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Today in “perfectly normal sequence of internet events,” a video decrying the use of Pepe the Frog wearing a rainbow wig and red clown nose inspired actor James Woods to post a meme referencing the New Zealand mosque shooting.
Maybe perfectly normal isn’t the exact right phrase there, but … whatever.
It began earlier today, when a video by Lil Lunchbox on Facebook began circling through conservative social circles.
It’s hard to tell whether it’s entirely sincere or somewhat kayfabe, but the video shows Lil Lunchbox lamenting how far-right circles have been using Honk Honk to support their causes.
Honk Honk is a clownified version of Pepe the Frog, a meme that itself became a far-right signifier during the 2016 election. Honk Honk recently became popular on 4chan, and it’s been accused of having anti-Semitic undertones because, well, anything that crowd does tends to have those.
I’m honestly so upset fuck 4chan and operation HONK FUCKFJSJSJSPosted by Lil lunchbox on Friday, April 5, 2019
“I’m ready to go to motherfucking clwar [clown war] over this,” Lil Lunchbox says. “You’re not going to take a symbol of happiness and acceptance and multiculturalism and turn it into something racist, and antiseptic, and homophobic, and transphobic.
“Pepe the Frog belongs to me. That is the symbol of the resistance now.”
Lunchbox’s video picked up steam when it was tweeted by a clown politics (clolitics?) account @HonkHonkler.
Honkler’s mocking of someone who so melodramatically opposed far-right memetic warfare made its way up to actor James Woods, who himself is no stranger to incendiary rhetoric.
He then shared an image with the same Honk Honk makeup put over the face of the New Zealand mosque shooter.
If Lil Lunchbox’s intent was as she stated, to reclaim the meme from its far-right focus, plastering it over a drawing of the New Zealand shooter—who had an anti-Muslim agenda and rhetoric that aligned with far-right online culture—then Woods’ signaling is clear.
However, it seems that despite Woods’ inflammatory post, he sort of peace with it moments later?
She’s my new favorite person on Twitter. I mean, she’s certainly committed to her position about things. She’s willing to go to war. I like her. I’m not kidding. I mean, there’s the clown stuff and the nutso liberal stuff, but she’s likeable. I don’t know why. I’m still smiling. https://t.co/zh94cGqgV7— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 8, 2019
I started out making fun of her video, but now I’m really curious about her. I would seriously do a documentary film of her life. If people are so passionate and completely different from you, there has to be something there worth listening to. Who is she? I’m so curious now. https://t.co/UPBfyFKolZ— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 8, 2019
That caught the team of Lil Lunchbox, who said they could “respectfully disagree” and that she’d “love to speak with him.”
I'm not on twitter but someone please tell James that I'd love to speak with him. He's proof that two people with different political opinions can respectfully disagree.Posted by Lil lunchbox on Monday, April 8, 2019
It’s not clear, however, if she saw the shooter meme when she posted that.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]