Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

January 26, 2017
by Anthony C.

The Curious Case of Pepe the Frog: on the Ontology and Value of Internet Memes Editor’s note: This story has a Part II, with updates on Pepe’s death! In the waning days of last fall’s presidential election a frog took center stage. In early September, Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on Instagram featuring his father leading “The Deplorables.” The image is intended to be a response to Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark. However, what catches one’s eye is a curious depiction of a green frog wearing a Trump wig. The Clinton campaign quickly pointed out that the frog is an instance of an internet meme known as Pepe the Frog and denounced Trump for his campaign’s usage of the meme due to its associations with white supremacy and the alt-right. Not long after, the Anti-Defamation League added Pepe to its online database of hate symbols.