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2016 has brutally claimed many a victim, none more so than Pepe the meme frog. Goodnight, my sweet prince.
I am out of sorts today. Something awful has happened to a dear friend of mine and I’m not sure that anything can be done to help him. This dear friend has been through a lot recently but, he’s there when you’re blue, he can make you laugh. He is the rarest of them all.
What have we done to you, Pepe?
2016 will be the year that goes down in history as the moment that the world struggled to find the difference between satire and actual, real, 100%-not-made-up-I-swear headlines. Not even Sportsbet would have taken your money if you tried to punt on any of it – it’s been batshit insane.
If you’re like me, you find yourself in the middle of reading an article, starting to look for which genius of the Internet made this particular piece of comedy gold. The Shovel? The Betoota Advocate? SBS Comedy? But alas, you realise it’s the New York Times and, holy cow, how did this world become such a parody of itself, right before your own sand-blasted peepers? All you can do is laugh bitterly, share it with some friends, go home and make yourself a cuppa and stare into the abyss.
What does this have to do with Pepe, the loveable, green sad-sack of a frog who graces our newsfeeds daily? The most ludicrous story of 2016, ladies and gentlemen, (move over has Kanye,) is that Pepe the Frog has been listed as a hate symbol.
Just like the Swastika and the Confederate Flag, it suddenly doesn’t matter what Pepe represented before, only what he represents now.
Adopted by a movement of Alt-Right extremists who draw inspiration from White Supremacists as their unofficial mascot, he has been depicted wearing a tiny moustache that bears a striking resemblance to Charlie Chaplin’s (hint: it’s not) and has been MS painted to look like he’s a Klansman, skinhead and plastered with Swastikas.
But can Pepe the Frog be defined as a hate symbol? Pepe, actually, is a happy symbol if anything. A symbol that shows that comedy can he gleaned from the even the most dankest of holes.
A common share amongst the nihilist youth on the Internet, Pepe doesn’t exactly represent rage – he’s depressed. Even his smiles are thinly veiled through his sad face. He’s the face of many a sledging mate, poorly photoshopped to represent colours of a sports team when they’re having a particularly dreadful season (I seriously don’t know how many Newcastle Knights fans have been tagged Pepe memes by yours truly). He’s the “barely-holding-it-together-and-could-break-down-any-moment-frog” that we all can relate to.
Why did these hateful souls decide to pick this sweet, innocent fictional frog? I wonder whether they have an issue with the fact that his skin is green? (Please say yes and move on to a shitter, less loveable meme). But it doesn’t matter. Just like the Swastika and the Confederate Flag, Pepe is now down in history as another symbol for racism and intolerance. Just like that, it suddenly doesn’t matter what Pepe represented before, only what he represents now.
This is the reason why we can’t have nice things.
Rest in peace, Pepe. You deserved so much more.