But this isn't the first attempt on Pepe's life: for years he's been perched on the tipping point of extinction, each new boost in popularity apparently a sign of imminent death. An infographic posted to Reddit last week catalogues the life of Pepe, from his origins as part of the Boy's Club comic series by artist Matt Furie, to his 2012 reboot as the "sad frog" Tumblr meme, to the final speculative prediction that by 2016 Pepe will reach "Doge status," leading to his self-implosion.
Australian jet lag got me like pic.twitter.com/kriAAd6mZe
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 8, 2014
Users are humorously stamping Pepes with a watermark, "RARE PEPE, DO NOT SAVE," echoing the uncontrollable sharing economy which they helped to forge. The market crash acts out a now-familiar process, that of something going unintentionally viral then attempting to self-implode to preserve its own authenticity.What will happen next? Will 4chan disown the meme it has worked so hard to devalue, or will the frog live to re-spawn another day? In contrast with quizzical dogs and grumpy cats in other memes, Pepe's grotesque appeal would seem limited, but who can predict where he'll end up? His "market crash" stands as an interesting example of 4chan users parodying themselves, their knowingly absurd obsession with exclusivity, and preserving a culture which many regard as the cistern of the internet.Intriguingly, Pepe has a frog's face but a humanoid body, hinting that one day, with the right partner, he could transform into a prince.Until then, perhaps he'll return to the web's grubbier regions, forever spewing, gurning, saddened and smug all at once, made ever more resilient for the increasingly disgusting scenes his fans place him in. Celebrity endorsements cannot take from his grimy, troll-friendly allure. As long as he is NSFW, he might just be safe from advertisers.I contacted Furie, Pepe's creator, via his website for his comics and art. Asked his opinion on Pepe's turbulent journey from the fringes of 4chan to celebrity Twitter feeds, his response was concise."Feels good man."
"Feels good man."