Film shown in collaboration with the North Central Louisiana Arts Council and the School of Design and Louisiana Tech’s Office of Multicultural Affairs as part of NCLAC’s Independent Film Series
Feels Good Man
March 17th 2022 – 7pm
Wyly Auditorium, Louisiana Tech University
In-Person and Online
What happens when an innocent character created in an artist’s early adulthood morphs into a widely recognizable symbol of hatred only a decade later? This is the issue that underground comic book artist Matt Furie must grapple with as he seeks to reclaim his character, Pepe the Frog, from the grip of the Alt-Right.
In the early 2000s, San Francisco based artist Matt Furie shared his comic Boy’s Club on the internet via MySpace. The series followed a group of anthropomorphic post-college friends and their misadventures. Among them was Pepe the Frog, a peaceful, laid-back character. Managing to catch on as a popular meme, Furie initially found Pepe’s status funny and scoffed at the idea of enforcing his legal copyright. That opinion drastically changed as the tenor of Pepe’s use online took a sinister turn.
After a bizarre series of events, the factions of the internet that heavily imprinted on Pepe went to the extreme lengths of “ironic” bigotry to keep him under their control. In doing so, Pepe became widely recognized as a hate symbol, even gaining official recognition from the Anti-Defamation league as such. Now thoroughly wrenched from his original context, Pepe helped indoctrinate wide swaths of internet denizens to the philosophies of the then-burgeoning Alt-Right movement, helping to set the stage for the contentious 2016 election and its ultimate outcome.
The film takes viewers on a wild journey through various corners of the internet to show how far one’s creation can get away from their original intention and explores the power of symbols and iconography. If the genie cannot be put back in the bottle, can it at least be transformed into something else? Various artists, psychologists, lawyers, and internet culture analysts also share their perspective on this iconic cartoon frog.
With trippy Furie-esque animations, Feels Good Man puts forward a message of hope and positivity to combat a constant cycle of cynicism and hatred.