Artist Matt Furie has drawn frogs his entire life. One day, he draws one with his pants pulled all the way down, in front of a toilet bowl, and uploads it to a Web page. With that, Pepe the frog quickly became an unexpected, underground sensation that made carefree Matt and his surroundings very happy. But everything started to get out of hand when, absurdly, the frog became a “meme” in the US and Matt realized that he had lost control over Pepe’s image. He let it go until, during Donald Trump’s first electoral campaign, his frog was co-opted by the alt-right movement and used as a symbol of hatred. The young artist went into a depression from which he had trouble recovering. From that point on, Matt decides to tackle the problem and reclaim his innocent comic character by any means possible.
Winner of the US Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance, Feels Good Man is an incredible story that addresses two very actual realities: the uncontrollable power of social media, and the socio-political division that exists in the US (and in many parts of the world) and created these two increasingly extreme and irreconcilable groups. If you add to all this important themes such as the loneliness of the artist, the authorship of artwork when it has been appropriated by people, the “idiotization” of a society increasingly attentive to silliness and jokes instead of reaction and solution, you get a visionary documentary that is both contemporary and much needed. It covers the story of social media for the last twenty years (and the last ten in the US), starting with a smiling frog with his shorts around his ankles. Life is strange. You have to see it to believe it.