Read this post to find out all about Pepehands— a variant of the infamous Pepe the Frog and, now, a Twitch emoji.
People using the internet for the last 4-5 years and those who have seen the meme wars taking place during the US Presidential Election of 2016-17 must be aware of this frog with a humanoid body. We are talking about Pepe the Frog, also known as the sad, smug, happy, and angry frog. Pepehands is one of the most popular variants of Pepe the Frog and has garnered a lot of traction and criticism post-2017.
Pepehands is also a Twitch TV emote used for expressing sadness.
Origin and First Appearance
Pepe was one of the four characteristics from an online comic strip called Boy’s Club. It was started in 2005 and became popular on MySpace, 4Chan, and other popular social forums of that point for its psychedelic and hedonistic themes.
Pepe broke out on the internet as a standalone character around 2008 when it was used for signifying happiness and feeling good. This “feels good man” Pepe was just like the original Pepe from the comic strip. However, like any other meme and internet phenomenon, its variants started pouring in.
In 2009, a distressed Pepe with the caption “feels bad man” surfaced on the web. After a couple of months, it had become more popular than the original one. That being said, Pepe was also somewhat a predecessor of Pepehands emote on Twitch.
Post-2010 Rise of Popularity
Many variants of Pepe the Frog had come since 2009. However, its use remained confined among regular meme aficionados. It started changing in 2014 when celebrities and brands also caught on to the green humanoid frog. In 2014, Katy Perry posted a sad, crying Pepe on her Twitter account to describe the jet lag she was going through after a long flight.
The same year, rapper Nicki Minaj used an illustration of Sad Pepe with large buttocks on his knees in one of her Instagram posts. She used it to make fun of her own provocative photos on Instagram. Brands like Wendy’s and even official handle of the Russian Embassy in the UK have posted memes centered on Pepe the Frog.
The Association with Alt-Right and Ultimate Death
Pepehands and all the other smug, happy, sad, and angry variants of Pepe the Frog were being used in good faith until Donald Trump picked it for his presidential campaign. He tweeted a photo of the smug Pepe resembling the then-candidate Trump as the US president. This tweet strengthened Pepe’s association with the alt-right supporter of Trump, causing it to be seen as a hate symbol. In response to this cultural development, Hillary Clinton made statements denouncing Pepe, which was seen as an over-reaction by those who were well-acquainted with the meme’s harmless origins.
Alt-right groups didn’t object to this alleged association. In fact, they started using Pepe memes to spread their divisive and offensive ideological points. This hijacking of Pepe the Frog infuriated a large section of internet users, including Pepe’s creator Matt Furie. To record his protest, Furie killed Pepe in the comic strip that birthed him.
Outside the discourse that centers on US and European politics, Sad Pepe or Pepehands is still used in memes with different captions to depict sadness, heartbreaks, and disappointments. Twitch users are still using it as a sad emoji.