Pepe the Frog
|Frogs, clowns, and swastikas|
|Rebuilding the Reich, one meme at a time|
|Buzzwords and dogwhistles|
Pepe[Note 1] the Frog (emojified as 🐸 and formerly known as "Feels Good Man") is a green anthropomorphic frog used as an Internet meme. The character was created by artist Matt Furie in his comic Boy's Club. In 2008, its popularity steadily grew across Myspace and Gaia Online, being popularized by 4chan in the same period. By 2015, it had become one of the most popular memes on Tumblr, the residence of 4chan's current nemesis, the SJW.
While originally without political associations, he became associated with the alt-right, white nationalism, and Donald Trump in 2015 (although it doesn't mean everyone who uses or likes the meme is a nationalist). Hillary Clinton's campaign condemned both Trump and his son for posting images of Pepe on Twitter.
The Anti-Defamation League has listed Pepe as a hate symbol, but noted that most instances of the character were not used in a hateful context. Matt Furie tried getting his frog back, but with little success. In May 2017, he killed off the character, but Pepe could not be so easily and permanently slain, and has returned to us. Furie later launched his #SavePepe campaign on Kickstarter and social media to fund a new Boy's Club issue and reclaim the character. He has since taken legal action against various websites, as well as prominent alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich and Baked Alaska, for appropriating Pepe. In 2019, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones settled a copyright violation lawsuit with Furie after Jones used Pepe without permission on a promotional poster.
Some claim that Pepe is the incarnation of the ancient Egyptian god Kek[Note 2] (also known as Kuk[Note 3] or Keku), and worship him as such as part of another 4chan in-joke called the "Cult of Kek", which has been defined by the "experts" at Wikipedia as a parody religion. The connection between Pepe and Kek has been endorsed by neoreactionary philosopher Nick Land and by Davis Aurini.
As a result of widespread DMCA take-downs instigated by Furie's attorneys in 2017 (including against The Daily Stormer), the alt-right appears to have a newer fascist frog mascot named Groyper, who is derived from Pepe but is fatter and more grotesque in appearance.
In 2019, Pepe was repurposed by the certain sections of the progressive, anti-authoritarian protests in Hong Kong as a symbol of their struggle to maintain the one country, two systems that had been agreed upon when Britain returned Hong Kong to China. However, this was not supported by all protesters due to its prior association with the alt-right.
Take a peep at these Pepes
Alt-right and pro-Trump Pepes
By Matt Furie
By Hong Kong protesters (who have also adopted Pepe as a symbol of their cause)
- Khan, Imad (April 12, 2015). "4chan's Pepe the Frog is bigger than ever—and his creator feels good, man". The Daily Dot.
- Kiberd, Roisin (April 9, 2015). "4chan's Frog Meme Went Mainstream, So They Tried to Kill It". Motherboard. Vice Media.
- Hathaway, Jay (December 9, 2015). "Tumblr's Biggest Meme of 2015 Was Pepe the Frog". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
- Olivia Nuzzi, How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt-Right Symbol, The Daily Beast, 26 May 2016
- Elizabeth Chan, Donald Trump, Pepe the frog, and white supremacists: an explainer, Hillary for America, September 12, 2016
- Anti-Defamation League, Pepe the Frog, Hate on Display™ HATE SYMBOLS DATABASE
- #SavePepe: Campaign aims to reclaim Internet frog from hate groups CNN, 18 October 2016.
- Pepe the Frog creator kills off internet meme co-opted by white supremacists
- Pepe the frog rises from the dead, creator says
- Pepe the Frog's creator can't save him from the alt-right, but he keeps trying anyway
- Pepe the Frog’s Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right
- Scott Newman, Alex Jones To Pay $15,000 In Pepe The Frog Copyright Infringement Case. NPR, 11 June 2019.
- Cult of Kek, Know Your Meme
- See the Wikipedia article on Parody religion. Archive.
- Kek, xenosystems.net.
- Pepe, Kek, and the Rise of an Elder God
- To save Pepe the Frog from the alt-right, his creator has invoked copyright law’s darker side: Matt Furie has issued DMCA takedowns against alt-right websites using Pepe’s likeness. The fair use implications are troubling by Aja Romano (Sep 21, 2017, 11:40am EDT ) Vox.
- Neo-Nazi Site Daily Stormer Takes Down Pepe Images After Getting Copyright Claims From Its Creator: The Daily Stormer has removed all images and references of the famously chill frog after getting DMCA notices from Matt Furie. by Matthew Gault (Jul 10 2018, 7:24am) Vice.
- The Far Right's New Toad Mascot Is a Fatter, More Racist Pepe the Frog by Aaron Mak (Dec. 4 2017 5:48 PM) Slate.
- Pepe the Frog Means Something Different in Hong Kong—Right? Pepe is popping up all over Hong Kong—on walls, in forums, in sticker packs for apps—as a symbol of resistance against an authoritarian state. by Emma Grey Ellis (08.23.2019 03:22 PM) Wired (archived from December 2, 2019).
- Facing down the Hong Kong protests’ right-wing turn Zoe Zhao. Lausan, March 28, 2020.