Feels Good Man debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January, which was approximately 8,000 years ago.
Yet as we get deeper into the election season, I find myself still reeling from the experience; the story of cartoonist Matt Furie and his innocuous comic creation Pepe the Frog speaks volumes about the poisonous potential of the internet. The first trailer, which premiered on Wednesday, delivers the same chills.
Directed by illustrator, animator, and journalist Arthur Jones, Feels Good Man begins as a portrait of an artist, the gentle, goofy Furie, explores the MySpace popularity of the Boys Club comic, then explodes when 4chan catches wind of Pepe.
Easy to draw, and easier to convert into nightmare fuel, Pepe became fodder for every type of internet denizen, eventually devolving into an entry in the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol index. At one point, Jones interviews a member of Trump’s campaign about the appropriation of Furie’s comic for propaganda. Feels Good Man excels at connecting the dots between a “fringe” meme and a grassroots movement that reshaped all of America.
At the time, I called Feels Good Man “the most urgent and poignant political documentary of the year,” a claim I’ll stand by. The film is bound to entertain those who’ve followed along on Furie’s journey to reclaim Pepe from extremists, and should blow the minds of anyone unfamiliar with how internet meme culture has become a replacement religion for millions of people looking to make sense of the world. That is to say, it’s documentary fun for the whole family!
Feels Good Man will release on VOD on Sept. 4.