Pepe the Frog is finally saved by ‘Feels Good Man’

Arthur Jones makes his directorial debut with a funny, sad and incredibly informational film about a meme gone rogue.

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If you think Pepe the Frog is just an internet meme, well, you’ve got quite the story ahead.

In 2005, artist Matt Furie wrote a simple comic strip called “Boy’s Club” and scanned it into Myspace. It starred Pepe, Andy, Brett and Landwolf: four monster-like roommates. There was no telling Furie what this single strip would turn into, and that is what director Arthur Jones decided to make his first documentary, “Feels Good Man,” about.

You might be familiar with the comic, you might not be. But chances are you are familiar with the face of Pepe the Frog because, over the last 15 years, he’s gone from cute catchphrase meme to icon for the outcasts to a literal hate symbol.

How does a frog become a hate symbol? In Jones’ 95-minute film, everything from Pepe’s birth to his death is covered. All of your questions will be answered. In fact, there were so many things covered, Jones said in his Q&A after the True/False Film Fest showing that they were concerned about how many other directions it would go. They had to follow the “thin green line” that was Pepe and continue to make sure he was the sole focus.

The film did an amazing job of presenting ideas, covering a time period but then backing that idea and period up with real commentary and sources. Throughout the film, you’ll hear viewpoints from Furie, his family and friends, psychologists, journalists, a “memeticist,” which is an expert on memetics, and even an occultist.

I did not walk into this film expecting to get emotional about a frog. But I will say, seeing a frog dressed up as Hitler and in a KKK uniform is not something that is easy to digest. You’ll learn about an entire community of people with a lot more power than you would have thought. So, before seeing this movie, prepare for some heavy topics. It will surprise you.

Not only do you get to see the lifetime of Pepe played out on screen, but viewers get to know quite the loveable character through this film: Furie himself. Furie started out at his town’s community thrift store, where he drew every toy around. He has a daughter, who is featured in the film, and reads all his children’s books very, very adorably.

The film offers a unique look into what it’s like to not only be a cartoon artist but also to be one who has almost no control over their art. Furie lost control when the online community of 4chan began using his Pepe as a symbol for themselves as outcasts, and everything essentially went downhill from there. Furie ends up having to take multiple different approaches to “saving Pepe.”

I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to reminisce, learn more or just watch a really well-done documentary. And hey, you get to watch Richard B. Spencer, a white nationalist, get punched in the face.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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