Pepe the Frog and Cuteness Activism Amongst Sinophone Youth
Speaker: Dr. Katrien Jacobs, Associate Professor in Cultural Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Moderator: Dr. Tim Gruenewald, Assistant Professor, American Studies, HKU
Date: 21 September 2020
Pepe the Frog as a mascot of the global alt-right and male supremacist hate wars has been liberated by the Hong Kong anti-extradition protest movement and its pro-democracy ideology. What are some of the reasons that this mascot figure has crossed political frontlines and what does it now mean to liberate Hong Kong? In this talk I will explain how USA and EU far-right netizens and activists have made great efforts to hijack and rebrand online imagery and personas within a Gramscian quest for cultural hegemony. I also critically ponder if the re-hijacked mascot personifies collectivism or elitism, inclusivity or xenophobia, gender freedom or machismo within the Hong Kong protest culture.
Katrien Jacobs is Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Program Director of the MA in Visual Culture Studies. She has lectured and published widely about sexuality and gender in and around digital media, contemporary arts and media activism. She moved to Hong Kong in 2005 and devotes most of her research to contemporary Chinese, Japanese and trans-Asian arts and digital media platforms. She has authored three books about Internet culture and sexuality and her work can be found at www.katrienjacobs.com.