Sometimes, as an artist, you lose control over your own creation, and that appears to be what happened to underground cartoonist Matt Furie, whose saw his beloved comic creation Pepe the Frog co-opted by white supremacists and used online as a grotesque political pawn.
As outlined in the trailer for the colorful documentary Feels Good Man, it was November 2016, and a nasty election cycle had exposed a seismic cultural rift — one that was even more surreal for Furie given the way Pepe was being employed on social media. Furie conceived of Pepe the Frog more than a decade earlier as a laid-back humanoid amphibian, but now Pepe had morphed into… something else.
Directed by Arthur Jones, Feels Good Man is described as “a Frankenstein-meets-Alice in Wonderland journey of an artist battling to regain control of his creation, while confronting a disturbing cast of characters who have their own peculiar attachments to Pepe. It offers a vivid, moving portrait of one man, one frog, and the very strange reality we’ve all found ourselves living in.”
It’s certainly hard to argue with that one. Feels Good Man drew (pun intended) raves at Sundance, which seems like ages ago thanks to this seemingly endless pandemic. On the bright side, being cooped up at home has given people more time to enjoy smaller films, including documentaries such as this one. I know it wasn’t really on my radar before today, but now I’m looking forward to catching up with this film when it’s released on Sept. 4.
Feels Good Man was produced by Giorgio Angelini, Aaron Wickenden and Caryn Capotosto, and executive produced by Jenifer Westphal, Joe Plummer, Bryn Mooser, Nancy Stephens, Rick Rosenthal, Julie Parker Benello. Meanwhile, Nion McEvoy, Leslie Berriman, Regina Scully, Kathryn Everett and Justin Lacob served as co-executive producers, Maggie Angelini, Kerry McLaughlin, Kurt Keppeler and Caitlin Ward served as co-producers, and Nancy Blachman served as a contributing producer. That’s a lot of producers on one lilypad, but hey, it takes a village, as they say.
Watch the trailer below, and leave a comment about your favorite Pepe the Frog meme — but keep it classy, or else! And speaking of hot Sundance documentaries, click here to check out the trailer for Boys State, which debuts Aug. 14 on Apple TV+.