Pepe the Frog quietly murdered in weekend mercy killing
Ladies and gentlemen and anyone in between — it's time to pull your hottest funeral outfit out of storage because we have some sad, sad news about one of our dearest friends.
Pepe the Frog, the world's foremost internet boy, has died.
A moment of silence, please.
Pepe the Frog was born in 2005 and cast as one of the characters in cartoonist Matt Furie's comic Boy's Club, which originally aired on MySpace. Remember MySpace?
He enjoyed a mostly dandy 12-year run of internet infamy, during which he entertained everyone from pop stars to teenagers to children alike with his expressive eyes and whatever-looking, bog-colored skin.
Then, just like that, he was gone too soon.
On May 6, Pepe was publicly executed his own father, Mr. Furie. Suspected by some to be a mercy killing, his death was announced in a one-page strip/obituary for the amphibian whose tragic fall from grace started on the pages of beloved comic and ended in up controversy after his likeness was commandeered by members of the alt-right movement as their highly-creepy mascot. In September, the Anti-Defamation League named Pepe on its list of “General Hate Symbols" after incriminating images of him with swastikas and other symbols of white supremacism and anti-semitism began to spread like college-campus chlamydia during the roiling boil of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
This was an intentional move by Dickhead Nation to appropriate a cultural symbol of humor and good fun for their own nefarious causes.
“We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association,” one prominent white supremacist told the Daily Beast.
Back in October, Furie made some attempt to save his son from the dark side. In an essay for Time, he made clear he had a dogged (frogged?) determination to restore Pepe's reputation and return to him to "loveable guy" territory. Disgusted by how the internet had mangled his character into a pretty racist piece of shit, he spoke of Pepe's roots as a image of innocence and not-bigotry, and the disappointment he felt at seeing Pepe morph into meme Hitler.
Before this election, Pepe the Frog spent years mutating online into the many-faced Mickey Mouse God of the Internet. The frog face has gone through thousands of user-made Internet incarnations, expressing rage, smugness, violence, happiness, coolness and, most notably, sadness. To zillions of people, mostly kids, teens and college-dwellers, it meant many things, but mostly it was a big joke. I have a stack of Pepe fan art sent to me by school children. Moms write me to say how much their kid loves Pepe. Kids write me to ask how his name is pronounced (Peep? Pee-pee? Pep-pay?). As the copyright owner, I was licensing a bunch of things like indie video games, card games; making official clothes, a plush toy; and I was excited by my plans for the future. I was thinking, Memes rule!
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 I know this: It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate. It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.
However, Furie could not control the alt-right trolls and his grasp on Pepe's image spiraled out of control into the hands of a hateful enemy.
While Furie concluded his essay by confessing he had little control how his frog's image was manipulated by others, he also noted that, “in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love."
Well, every frog has his day.
And every rose has its thorn.
And every cowboy plays a sad, sad song.
This one's for you, Pepe.
This one's for you.