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Controversial Cartoon Frog Croaks

  • VOA News

A popular Internet meme character called a "hate symbol" by some, has been killed off.

Pepe, the green, cartoon frog who some believed was a symbol of white supremacy, is dead.

The creation of cartoonist Matt Furie, Pepe was shown in a recent comic strip dead in an open casket with his imaginary friends gathered around to mourn his death.

A controversial cartoon frog has been killed off by its creator. (Matt Furie)
A controversial cartoon frog has been killed off by its creator. (Matt Furie)



Pepe first appeared online around 2005, and was associated with the phrase "feels good man." The character was the subject of countless memes, most of which were innocuous and apolitical.

During the brutal 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, many Donald Trump supporters used images of Pepe for political memes.

One prominent example of a Pepe meme was posted by Donald Trump Jr. It had a photoshopped version of the movie poster for “The Expendables” showing instead Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos and Pepe the Frog branded as “The Deplorables,” in reference to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s claim that many Trump supporters were deplorable.

In response to that and other memes which showed the frog with a Hitler moustache and another in which the frog donned the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan, the Anti-Defamation League declared the green frog a hate symbol, saying it had been appropriated to express racist views on the internet.

"The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist," the ADL said. "However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes."

At the time, Furie attempted to launch a “save Pepe” campaign, telling Time magazine “It's completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate [...] but in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love.”

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