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Opinion: Indie web series 'Fursona' looks a little mangy

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (4 votes)

I haven't seen this shared around until I noticed it on the Bay Area Furries mailing list.

Admit One Productions presents - Fursona... A SNEAK PEEK from Courtney James.

According to their website:

What's your Fursona? Thats [sic] the million dollar question asked in this fast paced black comedy web series about the adventures of Virginia Blake - a successful investigative journalist - who is writing an expose on the FURRY underworld to save her tarnished career!

A million dollars might elevate it to the level of an infamous CSI episode. The comparison provoked complaints about negative Furry media images, and this comment from a mailing list member:

I don't think "Fursona Files" is going to have much effect at all, since it seems to be a grassroots-promoted independent web project (rather than primetime TV, or even basic cable). I think the most attention it's going to get will be from people already familiar with the fandom, and they're unlikely to base or alter their view of the fandom on a silly independent film project. If it's good, the fandom-aware folks will share it. If it's bad, it'll probably die quietly.

Before watching the trailer, I poked around to learn who made it and why. Their helpful links show it's made by a small team in the Toronto area. Their other recent project is a documentary on DJ culture; it just won a budget on Kickstarter. Their page has a prior mascot-themed music video, a pitch outline for a different Mascot themed movie, and there's a line on Facebook about writing a Mascot-themed novel. It tells a common story of persistence to revise a concept until one version clicks. Did it improve in the process?

The trailer reminds me of previous opinions posted here about indie "furry" movie The Honey Cooler, with cheap costumes showing a shallow effort to exploit furries for sensationalism. Flimsy content is worsened by low budget acting and script. It makes me wonder, how do indie makers miss all the free consulting available from furries, who already spend time on stuff like silly blog posts about unnoticed web series?

I can't hold ill-will towards indie folks with an eye for exploitation (as opposed to corporations who do it). They still have to do old-fashioned hard work to get anyone to care. Many talented people have succeeded that way in show biz, with exploitation films, pulp fiction, and other ridiculous, over the top stuff. It's good not to be uptight about "our" thing, and support people being playful, provocative, irreverent or gross... if they do it well. I hope this series' makers understand that it takes more than cheap suits to use furries and their kitsch factor for quality entertainment.

BAF member Troj commented (reposted with permission):

I watched the teaser clips, and I think she's trying way, way, way too hard to be Arrested Development or the Office, with a Family Guy cinnamon swirl.

"If it's AWKWARD, and the characters are WEIRD and QUIRKY to the point of making the viewer uneasy, it must be FUNNY!" Erm, not necessarily.

Thus far, the writing reeks of "Lookit how clever, edgy, and hip I am!" and the acting is over-the-top, and strangely "detached," if that makes sense.

Por ejemplo, you can totally mine authentic comedy from an unassuming old Jewish man standing up in a routine group therapy session, and stating in a deadpan that he likes to dress up as a dinosaur and ravish prostitutes, and then telling the story of how an encounter with a prostitute helped him to discover his totem animal.

This can be funny. In such a situation, your comedy will be derived from two main sources:
1) Violation of the audience's expectations, and
2) Empathy for the main character(s) , as they react to what's happening to them.

You could also mine humor from the man's dinosaur species. Perhaps the main character assumes that the old man must be a mighty T-Rex, and later learns that he's something herbivorous and unassuming, like a diplodocus. Maybe the man's chosen species gives him trouble during sex---say, as a T-Rex, his arms are too short to reach things, or as a triceratops, his horns get stuck in the bedframe, or as an apatosaurus, he can't undo the prostitute's bra, or as a pterosaur, he accidentally pokes the prostitute in the eye with his beak, and has to apologize and get her an icepack. Maybe the prostitute accidentally slams his tail in a door, and then can't get the door open.

The scene in the clip is just boring, because the script can't stop congratulating itself for coming up with something as high-larious and shocking as a pathetic old man who dresses up as Barney to have sex, yuk yuk yuk.

So, it doesn't build long enough to violate our expectations, and we can't have empathy for any of the characters, because they're too inauthentically over-the-top to feel like real people, and all of them are too busy winking at each other and us, to show that they're too cool for school.

The irony is that there's plenty of authentic comedy fuel in the furry community, without one having to fabricate b.s. about a dinosaur banging prostitutes. Heck, there's plenty of genuinely funny stuff you could touch on that doesn't even involve sex at all!

Comedy is Serious Business, people!

Comments

Your rating: None

Comedy is Serious Business, people!

Yep. Just look at "Felix the Cat: the Movie", an animated feature commissioned from the Pannonia studio in Budapest in the 1980s by an American team gotten up by Don Oriolo, Joe Oriolo’s son. Felix is called upon to save an imaginary interdimensional European fairy-tale kingdom from the evil Duke of Zill. You can tell that this is a comedy because all of the secondary characters make a lot of silly faces while they go about being scared and menaced. Why? Because this is supposed to be a funny movie, that’s why! How will people know it’s a comedy if the characters don’t act silly all the time?

More fodder for Crossaffliction’s Furry MST3K program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iutbBv5PEtc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_the_Cat:_The_Movie

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

Wait, my perspective on this from watching the video and reading the article are completely different. For me, the comedy value in here isn't about the furry fandom, it's entirely based around the main character, and how she's REACTING to this situation. The writing is "lookit how clever I am" because that's VIRGINIA, in an essence, it's how she views the world, and that's absolutely hilarious to me. I feel like it's poking fun at investigative journalism far more than the fandom. While, yeah, stereotypes about the fandom, blah, but I really look forward to seeing where they take this as the main character develops.

Your rating: None

Journalism plus furries, huh. Is there some audience in mind besides geeks? It seems like people who would like this subject would rather read geeky stuff on Reddit than the NY Times.

Sending up journalism could be cool if it said something we didn't know or expect. So, it's meant to be a story from the perspective of a former Vanity Fair columnist (around here, they might be known for a nasty hit piece on Furries from years ago). She's a former success fallen on hard times, stooping to probing the sordid underworld of furries. She'll do anything for a buck. A trashy gossip journalist, that seems kinda redudant...

It seems like a good story should play against the expectation for picking on weird people just for being weird. But they're presented as pathetic (with Silence of the Lambs music?) That's not a good start. Well, lets see if they can develop it and make likeable characters and say something to an audience.

It brings to mind another black comedy that did pretty badly, but I think was underrated and deserves a cult. Death To Smoochy.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Gee, that Troj character knows what's up.

(Seriously, I'm glad you appreciated what I had to say. I'm flattered and honored :) ).

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I feel like it was way over the top in vulgarity, in an attempt to be 'edgy'.
Not impressed.

Your rating: None

I concur, I only got though half way before losing interest.

Your rating: None

You made it further than I did. I gave up about three minutes in (and it hadn't gotten to anything to do with furry).

Your rating: None

It's been a little over a year since this sneak peek was posted and I'm happy to say we've continued the journey and put together some episodes to start to give you a better understanding of the web series. I'm Courtney J - one of the co-creators and writers on the show. I'm truly fascinated with your lifestyle choice. I would love to get to understand it more with interviews from your community if you would be willing to chat.. I've already been speaking with some of your FURRY comrades but I know I have so much more to learn from a research perspective. I plan on showcasing other cultures such as Bronies and Plushies along the way as we develop ... but ultimately the show is about Identity, Redemption, and Relationships.

PLEASE TOUCH BASE! You can reach me through the contact link on the official site which I've listed on the bottom of this comment.. I know there would be some great stories out there. Ultimately this web series is about finding your identity which I think we can agree you can relate too. The most flawed character is our main one - a writer named Virginia. She is suppose to be normal but who we kidding; she is a mess. She makes all of you look good.. This story is about her redemption through writing a book about you to save her tarnished career and clean up her life. The identity question your culture asks is fascinating to Virginia because she relates.. As well as Virginia's story you will be getting full narrative in their own episode arcs of many main characters (Furry, Plushie, Bronish, Normal, Addict, etc.) .. The scripts are being developed and along with the universe they live in, It will continue to evolve and see more then one perspective and story that intertwines... and of course more Fur.

Check out first episode HERE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCqbcAFqtLc&list=UUrVCpqc4wnHn6S4iRr894hA - Please share and thanks for checking us out and chatting about it!

The rest of the first block of episodes is available on the official site - www.thefursonafiles.com

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