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  • Alex First

Feels Good Man (PG) - 93 minutes

OMG! What an eye opener.

I had never heard of, or seen, a picture of Pepe the Frog before watching Feels Good Man.

He was created by talented cartoonist and illustrator Matt Furie and first appeared in a comic titled Boy’s Club in 2005. It featured four characters – slacker roommates.

Furie also associated Pepe with the phrase “Feels Good Man”.

But here is the alarming thing – at the time, Furie didn’t protect his intellectual property and Pepe morphed into a meme and then became a totem for white supremacists.

The phrase “Feels Good Man” was turned on its head, as was the frog, to reflect sadness, despair and anger.

So, “Feels Good” became “Feels Bad” and “Feels Mad”.

The bulk of this compelling documentary deals with the fallout of the shanghaied frog, its use and abuse, and the impact on Furie.

His only crime – and, clearly, I say that tongue in cheek – was his naïveté.

He comes across as a caring, compassionate family man, swept up in an out of control maelstrom.

At one point, Furie becomes so desperate to alleviate the damage, he makes a conscious decision to kill off Pepe.

Although he does so (in comic book form), the move doesn’t have the desired outcome.

Among the most frightening suggestions is that Pepe was used to denounce Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump as US President.

If that isn’t bad enough, Pepe was declared a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League.

The tentacles of Pepe are seemingly everywhere – even making their way into cryptocurrency, if you can believe that.

Fortunately, before this is over, Furie also manages to score a few victories – some premeditated and another (big one) not.

The doco includes interviews with Furie, his partner, friends and fellow artists, psychologists, academics and a political strategist.

While fascinating, Feels Good Man is also deeply disturbing – an indictment of the depths to which modern society has sunk.

It is an exploration of the impact of our digital, connected world by first time feature film writer and director Arthur Jones (along with fellow scribes Giorgio Angelini, Matt Furie – the man who is the central focus – and Aaron Wickenden).

They have done an excellent job bringing all the threads – of which there are many – together and building awareness of what is at stake. In other words, it covers a lot of territory.

To maintain attention, the documentary moves along at pace and, dare I say, for novices like me, its subject matter is a game changer.

I admire the work as well as the workmanship that went into creating such a vivid picture – if you pardon the pun – of the Pepe landscape, one full of intrigue and subterfuge.

As detailed as it is, I fear Feels Good Man just brushes the surface of the nefarious ends to which anti-establishment figures will go in an endeavour to subvert.

Rated PG, it scores an 8½ out of 10.

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