Demonstrators in Hong Kong opposing a decision by the authorities to allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China made protesting the controversial character of memes, Pepe the frog. During the presidential campaign of Trump in the United States, he was recognized as a “symbol of hatred,” but the Hong Kong people revived the character and gave him a new meaning.
On August 13, according to media reports, police wounded a participant in the rally in the right eye by firing traumatic weapons at her. The video, where doctors were bandaging the girl’s face, spread on the net, after which the protesters began to put a blindfold on their right eye, wearing helmets and safety glasses, in solidarity.
On August 14, Reddit published a photo of a girl with a blindfold holding a poster with the text “Police shot me in the eye” and an illustration of Pepe in a helmet and with a bleeding eye. Users noted the similarity of the picture with the popular meme on which the frog is crying.
Soon, other posters from protests in Hong Kong began to appear in social networks, where Pepe was portrayed. Users declared the character a symbol of resistance.
Protesters use Pepe as a symbol of resistance in Hong Kong
Just found out that protesters in Hong Kong use Pepe as a symbol of resistance ???
Artist Matt Furie created Pepe in 2005 — the frog quickly became a meme on MySpace and Tumblr. During the 2016 US presidential election, the character began to be associated with the alternative right movement and Donald Trump’s campaign. At that time, the American Jewish non-governmental human rights organization Anti-Defamation League recognized Pepe “as a symbol of hatred and white superiority.”
In 2017, due to such “political” popularity, Pepe Fourier “killed” his character by publishing a comic with his funeral procession. The comic book author sued companies twice that promoted nationalist views using the hero.
However, as the SCMP notes , many protesters in Hong Kong are unaware that Pepe is a symbol of hatred in the United States. And for those who know, this is all the same – the participants in the action want to give a new meaning to the character.
Even before the protests began, the character was popular among Hong Kong youth thanks to stickers on WhatsApp. After the protests began to demand the implementation of democratic reforms and punishment for police officers who apply harsh measures to the protesters, the stickers from Pepe also changed. Now he began to be depicted in the images of police, security officials and even the head of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam, whose activities the protesters criticize.
Soon Pepe began to depict on posters, spray cans on the walls and print on posters for tourists with a QR code, by clicking on which you can find out five demands of the protesters. They demand the abolition of the extradition law, electoral reform, an independent investigation into the abuse of power, the release of the protesters and the refusal of the authorities to call the protests “riot”.
We are all Pepe
The incident with a girl wounded in the eye gave rise to an eye-to-eye protest campaign – protesters painted Pepe with a bloodied eye.
And they painted on the posters a crying frog asking them not to beat.
In early August, Reddit user in the subreddit r / HongKong called for Pepe to restore his reputation, noting that in Hong Kong the character is not at all connected to Trump and White’s superiority. He suggests “taking away” the hero from those who use it for negative purposes. They did not agree with him, indicating that supporters of liberal and democratic views consider the image of the frog offensive, since it has already been declared a symbol of hatred. The user was asked to find another character “without unnecessary load.”
At a local forum, lihkg.com, a protester said that American tourists were interested in posters from Pepe when protesters blocked the entrance to the airport building. He was told that the character is not connected with the meaning attributed to him in the United States.
This [use of Pepe] has nothing to do with the far-right ideology in the States. He just looks funny and conveys the mood of young people. This is a symbol of the participation of young protesters in the movement.
forum user lihkg.com
SCMP reporters spoke to Paper Chu, a protester, who has been protesting since June 9th. She considers Pepe an ideal ambassador of the movement. The girl showed interest in the hero long before the first actions: “Initially, I liked him because of his disrespect. This is similar to the attitude of the people of Hong Kong. But making him face the movement against extradition seemed appropriate. ”
A participant in the action compared Pepe with a quote from Bruce Lee about water, which became a call to action among protesting youth: “Everyone makes a feasible contribution to the protests depending on their financial condition and abilities – this characterized this movement and made it successful. What does it mean to be water? Water is liquid, it can take various forms, it is not easy to capture. A variety of images of Pepe is an excellent reflection of this idea. ” Chu did not know that in the United States the character was associated with the ideology of the far right, but was glad that he could be “revived” as a national hero: “Congratulations on becoming a Hong Kong man.”