‘Pepe’ creator takes back meaning of meme, will push positive vibes

Photo via Anti-Defamation League

Photo via Anti-Defamation League

A new Pepe the Frog cartoon drawn by original creator Matt Furie showed the downward spiral the meme has taken.

In a new comic posted yesterday on The Nib, Furie depicts the sad frog slowly transforming into a blonde, wrinkled version of himself with mouths for eyes and fanged teeth. This seriously dark commentary on how his cartoon character became an out-of-control meme is aptly titled “Pepe the Frog: To Sleep, Perchance to Meme; The creator of Pepe draws his alt-right election nightmare.”

Pepe the Frog is not meant for white supremacist purposes, and Furie’s cartoon commentary condemns the racist ways his character has been used.

The Anti-Defamation League put the frog into its “Hate on Display” database on Sept. 27, where the swastika and Ku Klux Klan robes are also listed. The frog had been appropriated from its humble beginnings by internet users for racist, bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas, the ADL’s news release explained.

Matt Furie, the original creator of Pepe, decided enough was enough. On Oct. 14, the ADL published a news release announcing the partnership between Furie and the organization.

“Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said. “The sad frog was meant to be just that, a sad frog.  We are going to work with Matt and his community of artists reclaim Pepe so that he might be used as a force for good, or at the very least to help educate people about the dangers of prejudice and bigotry.”

Furie will create a series of positive Pepe comics, which will be shared out with the hashtag #SavePepe. Furie called the use of Pepe as a hate symbol a complete nightmare in the news release.

“As the creator of Pepe, I condemn the illegal and repulsive appropriations of the character by racist and fringe groups,” Furie said. “The true nature of Pepe, as featured in my comic book, ‘Boys Club,’ celebrates peace, togetherness and fun. I aim to reclaim the rascally frog from the forces of hate and ask that you join me in making millions of new, joyful Pepe memes that share the light hearted spirit of the original chilled-out champion.”

Furie originally told The Atlantic he was fairly unconcerned with the direction the meme had gone.

“I think that’s it’s just a phase, and come November, it’s just gonna go on to the next phase, obviously that political agenda is exactly the opposite of my own personal feelings, but in terms of meme culture, it’s people reapproppriating things for their own agenda,” Furie said to the magazine.


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