lost their new favorite character this week after Simon’s (Steven Ogg) plans to usurp Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) were sniffed out by the big man himself. Negan basically went “Game of Thrones” on Simon, sentencing him to trial by one-on-one combat. Since Negan has nearly indestructible plot armor, you knew it wasn’t ending well for his second-in-command.
In a scene that’s incredibly hard to watch, Negan ends up strangling Simon to death, but not before our dude managed to sneak in a few good shots on his boss. During an interview with HuffPost on his exit, actor Ogg also threw some punches at the sometimes-toxic fan culture surrounding the show.
A number of “Walking Dead” actors have been the subjects of disturbing online bullying. Josh McDermitt, the actor who plays Eugene, left social media after receiving death threats due to his character’s “evil” turn in the show. Alanna Masterson, aka Tara on the show, experienced a barrage of body-shaming comments on Instagram after she appeared in the Season 7 episode “Swear” shortly after giving birth. Two years later, she’s still asking people to “please” stop harassing her.
When it comes to the trolls, Ogg isn’t so cordial.
“It makes me fucking sick,” he told HuffPost. “It’s just disgusting.”
Ogg said he’s seen firsthand what social media can do to a person, and he’s tired of it.
“It makes me sick that these trolls and these people can say stuff, because, again, the social anonymity of it is what allows people somehow the right to just say whatever the fuck they want,” he said. “And you know what? If you want to fucking beak off like that, then why don’t you post your name — your full name, not your Twitter name, not your handle, not your bullshit, whatever made-up stuff you do. Print your real name. Print your real phone number. Print your real address. Step up. Don’t just hide behind this anonymity and say whatever you want. That shit pisses me off. ”
“I’ve had personal experiences, and I’ve been through stuff,” Ogg added. “But again, it does affect you, but you have to quickly go, it’s bottom feeders, right? It’s catfish. It’s people that are eating the fucking shit out of the hippo tank, and that’s how you’re spending your time? It’s sad.”
The actor explains a “better man” would just say, “Oh, it’s sad. These people are just pathetic,” but sometimes he can’t help getting upset.
“That’s why Alanna’s post was so beautiful, because fuck off. Why are you harassing people?” he said. “Go fucking do something productive with your life.”
Ogg noted that he has a “love and hate” relationship with social media overall. (We’re probably safe assuming it’s more of the latter.) He does run his Instagram account, but he says he left Facebook after the 2016 presidential election and only “dabbles” on Twitter. According to him, he has “enough shit” going on in his head without online comments further polluting it.
Ogg recently saw his co-star McDermitt perform in a play in New York and remarked on how different he is since he left social media.
“He’s happier and in a better place than ever now,” Ogg said, adding that “his energy, and I made the point of saying this to him, is different.”
Now, as clear-cut as Simon’s strangling was, “Walking Dead” actors never really die. Sure, they can be snuffed out on the show, but with Comic-Cons and other fan events, actors are constantly called back to make appearances and greeted by masses of fans bigger than any zombie herd. Ogg will likely be hearing from “Walking Dead” fans, on- and offline, for some time.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When there’s respect, Ogg said the fandom can be a deeply rewarding experience:
There’s people that haven’t left their home in five months or that have anxiety attacks or depression, and you talk to them. Shit, I have super crazy anxiety. I get super depressed, and we’re all human. Man, woman, transgender, black, white, whatever all these fucking labels are we got flying around. You punch anyone in the nose, and we’re all gonna bleed, so people are at these [events], man, I wanna share what I have to share. I’m not better than you because I’m on the show. I’m just lucky in a sense, and I work at my job, and I got this but, man, you connect with people. It’s an emotional experience, and you realize that you can make a difference to people, so how beautiful is that? And they make a difference to me, these people saying, ‘This is the best day of my life.’ OK, I don’t have to understand that any more than I have to understand why someone paints their fucking face for a sports event, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what they have to offer.
But when there isn’t respect, well, Ogg’s got two words for you: