The creator of Pepe the Frog has symbolically killed off the cartoon frog, after it went from loveable meme to racist hate symbol of the “alt-right”.
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Matt Furie created Pepe as part of his “Boy’s Club” series on MySpace in 2005. After Pepe became a massively popular sad frog meme, he somehow transformed into a symbol of hatred in the run-up to last year’s US election, cultimating in his inclusion to the Anti-Defamation League’s database of hate symbols.
Matt launched a campaign to “Save Pepe” back in 2016. He wrote:
It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate. It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.
Before Pepe the Frog was a meme designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, he began his life as a blissfully stoned frog in my comic book ‘Boy’s Club,’ where he enjoyed a simple life of snacks, soda and pulling his pants all the way down to go pee.
But that was before 2016, a time when our culture evolved to include Internet culture in this election (mostly to seek out the Millennial vote). A smug Trump-Pepe was shared by Trump himself on Twitter in the beginning of the election race, a move I assumed was a nod to young voters. Or perhaps it was a more sinister nod to some fringe, racist groups that used Pepe as a mascot for their agenda. Or just another famous person sharing a Pepe meme because it’s cool (like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj did in the past). I have no idea.
But alas, the damage has been done and Matt has now conceded that his “peaceful frog-dude” is no more. He published this photo on Free Comic Book Day over the weekend:
Shaun Manning wrote in Comic Book Resources:
The rehabilitation of Pepe was always going to be a struggle, and it’s hard to imagine Furie taking much joy in creating new Pepe strips knowing that, whatever his own intentions, the character would be read through tinted lenses.
While it’s unlikely Pepe’s official death will stop extremists from co-opting his image, this was, perhaps, the most effective way for Furie to reclaim his character; Pepe’s soul has returned to his creator. Rest in Peace.
A sad day indeed. Who would have thought a loveable frog meme could ever become the Hitler of the internet? Unfortunately that’s what happened and even Pepe’s creator understands the damage is irreversible. RIP Pepe, F you Nazi Pepe.
For the YouTube pranksters using Peppa Pig to trick kids into watching disturbing videos, click HERE.