A college student in the UK has written a major paper on Pepe the Frog as part of her studies.
Yasmine Gaio, a student at King’s College London, took on the alt-right
poster-boy poster-frog as her final year project.
Her 10,000-word paper, called “How Pepe the Frog Took Over the Internet: An Insight into the Meme”, was handed in early this month as part of her English Language and Communication bachelor’s degree.
Gaio told Heat Street how her professor encouraged her to focus on the topic, and that Pepe represented the first time a meme became a genuine political force.
The project discusses the evolution of Pepe, who began as a little-known character created by Matt Furie for his Boy’s Club web comic in 2005.
He then became enthusiastically adopted by the so-called alt-right political movement, where he gained associations with white nationalism and anti-Semitism.
During the primaries of the last election, Donald Trump tweeted an image of himself as Pepe, seemingly without quite knowing what it meant.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
Donald Trump Jr later posted an image on Instagram showing him alongside his father, Milo Yiannapoulos, Alex Jones and Pepe as members of “The Deplorables”:
A friend sent me this. Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables😂😂😂 All kidding aside I am honored to be grouped with the hard working men and women of this great nation that have supported @realdonaldtrump and know that he can fix the mess created by politicians in Washington. He's fighting for you and won't ever quit. Thanks for your trust! #trump2016 #maga #makeamericagreatagain #basketofdeplorables
This in turn led the Clinton campaign to publish a bizarre Pepe explainer, which gave them the low-down on the character and said the Trump campaign’s embrace of the character was “horrifying”.
In the months since, Pepe continued to proliferate online, but was dramatically killed off by Furie last week in a farewell comic showing him in an open casket.
Gaio told Heat Street that a small field of meme scholarship does already exist, and that she was inspired to take up her project by an academic discussion of Lolcats.
However, her paper could mark the first time an individual character has been the sole subject of an entire thesis.
Hopefully it gets a good grade.