Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

Pepe the Frog

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An Internet meme consisting of a green anthropomorphic frog with a humanoid body. By 2015, it had become one of the most popular memes used on social media platforms. Different types of Pepe include “Sad Frog”, “Smug Frog”, “Angry Pepe”, “Feels Frog”, and “You will never…Frog.”

Pepe the Frog originated in 2005, as a character in a comic by American artist and cartoonist Matt Furie, titled Boy’s Club and posted in a series of blog posts on Myspace.

In 2008, the page containing Pepe and the catchphrase was scanned and uploaded to 4chan’s /b/ board, which has been described as the meme’s “permanent home”. The meme took off among 4chan users, who adapted Pepe’s face and catchphrase to fit different scenarios and emotions, such as melancholy, anger, and surprise. Color was also added; originally a black-and-white line drawing, Pepe became green with brown lips, sometimes in a blue shirt. “Feels Guy”, or “Wojak”, originally an unrelated character typically used to express melancholy, was eventually often paired with Pepe in user-made comics or images.

Its popularity steadily grew and in 2014, images of Pepe were shared on social media by American celebrities such as Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. As Pepe became more widespread, 4chan users began referring to particularly creative and unique variants of the meme as “rare Pepes”. These images, sometimes as physical paintings, have been sold on eBay and as NFTs. In 2015, Pepe was #6 on Daily News and Analysis’s list of the most important memes and the most retweeted meme on Twitter.

During the 2016 United States presidential election, the meme was connected to Donald Trump’s campaign - Trump retweeting Pepe representation of himself - and has been associated with alt-right ideology too since then. Furie said of Pepe’s usage as a hate symbol, “It sucks, but I can’t control it more than anyone can control frogs on the Internet.” Lately, it was reported that various demonstrators at the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests were using Pepe as a “resistance symbol;” a use that Furie has welcomed.

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