Pepe Deemed a Hate Symbol

Posted on November 16, 2016 by


A meme is classified as, “a cultural item in the form of an image, phrase, video, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.”

In 2005, a comic called Boy’s Club was published. It featured a frog with a humanoid body known as Pepe. Within ten years, this character would become one of the most popular memes online.

Unfortunately, something as subjective as a meme can be victim to some of humanity’s darker traits. Pepe the frog has been spread on sites such as Reddit and 4chan with anti-Semitic connotations. At recent Trump rallies, pictures of the frog are being held up by supporters.

Less than a month ago, Pepe was declared a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. Only a small portion of the memes carry racist messages, but it’s enough to taint the image.

This online controversy has spread all the way to Fleetwood. A few weeks ago, two art students created a meme-themed chalkboard. A picture of Pepe was included in this tribute to Internet trends. Just before the chalkboard was finished, the declaration occurred. They were informed of this soon after and, subsequently, took it down.

“Neither of us knew that Pepe was a hate symbol. I think people are taking things out of proportion. The numbers 100 and 400 are also hate symbols, but they’re rarely used like that,” senior Serena Danweber said.

Matt Furie, Pepe’s original creator, has joined with the Anti-Defamation League to diffuse the racist connotations of his character.

“Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate. The sad frog was meant to be just that, a sad frog. We are going to work with Matt and his community of artists to reclaim Pepe so that he might be used as a force of good, or at the very least to educate people about the dangers of prejudice and bigotry,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.

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