By Santiago Vazquez
Pepe is a meme that was enjoyed by people of the internet. However, alt-right conservatives have begun using this meme as a symbol for hate and racism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) declared Pepe the frog as a hate symbol.
Pepe was originally from a comic book, Boy’s Club, where he was portrayed as a simple frog that enjoyed life. In 2008, he shown peeing with his pants down and at the end of the comic he says, “Feels good man.” At this point, Pepe became a meme to express happiness. Later on, “Feels bad man” and others would be turned into memes that express the feeling that people felt. For example, “I just got the new pokemon game, Feels good man.”
Pepe the frog was used by Donald Trump in a tweet that depicted Donald Trump as Pepe, and later on, his son used Pepe in a tweet. This resulted in Hillary Clinton calling Pepe as, “a symbol associated with white supremacy” (npr.org). Furie, the artist of Pepe, believes that this all, “just a phase” and that people are only using memes for their own agendas (npr.org). Furie is speaking out against hate and believes that Pepe is whatever you want him to be and he believes that, “Pepe is love”(time.com).
Furie believes that there is still hope for Pepe and so do I. Pepe the frog was created to represent emotions ranging from joy to sadness and from rage to smugness. Pepe has been a very influential meme for the internet and it would be a shame if he was depicted only as the frog of hate. Pepe should be known for all of his other sides like those that express joy and happiness. Pepe should not be judged by those who use him for hate, but he should be judged for everything else he has done.
When I first rare Pepe I saw was the smug Pepe and I immediately got interested and looked him up. I saw many different Pepe’s that express emotion. I even saw some that were from the KKK. However, I thought nothing of it because I know that racism exists in the world and that people will use things for their own agenda. I also realized that it was the internet and that people are free to manipulate things for their ideas. So I just thought it was someone expressing what he felt and that there was nothing wrong with the person expressing himself, just the message he was expressing was wrong.
Pepe himself should not just be considered racist due to the fault of a few people. Pepe was originally intended for a comic book where he was portrayed as a happy frog. Instead, the people who show Pepe in racist ways should be the ones who are considered racists for transforming a meme into something racist.