Playing at Fantasia Digital Film Festival 2020 On Demand till Sept 2.
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Feels good, man. The Pepe the Frog comic and meme is explored in Arthur Jones‘ excellent debut documentary about the creator Matt Furie and how his comic book creation became a sensation as intended—including how he lost creative control. Some years ago, he was not pleased when other people took his work and used it for their purposes. Pepe’s use as a meme was widespread and got more attention than from his self-published comic book, Boys Club #1. After appearing on the Internet, that’s when problems surfaced. It isn’t easy being green.
The subtext includes showing how internet culture can easily steal from others. Jones’ work asks if Furie’s character can be redeemed. We get an impressive presentation on why it’ll be difficult. One point is in how easily anyone can draw Pepe. Another point made is on why Arthur was not more proactive at the start. We get the answers—both the pros and cons.
To rescue him, it’ll be very tough. We see how far the use by alt right groups has taken it and how images of Pepe were used in one particular US election. Seeing artwork of the frog traded as a crypto currency is mind-boggling. But when this tadpole in a pond grew into a frog helplessly drifting in a digital sea filled with sharks hungry for an opportunity, just what can Arthur do?
The film follows Furie as he struggles to reclaim control of Pepe from everyone who co-opted the image. The damage is done and the result? Anyone who has followed the trials will know the answer. It’s terrific to see that rainbow connection being made, and how another country perceives the frog.
The fight may seem over for now, but at least not everywhere worldwide sees the frog as the Americans have. By staying current, this documentary can safely conclude by revealing Pepe is a symbol of hope.