Feels Good Man (2020) Poster

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An artist who didn't understand his creation
OdinsRagnarok16 January 2021
It's a well made documentary with nicely animated segments. Largely following the perspective of the creator and what happened to pepe. All through an extremely narrow and biased view.

Around the 45min mark, it becomes just crystal clear how he doesn't understand his creation. How he, together with ADL, Hillary Clinton, Maddow and rest of left wing media helped enable this to become a "far right hate speech symbol". It never was that, until these people decided to make pepe into that. It seems completely out of touch with trolling and getting a rise out of people, and going against the mainstream and political correctness. The more these people wish to silence and censor people, the more crazy pepe memes they would get in response. They themselves are the enablers.

The 4chan guy they mainly choose to focus on was such a stereotype fitting 100% the narrative they attempted to persuade. While they did talk to a girl who also roamed 4chan, she was left too much out of the documentary so they could push their view on the audience.

As they show Hong Kong demonstrators towards the end who embrace Pepe, the creator and movie makers seems to not understand that them embracing pepe comes from similar reasons as why it was embraced in the US by Trump supporters. In both cases it's used as anti-leftists, anti-censorship, anti-establishment memes. If they happen to side with the Chinese government, I'm sure they would have labeled their use of it as "hate speech" also.

But all of this being said, it's not a bad documentary, as long as the biased view doesn't annoy you too much. Still a nice capsule of most of the pepe events and how the character grew beyond the grasp of it's creator.
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The best internet documentary yet
nigeljbrown-4855618 September 2020
This documentary has two focuses; the story of Pepe being adopted and appropriated by the internet, and the story of a cartoonist losing his creation. It is in the telling of the former story where the film excels. It follows Pepe from when it first becomes popular on bodybuilding forums to becoming the most popular meme on 4chan to eventually becoming a symbol of the alt-right in the 2016 U.S. election. The movie frames this entire story in the emotions of the people posting the meme. It is not so much about the meme itself as it is about what it means to them, and Pepe meant a lot.

The presentation of the documentary is creative and well paced, mixing animation, interviews, television footage, and screen grabs to keep from ever becoming monotonous. The result is an exiting presentation that emphasizes the empathy for the people being talked about. When the movie gets to the point where Pepe is becoming the symbol of a political movement and Trump is posting himself as Pepe, it is exhilarating. I remember this happening in real life and despising these people, yet despite myself I was getting caught up in the excitement of it all.

There is a sobering transition of tone when, after this section, the camera is back on Matt Furie, his life made so difficult by what was done with his creation. He was naive and maybe wilfully ignorant of what was happening, but he did what we wish more artists would do today, letting people be creative with their characters rather than sending cease and desists. By the time he tries to recover Pepe it is too late and he finally kills the character as 4chan rejoices that Pepe is officially theirs. It is terribly sad.

I thought about downgrading my rating to a 9 because the ending is optimistic in a way that i didn't quite buy, but I've decided to forgive it. The story of this movie is an unprecedented catastrophe that no one could have predicted. Maybe its foolish to assume I can predict where the story is going.
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Captivating Story With A Darker Conclusion Than The Filmmakers Let On
zackerman2410 September 2020
Feels Good Man, the directorial debut of Arthur Jones, centers around the cultural transformation and appropriation of an innocent cartoon character: Pepe the Frog. The film follows Pepe's creator, Matt Furie, as he tries to comes to terms with all that is happening to his creation and eventually fights back to regain control of what was once his; meanwhile, we are also treated to a full unravelling of how Pepe was meme'd into internet infamy among fringe, alt-right groups, discovering just how powerful a tool the Internet can be and how hard it can be to turn back what's been done. The film's pacing is very good, the story is captivating, and the people brought in to break it all down are very interesting; however, while being well worth the watch, I think it falls short in its overall takeaway and message.

The film does a great job of bringing in a diversity of interviewees to help detail both the personal story of Matt & Pepe, as well as the digital journey that transformed Pepe into a profound hate symbol. Insight into Matt's life is drawn primarily from discussion with his wife and housemates, as well as from getting to see him interact with his daughter. It all draws a very quaint portrait of a guy who seems nice and, to be honest, pretty average, which makes Pepe's journey all the more startling while also helping to explain Matt's initial reluctance to act and rather just lay back. For deconstructing the underbelly of the web, we're introduced to a 4chan lifer (or a NEET - this guy's reality may in fact have been the scariest part of the film), my first-ever sighting of a memetist, an occultist scholar / magic librarian (can we talk about how this guy used the force to pull a book off of a shelf???), and the director of the Network Contagion Research Institute at Princeton - all these just to name a few. While the story itself is captivating at parts, what really pushes the movie towards success is the people you meet; the most interesting part of the film may in fact be when Matt meets up with a 20ish person group in San Fran composed of people who have devoted themselves to deconstructing and understanding these sort of internet phenomena; the sheer fact that these groups exist was quite eye-opening, and the juxtaposition of their deep concern and worry for what has happened to Pepe versus Matt's laidback nature was both hilarious and a little tragic. All these people understand something that Matt is seemingly still fully unaware of: he has completely lost control of his beloved character, and frankly, there is almost no turning back. This is not to say that every interviewee lends value - the two female cartoonists / writers seemed to contribute very little and felt more like a "We've already recorded the interviews so let's just use them" situation.

The film should also be given enormous credit for its efforts in trying to trace the origins and gradual transformation of Pepe. I think we all know how difficult it can be to find any "starting points" or sources of actual truth online, but the crew seem to have done very well in their research; likely helped, and perhaps influenced, by their interviews with members of these Internet hordes. Another short note is that the animation throughout is very solid and felt like a strong tool to complement the film's narrative. It wasn't overdone and tied nicely to the scenes where it was used.

With regards to the film's overall goals and purpose, Matt Furie's story is interesting and he is a generally likeable guy, but the real meat of this film is its examination of internet culture and how it can basically turn anything on its head and morph it for its own use or gain, without almost any repercussion. The way in which we see an innocent frog cartoon slowly become a symbol of hate and bigotry is enthralling, but also terrifying as we realize that it all happened through the efforts of people sitting right at home and operating under the anonymity given to them by the Internet and its platforms (e.g. 4chan). Once they took hold, there was really no going back. Sure, Matt's been able to win lawsuits with public figures that have appropriated the character, such as Alex Jones, but almost nothing can be done to the thousands (or millions) of people still using it for their hateful purposes online. While the film tries to end on a positive note by displaying how Pepe went from an alt-right symbol in the US to a symbol of freedom in the Hong Kong protests, it feels like a lackluster solution and rose-colored view, frustratingly trying to give the viewer a hopeful message while denying the harsher truth and reality that it itself has painted. While it's great to see that Pepe can still be a symbol of hope and positivity, the true conclusion is much more ambiguous, demonstrating how we can project almost any emotion onto a character or piece of media, meme-ing it into "this" or "that". Everything comes with a dark side or at least the potential of evil - while we can hope that good is the stronger force, it doesn't really make it any easier to put a stop to the bad.
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Surprisingly good- 93 minutes goes by really quickly
Jeremy_Urquhart8 September 2020
This is a really good documentary, only let down slightly by a part near the end regarding the 'rare Pepe's'- they didn't explain it very well and I was super confused. It also wasn't very relevant to everything else, which makes me wonder whether it was added to get the overall film over 90 minutes.

That being said, everything else was really strong. The presentation is unique, I liked the use of animation, and the music was surprisingly good too. It tells a fascinating story about a meme that got out of the control of its creator, and while I was familiar with Pepe to some extent, I definitely didn't know the whole story, which made this really engaging.

For me, it started to get really interesting when they began to cover the meme's relation to the 2016 US Election- that was genuinely fascinating.

If you're interested in meme culture, politics, or just want a good documentary, I can highly recommend this one.
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Fascinating but Ultimately 2D Exposition of Pepe the Frog
thenaves8 September 2020
The first 45 minutes is actually quite informative in following the 4chan adoption and evolution of the meme - the mindset of those who first adopted Pepe and the emotional bond that was made. The next 45 however is essentially the reason Trump won: the lesson the left never learned; a minimization of the bigger conversation to a hyper-focus on the alt-right. In other words, the film does a good job of documenting the battle that took place with the alt-rights use of Pepe. However it's to the exclusion of the bigger campaign of those who do not agree with the alt-right but used Pepe to express hope and belief in a Trump victory over the rise of authoritarian and global Leftism. <-- the conversation that never takes place.

Much like reading a politifact "fact" check, the documentary quickly moves from history of the origins of Pepe into a breakdown and explanation of liberal narrative. As such, it leaves the 2016 experience of an entire swath of conservative and moderate voices misrepresented and lumped into a single basket of hate and aggression.

Let be me clear... This seems to be the way that the creator experienced everything and thus as a "Furie" documentary it tells his story quite well and accurately. However, as a "Pepe" documentary it fails to tell the whole story in anything other than a two dimensional, singularly aspected fashion - white supremacists used Pepe to promote their politics. This is of course true but only a small piece of a much bigger phenomena. Netflix will eat this up however and I imagine it will be viewed by millions and seen as the whole story before it's run is over.

In summary, this was a good documentary experience and I feel better informed after watching it. I would recommend it to just about anyone with the qualifier of its political leaning. But honestly, If you're politically liberal then you already believe the narrative portrayed in the second half of the documentary. If you're politically conservative (or have been since 2016) you are already aware of the narrative bias.
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welcome to my biased opinion
djurrepower15 September 2020
As someone who experienced almost all the events presented, this was just a huge trip down memory lane. so i was just constanly pointing and saying "aah i remember that". so i enjoyed a lot of those moments. though im kinda let down on the fact that the story focuses on one side of the story. the whole alt right thing isnt the place where pepe currently resides. so in summary, i really liked it because it is a story close to home, but there were some things that i dissagreed on from a narrative standpoint.

8/10: really enjoyed it, but has some flaws
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An artist's ego driven tantrum unsurprisingly filled with utter lies
trust-me12 October 2020
Firstly let me say that I've been using the internet for over 20 years. In this time I've seen the rise and fall of some of the biggest and most prolific sites ever made. Be it Myspace, Bebo, Geocities, AltaVista, et cetera. I grew up at the same time the internet was growing from Dial-up to ADSL.

I've also been someone who visited the 'chans' on-and-off for years and I've seen thousands upon thousands of threads, memes and politically themed pictures of Pepe the Frog. I've seen as many Pepe themed right and left wing memes as I've seen Pepe themed vegan, pro gun, pro abortion, friendship and family memes.

I can say with absolute one hundred percent legitimacy that this movie is a complete and utter joke. It is nothing but a 90 minute ego trip from an artist that made a name for himself on the backs of others; but his problem? It's not for the reason(s) that he wanted.

The beauty of Pepe is that he's a character that can become anything, and fit a mold far more dynamic and open than the low IQ, slapstick, 'Simpson's Tier' caricatures that he was originally being used for. Pepe has been an astronaut, doctor, teacher, scientist, politician, father, child, firefighter, world leader, you name it. Yet, the creator made Pepe to appeal to the lowest common denominator and inspite of this, some of the most intelligent people with the greatest social and political reach leveraged his likeability, yes his likeability for other purposes.

See that's where Pepe's strengths are, something that Matt Furie seriously seems to have no idea about as he whines for 90 minutes about people "stealing" his image and using it for purposes that he personally does not support. It's like Matt somehow forgets the fact that if you put something on the internet, it's there forever and you are effectively saying that you're okay with the fact that people may save, edit and transform your work despite your best efforts (and wishes) that they not do so. It's why people, despite how stupid the idea is at its core and if you think about it for more than 30 seconds, STILL put photos of their children on some of the highest traffic websites despite the fact that all manner of people (and machines) visit, index and save media and metadata (to god only knows where) on these websites for any manner of reasons. We are long past a time where something posted on the internet was ever 'sacred', and perhaps such a time never existed.

Pepe hasn't done more harm than good. Anyone that knows anything about Pepe, knows this. He has inspired hundreds of copycats and completely unique projects of the Etsy and Redbubble craft variety. In fact even better characters like Spurdo Spärde and my personal favourite Apu Apustaja owe their existence to the likes of Pepe. Two characters created solely to spread non-toxic wholesomeness and a sense of familiarity and solidarity through the hardships of life.

The real tragedy here is the ease at which we conjoin the unpolitical, with the political. Where people are so quick to blur the lines between what is fun and harmless and what is hurtful and inhumane. Pepe is merely a brand, no different and no less or more powerful than any other you may come across. It's subjectively whether or not you choose to engage with and legitimize attempts of using him (or any other brand or image) to promote an ideology that is the real issue.

Let me finish by saying that life doesn't allow you much choice in how you break into the popular scene, but you do get to choose if you treat the situation with dignity or stupidity. The artist, Matt Furie 44, went with the latter and displays a lack of maturity and shockingly an almost complete state of obliviousness when it concerns the understanding of the brand image that he created.

A bad "documentary" by all accounts of which a documentary should be graded.
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Felt good man, but also felt a bit sad
TheVictoriousV20 September 2020
First and foremost, Feels Good Man is one of the most entertainingly presented, well-paced, amusing, and at points sickening documentaries I've beheld in ages, but what makes it extra special is how it understands online culture and Internet memes more than most. As a result, it also elucidates how we've reached an age where Death of the Author occurs well before the author's death, and how a piece of art can be repeatedly co-opted by online communities (that then start affecting the real world) until it no longer belongs to the artist.

And what better example to use than Matt Furie's Boy's Clubs character Pepe the Frog? Ever the eccentric but nonetheless wholesome, Furie could never have expected how his creation would spread all over the web in the MySpace era, end up adored by the recluses of 4chan and used for hateful images, and finally get reposted in his new edgelord-format by presidential candidate Donald Trump himself, emboldening said edgelords to "meme" an unqualified mainstream-media reject (one wonders why they liked him) into office and ultimately taking Pepe to what we thought was his final form: the basically-official symbol of a recently validated N*zi-lite far-right movement (don't get me started on how Egyptian myhtology and Hong Kong come into play).

To think, all he wanted to do was pee with his pants down and declare that it feels good... man.

If you, like many others, were flabbergasted at the result of the 2016 election and blame it on some weird uprising on redneck Boomers (even if you know how more and more youngsters went rightward after, supposedly, having their fill of multiculturalism and PC language-policing), then this film is for you. We underestimate how much the Internet world has started to take over the real world; how basement-dwelling losers may become world-burning winners. I certainly saw it unfold over the 2010s, but watching it summarized in a 90-minute film hit even me pretty hard. Be careful when you share your art in the social media age.
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Great movie: it missed one thing
curzon_dax25 October 2020
I had been on 4chan for many years and I believe this movie while it was amazing it was a bit more pessimistic about 4chan than what's really going on there. A lot of us posting there while we do meme and troll we actually do it a lot of times against the neonazis so there are actually a lot of cases of pepe usage that clearly antifascist on 4chan itself even if of course it doe collect a lot of stormfronters.
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A great documentary on pepe the frog
nilein8 December 2020
I think this movie clearly shows that people project their own dark side onto any kind of media/art and ultimately turned a nice frog into a dark villain.

One of the quotes that resonated with me the most was: "I just wanna be young again"

That is clearly pouring out of his art and it resonates with me. I think we all just could be a little nicer to each other.. That's all <3
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juded-5797515 September 2020
Finds itself in the comic absurdity of a documentary about but completely and thoroughly goes through the many facets of Pepe the Frog while keeping the storyline of Matt Furie mostly linear. The animation and the movie were always captivating.
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Succinct in Sixteen
unclesamsavage8 January 2021
Unique in schizoid presentation of internet culture, Jones chronicles Pepe's extremist capture and creator Furie's fury.

Screenplay...................................... 6 / 10 Interviews........................................ 6 Visuals................................................ 7 Sound................................................... 5 Editing................................................ 5 Music....................................................... 6 Timeless Utility................................. 8 Total.................................................... 48 / 70 ~= 6.1 (which I rounded to 6) Verdict................................................. Informative / Enjoyable for the Appropriate Audience
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