Who Wants a Kinder, Gentler Pepe?
It is no secret to anyone who has spent time around the Alt Right that the use of memes has been a prominent means through which the Alt Right has spread its message. This has not set well with the creator of Pepe, Matt Furie. Furie and the Anti-Defamation League, who inducted Pepe into their hate symbol hall of fame, will try to “take back” Pepe, with a social media campaign using the hashtag #SavePepe and new positive Pepe “memes.” This is doomed to failure.
There was a conscious effort by some to have Pepe fully associated with the Alt Right and white nationalism. But why did this use of Pepe stick? Memes transfer ideas from person to person within a culture. White nationalist Pepe stuck because there was a culture ready for a way to express their sadness, anger, and smug successes. This was an organic culture troubled by the Cultural Marxist attack on the world around them. Some of them were just mad at normies for stealing their memes. The versatility of Pepe made it an excellent meme to express all of those feelings. The Alt Right is a genuine culture with real ideas, and they have a genuine expression of that culture and those ideas. What culture is looking for “nice” Pepe memes? This #SavePepe campaign is a top down marketing campaign. Such campaigns can work, but it helps when there is a preexisting culture to which you are marketing. The Alt Right takeover of Pepe worked because there was a culture through which the meme could travel. #SavePepe will not have that.
#SavePepe will be like Heat Street; a lame attempt at trying to make the banal fashionable. They do this because they are scared. Matt Furie may be trying to save his cartoon frog from “white supremacy,” but the only reason the ADL and the mainstream media care about Pepe is because the Alt Right’s meme magic has worked so well. The memes have no doubt helped the Alt Right’s ideas to spread like wildfire over the last year. This success scares leftist groups like the ADL. They cannot have these ideas spreading further, which is why, yet it again, they are trying to eliminate something that whites have made their own. That there is this attempt to “save Pepe” from the Alt Right is validation of the Alt Right’s success in using memes. The leftists are so scared of Alt Right ideas that they are losing their minds over a cartoon frog. This is perhaps the Alt Right’s greatest achievement in trolling. A once obscure meme from 4chan has a page dedicated to it on the Democratic presidential nominee’s website because it has become a “hate symbol.” Well done, Alt Righters. #SavePepe will never achieve your memetic success.
Editor's note: Here are a few reactions to the ADL attempt to kill Pepe: