New Streamer Awards Show Designs Trophy After Pepe The Frog For Some Reason

New Streamer Awards Show Designs Trophy After Pepe The Frog For Some Reason
Feels bad, man. Feels real bad. (Image: Matt Furie / The Streamer Awards / Kotaku)

The Streamer Awards, an awards ceremony dedicated to livestreaming (and not to be confused with The Streamy Awards), hosted its first-ever show on March 12. Founded and organised by cooking streamer QTCinderella, the celebration pulled in 380,000 concurrent viewers, as big-name broadcasters like Hasanabi and Pokimane made appearances to pick up their golden trophies. However, many weren’t happy with the event for one particular reason: The trophy resembles Pepe the Frog.

The raised eyebrows shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Pepe has a complicated history, initially starting out as an apolitical character drawn by American cartoonist Matt Furie in 2005, before it was appropriated by the alt-right. It’s since been used by extremist groups as they perpetuate hateful rhetoric. The Anti-Defamation League added Pepe to its database as a hate symbol in 2016, but this hasn’t stopped hatemongering racists from continuing to use the image all over online spaces from 4chan to Reddit.

Some have tried to argue the statue isn’t Pepe, but it seems pretty likely the trophy’s design was deliberate, and that The Streamer Awards knew what it was doing here. Pepe the Frog appears as an animated GIF at the bottom of the official site.

Amazon’s livestreaming platform also has a tumultuous history with Pepe. As one of Twitch’s most popular unofficial emotes, the image has commonly been used when making incendiary comments, but is also used more innocuously when expressing excitement or sadness. But its use as a hate symbol has led streamers to wonder whether banning Pepe altogether might be a necessary move.

It’s this history that’s drawn ire to both The Streamer Awards and the trophy itself. When QTCinderella tweeted the behind-the-scenes creation of the award, multiple folks simply asked, “Why?”, when Pepe’s a known hate symbol. Sure, some claimed that the little trophy — a gold-covered 3D printed model of Pepe in a suit and tie — is cute, and it kinda is. But its murky history taints whatever cuteness the trophy has. It’s hard to overlook an image that’s been used to disparage all kinds of marginalised folks, including the queer community and Jewish people.

Kotaku has reached out to The Streamer Awards for comment.

As you can guess, lots of folks talking about the trophy are baffled by this design decision. Why The Streamer Awards and QTCinderella would try to reclaim such a toxic image is puzzling, to say the least. One streamer named KamiAnya summed up the discourse perfectly in one tweet.

“Using Pepe as the award tells a lot of us that we’re not welcome there,” they said. “I hope this is unintentional. Please, anyone who is unaware, educate yourself on the history of this frog and how it’s become a dogwhistle for white supremacists.”

 

Comments

  • It’s just a cartoon frog. Not a swastika

    You are giving it infinitely more power than it should have lol. Majority on twitch just treat it as it is, a funny cute cartoon frog.

    You are giving the alt right huge power by treating anything they touch as being a hate symbol just coz.

    Pepe is not a hate symbol.

    Look up this wonderful word. Context. Learn what it is.

    • I mean it’s already been proven you can all be convinced anything is a hate symbol if it’s associated with the alt right.

      Or did you forget about operation O-KKK.

      • To be fair, anything is a hate symbol if it’s associated with the alt right. I mean, that’s kinda how such things work. Pepe is included in the Anti-Defamation League hate symbols database. The fact that the meme is used in other ways is irrelevant.

        Swastikas have other uses too, but you wouldn’t use one on a major award trophy. Context. Learn what it is.

        • You are one of the LAST people on the planet who should talk about context seeing as how you love to ignore it, constantly.

          • Here’s a bit of context for you. The author of the article, who is employed to write opinion pieces about things they like and dislike, did their job.

            In response the usual anti-social justice Kotaku haters lost their shit defending use of a well known alt-right symbol.

          • “The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted.”

            “However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist.”

            Did you even bother to read what the adl says about Pepe angora?

          • I will defend the use of it because 99.99% of the usage of it is completely innocent.

            Yet you want to use that 0.0000001% usage of it to taint it’s entire image.

            He angora, neo Nazis also drink water and consume oxygen, does this therefore mean consumption of water and processing of oxygen are alt right symbols?

    • What’s worse about this article is it’s not even pepe, it’s a statue of peepo.

      You really have no clue what you are talking about.

      • Peepo is just a badly redrawn version of Pepe dude. The distinction you’re trying to make isn’t one.

        • But Peepo is often used as a representation of Twitch viewers. Despite its origins as a bad redraw of Pepe it has taken on a life of its own.

          Much like how you argue Pepe has taken on a life of its own from its origins.

      • No you just don’t agree with what they are saying. It never ceases to amazing how tiny your view of the world is. Unless you agree, everyone is at fault.

  • Nothing says please take our award show seriously like making a meme trophy.

    Its going to be hard for them to garner meaningful support and sponsors if they already think of themselves as a joke.

  • Maybe because they are like 13 years old and desperately want to appear edgy?! Now I think about it, it’s strangely suitable for streamers, just not in the way they think.

  • Article quotes: “The Anti-Defamation League added Pepe to its database as a hate symbol in 2016…”
    *clicks link to Anti-Defamation League article*
    Link quotes: “The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted.” and “However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist.”
    Hmm… methinks someone doesn’t understand the concet of “context matters”. The swastika is an OBVIOUS hate symbol, but I know that if I was to go to many asian temples that they were not secret Nazi headquarters for having a religious swastika on them. Context matters.
    “Z” could potentially be considered a hate symbol for its correlation with the Russian army and the invasion of the Ukraine, but pretty sure that’s not going to make me look at sleeping emotes with a Z and assume they’re hate symbols. Context matters.
    On top of all of that, pretty sure the trophy itself is based around Peepo, the offshoot of Pepe that has more squashed features and is tied more closely with positive emotions than Pepe’s characteristic sadface.

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