Pepe the Frog is dead, my friends; its creator, Matt Furie, published the controversial amphibian’s funeral in an installment of his “Boy’s Club Comic,” available on Free Comic Book Say last Saturday.
This seems to be a last-ditch effort by Furie, after a campaign last year to “reclaim” the frog from being a symbol of the “alt-right.”
Of course, by the time Furie tried to “rehabilitate” Pepe, he had already been syncretized with the Egyptian god of chaos & darkness Kek, replicated millions of times on the Internet and possibly responsible for Donald Trump becoming president of the United States and altering the course of human history.
Though when you think about it, wasn’t Hilary Clinton kind of responsible for Pepe’s rise, almost as much as the Trumpites? By featuring Pepe on her website as “the” symbol of the alt-right “deplorables”—an act that of course then got picked up by most mainstream news outlets, further replicating the symbol—didn’t she inadvertently lend Pepe that crucial bit of extra “power” that he might not have had otherwise?
Similarly, Furie’s attempts to reclaim Pepe were doomed for failure because once again: extra “power”—through the focus of attention—was lent to Pepe meme-makers. What you actively fight against often ends up being the recipient of your power, because you’ve invested the attention into it.
So can you “kill” a meme? Only a net change in the zeitgeist can kill a meme. And it’s not a “hard” kill. It’s a “soft” kill. The kill of irrelevance. The kill of the inevitable Normie embrace.
I am neither anti- or pro-Pepe. I know better than to fight with forces of nature, archetypes that have been infused with eldritch power via the noosphere. But for every archetype, there is a season; a season which no politician or journalist can determine.
My guess: there is “another” Pepe—exact ideological affiliation as-of-yet-undetermined—already lurking around the Internet. Changes are, this meme has been around for a while…but at the most crucial moment, it will suddenly jump into prominence. And thus elevated, attempts will be made to “kill” it. And so the cycle goes.