Can a meme be redeemed? That's the central question in Arthur Jones & # 39; Feels Good Man – a documentary that premiered at Sundance This year, he recorded the course of the creator of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that became a widely recognized meme when he tried to recapture it from racists and shit posters.
The doctor's sweet, gentle pace goes well with the calm, empathetic demeanor of his creator Matt Furie , Furie is described as "ethereal" by one of his friends in the play, and that's largely true. How Pepe is created, then co-opted by 4chan's residents and turned into a meme representing boredom, disenfranchisement and white supremacy. Furie usually accepts it.
But he's not without passion, as the borders are crossed and Pepe is registered by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate speech. Furie sees an opportunity to regain his symbol. It is unsuccessful for the same reason that everything is popular on the Internet – there are simply too many nerve endings to properly numb them all.
The vast majority of people who use Pepe are completely unaware of its origins. And the general community of internet people communicating through memes goes one step further and can't even grasp the concept of property. Once something has entered the Internet's cultural bloodstream, its origins often dwindle to insignificance.
Of course, this does not prevent a creator from existing or worrying about how his creation is used. And the portrait of a gentle and caring artist who is forced to observe the subversion and perversion of his work is heartbreaking and important.
Feels Good Man stands above the documents about the cultural phenomenon of the Internet. It peels enough off the onion layers to be so effective that analyzing culturally complex sayings that were born online is often poor.
Too often we have seen online movements over the years that have been analyzed from a too simple point of view. And the main reason for this is that the influence and impact of these staples of online life are not taken into account: trolls. People who do things for hell that then become part of a larger movement, but always remove the arm length to fall back on and can claim that it was just a gag.
Jones mentioned during a post-screening Q&A that Furie's art should be a character to play a role in the entire film. In addition to the scenes where Matt drew, this is best achieved through the absolutely great animation sequences that Jones and a team of animators from Pepe and the other characters from Boy’s Club created. They are a delightful and welcome change from the somewhat hammer-like nature of the dark places that Pepe is inadvertently drawn to by the various subcultures from which he is adopted.
It is not a perfect film, the sequences with an occultist are so stupid that they do not match the overall taste of the piece. But it's probably one of the better documentaries ever made on the Internet, and it's worth watching when it's picked up.