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The Dark Side of Internet Memes: Pepe the Frog's Transformation

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"The Dark Side of Internet Memes: Pepe the Frog's Transformation" delves into the controversial evolution of the once-innocent meme character, Pepe the Frog. From being a harmless internet joke to being co-opted by hate groups, this article explores the negative impact of meme culture and the repercussions of its rapid transformation.

The Dark Side of Internet Memes: Pepe the Frog's Transformation

The Origins of Pepe the Frog

Pepe the Frog began as a character in the "Boy's Club" comic series by Matt Furie. The comic depicted the misadventures of a group of anthropomorphic characters, including Pepe, and was known for its surreal and often dark humor. Pepe, in particular, was known for his laid-back and often lazy attitude, which made him a relatable character for many readers.

How did Pepe the Frog become an internet meme?

The transformation of Pepe the Frog from an obscure comic book character to an internet meme began around 2008 when various internet users began creating and sharing images of Pepe with different captions. These "memes" often depicted Pepe in various strange or absurd situations, and they quickly gained popularity on platforms such as 4chan and Reddit. This early "meme culture" was primarily known for its irreverent and often offensive sense of humor.

What drove the popularity of Pepe the Frog memes?

The popularity of Pepe the Frog memes can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the character of Pepe himself was relatable and easily adaptable to a wide range of situations, making him a versatile subject for memes. Additionally, the underground and often controversial nature of internet meme culture at the time meant that Pepe's image could be used to express edgy or unconventional ideas.

How did Pepe the Frog become associated with hate groups?

The association of Pepe the Frog with hate groups and extremist ideologies began in the mid-2010s, as the character's image was co-opted by online communities with far-right or white supremacist leanings. This transformation was accelerated by the 2016 presidential election in the United States, during which Pepe was used as a symbol by supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump. This association led to widespread condemnation of Pepe and prompted his creator, Matt Furie, to launch a campaign to "save Pepe" from his negative connotations.

What measures were taken to combat Pepe's association with hate groups?

In response to Pepe the Frog's association with hate groups, Matt Furie took legal action against individuals and organizations who had used Pepe's image inappropriately. Additionally, he collaborated with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) to add Pepe to its list of hate symbols, in an effort to raise awareness about the issue. Furie also worked to create new, positive representations of Pepe and encourage the use of the character in non-offensive contexts, in the hopes of reclaiming his image from hate groups.

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