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Another Good Press article on the fandom

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Another article arising out of Further Confusion 2003 by Roger Colton is available over at http://www.jimhillmedia.com.

Jim Hill keeps a highly regarded "inside Disney doings" sort of website I read regularly.

The article is the one titled: It's not just funny animals.

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Being new to the fandom, I was almost scared off after reading the Bill Borrows review of Confurence9 "Heavy Petting".

Having never attended one, I dont know what conventions are like, but after this article, it seems there are bad ones and good ones- or am I just seeing the writer's bias? NB

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Perhaps it might be closer to the truth to say that there are well run cons and poorly run cons. Mistakes will happen anywhere, but the well run ones can adapt to them or solve them on the run as it were.

Sexual expression? Well, guess what......it happens at Trek cons, Anime cons, regular Sci-Fi cons, and yes, Furry cons. People get together, find that they have common interests, perhaps find each other attractive for variour reasons, and eros occurs. Most cons have rules these days for what may occur publicly, but if you need to avoid it altogether then a convention is simply not the place to go.

At any convention, the people you are going to meet are imperfect. Flawed. In short, human. In the fandom that I've chosen to be part of, most of the folks I've met and became friends with have at least been flawed in interesting and creative ways.

From my angle, show basic courtesy, don't allow folks you are unfamiliar with to take advantage of you. and hold up your end of things that you've agreed to. From there, you should do okay.

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If you want to know what furry cons are really like, why not read my cartoon diaries? Every time I go on a trip, I keep a record of my experiences in cartoon form, drawing everyone as their online characters. (I'm the turtle.) :}

There are several trips mixed in there where I just went to hang out with my friends from IRC. The way to tell the difference is, all the ones with "fur" or "con" somewhere in the title are the furry cons.

For the record, as I understand it, ConFurence used to be very publicly racy, but after CF9 they toned it down. Indeed, all cons make it part of their policy that everyone must show at least a minimum of decorum.

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But can this be really considered as a press article!? My understanding is that this is a website or a private newletter; is this actually getting into any genuine press anywhere, such as a newspaper or a magazine? Even a weekly?

Not to take away from the article itself. It is an excellent article. We should be getting more of these than the sort of thing we've been getting in the past. I do have to note, though, that it comes from within -- from the fan circles itself -- rather than being objectively observed from outside.

-Chuck Melville-

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I dunno about this one. Jim Hill means well, but on the whole this smacks to me of an attempt made in desperation to defend the fandom from its detractors. If I were coming to this article from the unwashed masses, I'd be very interested in what these detractors were saying and might even lend some undue weight to the criticisms being made.

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I asked the question that started this discussion because I
hoped I was wrong about `furry fandom' having a dark side that I
have not encountered in other hobbies and their conventions.

Though I didnt know the term until discovering others on-line in
December, Ive been a life-long furry-fan through SF&F, so I was
not taking lightly the question "What have I gotten into?".

`Of course', one is `supposed' to outgrow cartoons and fantasy
characters, so attending conventions devoted to them, and
possibly dressing like a favorite character is sure to draw
attention from the general public. That is part of the `price of
admission'. But the public does not instantly think SEX! upon
seeing a commercial for Lion King on Ice, because it is a clean
show, and so are the tie-in products.

Radio amateurs, stamp collectors, orienteers, RC modelers- all
very dedicated and serious about their hobbies and conventions
have no hint of scandal and dont attract bad press. Anyone can
bring their family without a second thought, because they dont
hold conventions with openly sold smut, and they insist any
sexual activity be kept off-scene and secret.

So why does furry-fandom not only permit such convention sales
and activities, but welcomes vocal fringe groups almost designed
to attract bad press and condemnation?

Is it all about money- regardless of damage to the fandom's
reputation? Some `clean artists' have told me they think so.

Maybe more time is needed. Maybe the problems will disappear
with maturity. Maybe discussion helps. Maybe I shouldnt take
it seriously. Thanks for the comments! NB

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"...and they insist any
sexual activity be kept off-scene and secret.
"

Furry cons do the same thing. What, you thought we had orgies in the lobby or something?

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Well, I don't think stamp collectors and RC enthusiasts *have* much to worry about when it comes to sexy pictures at their conventions, so it's kind of a difficult comparison to make. :)

Seriously, this is a debate that's been going on in furry fandom since before people were calling it furry fandom--back in the early '80s there was an APA for cartoonists called "Vootie," a place for them to do funny animal cartoons that weren't Disney. I mean that literally, not euphemistically--Vootie was adult just in the sense of not being kiddie-only. Then one of the cartoonists, Reed Waller, did an explicit comic--and the debate of whether that's "proper" hasn't let up since.

The thing is, the comic Waller did was what became the comic "Omaha the Cat Dancer," an adults-only title that's been cited as one of the best serious comic books that's been done in the last twenty years. There's no reason that "adults-only" has to be something to be ashamed of. I wouldn't give a child a copy of "Omaha"; I wouldn't take the child to see "Saving Private Ryan," either.

As to whether selling explicit art is all about money, from watching the fandom since 1987 or so, I'd have to say it's a strongly qualified yes. Tweaking people's hormones is a level of insurance against mediocre talent: passably-good explicit art will sell better than passably-good non-explicit art. Non-explicit artists have to better. The flip side of this is that they can get a lot more attention, and a lot more money, when they're good.

Lastly, as to the "dark side": I'll be frank. If you've been a lifelong SF/F fan and been to nearly any SF convention, you will find the dark side *there,* too. For years around the Florida con scene one of the regular dealers was a guy calling himself "James Bondage," and he was selling, shall we say, eyebrow-raising gear. And "Uncle Larry the porn merchant" is still a staple on that circuit.

Furry fandom is unique only to the degree that it's had much more attention focused on that aspect, which has been something of a double whammy: not only are people more inclined to notice the sordid stuff, people are more inclined to *display* sordid stuff because they've heard they can sell it. This cycle probably won't be broken in the foreseeable future. Even so, it's not nearly as difficult to ignore stuff you're disinterested in--and find stuff that you *are* interested in--as some people would have you believe. (Furry fandom may also be unique with respect to the shrillness of its internal critics.)

- Watts Martin (watts at ranea dot org)

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