Why Pepe’s Impact is Only Beginning
Let’s face it: Pepe the Frog has had a long and troubled history. There’s been plenty of chefs-kiss perfect Pepes along with appallingly lame ones. This is no surprise, since anytime mankind is given a medium to create with — whether it be a crayon, a canvas, or a meme — the entire gamut of taste and quality are expressed.
It’s undeniable that Pepe the Frog has brought a lot of laughs to a lot of people over the years. With all the frogs accounted for, Pepe has given us more smiles and nasal exhales than frowns and bad vibes. That’s because Pepe is not really a symbol for anything: he is simply a medium for people to create. He’s easy to make memes with and mysteriously relatable.
A Naturally Positive Pepe
Pepe’s rise to stardom was by-and-large through positive memes. It takes a certain kind of madman to look at a smiling frog and feel anything but jolly. Although it is ridiculous to use a cartoon frog to spread hateful garbage, Pepe’s misuse has made us rethink how we view memes overall. One question is whether a niche offshoot of meme creators should be able to ruin the meme for everyone.
Put yourself in Pepe’s shoes: if someone took your favorite Facebook selfie and started captioning nonsense over it, would you identify with the words that strangers had written on your face? Likely not, especially when you consider that memes are completely at the mercy of the meme creator. While it can certainly be no picnic being a meme, we can rest easy at night knowing that Bad Luck Brian has had plenty of kickass-fortunate days. In this sense, a meme template is just a neutral tool that has no meaning outside of what you give it.
By censoring Pepe as a reaction to hateful propaganda, media outlets have given a false sense of legitimacy to negative Pepes. Instead, the powerful impact of positive Pepes (and their gloomy counterparts) should be emphasized. We hear countless stories of people like pepeangelo whose lives have been transformed by the cathartic force of this meme. Meme artists express themselves as whole-heartedly as any other artist, and deserve a platform where their work can be cherished and thrive.
Since Pepe is naturally positive (and sometimes sadge), a community-driven approach to moderating Pepe use is appropriate. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs, offer a way to exchange and moderate memes in a way that is equitable and transparent. Through the use of governance tokens, everyone has a say in what is or what isn’t a proper Pepe, and all policy changes are preceded by a vote. No ban-hammer heavy moderators are necessary — instead, anyone has the ability to flag inappropriate content and reviews are carried out by fellow governance token holders.
Meme culture has always been democratic, and communities built around this sense of participation will thrive. Pepe the Frog has contributed incalculable joy for the meme community, and it’s time that the meme community gives back. Pepe has always given us a space to laugh, cry, and express ourselves, and need that green frog now more than ever
Ask not what your Pepe can do for you, ask what you can do for your Pepe. Join a Pepe DAO and we can create this Pepe-Positive future, together.