Imagine for a moment that you have created something. Something good, something pure, something that draws influence from your own life and childhood. Now imagine that thing being taken from you and co-opted as a symbol of hate. That is precisely what happened to Matt Furie, creator of the now infamously well-known Pepe the Frog.
Director Arthur Jones’s documentary, Feels Good Man surveys the character’s history from creation to where he stands now and asks if Furie can ever reclaim his creation.
It’s challenging to watch Furie trying to fight back against what his creation has become. Calling it a David and Goliath-type situation would be an understatement; it’s more like a butterfly vs. a hurricane. Unfortunately, once 4Chan gets ahold of something, and once the likes of Donald Trump start using it, there’s little one can do.
That doesn’t stop Furie from trying, though. Once things get out of hand and the Anti-Defamation League classifies Pepe as a hate symbol, Furie starts suing people to stop using it. This culminates in a lengthy legal battle with Alex Jones, which Furie eventually wins, but ultimately, no matter how many battles he wins, is this a war that can be won?
The sad truth is that when you upload something to the internet, you effectively lose control of that thing. This is not a fact I agree with or like; we here at Awesome Friday have had articles plagiarized. The question is not whether or not we can stop it from happening but whether we should give up and let it.
Feels Good Man is an engaging watch and takes the time to interrogate this question. I’m not sure it has an answer, but Furie, a soft-spoken artist, is unwilling to let his creation go without a fight.
And that’s all we can do.
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