The origins of Pepe The Frog goes to an artist named Matt Furie and after that, a underground comic book art publisher called Fantagraphics in 2006. Today, we can see Pepe The Frog everywhere online, almost fully restored to its original intention as a online phenomena — since Furie started the character online before getting published. But for the Donald Trump campaign, the character fits right into its marketing for online memes, for a candidate who is already an avid Twitter user.
In its current manifestation, Pepe The Frog has seized the grip of Donald Trump’s marketing from his “Make America Great Again” slogan to being a part of a anti-Hillary Clinton meme about her “Basket of Deplorables” statement.
As of late, the character made an “appearance” during a recent speech by Hillary Clinton when a person in the crowd yelled out “Pepe!” Her campaign would later published an FAQ on her site explaining how Pepe The Frog is a symbol used by White Supremacists and the Alt-Right movement around the Donald Trump campaign.
While the character hasn’t officially become part of the Donald Trump campaign, it hasn’t stopped his supporters from using Pepe as a symbol for their support of him. And the fact that Hillary Clinton’s breaking down of the character as she did on her site triggered its own backlash by Trump’s Alt-Right supporters, shows that they mean to proudly defend it however they can.
And recently the DailyDot spoke with Pepe’s creator Matt Furie on this, to find out what he thought about his character being used by the Alt-Right. In the interview, he quickly dismisses the “hijacking” of the character for the pro-Trump movement as soon-to-be yesterday’s news.
“It’s just a phase, it’s not the first time Pepe has been reclaimed for evil, and no one will care about it come November. I predict that his sly, lovable, and charming status will be intact as early as next week.”
Clearly, Matt Furie doesn’t know how determined the Alt-Right are to spread their message, now that they’ve only just staged a hostile takeover of conservative media with the addition of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon to Donald Trump’s campaign.
Right now Breitbart is at the center of the new conservative Alt-Right movement that is looking to go straight into the White House with Trump, a much better position for them to be in than dormant online. In the past, Breitbart News has only worked behind the scenes, trying to get others to take them seriously and yet being largely ignored by the mainstream until Donald Trump made them his go-to media service.
Whatever Furie felt that Pepe The Frog was; it’s not as if his character is just going to be allowed to return to its more underground art beginnings, unless he comes out to denounce it altogether.
But the fact that he doesn’t care how the Pepe The Frog character is used — even if it’s by the Alt-Right, shows that he doesn’t take that “fringe” conservative group and how they provoke, seriously.
In fact, such an accessible looking character getting wide distribution through this year’s campaign, is almost like letting John Wayne Gacy to entertain at a child’s birthday party, where under all that make-up and color lives something that is far more sinister.
Because Pepe The Frog has been used as a lure to make the Alt-Right message of being as obscene and provocative as possible, more accessible. Surely, kids will become familiar with the allure of Pepe The Frog, even though we’ve long been in the age of adult oriented cartoons. But those cartoons don’t pose the threat of racist, nationalist anger.
And since Hilary Clinton has called out the image for where its used, by who and for what; it’s part of the Alt-Right’s game to deflect the argument back to — in this case — Hillary, to make it seem as if she’s lost her mind.
Matt Furie should realize that it’s the Alt-Right’s purpose is to infiltrate the socio-political mindset and normalize violently offensive behavior. And again, since the Alt-right fully operate through the internet and on social media, they can easily grow their popularity as they have through Pepe The Frog and thus, put an end to Matt Furie’s previously harmless character’s origins.
It should be noted that anyone furiously defending Pepe The Frog, or even being as aloof as Matt Furie is to think it’s only a phase, should be suspect.
It’s even been said that Pepe The Frog’s association with the Alt-Right nationalism and White Supremacy, was created by a Twitter user who was trolling a journalist and according to The Daily Caller, that it was all just a big put on.
But that no longer matters because there are enough people to believe that Pepe The Frog is a symbol for the Alt-Right movement, perhaps even the same people who are having a good enough laugh to think they’ve duped us all, to make it part of the momentum.
Because it’s not just about letting the Alt-Right use Pepe The Frog as a powerful mark to leave behind so that when someone sees it, they know how that person sees the world. As to Matt Furie being so uncaring about what the hijacking of his Pepe The Frog character means to people now; that’s pretty dangerous, if they want to have anything to do with the character again.