Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

By

Racist Internet Frogs-Benedict Mendes

As many of our generation know, Pepe The Frog is a popular internet meme that has been popular among internet users since about 2008. Very recently, this innocent product of modern day culture has been deemed a symbol of hate and white supremacy by many people. It has even been added to the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol database. Today, I will be dissecting that argument and trying to see if and how that is true in any way, and hopefully in the process I will redeem our web-fingered friend’s reputation a bit in the process.

 

So basically, the conclusion is that Pepe The Frog is a symbol for hate. I’ve broken down the argument into a few premises that represent the opinion of those who consider this frog as a hate symbol.

 

Premise 1: Pepe the Frog is popular on sites such as 4chan

 

Premise 2: Some users of 4chan create racist and anti-Semitic versions of Pepe the Frog

 

Conclusion: Therefore Pepe The Frog, and all memes made with him, are symbols of those ideologies

 

Well, let’s start with truthfulness, shall we? Premise 1 is true, Pepe The Frog is popular on 4chan and many other popular sites, there’s no disputing that. This bug-eyed amphibian is indeed an internet sensation. The second premise is also true, a small subset of 4chan users do create offensive images with Pepe The Frog, usually in some way altering his catch phrase “feels good man”. So the premises are true, but we still need to deal with validity. The formula is A=B, and B=C, so therefore A=C. Let’s see if this fits the formula. It’s pretty obvious pretty fast that this argument is not valid, most from the word “Some” in the second premise. If only some users are creating racist versions of Pepe then that does not necessarily mean that all things that include Pepe The Frog are indicative of racist attitudes. The premises also do not clearly state that those with such prejudices are the only ones making memes involving Pepe, nor that all of those people are active users of sites such as 4chan. Therefore it is not certain that all memes made with Pepe are racist and/or anti-Semitic.

 

Now, you may be asking, “Ben, why did you go through all this trouble to deconstruct an argument against a mostly outdated internet trend?”

The answer is: I don’t know, I’m probably wasting my life. Thank you for reading.

 

 

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“Pics or it didn’t happen”

Image via MemeCenter

The mantra of the Instagram era:

Think about the pictures of a horde of tourists assembled in front of the Mona Lisa, their cameras clicking away. It is the most photographed work of art in human history. You can see it in full light, low light, close-up, far away, x-rayed; you can find parodies of parodies of parodies; and yet, seeing it in person and walking away does not suffice. The experience must be captured, the painting itself possessed, a poor facsimile of it acquired so that you can call it your own – a photograph which, in the end, says, I was here. I went to Paris and saw the Mona Lisa. The photo shows that you could afford the trip, that you are cultured, and offers an entrée to your story about the other tourists you had to elbow your way through, the security guard who tried to flirt with you, the incredible pastry you had afterwards, the realisation that the painting really is not much to look at and that you have always preferred Rembrandt. The grainy, slightly askew photo signifies all these things. Most important, it is yours. You took it. It got 12 likes.

This is also the unspoken thought process behind every reblog or retweet, every time you pin something that has already been pinned hundreds of times. You need it for yourself. Placing it on your blog or in your Twitter stream acts as a form of identification – a signal of your aesthetics, a reflection of your background, an avatar of your desires. It must be held, however provisionally and insubstantially, in your hand, and so by reposting it, you claim some kind of possession of it.

 
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