1 hour 32 minutes
Awards and nominations:
— Best Documentary at the Warsaw International Film Festival (nominated), 2020
— The Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards (nominated), 2020
Artist and comic book artist Matt Furie couldn’t have imagined how big his creation would be when he created the frog meme Pepe. At first it became a symbol of the depression, and then a symbol of the alt-right movement and support for Donald Trump after its first appearance online. Matt decides to take back what belongs to him and begins to fight the Internet trolls for Pepe’s authorship. This is a fascinating story about the phenomenon and influence of memes.
SCREENING PARTNER — ARARAT APRICOT
ARARAT Apricot was created thanks to the brand’s long creative search and innovation, which was combined with ancient traditions of production, and it is based on the symbol of Armenia, the apricot. Continuing the theme of symbols, we present a film about one of the main Internet phenomena, Pepe, that went from a comic for a close circle of friends to the embodiment of freedom.Learn more
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Dogecoin, Hide The Pain Harold, and Zhdun: A brief history of some of the landmark memes
Memes are more than jokes. They have social, cultural, and even political influence. Pepe the Frog is just one example of how popularity has been exploited by radical groups. DTF Magazine, together with ARARAT Apricot, tells the story of three of the most important memes of the 2010s that became symbols of sadness, expectation and profit
Hide The Pain Harold does not hide his smile
Since 2011, sadness and pain have been associated with a smiling man named Harold. In fact, Harold’s name is Andras Arato, and he was born in Hungary, where he worked as an electrical engineer. He took photos for friends while on vacation, after which a professional photographer saw him and offered him a series of portraits as stock photography. Andras agreed, and a few months later he was horrified to see people on the Internet mocking his facial expression. One VK user even wrote him an email asking him to confirm his identity, because the network doubted the existence of a person with such an appearance. Arato sent a photo with the caption «I am real» and after that he received many calls with offers to star in commercials, movies and music videos.
Andras makes no secret of the fact that at first he considered popularity a burden. He had complexes about it for several years, but later embraced the fact that inspires people and makes them smile. He became the face of the Coca-Cola brand in Hungary, came to Tedx in Kyiv where he shared his story, and in addition, a film about his transformation into a meme is being prepared.
The meme has been around for ten years, but curiosities still happen to Andras. For example, there was an announcement of a free coronavirus vaccination with his face in Sweden in 2020. Now he has changed his job from electrician to DJ at a radio station, and continues to exploit his own popularity in his 76 years.
Zhdun as a symbol of national character
In 2016, Dutch artist Margriet van Breevoort created a sculpture for the Leiden University Medical Center that symbolizes patient waiting in line to see a doctor. Homunculus Loxodontus (humanoid elephant) is a mixture of human, northern elephant seal and legless insect, but Internet users remember the creature by another name, Pochekun or Zhdun. The character became a meme (and almost exclusively in russia and Ukraine) because of the publication on the resource called Pikabu. The tourist took a photo with Pochekun and shared it on social networks. That is why russians and Ukrainians began to send friend requests to Margriet and subsequently there were more of them than Dutch subscribers.
The very next year CD Land offered to buy the rights to use Pochekun’s image, and Margriet agreed: «Now I won’t have to worry about money for a few years, and I will focus on new projects». She still owns the sculpture, but the company can use it for its own purposes, such as creating merch or filming an animation project (she’s already doing that). Pochekun became popular in the former Soviet Union because it has become a real symbol of familiar things, namely queues, and besides, it can easily be used in many social and just life situations. And one of the few references to the character in the West is the cover of the latest album of the Belgian band Balthazar, which also rhymes with waiting for the release of the record.
A dog-meme and a dog-cryptocurrency
Another meme that has stood the test of time «was born» in 2013. Its name Doge first appeared in the puppet show Homestar Runner, where one of the characters had ineptly changed the word dog to doge, and then the idea was picked up on the net. The second part of the meme was formed because of an image of a dog. In 2010, Sato, a Japanese man, picked up a male dog, Kabosu, from a shelter and photographed him in various positions for a blog. People took the funny photos for collages and broadcast delight through them with the words much wow, so noble and so on. In a story for the Verge, Sato said: «To be honest, some of the pictures look weird, but they’re funny! I’m amazed at the skills and taste. No one around me knows about Doge meme. Maybe I don’t understand memes well because I live in an analog world».
At the end of 2013, they lost control of the meme because Dogecoin entered the cryptocurrency market in December. The humorous name attracted attention and it helped its creators make money, but the drop in interest two years later showed how seriously it was taken by crypto investors. In addition, Dogecoin financed Nascar racer Josh Wise — he drove with the Kabosu logo on his hood, and in 2021, Elon Musk provoked a sharp rise of this currency in the world with a few tweets. Although Doge’s humor as a meme is hard to explain (his absurd existence is in itself a joke), the meme continues to appear in the media field ranging from weather forecast apps to mentions in video games (Just Cause 3, Smite, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes).