Friday, September 30, 2016

Apologies to Pepe the Frog

There is something in the Pepe the Frog issue to piss-off just about everyone; a beloved meme hijacked to promote a hateful political agenda, media attention that now permanently casts a shadow on the beloved image and so much attention being paid to such a comparatively small thing at a time of rampant hate and discord.

Humans have a habit of co-opting items from popular culture for their own purposes. There is a long tradition of such things. Mostly, usually, it's benign and sometimes productive. The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter solstice goes back to the vikings. It is also no coincidence that every major religion  has festivals, holidays or rituals for  autumn, midwinter and spring. We use the familiar to make the new or different more acceptable. Sort of a social Trojan horse.

However, there is a darker side to this characteristic behavior. Famously, destructively and relevantly, there is Hitler's appropriation of the swastika. The same holds true for many revered symbols and images like the Celtic Cross, four leaf clover and the Gadsden Don't Tread On Me flag. The KKK even tried to corrupt Casper the Friendly Ghost until the ADL brought the Klan's efforts to King World Entertainment Corp's attention. Copyright is a powerful thing.

Unfortunately Pepe, you have no copyright protection, and you fell in with a bad crowd. The good news is,  you are not the first image to be abused in this way. You probably won't be the last. Perhaps if the morons of this world leave you alone, redemption will soon be yours.

Until then, sorry you're having a rough time.

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