A while back I wrote about copyright and design theft (HERE) and talked about Pepe the Frog, a cartoon slacker-amphibian stolen by the alt-right for neo-Nazi and other hateful memes. Pepe's creator, Matt Furie, tried to fight, to rescue his creation, to rehabilitate him. (I picture a sort of drying-out clinic/swamp for skinhead amphibians - filled with repentant Amazonian poison frogs in gang coloration, taking the twelve-leap program. The original, innocent Pepe might have appreciated that image.) His creator tried to save him. But now...? Now he's still listed by the Anti-defamation League as a hate symbol. Now even his creator has had to give him up as irredeemable. A guilty frog.
Collage from Public Domain images (and poor, poor Pepe)
I joke - sorta - but it's not funny. It proved impossible to save Pepe from the haters. Just as many other artists find it impossible to assert their copyright when their works are stolen for profit . And all the online fans who previously created joyful or silly memes now have to concede that Pepe The Frog is lost to them too. This is why we can't have nice things. Today Matt Furie killed off Pepe. Today, on Free Comic Book Day, is Pepe's wake. Read more HERE.