“My Pepe philosophy is simple: Feels good man. It is based on the meaning of the word Pepe: To go Pepe. I find complete joy in physically, emotionally and spiritually serving Pepe and his friends through comics. Each comic is sacred, and the compassion of my readers transcends any differences, the pain, and fear of feeling good.” – Matt Furie
What do you do when the art you create is taken out of your hands and used in a way you never intended? That’s the story of this 2020 documentary, in which Matt Furie’s comic book character, Pepe the Frog, goes from MS Paint goofball silliness — it’s a frog that likes to urinate on things — and somehow becomes a symbol of hatred.
As Pepe becomes a meme, he becomes more than what his creator intended him for. To some, he’s an icon of the far right and white supremacists. Why would they start using a cartoon frog? Who can say? In 2016,the Anti-Defamation League listed Pepe in its hate symbol database and that’s when Furie started suing people who used his creation against the spirit he was created in.
Pepe was also used by protesters in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, a stance that its creator can agree with.
I know that we’ve forgotten so much about the last five or six years, but it was a big deal when white supremacist Richard B. Spencer got punched in the face. Remember that? He was trying to explain his Pepe pin when that happened.
Director Arthur Jones and his editing team of Aaron Wickenden, Drew Blatman and Katrina Taylor have assembled a truly wonderful film here, a story that is at once cautionary and affirming while pretty upsetting and depressing as well. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and pretty much the only happy ending — for now — is Trump’s social decline, if only because he was blocked from so many platforms.
This doc is definitely recommended, no matter where your politics may lie — you can read mine really easily throughout this — if only to show how art has power beyond its initial creation.