This King’s English student wrote her dissertation on Pepe the Frog
She submitted it four days before he died
You knew the evergreen hue of his skin. You loved that twinkle in his tender smile. Pepe the Frog, an undisputed icon of the meme world, was laid to rest on May 6th, 2017.
Four days earlier, Yasmine Gaio, a third year English Language and Communications student at KCL, submitted the final copy of her dissertation on him, titled: “How Pepe the Frog Took Over the Internet: An Insight into the Meme”.
“I’ve been obsessed with Pepe for years now so I chose to write about my beautiful favourite frog”, Yasmine told the Tab King’s. “It was already mid-March and I hadn’t chosen a topic yet so [my dissertation tutor] suggested I’d look into memes”.
When browsing the memes of the time, though, she couldn’t find any that were very inspiring until she remembered Pepe.
When asked about memes’ place in academia and how easy it was to research them, she said that there were numerous articles on the topic but it was still quite overlooked, as sometimes they can be “silly, inappropriate or just meaningless”, according to Yasmine.
She added: “We did study memes in class though and I believe there is a university that offers a course on them so I feel like they are slowly becoming a topic worth studying.”
Yasmine’s appreciation of memes runs deep, but she makes none of her own. “I feel like I’m not funny enough. I appreciate a good meme and I wouldn’t want to bring any mediocre ones into the world”, she said.
In terms of regrets for her dissertation, she expressed frustration over Pepe’s death immediately following her submission: “I’m just really annoyed that four days after I submitted it, Pepe officially ‘died’, when my conclusion literally stated that he will live forever. Why couldn’t they wait to kill him until I got graded?”
Pepe’s death was a choice on the part of his creator, Matt Furie. In recent months, the mild face of the cartoon had been adopted by members of the alt-right community and was officially acknowledged as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. A KCL lecturer in Digital Culture and Society, Dr. Paolo Gerbaudo, explains the process of Pepe’s “hijacking” in a BBC interview here.