A dopey looking anthropomorphic frog is peeing with his pants fully down. Suddenly, his friend walks in on him, catching his bare froggy buttocks and this remarkable toilet conduct. But all Pepe the Frog says about it is the legendary sentence: ‘feels good man’. And that’s the frame that started it all.
The documentary Feels Good Man (2020), directed by Arthur Jones, leads you through the whirlwind that is Pepe’s journey, starting in a comic book and ending up as an alt-right icon and hate symbol on 4chan, influencing the US elections of 2016. The other main character besides Pepe is the cartoonist and Pepe-creator Matt Furie. When first publishing Pepe in 2005 in the comic Boys Club #1, he did not foresee the future of his creation in the hands of white supremacists and neo-nazi’s.
Feels Good Man shows the origin of the hate symbol, but instead of judging and further polarizing it, it does what film can do best: offer an understanding of the lives of others that are completely different from your own. The internet brings life to the drawing of the humanlike frog, as more and more people start identifying with the meme and Pepe becomes the transmitter or even the cause of real hate, real violence and may even influence the outcome of real elections.
At one point in the film, a team of experts explain to Furie how the Pepe meme now reproduces 160 million times a year– and ‘that’s a tough genie to put back in it’s bottle.’ It has become almost an organism of its own, behaving like an uncontrollable virus, wildly replicating while blurring the line between reality and virtuality, but still shrugging of criticism by claiming ‘it’s all just a joke’ – which makes the creature and its influence even more difficult to control and thereby even more threatening.
Watch Feels Good Man via this link.