Feels Good Man

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Feels Good Man Movie Poster Image
Shocking subject matter in disturbing but powerful docu.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While nuances of just how Pepe the Frog came to be used as an image of hate are complex and slow-building, the movie's ultimate conclusion -- which is to turn away from hate and embrace love -- is clear. Another lesson learned: the value of taking preventive action as opposed to waiting until something becomes a real problem before trying to fix it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Matt Furie is shown to be a decent person who's loving, cares about children, feels guilty about his creation being involved with so much hate. He says his own passivity may have been part of the problem, that if he'd acted sooner, he might have been able to prevent it. While movie shows many examples of hate speech against various cultures, it doesn't condone such speech.

Violence

Hate-filled language and open racism are shown. Disturbing imagery. Animated character is electrocuted in a tub. Gun battle depicted on TV news. Person punched on TV news. Other gun-related imagery. Comic depicting the death of Pepe.

Sex

Naked cartoon character bottom while urinating.

Language

Strong language includes uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "bastard," "d--k," "hell," "piss"/"pissed," and "douche bag," plus many middle-finger gestures.

Consumerism

Mention of Subway.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main subject smokes a cigarette. Humans and cartoon characters smoke pot. Bongs shown. Depictions of characters drinking and passing out in an animated sequence.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Feels Good Man is a documentary about artist Matt Furie and how his creation, Pepe the Frog, was appropriated by the alt-right to become a recognized hate symbol. It's a disturbing but powerful tale that's perfectly balanced by Furie's innate kindness and goodness. Expect to see some disturbing imagery, as well as open racism, hate-filled language (none of it condoned), cartoon violence (guns, death, an electrocution in a tub, etc.), and violent TV news footage (guns, a man being punched). A naked bottom and urination are depicted in comics. Language includes several uses of "motherf----r," "f--k," "s--t," and more, plus many middle-finger gestures. Human subjects are seen smoking cigarettes and smoking a bong, and cartoon characters are shown drinking, passing out, and smoking pot. All of this said, the movie's clear conclusion is to turn away from hate and embrace love.

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What's the story?

In FEELS GOOD MAN, cartoonist Matt Furie tells the story of Pepe the Frog, who Furie created as part of his 2005 comic book series Boy's Club. After Furie published a strip that featured Pepe saying the words "Feels good man," the panel started appearing as an internet meme. And soon the anonymous site 4chan appropriated it. When the meme began going mainstream, 4chan users tried to take it back by making it as shockingly negative and hateful as possible, including using images of White supremacy. And when Donald Trump took aim at the presidency, the meme became closely associated with him and with the alt-right movement. Meanwhile, the kind, sensitive Furie watches in horror as his creation spirals out of control. When Pepe is used for a racist children's book, it's the last straw, and Furie decides to act.

Is it any good?

This fascinating documentary does a fine job digging into the disturbing mindset of those who support the hate-filled alt-right, but it's balanced by the calm presence of the kind, sensitive Furie. Directed by Arthur Jones, Feels Good Man best demonstrates this via the depositions of Furie and InfoWars radio host Alex Jones. Jones tried to sell an alt-right poster with Pepe's image, and Furie tried to stop it. Furie's deposition is calm, while Jones rails about the "evil" of Furie trying to sue him. Arthur Jones also includes interviews with 4chan users, as well as with scholars and psychologists, to help explain what happened on an individual, emotional basis. (When Trump is elected, one 4chan user writes, "We just memed a man into the White House!")

The movie also has a confusing, seemingly unrelated section devoted to people who became wealthy via Pepe-related cryptocurrency. But that bit is perhaps no stranger than the one in which the Egyptian frog god Kek is appropriated for more right-wing propaganda. By contrast, images of Furie and his family are a delight. They come across as happy, smart, and prone to smiles and laughter. They're the opposite of hate, and the movie ends with Furie moving forward and hoping to find a "hard-core happy place." Unusual but beautiful animation sequences by Giorgio Angelini help round out Feels Good Man and bring it back to a place of celebrating creation and artistry.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Feels Good Man depicts violence. What is the difference between hate and violence? When does one turn into the other?

  • According to the movie, why would someone become a White supremacist? How can that ideology be prevented?

  • Do you think Furie could or should have done something sooner about taking back Pepe? How does the movie find hope in this situation?

  • What makes 4chan so dangerous? Why does complete anonymity often bring out the worst in people?

Movie details

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