The Evolution of Pepe the Frog

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With the rise of the internet, new ways to communicate were introduced through this new medium. One of these new forms of communication, today, is called a meme. A meme today, as defined by Patrick Davidson, an internet meme is “a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission.” Most memes are photos that care captioned with a few words that can be found humorous. However, nothing is really found as an internet meme until it goes viral.

Matt Furie, an artist and children’s book writer, created the first known meme to the internet. Furie was the creator of Pepe the frog where Pepe was a character in one of his children’s books. Furie had started a group of four characters called the boys club which was to resemble his four friends. The meme was a created simply picture that Furie drew with a word bubble above Pepe saying, “feels good, man” after he was asked why he went to the bathroom with his pants around his ankle. This small picture of Pepe the frog quickly blew up, or went viral, on the internet. Pepe was used in many different ways by many different people but most importantly, those were not exactly those were well liked by the public. At the young stages of the internet, the only thing that was shown were people using their “best life” and glamor but nothing was shown about the bas things life. Since Pepe the frog was meant to be abnormal from most of the population and doing something weird, he was made out to be the mascot for those who didn’t fit in with the general public. The internet was the best way for these people to communicate with the rest of the public since they were able to do it from behind a computer screen anonymously. Some of these misfits thought of this meme as the uprising against the communities that mistreated and abandoned them. A few went to the extreme of taking their anger out by taking a gun to the schools where they were bullied and took lives.

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Some of these misfits included white supremacists. Soon after people turned Pepe the frog into a meme with a blonde hair piece that was supposed to resemble Donald Trump, Pepe was turned into a Nazi symbolizing hatred. Soon, the frog was known to be the mascot of white supremacists and was no longer the cite little sad frog he once was. The frog was used to tell the public how these groups feel towards the public. The problem with using memes as the platform for addressing the public is that the public takes it as a joke which is where memes originated. No one took these memes of the sad frog seriously. No one except for its creator Matt Furie it seemed. The memes were getting so bad and going in the direction that Furie couldn’t take any longer. Furie decided to make a piece showing that Pepe’s funeral showing that the meme is now dead. However, what is on the internet is never dead.

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Some still used Pepe as a symbol of hatred but there was some light for the frog. In the country of China, Pepe, the sad was used as a symbol of their revolution against their government higher ups. Though the frog looked sad with a frown, they liked to think that it reflected out the people of china felt and that it needed change. Shown in the film Feels Good, Man on PBS, there was a man in the streets of protesting holding the frog and said, “I want to make this frog smile.” He meant this as a metaphor for him and his people that they needed change. Pepe the frog has been turned into a lot of things, but it was pleasing to see that the frog was seen of a symbol of discrimination. The internet has the power of the users and what is put out there is subject to change depending on how the public wants. Memes can be turned dark or into light and humorous, like they were originally supposed to be.