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A conversation piece about furries: 'Fursonas'

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fursonas.jpgFursonas has certainly already stirred the fandom up with its announcement. This independent documentary film made by Dominic Rodriguez was developed over 4 years from 2012 to 2015. It follows a handful of furries from different walks of life and their take on their identity and the identity of this crazy little group they find themselves within.

The film is broken up into two main parts. The first half introduces the fur fans that we'll be getting perspectives from, and the second half gets into topics that are typically the main controversies of the fandom: sex, the media, and the conflict between individual identity and complying to societal norms.

TRIGGER WARNING: If you a major fan, or personal friend, of Uncle Kage then this film may prove difficult to watch. Oh yeah, and there is a scene with dildos as well, so viewer discretion and such.

A Cast of Characters

We're first introduced to Diezel Raccoon, who when they are on screen, they make sure their identity is never revealed. Dominick uses clever obfuscating camera tricks similar to that of Wilson from Home Improvement. It was something I noticed even before being given the story about their bad experiences when they told some previous co-workers about furry, explaining the desire for their anonymity. But despite that reservation, they is very sociable within the fandom, going to cons frequently.

Skye is part of the fursuit dancing scene. The furry dancing, unfortunately isn't covered in great detail in this film as it is popular amongst those outside the fandom to spectate as well as those inside. Skye answers the same questions everyone else does and has no answers that particularly stand out. The opening where they talk about the dance scene is probably Skye's best moment in the film, and it should be as that's what Skye does!

Representing the homosexual couple we have Grix and Quad, who are gamers, rebellious and a little biased toward smokers. They're probably the staunchest critics of the controlling aspects within the fandom in the latter half of the film.

On other side we have the heterosexual couple of Fraya and Kato, who have a daughter that they raise together. Their life seems to be more low key and down to earth, and they are both extremely articulate.

Then there is Bandit, a rugged man who expresses himself in honor of his dog. This older gentleman is the most sympathetic towards Kage's positions within the film. You do get a sense they are part of the older generation of the fandom. And that very age is why I feel why he can understand why Kage is the way he is. More on that later.

The Political Nitty Gritty

Kage really isn't formally introduced until about halfway through the film, around when it gets to its more politically charged topics. It is at this time when our relationship with the media is brought to the forefront. And you can sense in many of those being interviewed a greater sense of anxiety when discussing these things. The raccoon suiter's leg develops a nervous tick as he discusses some of the incidents that have burned us in the past.

Of course the talk of media bleeds into the topic that the media most asks about, which is sex. This brings in Varka. He's not in the film too much, but I did get a chuckle when he says, "Everyone should have standards, and there needs to be certain topics that are not on the table, but people need to be comfortable with [their friends] to share what they really want." This is said right before we jump right into talking about the sticky fantasy lube he created, demonstrating its viscosity by pouring it in his hands. If that transition was done purposefully that was quite cheeky.

Let us be perfectly clear here, the producer, Dominick is not acting as a neutral party. He is very much invested in the side that represents that one should be the individual they wish to be, even at a cost. The closest he gets to an interview with Kage is by asking him questions on one of his wine streams. Dominick laughs like a maniac when the con chair says, "I want them to shut the hell up because [Chew Fox; Boomer] are not representing me!" Which for better or worse showed that the director was getting some sort of pleasure out of a response that should have been upsetting or disappointing. In other words, I would have probably hoped for a more somber reaction similar to the picture drawn of him for the flick.

My favorite part of the film as far as the debate goes was the part where Freya is reacting to the video in which Kage called Chew Fox a bitch with her mate and the film's producer watching along. Freya states that she doesn't believe someone in the public eye who's representing the good of the fandom should use that kind of language. The producer asks for Kato's take on what he thinks of Kage after seeing the video, but Kato doesn't quite get on board with what Dominick is selling. It seems to be the only scene in the film where the debate is organic and between people in the same room instead of through jump cuts. I specifically like Kato's words and he perhaps makes the most adamant defense of the con chair throughout the whole feature:

"Not to sound condescending, because I'm not here to tell you how to do your job, make sure you spend your time bringing to light those voices who can't articulate themselves, rather than bringing down someone who attempts to do it for them. Even if, perhaps, not in a way you approve of."

And I believe this is where Boomer comes into for the film. In contrast to all of the above, Boomer never really gives any opinion on Kage, even when seeing the man talk about him. He doesn't talk about fandom drama, he doesn't get caught up in any of it. He in essence, is probably the freest spirit of them all. He doesn't seem to see others as an interruption of his goal, he just goes for it.

Like Chew Fox (whom is also interviewed in the film) he has been the center of fandom controversy, but unlike Chew Fox he doesn't hold that moment of controversy as a scarlet letter. This may be because he, of all of us, from Kage to Chew Fox, is the most at ease with his identity and so doesn't point blame on others as to why some people don't accept him, because he just accepts it.

Boomer bookends this feature. He is the first and last thing we see in the film. So I think Dominick agrees with that assessment. It's the reason he put him in there. Because at the end of the movie, he's the only one who remains above the fray and he is the breath of air between the deep dives under the fandom social current. Without him, the movie wouldn't have so much been about the fandom and more about who's on what side of our squabbles.

Perhaps one day more of us can strive to be like Boomer in that way, at peace with ourselves despite the words of others.

The Missing Piece

The film will certainly be a conversation starter within the fandom. For those outside it may be a bit advanced for a furry 101 piece, it's probably closer to 201. There are a lot of fundamental things missing, such as "How did Kage get in his position within the fandom in the first place?" and "Why does he act the way he does?" Because those in the non-furry media don't know the answer to the questions, they broke it down into the simplest parts when reviewing this film. That the cockroach con-chair is somehow some power hungry dictator!

Nope, actually. He and Bandit from the film have a bit in common. They both have the same fears, but express them differently. Bandit is more reserved, where Kage can't afford to be, as the current chair of the fandom's current largest convention, he has to take his fears on the offensive. They both are afraid of community ostracizing, and what Kage fears the most is the loss of his convention, Anthrocon, over the action of others.

It'd be one thing if this was just paranoia, but it has happened before. Kage and Bandit's fears exist in the shadow of a Western furry convention that no longer exists. The ghosts of the pioneer furry convention haunts the fandom to this very day, even if many don't realize it, including many in the film it seems.

Confurence: it was the first convention the fandom ever had. And there was a lot of rumors and horror stories that float around it and its sudden decline and dissolution. Of course without much record, because the internet was still young back in the late 90s, there are conflicting stories. Was it because the con was too soft on people to do what they want despite public decency? Was it because the staff was too hard on the convention goers? Was it a combination of the two, where the hammer came down too little too late?

It wasn't too long after the Confurence's decline that the entire dark age in furry began with the media, to the point where the two events seem tied. This was exactly at the time Kage was chairing the young Anthrocon. This is the environment where his leadership style was forged. And clearly, despite some arguing that the world has changed over the past two decades, there are always fears that what happened to Confurence can happen again. Two recent issues that illustrate that it very well could that occurred at other furry conventions: Oklacon and Rainfurrest. And because of this, Kage is most certainly going to double down upon his contingencies when it comes to Anthrocon and its public relations.

Conclusion

As you can see the film is a good piece to strike up conversation of fandom politics. What the fandom means to every individual is different. I kind of explained this a decade ago using a Mad Lib analogy which will help in understanding group dynamic and conflict. And that's kind of the cool thing about this film, it made me reflect on the thoughts I had in the past.

We all have memories of the events in the film. Whether it be Boomer trying to change his name, or ChewFox ending up on Tyra Banks. We all had our own emotional reactions at the time that we remember, and those feelings and responses built us to what we are today. And those feelings that defined us sometimes clash with other's beliefs. Those are the foundations of a community.

If you want a film that will make you reflect on yourself and what the fandom means to many different folks, give it a spin. To me the worst part was trying to work with iTune for the first time on my Windows machine. Certainly it was a more obscene experience than anything the most imaginative furry could cook up.

Comments

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"what Kage fears the most is the loss of his convention, Anthrocon, over the action of others.
It'd be one thing if this was just paranoia, but it has happened before. Kage and Bandit's fears exist in the shadow of a Western furry convention that no longer exists.

... thought this was going to be Rainfurrest (wasn't that vandalism not bad PR), so how does ConFurence fit the point?

there are conflicting stories. Was it because the con was too soft on people to do what they want despite public decency? Was it because the staff was too hard on the convention goers? Was it a combination of the two, where the hammer came down too little too late?

Another reason I heard was the organizers couldn't keep up with rising attendance. Events always have tons of people who want to have fun and very few who want to make it happen. That burns people out without drama causing it.

It wasn't too long after the Confurence's decline that the entire dark age in furry began with the media, to the point where the two events seem tied.

Is it tied? Interesting questions but I think the worst parts (Vanity Fair, CSI, MTV) are stale and old, and it's not so shocking to exploit the furry freak factor any more.

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I thought the ConFurence numbers declined over many years. So being unable to keep up with rising attendance doesn't seem like a valid reason.

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From wikifur. "At the height of popularity in 1998, ConFurence 9 boasted the then-largest furry convention attendance of 1250.[2] Control of the ConFurence Group was transferred to Darrel Exline in 1999, but by 2003 attendance had dwindled to 470, due to turnover among the staff and increased competition from other regional furry conventions."

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The thing is I heard stories about Confurence back when I was in college. Recently, when I was at Fur'the More 2016, I was hanging out and waiting for a panel with someone. There was this quiet lady who started conversating. She was so timid and seemed a bit blown away by the whole ordeal in how great cons were and was generally acting as if it was her first con.

She said it was not, it was her second.

She said that her first convention was Confurence, which completely took me off guard. From her perspective it was a bit too wild for her, and it had scared her from the convention scene for a great while.

Not all furries are social butterflies looking for a party, and in the end one person's dream con can be another's nightmare.

I recall stories of Burned Furs getting into positions of power there and trying to change some of the more controversial programming. The mixed messages and all that.

Whether these stories and rumors are true or not, I certainly can't be certain. I didn't enter the con scene until 2011. But, even the existence of such rumors can have an impact on the behaviors and concerns of those that hear them.

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There's that "think of the children" stuff where people complain about others being driven away. The thing they often won't acknowledge is how free expression also attracts. Adult content makes "bad reputation" as much as it's wildly popular and draws many people in for the better.

It's useless to draw conclusions from rumors if they go from incredibly unreliable to intentionally deceptive.

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You know what, I got to apologize, I was about to go on this big lecture/rant about "why you always gotta be startin' fights on Flayrah, Patch? I don't go start fights on Dogpatch Press!" and then I saw this was all like, "Are you KIDDING me? Well, never mind, then."

So, you carry on then.

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Should I pick a fight with someone too? My worst insult is 'faggot'. And I actually kinda like that word.

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I'm down for puppy wrestling!

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Thanks! I don't want fights but I don't stop them haha. Nobody's bad here (except one special winner of the only ban at my blog.)

EDIT: Oh yeah and we have a shared spreadsheet now to track media appearances by Furries. It could be a source to draw a shortlist of "best news" from. Do you want an invite to edit?

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Thank you for considering me, but as I've been trying to say, it's not my thing.

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Speaking of conjecture, what got up your butt to pick fights about unrelated topics?

But no matter, I didn't suggest that Sonious was mishearing. The point was that scare-stories are confounded by opposite angles. One is that people are really into what people complain about. Another is that other people complain because they want to pick fights with them, not because the complaints are honest. Look in the link I gave Sonious for the example.

Conjecture is good when you look at all the angles. Do you know this good movie, Rashomon?

That story you're linking has lots of angles and one was untold. Check out the "quick points". Those have a pile of news articles and evidence. Do let me know if you don't find the links to news reporting about lying to the police.

The rumor story I shared to Sonious about ConFurence was the opposite situation. Nobody bothered to look for evidence. Spreading rumors that way was the dishonesty.

Have fun with this but Sonious is making good comments down there.

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Well, that's the thing, as you said more conventions grew out and Confurence fell down. I think because Confurence was so big and the only real gig in town at the time, it tried to be everything for everyone. There were those who wanted to let their hair down, and then those who just wanted to socialize with those that enjoy a hobby sans the adult pursuits.

Conventions are starting to become more characterized and unique, so there is a convention out there that one may like, where the other they'd dislike. The person I talked to seemed to like Fur the'More, but not Confurence. Where others may swear by Confurence but dislike Fur the 'More.

Interestingly I think if there's any con that's starting to become known as "think of the children"-con it may be Anthrocon at this point. I do have some friends in the party scene, particularly from the West Coast, and I think BLFC has taken them away. I'm guessing Kage is probably fine with that. But it is also probably linked in some way to Midwest Furfest knocking on Anthrocon's front runner door. Of course that's just speculation. There are MANY factors as to why one goes to one con over another con.

Juggling all those reasons can certainly make a con chair crazy.

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A major reason that ConFurence failed, in my opinion, was that the convention committee refused to incorporate as a non-profit corporation “because we don’t need the bureaucracy”. This left Mark Merlino (and Rod O’Riley), and later Darrel Exline, as the dictators of ConFurence. Exline in particular tried to do too much personally. What you describe as “the organizers couldn’t keep up with rising attendance” was more like Exline couldn’t keep up with the workload by himself.

The size of the ConFurence had little to do with its decline. It was the combination of losing the January 1999 date, moving to the Easter weekend that year as an experiment – with the intention to move back to January if it didn’t work out – and the new Further Confusion promptly grabbing the January date, so ConFurence couldn’t move back without creating a Northern/Southern California furry war. That and the fact that Eastern fans were no longer willing to come all the way to California for a furry convention. There were the new ConFURence East, Camp Feral!, and Albany Anthrocon by 1999, which drew attendance away from ConFurence.

The dictatorship meant that when Darrel Exline got tired of running ConFurence in 2003, even though most of his Committee wanted to go on, he chose to just discontinue it; and he legally could because it belonged to him personally. He said that if anyone else tried to organize a ConFurence 2004, he would notify the hotel that the Committee was stealing the convention from him, and he could prove it. The fans who had wanted to continue ConFurence created CaliFur the next year instead, as proof that a Southern California furry convention was still viable. CaliFur today is bigger than ConFurence ever was.

Fred Patten

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Great comment Fred... and speaking of... look who was just commenting about conflicts of interest and running cons.

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Sadly, this wasn't to be the last time someone played the "take my ball and go home" card. Non-profits are only as strong as their boards' willingness to preserve the organization's mission over their founders' wishes.

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I wish Kage had told his side of the story. He was given the opportunity. Oh well.

Also, wasn't there a fox in the movie?

edit: Oops, I'm an idiot. The first time I saw this, I somehow missed that the first fox interviewed is the same guy shown with his partner later. He seems like two different people! He's so awkward and nervous the first time he appears, and then totally chill and real later.

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The first paragraph of the missing piece was, ironically, missing.

There was a bracket that was left open with I had fixed up.

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Probably my bad, sorry about that.

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As you can see the film is a good piece to strike up conversation of fandom politics.

I really liked what this article had to say about that (after you get past the snark, and to the part where it makes up by saying "you can't help but be charmed by the genuine fulfillment the characters seem to derive from their hobby.")

Besides fandom politics, it's not just a good furry movie, it's a Good Movie:

The rub, without stating it too cheesily, is that Fursonas is about more than just furries. It raises relevant questions for any group trying to avoid being dismissed and disenfranchised (along with the sub-question of whether being dismissed is tantamount to being disenfranchised). What does mass acceptance mean, and what sacrifices is it worth?

If it was just a fandom movie it would risk being petty navel-gazing, or at best too specific to matter much. That's what I find lacking in many such projects. They don't rise above to fully celebrate what's awesome.

Anyhow, here is a roundup of most of the coverage this week.

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I find the article's assumption that Kage has his own personal fursuit and that he's just not wearing it in the film oddly hilarious.

"Fursonas introduces us to “Uncle Kage,” a cartoon-voiced Pennsylvanian who appears almost exclusively without his fur suit"

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Hilariously perceptive.

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Seems to justify some peoples concerns that the documentary focuses too heavily on suiters. For trying to show the diversity of furries it sure can't avoid reinforcing the stereotypes.

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Well the fascinating thing is that, in a way, if he really wanted to interview Kage, he would have been the only one sans fursuit to present. So in a way, the film director did try to get someone without a suit.

Regardless, after the first half of the film most of the furries are sans suit with the exception of the raccoon for the reasons stated in the article.

While it certainly wasn't Dominick's intent based on his article interviews, choosing to focus on individuals who owned a suit may have worked narratively for his film in this way. When showing this to a non-furry audience it introduces them in the suit, the stereotype in which they see most furries, but when the second half roles around the suits are typically off as they talk about the deeper things they think about in regards to the fandom.

To the non-furry audience I think that makes it easier to understand that there's more to a furry than their suit. That there's something deeper there. And when you do that, introducing the fact that there are furries that don't have suits becomes a thing.

Grix even notes at the start of the film that, particularly in its infancy, not a lot of furries had fursuits.

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It's fun to joke about the furry anti-defamation league. There's one for jews because stereotypes used to cause murder by hitler. Now a writer assumed a guy in a wacky lab coat has another costume. I'm wondering why diversity is a concern with that stereotype, because it seems easy to fix by just saying you don't have a costume. And I didn't see the part where the movie says it represents everyone. I'm wondering how the perceived gap might be covered by another good movie? It would be very interesting to hear a pitch for one

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The problem is that the stereotype is so ingrained, just saying "I don't fursuit" isn't enough. To non-furries, a furry saying "I don't fursuit" doesn't mean "I don't fursuit", it means "I'm not fursuiting NOW."

That's what the guy in your review is saying; he sees a bunch of furries in suits, then the same furries out, and when the only guy who doesn't have a suit shows up, he just assumes he's not in his suit at the moment. Now, this is an older belief instilled in this reviewer long before he saw this documentary, but the documentary did nothing to dissuade him, and also reinforced his belief.

There's nothing wrong with fursuiting; but when it's a non-furries' baseline idea for what furries do and I'm trying to explain my idea for a furry movie to a non-furry, I don't appreciate having to explain that over and over and over and over that it doesn't involve fursuiting and yet another documentary obsessing with fursuits isn't helping me, okay?

Now, Patch, on top of that, asking anyone to pitch another furry documentary as the only valid response to this documentary is unfair; first of all, as I've already pointed out, I (and most other furries) can't afford that. On top of that, we haven't gone to film school, so, even if we could afford to shoot our movie, it would suck, because we don't know what we're doing. So, to make my documentary, I would first have to go into debt to attend film school to gain the training required to come to the level of this film, followed by going into debt to get my film made, and, oh, by the way, I will actually not be able to recoup that expense using the actual documentary I made, because, you may have noticed, Patch, but there's already a furry documentary out there, and I don't think the market on furry documentaries is so huge that it can afford two competing documentaries, and the buyers have already got the one. Maybe by the time I finish film school, a spot'll open up, but by then, will anyone actually care about a response to a years old direct-to-VOD documentary?

I guess I'll finally get around to answering which is more worthy of a documentary; you asked me earlier which is more worthy of celebration, the furry fandom or people who like Disney movies, in connection with Zootopia. And here's the funny part, Patch, is that the answer is, of course, neither! I want to see how the movie got made, and guess what, I was in luck! That documentary also got made, and I happily watched it (it's been made private on YouTube, so you're screwed, though), because it was about a group of people doing something. And I'd like to point out this is how I presented it in the Newsbytes for April:

A behind the scenes documentary on Zootopia.

Wow! Just straight reporting the facts! No "one of the top furry news stories of the year." No "Making of Zootopia documentary beats Fursonas as most important furry documentary." And don't think I wasn't tempted. I never even gave it its own story. Because it was fun to see "how" Zootopia got made, but you know what, it was funner to see Zootopia.

See, I'm an "anthropomorphic animal" fan. So that's my movie pitch; not a documentary about a group of not-anthropomorphic animals. Not a movie about fictionalized versions of those same not-anthropomorphic animals. But a movie about anthropomorphic animals. If I had the money and the training, I still wouldn't make a documentary explaining what "furry" is to me; I'd make furry and when people asked me what "furry" was, I'd point to it and say that.

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To non-furries, a furry saying "I don't fursuit" doesn't mean "I don't fursuit", it means "I'm not fursuiting NOW."

Going to meets over 20 years across the US, one thing I have never seen is this ever being an issue for anyone, anywhere when furries are mingling with regular people. I'm assuming you don't have too many meets in Oklahoma. Spending too much time on the internet isn't the best for perspective.

And the thing is, a fursuit represents a fursona. Maybe you don't have to have a fursona to be a furry but it sure does help. Look at the title of this movie, it's "Fursonas" not "Fursuiting".

It's an idea movie, not an action movie (there would have been a heck of a lot more dance comps in it otherwise.) If that didn't come across you're ignoring what the movie was about. There are a lot of good reviews out there and none of them are having that problem, including the one with a trivial "stereotype" that doesn't impeach the writer's understanding. The movie is communicating personality as intended. I think you're too caught up in wanting it to be a different movie to let it. That other story is for you to tell.

Now, Patch, on top of that, asking anyone to pitch another furry documentary as the only valid response to this documentary is unfair

Not ""fairness"" again! This is going in circles. It was already put out that if you aren't commissioning the piece, "fair" has nothing to do with someone else's personal expression.

Dominic didn't have a history of making movies or a lot of money either when he made his. Just like you! (Judging from the role of a $10,000 support grant to make it possible.)

He got his made because it's good and it tells a good story. Now you can tell a story too. Why do you think only movie makers can? You can use comics, audio, any tool you wish is at your disposal. (You help run a blog, dude.) We're in a media oversaturation age. Pretending that someone who made a good movie is getting air time you can't get is helplessness. Making your own is fair.

I don't think the market on furry documentaries is so huge that it can afford two competing documentaries

That's what we're showing at our local film festival next month. There's way more than two stories here.

If I had the money and the training, I still wouldn't make a documentary explaining what "furry" is to me; I'd make furry and when people asked me what "furry" was, I'd point to it and say that.

All the time you spend complaining about fairness of someone else's is a great opportunity to make yours.

Money and training has nothing to do with Furry fandom (it sure has nothing to do with my soapbox). Those who go get it, get it because they have something to say (OK that's being generous but "porn is art" isn't a bad fight to have). Everyone else does it DIY. I love throwing DIY out there and say it every chance I get. It's a beautiful ethic.

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I get the serious impression you want to take any criticism of this documentary out back and shoot it.

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I love constructive criticism, but this kind isn't doing anything to disprove the point about oversensitivity holding back expression.

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You haven't really proven that giving it a free reign helps it, either. Maybe back that assertion up for once?

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No problem. Giving a free reign to expression got the movie director banned from Anthrocon for sake of making a truthful movie. That's the oversensitivity trying to hold back expression, which is the opposite of constructive and won't help anyone. It's not like it will keep the story quiet. It just means he can go to some other conventions. Meanwhile, for the first time, a good movie has come out of this subculture that's winning awards and being taken seriously among other movies. That's an achievement.

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Apparently it is a problem, because you didn't do it. You offered proof lack of free reign hurts creativity; but you still haven't offered proof that it helps. In fact, your example is of a case of "free reign" creativity being squelched, and someone creatively working around that limitation (Kage said you can't shoot me or Anthrocon, so Video used freely available footage from elsewhere).

You're looking at this too black and white, Patch, and you have since the beginning. You made this a grudge match between Zootopia fans and Fursonas fans, when what you should have done was celebrate both. It's not about one or the other; it's about both. It's not about "free reign" versus "censorship", it's about show a little restraint and taste when necessary. And for Christ's sake, respect the other side feelings for once in your life, Patch.

The problem with your method, Patch, is that you are making things worse for this movie. Before you started on this crusade, I admittedly wasn't going to see this movie, because I didn't care. Now, thanks to you poisoning it for me, I'm still not going to see it, and now I hate it. Net loss for team Fursonas.

Is that fair to this documentary? No. Not at all. But we've already discussed fair, and it's not a priority for you, is it?

But if you had just come at this fairly, Patch, instead of like a bull in a china shop, maybe you could have helped this documentary. Is it the most important furry movie of 2016? I can honestly say, I don't know. And, Patch, you don't know either. It's not your job to declare it the most important movie; it's your job to point people at it and then let them decide, not decide for them.

That's kind of like something a certain cockroach in a lab coat would do, isn't it?

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There's this movie that's getting a lot of praise called Fursonas (you keep getting it mixed up with "fursuiting") and it's a great example of how free expression is good for creativity. Because it didn't come out as the approved Anthrocon cut.

When you're done sticking your fingers in your ears and going lalala, catch up with people who saw it if you'd like a conversation. It will be smart and productive.

I shared a lot of stuff about Zootopia, if you were interested in what I actually said about it. It's also a nice one to talk about. But that might take you away from working on getting your own ideas noticed like these movies. Can't wait to see them. Sonious did a nice article here. Looking forward to more like this.

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And berating and belittling peoples opinions does?

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Urging someone to see a movie they are bashing unseen isn't a bad thing my friend.

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Who says they were assuming anything? They may simply know something you don't.

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I don't want to violate anyone's privacy. But I wonder if those calling this a "Kage hit-piece" realize that it could have been so much worse.

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crossie, out.

See you guys in June, maybe.

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And don't come back!

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I haven't watched the documentary yet, as I'm super-busy these days, but with all the debate going on, I thought I'd throw out some general points. Furry fandom, being largely self-defined by the individuals involved in it, makes it next to impossible to produce any documentary that covers all the different viewpoints ("That's not what the fandom means to me!"), or even specific viewpoints ("That fursuiter doesn't represent my take on fursuiting!") Similarly, when different furries watch the documentary or review it, we're all going to respond extremely differently.

What does the fandom mean to you? I don't mean the surface stuff, like "I like the art!", "I like being able to express myself!", "I like the sense of community!". I mean the stuff under the surface. The subconscious biases, the things you only kind-of know how to articulate. We have all this arguing and drama because we're working off completely different sets of assumptions about what the fandom means to us. Sometimes we have to figure out that person A likes chocolate, person B likes strawberry, and maybe they'll never agree. Maybe they'll agree to disagree. Maybe they'll say "I disagree, but now that I know you prefer chocolate, I can see where you're coming from". Maybe they'll create a kind of chocolate-strawberry hybrid thing.

One of the best ways to figure out what your biases are, is to figure out the exact points of someone else's arguments that make you angry.

Don't try to figure out what their biases are. Don't assume that you know. Don't say, "They're making that argument because they're (something I assume is obvious)". Don't pigeon-hole the other person. This is about you. What influences your thinking? Where are you coming from? And you may have a rational reason for your argument's position. It may be logically thought-out, and based on personal experience. And then someone else comes along and says "I find your world-view completely illogical, totally irrational, and disagree with it on all sorts of levels." And that hurts. That's why it's important for everyone to be able to explain arguments from their base assumptions, so we can see when we're going to have to agree to disagree.

And even though disagreement creates drama, and I hate drama, I would rather have a fandom with as many diverse mindsets as possible, with none of them out-numbering each other. The more people think alike, the less healthy I think any fandom becomes. We need extravagant in-your-face people. We need prudish keep-it-to-yourself people. And we need all the different subtle points of view between the extremes of whatever scale you can think of. We need tolerance for the more tolerant and the less tolerant.

Jumping back to the topic of documentaries, something to remember is that they have to entertain an audience. Sure, it would be balanced to interview 20 different people from all walks of the fandom, make sure you've got a little of everything and everyone stuffed in there - but that makes it more challenging to keep it interesting. Like 90 minutes of 2-minute clips of different gardeners, each one talking about what their favourite gardening tool is. So inevitably you end up with a selection that includes more unexpected characters. I'm not a guy with a feminine haircut and costuming passion, I don't manufacture sex toys, I'm not a mother... So yeah, whatever you stick in the documentary, it's not going to match a big chunk of the fandom. Then you've got to find a narrative to tie it together. That's why the whole bit about Kage is in there. If this was a 20-30 minute production, there probably wouldn't be something like that in it.

Another point of contention is going to be what kind of impression does it make? Who is the intended audience? Who's actually watching it? Why should we care? Do we want ourselves shown as boring and normal, normal but with a quirky hobby, quirky but ok people, quirky but kind of creepy, lifestylers or hobbyists - and do we even use the same terms the same way with the same meanings? (Answer: no)

Does the fandom's reputation - and the impression we make on others - matter? And should we care? Yes, it matters, and sometimes it doesn't matter. Should we care? Sometimes. Depends. No easy answers, alas. Some of us in this fandom over-think issues, and care very strongly about them. Some of us are in the fandom to avoid over-thinking stuff, and don't really give a shit what you or anyone else thinks. The trick is to find a workable middle ground.

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Does flayrah's comments section support a slow clap gif? Because I think this post deserves a slow clap gif.

Dronon makes a particularly good point about why documentaries about furry fandom will inevitably focus on the people who identify physically and spiritually as furry. Older furries may be conditioned to believe that the media are just interested in putting "freaks" on camera, but even as time passes and the novelty of "furry as freaks" declines, there will still be interest in seeing people express furry as a core identity because it breaks new ground in the ways that we understand identity.

I get that hobbyist furs feel under-represented in the media, but that's only because your ground has already broken. Mainstream audiences already have a good understanding of what geek hobbies/fandoms/conventions are; they don't need a documentary to explain that there is a geek community built around the appreciation of anthro animal characters and aesthetics. Such a documentary wouldn't be interesting because it would be telling the audience things that they more-or-less understand, albeit in a different context. But documentaries like Fursonas will continue to be made as long as the subject matter has something new and unique to teach people.

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Under represented? Certainly not. There are plenty of positive articles and interviews with hobbyist furries. The term your looking for misrepresented.

You may think furry is a well known thing, but it's not. It certainly doesn't have the mainstream familiarity that comic conventions have with the general public and it's a hell of lot more difficult to wrap ones head around. I've known what a furry was for a years but until I actually joined the fandom I had no idea how complex and diverse it was. You said it yourself, it can be an identity for some people being a furry that is not something that can be easily understood by an outsider and it can lead to misconceptions. I very much would have preferred the documentary had a spectrum of fans from the mundane to the extreme.

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Did you see the movie yet? Also there is a different documentary about furries that was started and finished at the same time as this one. Both of them are getting con screenings tomorrow.

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Fair enough. I simply meant that the various sci-fi/fantasy communities tend to express their interests in the same ways; writing, artwork, craft-work and cosplay. Furry, when expressed simply as a hobby, does not really stand out from other geek hobbies and therefore it makes for a less interesting documentary subject. But I understand the concern about not wanting to be misrepresented.

I admittedly haven't seen Fursonas yet (and may not get the chance to for a while), but from what I've read, I can only see it being good for the representation of furry fandom in spite of its choice of subjects. Because what furry fandom really needs is for more mainstream audiences to do the research for themselves. Even something as simple as googling "What is furry?", can lead people to articles that cover in depth the nuances of the fandom. And the best way to encourage that research is by making furry fandom more visible and to create the impression that furry is relevant and worthy of study. The more that furry fandom is seen to be important as a cultural movement, the more that journalists and academics will take it seriously and pass on their interest to other non-furries.

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*Groan* Sorry I'm so late to the party. As one of the instigators of ConFurence, I'll try to respond to all the "fun" here as best I can...

Mark (Sy Sable) and I stepped down from being in charge of ConFurence after 11 years because we were exhausted -- physically and financially. That is the ONLY reason we did so. We handed the reins over to Darrel Exline, who was one of the most enthusiastic members of our staff. Unfortunately for everyone involved, just as we did that switch-over, other furry-themed cons started popping up in other locations around the country and around the world. When ConFurence was no longer "the only game in town", people naturally started going to their local cons instead of making a long trek to ConFurence, so of course our attendance began to taper off. It didn't help that Darrel had got himself roped into a hotel contract that wound up costing way, way more than he thought it would -- a common mistake made by MANY folk running fannish conventions of all sorts when hotels fill their heads with visions of sugar-plums. Either way, Darrel ran ConFurence for four years until HIS finances were exhausted. Then he ended it. Again, that is the ONLY reason it went away. Immediately after ConFurence, CaliFur started up because a group of young fans wanted there to be a continuation of furry fandom cons in SoCal. And there has been. Since 1989 there has not been a single year without a furry fandom convention in Southern California.

No one on the staff of ConFurence or CaliFur was ever a "member" of Burned Furs. Darrel subscribed to some publications by self-declared Burned Furs because he found some of their ideas interesting. Whatever. I never found them to be more than a bunch of grouchy, self-important homophobes.

"... trying to change some of the more controversial programming." Such as...?

Fred: BS. We never "refused" to incorporate. It is simply a long, LONG process to do so, and as all of us involved had full-time jobs, it became very difficult to find the time and resources to do so properly. So we pitch-hit as best as private individuals could do while learning on the fly. CaliFur has been trying for more than FIVE YEARS to become a full non-profit... and we are STILL going back and forth with the state about the requirements. They do not make it easy. You were not at the ConFurence staff meetings. I was. Please do not blather about things you do not know.

Looking back with the creaky bones of age (and probably with the cranky attitude too) I will admit that I'm proud of having been involved with ConFurence. It was a start-up, and it had its problems. But I am proud of the ball that it got rolling.

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Speaking as somebody who was there at the time, I know that the ConFurence got suggestions or recommendations that it should incorporate as a non-profit organization, as several s-f conventions had. The LASFS' annual Loscons -- the yearly Los Angeles s-f convention -- are officially run by SCIFI, Inc. and have been since the 1970s, I think. The ConFurence's reply may have been "We'll get around to it eventually" instead of "We refuse to do so", but as far as I'm concerned, this amounts to a refusal to do so.

It's what enabled Darrel Exline to discontinue the ConFurence arbitrarily when there were several fans on the ConFurence Committee who were ready to replace him, and to threaten to bring a legal challenge of trying to steal the ConFurence from him against anyone or any group that tried to continue the ConFurence. As we've both said, there were plenty of fans -- ex-ConFurence staff and new fans -- to create the new CaliFur the next year.

Fred Patten

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Well forgive me, but "as far as you're concerned" is in fact incorrect. We never refused, we simple were not able to get it done in a timely fashion. I'm sorry. It was always on the radar -- with sparkles in the eyes and a dreamy voice saying "someday...". Who WOULDN'T love to be able to write off their hobby on their taxes?? We never did.

Darrel simply got the legal right to the NAME of "ConFurence" when the DBA was signed over to him.

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Who WOULDN'T love to be able to write off their hobby on their taxes??

I actually benefited by paying more taxes! I wouldn't have had forty quarters of Social Security coverage without paying FICA on Inkbunny's donation drive (which counted as income in 2014, as the server leases had to be expensed over subsequent years). Granted, this is an unusual situation.

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Thanks for the info mink. Is there any resource that tells which cons have what structures, and when? It would be interesting to look at their growth over time. Since ConFurence was the first one, even if there was a tradition of other types of cons, it must have dealt with a lot of first time trials and challenges, even if just because it would depend on support from a new small niche.

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It is very well possible that many of the more exaggerated rumors at the time of Confurence's decline were perpetuated by Burned Furs for their own political agendas. Unfortunately, when discussing the prospects of rumors and their impacts on behaviors, it would be a bit naive to believe that they have no impact on things around them. For furries on the east coast, we had mostly these statements through the internet to assess what the causes were at the time.

I wish we did live in a world where false or exaggerated statements have no impact or bearing on those about them. However, I think any furry can tell you that they do.

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There are always too many rumours about about why cons stop. In CF's case the rumours weren't coming from any agenda in particular; it's just human nature to spread gossip. The Burned Furs had long since stopped being a thing by the time CF came to an end. The main reason for CF's decline was moving CF10 further south and to a less favourable date, and Further Confusion rising to fill its old time slot, and being more geographically convenient.

First, something to explain about the Burned Furs - there were basically three main points to their complaining: They thought that behaviour in the fandom was significantly crossing some kind of threshold. They thought that individual fan's reputations would suffer. They thought the solution to this was to kick people they didn't like out of the fandom. The reason the Burned Furs got any traction and support in the first place - was because a good chunk of the fandom agreed with them on the first point only. The BFs had broken the ice on a subject that fans had been tip-toeing around, and this was seen as an opportunity - not to kick anyone out of the fandom, but to discuss behaviour and the meaning of the fandom in an intelligent manner. This was... back in 1997-1998? Keep in mind that a year before, the fandom's discussion boards on Usenet had fractured into two (alt.fan.furry vs. alt.lifestyle.furry) - and had stopped talking to each other. No message cross-posting allowed.

Instead what we got were constant message board flamewars. The people who wanted to have an intelligent discussion found out it was impossible to do so. The die-hard Burned Furs and those who opposed them on every point would hijack any discussion. That's when the Burned Furs really lost their credibility, especially as its less-restrained members felt increasingly confident to really voice their hatred. Three years of flamewars later (2001), no one wanted to risk discussing furry issues at all, out of fear of being viewed as a troll and troublemaker. But mainly because we were all sick of the in-fighting.

Ok. Now, we jump back to ConFurence. Each year, the con gets bigger, the parties get just a little rowdier, and the rumours along the lines of "OMG did you hear what someone did at the con this year??" get more extreme. CF8 (in early 1997) was when these rumours reached their peak. Most of them were anecdotal. What was new and worrisome about the rumours - was that a lot of the regulars, who certainly enjoyed a good party and at least some uninhibited hijinks - were starting to feel concerned. (This is probably what also helped give the BFs some of their early traction).

Mark Merlino, the con chair, suffered from the same thing that Uncle Kage and Dragoneer get - a group of people constantly bashing them and blaming them for everything, and a group of supporters that always backs them up. But here's the thing: the next year, CF9, that was ConFurence's biggest year. And there were a lot less rumours and complaints. So whatever had happened with all the fandom politics between those two years - The con staff and all the attendees turned things down a slight notch and a good time was had.

Then CF10 happens, it changes the date and moves south, and Further Confusion rises to fill its gap in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Mark and Rod (Mink, in his post above), step down as con chairs. CF11 to CF14 will be run by Darrel Exline. Because of Mark's detractors, a couple of the new furry cons that spring up across the country make a not-so-subtle point to change their con chair occasionally, or cycle their top staff members from year to year.

Now, there is a link between ConFurence and the Burned Furs: When Darrel becomes con chair, he announces that he's a Burned Fur. This is before the BFs had lost their credibility. Darrel is of the "Let's discuss behavior" camp, not the "Purge the fandom" camp. He used to be on CF's security staff; he wants hobbyists and lifestylers alike to enjoy the con - just not to push it any further towards what CF8 was starting to feel like. Unfortunately Darrel's way of posting his views come off as hot-headed and off-putting. Immediately there's a group of Burned Fur-haters who start a hate campaign towards Darrel and CF in general. Darrel doesn't deal with this well politically; he eventually apologizes for his initial BF stance, but by that time it's at least two years too late.

Despite what anyone says about Darrel, he tries to run the con as best he can, only he's not quite cut out for it. ConFurence slowly loses momentum while Further Confusion (and other cons) grow. Finally Darrel calls it quits. If you want to read Darrel's take on the things he did wrong, look no further than his opening essay in the CF14 conbook, archived here.

I don't know what rumours you've heard about the demise of ConFurence, but that's my take on it.

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This seems mostly very accurate, to me. Is Further Confusion/San Jose really more geographically convenient than ConFurence/Orange County?

I don't think that "Because of Mark's detractors, a couple of the new furry cons that spring up across the country make a not-so-subtle point to change their con chair occasionally, or cycle their top staff members from year to year." is as accurate as that the organizers of the new furry conventions copied the organizational styles of the successful s-f conventions around them; Loscon, Baycon -- I don't know, but I think Philcon, Duckon and I-CON were incorporated. They incorporated as non-profit organizations, with boards of directors; not a single Chairman. Many of them considered that one of their goals was to train local fans in the different aspects of running conventions, and this is why they regularly rotated their chairmen; not from any anti-Merlino goal.

Whether the ConFurence "refused" to incorporate or was "not able to get it done in a timely fashion" over several years is a matter of interpretation. How many other annual furry conventions have incorporated as Anthrocon, Further Confusion, Midwest FurFest, and others have? -- and s-f conventions like Loscon before them? How long did it take them to incorporate? Many years? ConFurence's not getting it done from the mid-1990s to 2003 amounted to a refusal, in my opinion.

Fred Patten

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Hi fred - it might be worth considering whether those cons are apple to apple comparisons. Some cons have had growth not matched by increases in staff or budget (I heard it said about Rainfurrest). Mark/rod seemed to be saying they could not incorporate because it was burdensome - did they have support like Duckon etc?

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As far as I know, they did not. The s-f and the furry communities in Southern California were separate. But they did not need to be. There were fans who were members of both. By 1996 the LASFS (technically SCIFI, Inc.) had put on three Wolrdcons and twenty years' worth of Loscons; and several LASFS members had been on the committees of Costume-Cons and Bouchercons and Corflus and others. If the ConFurence Committee had shown any interest in listening when it was pointed out that the s-f community had many years of experience in putting on conventions, and had found out that this worked and that didn't, and could give advice if asked ... but the answer from the ConFurence Committee boiled down to "We already know about that" and "We've got it under control" and "We'll do it our own way". After so long, I don't feel wrong in saying that the ConFurence Committee essentially refused to incorporate.

The ConFurence Committee did grow over the years. The help of more and more volunteers was accepted. But the basic structure was not changed. Mark and Rod, and then Darrel, remained in charge of everything with more and more staff in various areas. The Chairman coordinated everything. The final year, when Darrel told the committee not to worry about printing the conbook, he'd do it all personally, may not be a good example because he had a reason for not wanting anyone to see it before the convention began; it had his statement ending the ConFurences. But the staff was not surprised because there were plenty of earlier examples of Darrel taking charge of this or that and handling it all himself.

Fred Patten

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Fred, Mark and I did not go crawling to LASFS or any other ossified SF organization because we were young whipper-snappers specifically looking to strike out on our own. We had both been going to cons for several years and had gotten especially tired of certain aspects of them that bugged us. So, succeed or fail, we were going to make it on our own. And taking a look at Walker Con ER AH I MEAN LosCon, we may have been on to something. More young whipper snappers are flocking to furry, anime, and comic conventions while the traditional SF cons we grew up with look more and more like retirement homes. Not the path we chose to follow.

And FYI, Mark and I both had far, far more communication with our staff than Darrel ever had with his staff. I know as I as around for both "eras" if you will.

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I'll certainly agree that you and Mark had more communication with your staff than Darrel did with his. The highest profile example of Darrel's not listening, before his cancellation of the ConFurence, was probably Darrel's renumbering of the con to the year; ConFurence 13 to Confurence 2002. I may have been guilty of listening only to the other objectors, but was anyone besides Darrel in favor of that? Darrel’s staff soon learned to not bother to say anything except to agree with him; it was just a waste of breath.

But I still say that refusing to get any advice from s-f fans who had been running s-f conventions for years was a mistake. You should certainly try new ideas. I think that ConFurence introduced the ice cream socials, which have been extremely popular; the s-f conventions now have them, too. But when those new ideas are things that the s-f cons have already tried and found don’t work … How come other furry conventions like Further Confusion, Anthrocon, Midwest FurFest, etc., have modelled themselves more after the s-f conventions around them than on the ConFurences?

I guess that the above pertains more to the s-f and furry conventions of the late 1990s and early 2000s than to today’s cons with their emphases on dances, concerts, and games, more than on literary events. And of course there are many more panels and workshops on fursuiting today that the s-f conventions don’t have at all.

Fred Patten

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"How come other furry conventions like Further Confusion, Anthrocon, Midwest FurFest, etc., have modelled themselves more after the s-f conventions around them than on the ConFurences?" I'm not certain that's a quantifiable statement...

We wanted to try something different than the "old mold". And as with any new venture, some things worked, some things didn't. If later furry cons got to pick and choose between "classic" SF con ideas and weird new ConFurence ideas, then we can say that ConFurence brought some new items to the salad bar for people to have more variety.

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For the most part I'd say this covers it all fairly accurately, Dronon. You're right on the money about Darrel suffering because he decided to give the Burned Fur movement far too much credit. The one thing you don't mention that had a major effect is MONEY. Amateurish mistakes were made (NOT incompetent, Fred, thank you) by Mark, myself, and Darrel that lead all of us much farther into debt than we could handle. Many of the changes made (including the end of ConFurence as an entity) came about simply because of that.

I still maintain that while Further Confusion was the tip of the iceberg, as it were, it was in fact a big iceberg: Local furry conventions started popping up very rapidly about that time, and that lead to further erosion of ConFurence's attendance as fans starting heading to more local and convenient meet-ups nearby.

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Thanks Mink! Also I apologize for the remark about other cons choosing their organizational structure later on; I hadn't considered the legal aspect. Yeah, I skipped over the money part for the sake of simplifying the description. I mean, I don't know what anyone's personal finances were like, but I do know the dot-com bubble had burst and that incomes and employment were starting to suffer for anyone connected to Information Technology. From the perspective of attending furry cons, the economy of how much people were spending and how far they were willing to travel, you could feel the change in the air. Anyway, I've been enjoying your retrospective YouTube videos and I'd love to interview you at some point. :)

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Hoy! I totally forgot about the Dot-Bomb happening around that time. That HAD to have had an impact, especially with so many young furry fans working in the tech sector -- or trying to.

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Oh, and I'm glad you enjoy our content. I'm always up for interviews, given sufficient free time!

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If anyone's interested, I have now posted my review and thoughts about the movie at FurryFandom.Es:

‘Fursonas’ (The Documentary): Review and Reflections on Dominic Rodriguez’s Magnum Opus

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An excellent piece. I particularly appreciated your non biased approach and acknowledgment there are no easy answers to the issues the fandom faces. My only criticism would be your almost out of left field crictism of Kage's drinking. I understand what your trying to say, but it feels a bit like a PSA. Still overall, I think it 's one of the better cirques of the film and has made me a little more curious to check it out.

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Well I'm a pharmacy assistant and I work in the health sector. I can't avoid thinking people are hurting themselves when they are hurting themselves. Even if that particular kind of damaging behaviour is widely socially accepted.

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I'm reminded of rather strong comments made on stage once by a certain cockroach regarding obesity…

I don't think drinking is as celebrated as much as it once was in youth fandom, or generally. That's probably more of a social sea-change than anything specific to furry; but it becomes noticeable in furry, thanks to the demographics.

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I also thought your review was excellent and very well balanced in its presentation of the various issues. Honestly I'm kind of disappointed you haven't left me any wiggle-room to get on my soapbox again...

Seriously, great work. :)

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Five quick thoughts about the documentary.
1.) I enjoyed it immensely. I even went into it thinking that it was going to be hot garbage.
2.)You make something out of newspaper scrap and see if it comes out half as good as Boomer's suit.
3.) I don't disagree with the Kage's ideas about the media, but I don't agree either.
4.) Furry's interaction with the media is fascinating and I would love to see a debate about avoidance versus honesty held by furs smarter and less inebriated than me.
5.) The Dragon Cum scene made me squirm enough where I collapsed into a small black hole and accidentally destroyed the southern states, nothing of value was lost.

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Also, apparently I talked shit about BOTH Boomer and Chew Fox on this site.
I fucked up hard, sorry I was a shitier person back then.

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That's big of you to admit that, I think many in the fandom had kind of gotten a bit heavy handed with them. Fear makes us do silly things at times.

I think the only controversial media figure in the fandom I never really ever saw as redeemable was the one that went on TLC: My Strange Addition.

You know, our 'representative' that was so addicted to the fandom, they left the fandom before it even aired!

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Welp, despite saying I wasn't going to see Fursonas for a while, I just saw it. Great documentary, although I don't really have much to say about the fandom politics that hasn't already been said. But there are a couple of interesting things that jumped out at me:

1) As someone who doesn't fursuit, I found the early explanations about why other furries fursuit very interesting. I read an unrelated article last year that suggested some people are better able to create new identities for themselves than others and that this ability can bring numerous other benefits, including the ability to learn languages more easily. I personally don't have this ability, or at least not very strongly. Mine is a very singular cohesive identity and that would explain my own reluctance to name or identify my fursona as different from my own real-life name and identity. But maybe if I did have that ability, I'd be more compelled to fursuit myself.

I bring this up because I think it could be a great example of how aspects of a person's psychology that are unrelated to furry can still cause them to express furry differently from other people.

2) Watching Boomer the Dog has made me realise that there is still a problem with how society perceives unusual self-expression that hasn't really been challenged at all but needs to be if we furries are to preserve our dignity. To quickly go on a tangent, there is an episode of South Park back in 2005 (Season 9, Episode 1) in which some of the main characters undergo surgery in order to "become who they feel like on the inside", such as Kyle becoming a tall black man and his father becoming a man-dolphin hybrid. The episode was aimed at the subject of gender-correction surgery and was, as you may have guessed, incredibly transphobic (the writers have since made a more transgender-positive episode in recent years, so I'm hoping they've learned their lesson since then).

The reason I bring this episode up is because it is very revealing of how the mainstream perceive people who express a desire for another physical form; as sad and desperate people who use smiles to cover up a lack of self-confidence. I admit that, watching Boomer, this was something that crept into my mind, as I'm willing to bet has crept into Uncle Kage's mind. But thankfully I have my own experiences to tell me that, no, desiring another form does not make you secretly unhappy or desperate; it's simply a thing that adds more colour to your life. It's like upgrading from a small CRT television to a big HDTV.

I don't know whether we tend to associate unusual expression with desperation because of human nature or because of cultural conditioning but it's something that I think needs to be challenged more often in conversation. If we just assume that people's expressions are signs of unhappiness then they become subjects of pity, stripped of their dignity by the people judging them. And then that reflects badly on other people expressing themselves in different ways. It's a slippery slope; if we assume that one kind of furry must be sad and desperate, then where do we draw the line?

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http://knotcast.tumblr.com/post/144386256435/we-watched-it-so-you-might-not-have-to

Another take on this whole thing. One point I would agree with them on that I did think at one point about putting in my review was that those interviewed have their own ignorance, for example, Grix claiming in the film that Dragoneer and Kage are buddy buddy and are in cohorts. It's pretty known they don't get along that much.

They note that Boomer the Dog and Kage are in it alot. I would say that it is because those are the two that Video set up as the pseudo-protagonist and pseudo-antagonist of the film.

But what's interesting to also think about, is that when you take the 'outside fandom' life of these two individuals you can start to see how it dictates their 'inside fandom' behaviors. Boomer being 'hardcore unemployable' makes it so that he doesn't really have to worry about losing his positions within human society for he never had them. Where as Kage has a lot of more dependence on the human communities being a 'pillar' within them. So in essence, Boomer doesn't have much to lose if society at large turns against the fandom than those like Kage do.

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I listened and it made me want to comment based on a long conversation with Video. They characterize him as out to get Kage, specifically naming at 17:00 the "gotcha" moment when he asks Kage in the winestream if Boomer and Chewfox had been treated too harshly. Video said it wasn't a "gotcha" and there was no agenda to get any certain answer. It was an honest question seeking an honest opinion, and a chance to empathize and humanize. He had no idea what kage would say and the answer led the direction of the story. Another thing the podcast does is defend Kage for having 20 years of experience. But like in some of Fred's comments about leadership of ConFurence, having one guy for 20 years isn't neccessarily positive in all ways. Things have changed in that time. Lastly the podcast heavily emphasizes a couple of headlines that make hyperbolic hitler comparisons, as if the movie and the headlines are the same source, but they aren't. The review itself has a definite slant, but anyways it's all part of conversation that Video is happy to know got started.

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Comparisons with Hitler distort the discussion. Either those headlines were written by people who watched the documentary without foreknowledge of fandom culture (who Kage is, etc.), or they are unaware of Godwin's Law:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1", at which point the reductio ad absurdum / ad Hitlerum actually discourages real discussion.

General media, man, they wouldn't get it right even if they had it in front of their faces.

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Had Kage agreed to an interview with FURRY MEDIA guy Dominic Rodriguez, who was gonna publish a documentary worldwide either way, no Winestream "gotcha" moment would have been necessary. Other furries feel honored to be interviewed by fellow reporters in the fandom.

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I think it's strange that fan media (even with long history) are treated with the same suspicion as Dr. Phil or whoever. If only good things are allowed, bad things won't be known when people need to know, rumors will make it look like things are hidden, and if they come out it won't come from people who care.

Maybe it works to limit things that way when fan media doesn't reach an audience like this movie does for the first time.

It's interesting that the limitation is the story. So it doesn't make sense to say this one is a "creative workaround" or uses gotchas. It just wouldn't be the same story. It would probably look like other furry documentaries before this one, nice but bland.

Dominic has been saying this one was meant to be real, and asking "what do we really want... National Furry Day?"

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That's already a thing. Albeit not much of one. But why stop there? Furry is an international conspiracy.

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I agreed in my review with the assessment that his laughter at Kage's response made it appear that he was pleased with gaining the response.

I think my most adamant disagreement with them was when they started talking about Alan Panda. He was an extremely passing reference in the movie. When ChewFox was complaining that people were comparing what she did as equal to what Alan Panda did and how ridiculous such a thing is. One sentence, that was all the coverage it got in the documentary

And then the reviewers spend a good 3 minutes or so talking about Alan Panda and complaining when "furry news sites" bring up such incidents. And here they are talking about the guy for so long when it wasn't even necessary to the topic at hand.

To me, like most of these situations, the regular press already was talking about Alan Panda long before the furry press every had a chance to type a single sentence. I mean, it's quite flattering that furries believe that the Associated Press waits for us to say something before they report on incidents like that. But I can say that's not the case. At least our own version of the report allows the comment section to show just how outraged we are at those that would do such acts.

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Did you notice that they present themselves as con organizers and business owners? It doesn't mean taking sides is bad, but it's no surprise to see interest tied to promotion and sales through cons. (Con organizers are definitely having strong private chats and taking sides about this movie, many before they saw it.)

About Dominic's reaction to that one question, you might be interested to know that the version of the movie you see isn't the first version, and it went through iterations. In his Q&A's, Dom is mentioning that this started as a passion project, and for a long time it was just a collection of interviews, and it would be stupid business to make a movie that way. The story grew out of that. When he asked, do you think Boomer/Chewfox were treated too harshly, that seems like a perfectly reasonable and neutral question to me, and the movie you see wasn't formed when he asked it. He said he had no idea what the answer would be and genuinely wanted to know. Laughing at the extreme tone of the response seems like what I'd do in the same position.

I could also mention that when I put out the first supportive article about the movie from a furry (as far as I know), it was because it seemed strange that nobody was talking about a major happening with the film fest award and distribution news. It was actually half written by Pup Matthias who took all of Dom's statements. I didn't know Dom then and only met him after that.

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Yeah, I would have laughed as well, slightly amused by the drama... but actually saddened by the whole deal...

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"(Con organizers are definitely having strong private chats and taking sides about this movie, many before they saw it.)"

Furry Fandom: Civil War

:o

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Standard furry drama :) The movie is made so people will get used to it.

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After listening I've decided I probably won't watch Fursonas (maybe if it ends up on Logo or a similar channel, but considering the subject matter that is doubtful). The podcast pretty much confirmed everything I already suspected and I can't see myself spending money on it. Too heavily focused on fursuits, controversy, and edited to create a narrative that enforces the director's own bias that pretty much confirms everything Kage has said about the media for years.

Of all things I definitely agreed with their opinion on Boomer. He maybe the nicest guy in the world or "passionate" as Video likes to call him. But he most certainly the last person who should be speaking for the fandom. A 52 year old, "hardcore unemployable", with mental issues who has divorced himself so far from humanity he can barely interact with most people. Probably not the best choice for fandom representation. And I feel that the media (including Video) prey on him. He may not even realize he's being exploited but make no mistake, he's the odd one out when it comes to the interviewees.

That being said, I don't particular like Kage's attitude towards him. Boomer certainly seems like someone who needs support and maybe the fandom provides him with that and as long as he isn't hurting anyone (or himself)to each their own. I just really wish he would stay away from the cameras.

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I don't completely grasp the relationship yet between someone weird saying "they're furry" on television, and thinking furries are generally like that. It's like if someone said on TV "I'm obsessively into manga" or "I love using the gym" or saying they have any other interest while they proceed to do weird shit. I wouldn't assume every person who's into manga or uses a gym or whatever is like that... Just if only for the fact that most people normally have bills to pay, gotta have some kind of job, regular schedule, responsibilities or family...

If most people actually do crazy stuff, which they don't really, they'd do it in their spare time or in their privacy. And questioning what people should or shouldn't do in their private time (unless criminal) to me IS much more TABOO. It's like you're questioning what I do in my 'time out'. Fuck you man, life's hard enough as it is.

Remember when tabletop role-playing was a thing of the devil, something you had to stay away from. What if media nowadays talked about role-playing geeks doing evil weird gathering. Everyone knows tabletop role-players are a bunch of geeks who like to sit on a table for a couple of hours as they talk to each other "fighting" imaginary monsters and the like. Not much more different from furry. A bunch of passionate geeks who like cutesy cartoons. Whatever.

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Because you know furry, most people don't. Studies have shown time and time again that people either don't know what furries are or have a vastly distorted image of the fandom. We are not in the mainstream consciousness outside the Internet. Everyone has heard of DnD, not everyone has heard of furry.

Manga? Japanese Comics, easy to relate. Gym? Even easier. Furry fandom? Not even close to comparable and far more difficult to explain due to meaning so many different things to so many different people.

And I never said I had a problem with Boomer as a private individual. I have problem with his constant media whoring. I don't know if it's a cry for attention or just the media preying on him, but next to Kage he is the most public furry in the fandom at the moment. Can we least agree that this probably not a good thing?

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but next to Kage he is the most public furry in the fandom at the moment. Can we least agree that this probably not a good thing?

No

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*chuckles* I... don't know?

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Helps if you actually see the movie, especially with all the audiences loving Boomer.

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No he's not the second most public figure in the fandom or no, it's not a problem? Again I have no issue with him as a person. But I question his motivations for these interviews I wonder if maybe he is being used.

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The Fursonas crew got to know Boomer over years of filming. Do you know him? Why are you using him to bash a movie you won't see? He speaks for himself and I love hearing him here.

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No it's not a problem

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I certainly don't agree with you on Boomer. It just screams hypocrisy to me to talk about wanting respect and dignity for furry fandom while at the same time denying that same respect and dignity to a furry who, from what I've seen of him, is kind, polite and self-confident. In any other community, Boomer would be viewed as a great role model. But only in furry fandom do they want him hidden away.

If an organisation tried to hide their gay or trans members for "feelings of embarrassment", it would be considered the scummiest thing they ever did. The fact that furries feel perfectly fine expressing embarrassment about each other speaks volumes about the prejudices ingrained in the community. Furthermore, it only justifies non-furry prejudices in the long run. If furry fandom is ashamed of its own members, what are non-furries supposed to think?

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Boomer would be fun at LARPs. He'd play himself.

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He would probably run around barking at people while they try to fight with those giant foam swords, and maybe grab them in his teeth and worry them. It would be totally distracting and he might steal the show.

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The picture you envision makes it that much fun!

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I really enjoyed this film, which surprised me because I thought it was going to be really, really boring going in. You're right that this definitely isn't a 101 course like every other documentary put out there, and I think that's because it was meant to be for furries. This definitely felt more like a piece on Video's personal "state of the fandom". Maybe that would have bothered me more if I didn't agree with him.

However the film could have been drastically improved by leaving Varka out entirely. He wasn't connected to anyone or anything else in the film, mostly because he's hardly connected to anyone or anything else in the fandom other than "dicksmithing".

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Well it makes sense in the context that they're excluded from Anthrocon for being furry cocksmiths. They can't have a stand there. And Anthrocon / Kage policy is a major theme in the movie. As is censorship / exclusion by furries to other furries for the sake of appearing more agreeable to general audiences.

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Okay, so why didn't Varka discuss that at all then? The only time that's mentioned is after his interview, with someone else that doesn't know anything about Varka, just his business, saying "Oh yeah, they used to be at Anthrocon, they used to be an actual store, but Uncle Kage didn't want anything to do with that," which links Varka to Anthrocon more than him rubbing lube between his fingers and saying, "I think it's hot," did. And again, was only a single mention, and was never even thought of for the rest of the film.

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I got a second watch of the movie, and got a strong impression of Varka's importance. He was introduced with discussion of attitudes towards sexuality. He had thoughtful words about how neurotic American society is with being puritanical about something (nearly) everyone does, saying that people should be free to be themselves among their friends. It was a great example of why this isn't a cloistered "furry movie" but a Good Movie about furries.

I was reminded of seeing Marilyn Manson interviewed by Michael Moore (in Bowling for Columbine wasnt it?) It was a guy who could be mistaken for a schlockmeister putting out articulate philosophy.

Fursonas is #2 in the documentary category on Google Play right below michael moore.

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Not sure how you can say that last bit given the number of furry pies Varka has his fingers in. Heck, you're personally a hair's breadth away from hitting a cache server provided by Bad Dragon whenever you drop by Inkbunny…

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Huh, I didn't realize he owned fchan's server. Is his "Furry Network" still a thing?

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Yes, it's still in beta. They've loaded a half-million files on there, but don't seem to have much traffic yet (as you'd expect, since they're still invite-only). To get traction they'll need a cohesive audience and a balance of watchers to artists, or else… well, I'm sure you can think of sites with too many submissions chasing too few viewers.

They're using AWS, which seems like an expensive way of doing things for what'll be a high-bandwidth site if it gets rolling – but hey, that's their call. Not like they're running on donations!

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Alright, at this point I've listened to the Knotcast discussion, and then I watched the documentary. I agree with a lot of Knotcast's points though not all of them. I can see why a lot of debate is breaking out over this thing, but I don't think it's anything to get especially huffy about. Could've been better, could've been worse.

However, Kage's really given bad treatment here. Like many of the commenters I think the way he words some things comes off as harsh and unprofessional, however it's obvious this has been cherry-picked and the documentary director (Video) has got a bias.

To outside viewers, they'd have no idea how much context is being left out. The huge size of Anthrocon, the financial figures that it brings to Pittsburgh, the years of negotiations with hotels and city officials, liability issues, and so on. Some furries may present a cleaner picture of the fandom than the director would prefer - more on this later. Also keep in mind Kage came into the chairmanship of Anthrocon at a time around 2000 when the fandom had almost zero positive PR from outsiders, it was being constantly raked over the coals by trolls and sensationalist media.

The thing that struck me the most about the documentary was that it seemed to be trying to figure out what it was about, over a period of several years. Like the Knotcast people said, the title of "Fursonas" is inaccurate. It starts off looking like a documentary about what fursuiting means to its practitioners, then as Video talks to his interviewees, he's saying things like "Who should I talk to next?"

Then it seems to be veering towards opposing contrasts in the fandom, pitting the less interesting vs. the more edgy (drug use, openness about adult aspects), and like a morning talk-show, pitting the participants against clips to see what reactions it can get. Once it seizes on Kage for narrative conflict, that takes over. Probably deliberately, to kick up just this kind of hot-headed debate within the fandom, and to increase viewership.

If you're a furry watching this documentary I think most of us take it with a grain of salt. Someone outside the fandom watching it might shake their head all like "Wow, this Kage guy!!" - Which certainly won't do Anthrocon any favors. Seriously, I hope it doesn't make his work more difficult. Does the director understand that a huge part of the reason Kage took his viewpoints in the first place is because of this kind of behavior by the media? Sensationalist detraction is exactly what created Kage's stance, and this work is perpetuating that documentary style.

I don't find the presentation overly Boomer-heavy, but Boomer is quite noticeably different from the other furries by a wide margin, so his presence in the documentary tends to stick out more. I'm very happy that Video gave him some depth, like the pirate radio thing; I really like it when there isn't a focus on just one thing about a person.

Whenever furries make short YouTube videos trying to explain the fandom (something I might attempt someday), it's usually very personal, and it can get people grumpy because it doesn't capture everything (which is pretty damn hard to do). The key is to tack on "... to me", to indicate there's a bigger picture and other viewpoints. So personally, I don't find this documentary especially different from other ones out there, except in length. If not for the parts about Kage, I don't think this would stand out at all, so I'm inclined to partly think it was deliberately put in to stir people up and get the final product more attention.

However I don't entirely think that's the case. Actually I found it refreshing to see a director willing to tread where shorter fandom-made documentaries don't often go, by showing some of the conflict within the fandom. But I disagree with the way the conflict was presented.

Some of the words near the end of the documentary, from Grix, are "The people that are enjoying the fandom the most ... are the ones that basically say 'I don't give a fuck' [about what other people say about them]". This is frighteningly close to how I closed my earlier comment (before I'd watched the video), with "Some of us in this fandom over-think issues, and care very strongly about them. Some of us are in the fandom to avoid over-thinking stuff, and don't really give a shit what you or anyone else thinks. The trick is to find a workable middle ground."

By contrasting statements like Grix's against statements of Kage's - it doesn't encourage a middle ground. Grix's comment seems... too self-evident. To generalize it, it's "Don't worry, be happy" - and that's a nice rule to follow, sure - but in all things in life. There's nothing about that philosophy that's particular to furry fandom, that one's participation in the fandom should be measured according to that particular metric.

There's also an implication that in the fandom, not only do you have to be comfortable with yourself, you have to be outspoken about it - to be silent is to lie, to deny a truth, and that this is a moral failing. Kage is made to look like the most exaggerated version of following this dark side, that it turns you into a close-minded, control-freak dictator.

Go back and watch the beginning third of the documentary, and you'll notice that the clips with all the other participants also don't bring up the fandom's adult side - at first. So, to me, the documentary is subconsciously delivering a back-handed insult, that it's only due to further prompting that they'll "admit" to the full truth, unlike Kage.

Being selective about what information you share with other people is part of life, and it's often practical, as when Diezel describes his workplace harassment. Being selective doesn't mean you're not comfortable with yourself, doesn't mean you care too much what other people think of you, and it doesn't mean you're not enjoying the fandom any less than anyone else. In my opinion, you should try to avoid denying things about yourself, which can be hard. But if there are practical reasons to not share certain things with other people - that's absolutely fine.

The "don't give a fuck" people in the documentary are Varka, Grix, Quad, Boomer, Chew Fox and Tom Cat. The middle views are provided by Diezel, Freya and Kato, but their stance is implied to be weaker, because of how Kage is portrayed. I think it was very honest of the director to put in the clip where Kato is politely questioning the director's narrative, including Video's reaction to it ("Fuck, dude, really?"). I also liked that Chew Fox was given time to defend her appearance on the Tyra Banks Show. As for the other participants, Bandit could've used some more screen time, and I really liked the youthful energy that Skye added.

My go-to documentary video for outsiders would still be Fanboy Confessional: The Furry Edition, although it's equally fursuit-heavy. The only advantage that Fursonas has over it, for me, is a larger feeling of intimacy about the fandom's personal meaning for everyone that was interviewed, because there was the extra time available to build that depth. I'm really interested in seeing Eric Risher's Furries documentary, which I hope gets equal exposure.

I don't think that any of the participants in Fursonas should be given any flak for being in it; they were all wonderfully articulate. I do wish the director had put in a slightly larger number of people to interview, and like Knotcast said, there were big things left out. Where are the furry artists and writers, where's the charity fundraising? Still, the director has the right to be selective about what he shares - and since Video can complain about Kage in this respect, we can complain about Video.

Also, Knotcast guys, I really loved the #notallfurries hashtag idea. We should have self-parodying fun with that!

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It would seem the documentary reflects Video's personal fears to a certain extent. As explained by him somewhere else, for a long time his interest in furry was mostly just sexual, something to masturbate to. His 'coming out' as a furry seemed something difficult for him; while he's liked furry for many years, he only opened up as a furry recently.

I am sure that's how many people have started, or how some have felt in regards to furry, as a natural form of growth. You like cartoons, then you become a hormonal teenager, you find many things erotic that you didn't before, that translates to erotic furry interest and masturbation with furry characters. Along the way of making the documentary he felt 'why is admitting sexual behavior in the fandom taboo', while also learning that there are many other things that make the fandom so much more interesting than just the sex lives of people.

The general subject of sexuality and furry (beyond the trivial) is something I'd struggle myself with if discussing seriously with furries openly. So we know a considerable portion of the fandom (though maybe not the majority) is sexually interested in furry. But how does that make something interesting to talk about, other than if you were a legitimate sexologist... This and that person like to use furry cuffs in their sessions... Okay...

If humans didn't feel distinctly shy about sex, even without needing to overcome that barrier, I think there would be less to talk about sex-wise than about comic / movies / literature / fursuiting / art / etc.

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He also said stuff about keeping Furry-ness to himself while making the movie so he could "earn" trust of others rather than having it handed to him.

He did an AMA on Reddit today and I asked him about the sex topic.

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Saw that same comment earlier at the AMA, I didn't notice it was you

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Accepting that the negative portrayal of Kage may be exaggerated, there does seem to be a huge problem at the heart of Kage's thinking that I don't think can be avoided. Namely that he only "tolerates" furs who hold furry as a core identity, but he does not accept them. And that when presented with a character like Boomer who clearly thinks differently from him, Kage doesn't want to know why Boomer feels the way he feels. That is incredibly dispiriting to hear from someone who has been appointed as "grand representative of furry fandom".

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment; you've just come out as furry and you're looking into furry fandom for a community where you can feel safe and respected by your peers. And then you discover that the most influential furry does not really respect you, and that by simply being open about yourself in the media (which everyone has a right to do), you could possibly end up having privileges taken away or find yourself cast out by members of the community. I said it before and I'll say it again; this feels really scummy.

And sure, I get that there are reasons for Kage behaving this way, both historical and financial. But lots of people have made historical or financial reasons for all kinds of prejudice; it doesn't change the fact that the behaviour is still wrong and scummy. Plus it's 2016; the human race is moving steadily towards a permissive society, and the grand irony now is that Kage is the one holding us back by encouraging less permissiveness.

Maybe my feelings are influenced by the fact that I'm British. Britain is generally a more permissive society than America; we aren't going through the "trans bathroom laws" bollocks that is going on in North Carolina. And I've come out as furry to several non-furries in my community, both young and old, and all of them have been more interested in, and accepting of, the idea of furry as a core identity than Kage seems to be. It just feels so bizarre to me that, as a furry, I can feel more respected outside of furry fandom than within it.

PS: Did I just hear the Knotscast people suggest that Boomer get medical treatment because he wants to express himself as a dog? *sigh*

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You bring up points that relate to some of the eternal debates within the fandom. :) I'll have a long reply, except I'm extremely busy over the next couple of days - but I do intend to get back to you!

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Take your time. I'm looking forward to hear what you have to say. :)

By the way, there's a recent article on adjective species talking about transphobia in furry fandom, and I couldn't help but notice that changing a few key words and the first part of that article could just as easily talk about what I've been saying. At least I now have a new word to describe Kage's line of reasoning; Hobbyistnormativity.

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You mean the same article that referred to furry as just a fandom?

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Although Kage's words hurt you, don't worry about influence. The people in the fandom he's critizing have stuck around, and will continue to do so! You're good, you're safe. That's not to say Kage is without influence - ask Varka about not being to sell his wares at Anthrocon any more - but his influence only extends as far as running Anthrocon, and that's about it. I'm fairly pro-Kage but I don't like how he sometimes words things. There's a video clip of him somewhere where he blames ConFurence for the reputation of the fandom and that "it's been an albatross around our neck ever since", which is a really unfair and uncalled-for low blow.

If it helps, don't think of Anthrocon as a one-man show; the convention has a board of 8 members, and trust me when I say some of their personal tastes are far different from Kage's. Kage doesn't even have the power to ban anyone from the con, that power rests with the board. Kage's stage performances at Anthrocon are popular, but I don't think anyone attends the con because of him - they attend because the entire, huge team of staff and volunteers run a really good show. A lot of attendants don't particularly care one way or the other that he's there. Looking at the programming schedule from a couple of years ago I'm seeing panels on macro/micro, adult writing, kink writing, mature art, inner animals, and therianthropy.

And there are lots of other furry conventions with their own con chairs, and they all pretty much give the same guarded description of the fandom to journalists. It's not going to whitewash the fandom, because the moment you explore the fandom, you can see the reality is a lot more complex and adult than the public relations spin.

Oh dear - you'd have no way of knowing this, but over the past couple of years, there's been a push by some to stop using the phrase "come out as furry". The rationale is aimed at new furries who are teens, still living at home with their parents, that if you want to talk to them about this interest of yours, it's better if it doesn't sound like you've been afraid of admitting to it (because that implies there's something the parents should be afraid about), and that it's better to give a positive (or even offhand) attitude about it.

Confusingly, the fandom's been throwing very mixed signals to new teen furries. You get "Be comfortable with your furriness!", yet also "Actually to be on the safe side you don't have to bring it up." Because it kind of sounds odd, like "coming out as a trainspotter", "coming out as a vegetarian", "coming out as a Taylor Swift fan". Most strangers don't want to know too closely what your hobbies, kinks, political opinions, religious feelings, etc. are - but the whole point of any group who wants to hang out together, means you have to be able to communicate your interest. Some people take it slow, feel things out, get to know people, and find out what everyone's comfort levels are. Other people are like "Screw it, here's what I'm into." It's one of the neverending debates.

You also make a very keen observation about being accepting and being tolerant. The meaning of "accept" can vary wildly from furry to furry. Some furries link acceptance and toleration very tightly together, others less so (Kage, obviously). This is one of those hidden biases I was talking about in my earlier post, about what the fandom means to you. Accepting someone else in the fandom doesn't mean you have to like them, doesn't mean you support or approve of their interests or behavior. You don't accept aspects of Kage, and that doesn't mean that you're less of an accepting person. Kage doesn't accept Chew Fox and Chew Fox doesn't accept Kage and so on. That's what makes toleration so very important. If someone's not comfortable with the adult aspects and LGBT-positive atmosphere of furry then they're going to have a hard time, but we don't expect everyone to accept anything and everything.

Every fur has their personal tastes. The better we try to get along with things that aren't to our tastes, the less fights we have. We leave acceptance and tolerance up to individual choice. When someone in the fandom organizes a group event, takes commissions, hosts an art website - anything involving several people - only then do we have to work out some kind of group agreement. What one group decides doesn't apply to what any other group decides. We get along as best we can, but you can see from these message board threads that it's not entirely happy-happy. You say you want "a community where you can feel safe and respected by your peers" - You're safe. No mass uprising unless you start raping children or something.

The being-respected-by-your-peers part - 100% approval is unlikely for anyone. Chew Fox goes in front of the media, people don't like her. Kage goes in front of the media, people don't like him. My friend Marlos has a wonderful analogy for furry fandom, that it's like a buffet, you pick and choose what you like and you ignore what you don't. However there is a danger in ignoring people you disagree with; occasionally they have a valid observation. This is where civility comes in! Also known as an aspect of Wheaton's Law.

I kind of wish this documentary hadn't included Boomer or Kage. I think they're both fairly unique and that neither really speak for the group, though I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could. Also be careful of applying a hobbyist/lifestyler perspective too strictly, and what traits they include - the fandom's complicated, and to discuss it, we all simplify concepts and create categories. The majority of fans have both lifestyle and hobbyist aspects to their take on furry, and some don't really fit either label. Once we start getting down to the nitty-gritty complexities of the fandom, the simplified categories stop working and can hinder discussion more than they helped when we were talking at a more general level.

That being said I'd also like to say thanks for jumping into Flayrah - we don't have too many regular commenters and it's nice to see a fresh face. Don't take us as a representative slice of the fandom either, some of these arguments have been going around in circles for years. :-) If you're feeling exasperated, take heart in this recent reddit post!

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Thanks for the welcome and the clear response.

I have mellowed somewhat on Kage since I last spoke about him. I recognise that his problem is more a case of simple disrespect than outright contempt, and I'm not going to hold too much of a grudge over it. I agree with you that tolerance is important because it can be hard to understand how other furries feel sometimes. As I said before, there's something either in our brains or our culture that makes us interpret deviant behaviour as sad and desperate; we almost take offense that these people can't just enjoy "normal" things. I think that mentality is something we really need to challenge if we're going to encourage more permissiveness within furry fandom.

Also your point about the problems of approaching furry as a "coming out" experience is really interesting. For me it felt involuntary; I came out as furry within months of coming out as gay and I felt the same emotional state in both instances as my brain rewired itself around this new identity. And then I felt the need to verbalise that coming out experience to my parents in order to give my identity a chance to settle. It worked out fine but then I've got accepting parents (not to mention other friends who I've told and have been perfectly cool with it). I can perfectly understand how other people could misinterpret a coming out experience as an admission of guilt. It's something I'll definitely consider in the future.

For the record, I'm glad Boomer was in the documentary. It was my first real introduction to a therian within the fandom and I think it was ultimately a good one because of how clearly kind and welcoming he was. I said before that any other fandom would be glad to have a person like Boomer promoting their community and I stand by that. Certainly the non-furries who were quoted after watching Fursonas seemed to like him. Again I get this feeling that furry fandom in many respects can be less tolerant than people in the mainstream sometimes. The fandom politics really just seems to poison the well more often than not.

And while I agree with you that you can't divide the fandom into two convenient groups, I do still think that hobbyist-normativity as I'm continuing to call it is a significant problem. It's responsible for a lot of the toxicity that I've personally seen in the fandom, although I'm willing to recognise the misogyny and transphobia that I don't see. But I promise I'm not being pessimistic, I did have a look at that reddit post and it is pleasing to read. But I do take a strong view on social justice issues and I like to raise awareness where I can.

You could even call me... a Social Justice Furrior! *ba-doom-doom-dish*

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I have to get this off my chest because it makes me so angry. Not everyone thinks of furry as a lifestyle and lot of people (myself included) find "coming out as a furry" as laughable. It's not a sexuality, it's a damn hobby and to compare it to what people who really do have to come out go through, is borderline offensive.

You can argue to death about otherkins, therians, zoophiles whatever. But that's not what this documentary is about is it?

I haven't told my parents my sexual orientation because I know I will be ostracized from my family, I don't care if I'm financially independent and have my own life, it isn't worth burning those bridges. I'm lucky I even have that option, for others coming out is unthinkable. You know what happened when I told my mother about being a furry? A shrug and a small complaint about the cost of my fursuit. She didn't care because I didn't make a big deal out of it or make it off to be something taboo.

I apologize for the rant and I know that wasn't the main point of your post, but I can not stand that term being thrown out so flippantly like it's even close to comparable to the real thing.

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That's not an argument for casting out others.

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Never said it was. I just don't like the comparison. As I said in the previous post, it was bit off topic. It's something i feel very strongly about and I've never liked the comparison

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There is a reason why 'coming out of the closet' as a furry is something done in the fandom, akin to being homosexual. Dr. Nuka has studied it well; the furry fandom, unlike other fandoms, is stigmatized. Thus furries feel the need to hide the fact they're furry, more so than other interests or things about themselves.

"[...] being forced to conceal or hide the fact that you’re furry is actually really bad for you – because a similar thing has been found in gay people. When people have to hide their identity, it’s stressful – you have to be constantly vigilant about what you say to other people, and self-monitor to make sure you don’t accidentally 'give it way' or 'out yourself'. It also causes constant anxiety – what if your parents found out? Your partner? Your boss? That sort of stress is really bad for a person, especially when it’s chronic. Humans aren’t designed to be constantly under stress, and it takes a toll on your immune system and your physical health, in addition to your psychological well-being." - Nuka

'Coming out of the closet' is a way to confront this social anxiety. You can choose to not make it a big deal, however it's quite clear it would be healthier if furries could just express their passion for furry like sports fans often spread their passion for sports.

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I get that it's uncomfortable and some people do come from families who are anti-everything that doesn't fit into some narrow view of what is "normal" and therefore acceptable. The real truth here is that if your family isn't going to be okay with you being furry, they probably will have issues with you being anything else, such as into anime, science fiction, etc.

But it's still noway comparable to the problems LGBT people face. A lot of these attempts to "come out" only make it worse because you're being awkward and making it out to be something horrible. And in most circumstances it can be treated like a casual thing, no different from sports or sci fi or whatever. If you can't talk people about furry like you would any other hobby then maybe you are the one who's blowing things out of proportion, not the other way around.

And you don't have explain everything to your friends or family. If you don't normally talk about your fetishes or kinks why would you bring them up now?

Simple explanation, I'm part of a fandom that likes drawing animal people and dressing up as them. Done.

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Well, I'm sorry but it's your opinion vs. the assessment of a psychologist specialized in furry. I had your same opinion but then I interviewed Nuka. Interview with Nuka, the Furry Social Psychologist. Science is validated, unlike opinions.

"[...] it’s better for furries if they’re in a situation where they have people they can confide in and where they don’t have to constantly stress about what would happen if people found out they were a furry."

Furry is stigmatized. The answer to being furry in a stigmatized context is often coming out of the closet. Furries often have a strong sense of identity that goes beyond other self-defined traits. These are all deeply analyzed facts in Nuka's peer-reviewed studies. And they're not counter-intuitive facts.

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"I have to get this off my chest because it makes me so angry. Not everyone thinks of furry as a lifestyle and lot of people (myself included) find "coming out as a furry" as laughable. It's not a sexuality, it's a damn hobby and to compare it to what people who really do have to come out go through, is borderline offensive."

It's not nearly as offensive as being told that your identity is wrong, or that you're just confused or that you're mentally ill. You know, the kinds of arguments that have been laid out against gay people for centuries. You're a shining example of what I call the Magneto problem; you've been on the receiving end of bigotry and marginalisation, and therefore should be fully aware of the forms those bigoted arguments take and where they lead, but then you use those same bigoted arguments to marginalise other people without any hint of self-awareness. It's well known that a lot of gay people try to deny or erase the existence of bisexuals and transgender people, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the same thing is happening with core-identity furries. But the fact that you have the gall to be OFFENDED by other people trying to voice their identity really just adds that extra spice to the shitcake that is your line of reasoning.

Furry is not just "a damn hobby" to a lot of furries, including myself and Boomer. It is AS important as our sexuality to us. And if you don't understand how or why we experience furry as a core identity, then instead of just assuming you know better and condescending to everyone, HOW ABOUT YOU ACTUALLY LISTEN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!? EDUCATE YOURSELF! I went into great detail on how I experienced furry in the thread under the Video interview, as did Boomer. You could have taken the time to actually learn something if you weren't so determined to stew in your own ignorance.

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Thank you... seems like belittling people is OK if you're a simple hobbyist, getting triggered by "offensive" weirdos who tie a hobby to who they are.

Even if it is just a hobby, that's how people express who they are. (Or is being queer just about liking dick, is that all personality is about?) You can see how that works in the crazy different proportions when you divide the group into gay, bi or straight. From IARP results, it's many times more queer than the general population. So why is that... (cue bigot screeching to reject knowledge.)

Actually that guy's problems are understandable and kind of sympathetic. He's in the closet and irked about others more secure, who talk about coming out because they're likely to enjoy this hobby as part of being queer. It's the furry/gay axis (a sinister conspiracy!)

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I do appreciate that I live in a part of the world where homosexuality is normalised, that other people don't have it nearly so good as me and therefore they're going to be protective of what is for them a very difficult experience. But like I said regarding Kage, prejudice is scummy no matter the reasoning for it. If you happen to be someone who doesn't understand another person's identity, the very least you can do is not question, deny or erase it offhand. And please for the love of God don't be so disgusting as to bring mental illness into it. Mental illness is something that does someone actual emotional or physical harm; the term does not exist for the convenient benefit of the people around them who can't be bothered to accept or appreciate that person's experiences.

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You're a crazy person

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No, Mike! Poor people are crazy! I'm eccentric.

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Speed quote?

Keep the comments coming at 55 miles per hour, or the thread will explode.

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Here's the thing. What you're describing isn't furry. It's therian. There are many of them in the fandom and you're one of them, whether you want to admit it or not. I believe it has already been explained to you. You can call it furry, but most everyone in the fandom is going to tell you it isn't. It's not because they hate or are prejudiced against you, it's just a fact.

I saw your posts in the Video interview, you tried to redefine furry to fit your own personal definition and even created your own term to describe yourself. Not be to rude but you are not some special snowflake.

That does not mean you can't be a furry. But let's not confuse the terms and ignore the fandoms history.

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First of all, I'm not therian. Therians believe they are part-animal and I don't believe that I am part-animal. It's really that simple.

The problem I have is that a term that best describes me simply does not exist in furry fandom. Or I should say, my identity has been erroneously wrapped up with Furry Lifestylers. Here is an optional definition under "Furry Lifestyler" in Wikifur: "To others, the definition of "furry as a way of life" is more accurate. For these furs, furriness is not something that you do, it is something that you are, an inseparable part of oneself."

This short definition by itself is a great description of me, but it is completely inappropriate to attach it the word "lifestyle". "Lifestyle" is not what you are, it's how you express yourself. For example, simply being gay is not a lifestyle but expressing your homosexuality through dress and mannerisms is a lifestyle. In fact, given how strongly gay people have fought against the historical idea that homosexuality is a lifestyle, I'm actually amazed furry lifestylers let this definition slide.

And that distinction between "being furry" and "expressing furry as a lifestyle" is very important because Furry Fandom now automatically associates lifestylers with the ritualistic behaviours, such as barking or growling. Since I don't express any animalistic behaviours, I don't think it's at all appropriate to call myself a furry lifestyler. It would simply send the wrong message about my identity.

If you know of a term that means "furry lifestylers without the lifestyling", then I'd like to hear it. But in the meantime, the lack of an existing definition is why I define myself as "core-identity furry", or "core furry" for short. Right now it is the clearest description of my identity that I can think of.

Oh, and btw, this little detour doesn't change anything I said in my last couple of posts. You don't have to empathise with people who come out as furry, but to deny, erase or connect their identity with mental illness is still a despicable thing to do. Just making that clear.

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It sounds like you are arguing semantics and taking that description way too literal. I have no doubt there are plenty of furries (otherkin) who feel a spiritual connection to an animal but don't actually incorporate those traits in to their life beyond just a feeling.

And where in my original post did I mention mental illness?

My stance is just that if you can't regard or talk about furry to other people in the same manner you would with any other usual hobby (sports, motorcycle riding, music, etc.), then you are taking the fandom much. too far.

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"It sounds like you are arguing semantics and taking that description way too literal. I have no doubt there are plenty of furries (otherkin) who feel a spiritual connection to an animal but don't actually incorporate those traits in to their life beyond just a feeling."

Otherkin is a completely different context because the term simply describes a person's psychology and therefore people can identify as otherkin to varying degrees. But "lifestyle" does not describe a psychology, it describes a behaviour, and the majority of furry fandom now take it as standard that "furry lifestyler" refers to people who engage in animalistic behaviours. Hence the term does not represent me.

"And where in my original post did I mention mental illness?"

It was in reference to Boomer, although I admit that I assumed you were connecting it to him wanting to be a dog. I don't know if Boomer has unrelated mental issues, I just know that I've seen Kage and others insinuate that Boomer is mentally ill for wanting to be a dog, and I found that offensive.

"My stance is just that if you can't regard or talk about furry to other people in the same manner you would with any other usual hobby (sports, motorcycle riding, music, etc.), then you are taking the fandom much. too far."

Again, you keep insisting that because furry is just a hobby to you, that it must universally be just a hobby to everyone. I was half-joking when I came up with the word, "hobbyist-normativity" but it looks like this is seriously going to be a thing when talking about furry fandom from now on.

I am not taking a hobby too far, I am expressing my core identity to the extent that I am comfortable.

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"but it looks like this is seriously going to be a thing when talking about furry fandom from now on"

Not "from now on" this argument is as old as the fandom. It comes mostly from people who found furry and saw it had similarities to their own interests. Therians, otherkins, zoophiles. They co opted the fandom for their own needs. None of those things have anything to do with anthropomorphic animals, which furry is at its most basic. You're not bringing anything new nor are you special.

I think you're being melodramatic. It's like this for a lot of people who are new to the fandom. It's overwhelming and new and wonderful, so they obsess over it.

The furry fandom is really cool, but it's not something to make your life revolve around. It's just not.

Tell me how artistic renditions of anthropomorphic animals are a large facet of your everyday life.

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Room.jpg
Identity_card.jpg
Schedule.jpg
Telegram_contacts.jpg

Interested in the furry fandom since 2005
Taking part in the fandom since 2007
Figured out own sexuality: after the fact of being furry
Had 4 different love mates along the way: all furries
Favourite videogame: furry game
Favourite movie: furry movie
Favourite web browser: furry browser

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What exactly does this prove? By that logic my entire life revolves around MLP. There is a difference between a hobby that takes a good chunk of your time and a hobby that dominates your entire existence. I assume you have interests beyond furry don't you?

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The discussion proves hobbyist-normativity

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Please don't use stupid made up terms to prove an argument.

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Hey Mike retriever did I ever tell you you're fluffy and cute and deserve scritches behind the ears?

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*blushes* >.< I love thooose

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I love your room! <3

Did you draw all that art yourself or did you buy it from someone? I really want to be able to draw art as good as that, but alas no cartooning skills as yet and no good workspace to be able to learn. One day...

My one consolation is that the final artwork for Zootopia's UK steelbook has just been revealed and it is gorgeous: http://s1.thcdn.com/productimg/600/600/11264282-2704390672870956.jpg

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It's mostly art taken from the internet. I really don't draw much at all.

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Fair enough. Still very nice.

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You know, I'm realising that this debate is falling into the same trap as my last debate with Rakuen. You say, "You can't call yourself furry. Only hobbyist furs are furries." Then I say, "I don't care, I'm calling myself furry anyway." And then it just goes on.

So let's just leave the argument here and marvel at Mike's room some more.

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I never said you couldn't call yourself a furry. I hate the word but you have a serious fursecution complex.

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You deny the existence of furry as a core identity and erroneously conflate my identity with therians and otherkin despite repeated explanations that they are not the same thing. That is the problem here. I don't want furry under your ignorant and pointless exclusionary terms, I want furry under terms that do justice to my identity and my place within the fandom.

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.

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In fact, given how strongly gay people have fought against the historical idea that homosexuality is a lifestyle, I'm actually amazed furry lifestylers let this definition slide.

Uh, are you kidding me?

Didn't you like, just discover furry recently anyway? Care to at least wait until you have experience with the community before trying to define and redefine things?

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Normally, yes, but in this particular case, no. "Lifestyle" is not a word created and owned by furry fandom, it is a widely-used term that connotes behaviour and choice. This is why homophobes have historically tried to deny the gay identity by calling it a lifestyle, because that term shifts the conversation from "what a person is" to "how a person chooses to behave". As such, you don't need to be a long-established member of furry fandom to see why referring to a person's core identity as a lifestyle is inherently problematic.

And that's why I'm surprised that furry lifestylers have allowed core identity and lifestyle to be conflated. Again, if you have a good reason for it, I'd love to hear it. But it strikes me as something that gives hobbyist furries and non-furries ammunition to deny the existence of a core furry identity. It allows people like brian to accuse us of "taking the hobby too far".

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The reason furries who consider it to be a lifestyle have "allowed" it to be called a lifestyle is because it affects the way the live their life, such as outlook, behavior, interests, and beliefs. That's what a lifestyle is. If that doesn't describe you then it's more likely you aren't a "lifestyler" than that the word means whatever you want it to mean.

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I feel like we're getting our wires crossed here. I'm not challenging the meaning of furry lifestyler in its entirety. 99% of what is described on Wikifur makes perfect sense. I just don't like the couple of sentences I quoted earlier, which conflate core identity (what you are) with the expression of that core identity (how you choose to behave / the lifestyle).

And you're absolutely right that I'm not a furry lifestyler. In fact, I explicitly said as such. I call myself a core furry, which simply means that I hold furry to be a core identity. The problem is that what defines me as a core furry is listed on Wikifur under "furry lifestyler". So when I say, "Furry is an inseparable part of myself.", other people will say, "That sounds exactly like the definition of furry lifestyler on Wikifur, so you must be a furry lifestyler".

All I want is for the distinction between core identity and lifestyle recognised by furry fandom, and I don't think that would do any damage to the furry lifestyler community. I'm not asking for anyone to give up anything, only for a clarification of what it means to be furry.

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"All I want is for the distinction between core identity and lifestyle recognised by furry fandom, and I don't think that would do any damage to the furry lifestyler community"

You want a distinction between a term you made up and a well established one for your own personal sensitivity? Are you joking?

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FOR THE THIRD TIME, the distinction between core identity and lifestyle has already been heavily fought for by the gay community. THIS. IS. NOT. A. NEW. THING.

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Is the term core identity used by furries? No. Are you trying to demand that it represent you in the fandom? Yes. I apologize for calling you a therian earlier, that was inaccurate. But you are a lifestyler regardless of the semantics. Furry is a spectrum and not everyone gets their own special term to describe themselves.

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The distinction between core identity and lifestyle is not just trivial semantics. If it was just trivial semantics than the gay community wouldn't have fought so hard to normalise that distinction (BRINGING THIS UP FOR THE FOURTH TIME NOW BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON IT'S NOT SINKING IN).

The gay community proved that confusing core identity and lifestyle can do real damage to how a community is perceived by outsiders. It allowed people to deny the existence of a core gay identity, instead arguing that gay people were just acting out for attention. So the gay community had to fight harder to make people understand that being gay was not just a choice nor was it just attention-seeking.

And can you guess what accusation I've seen get regularly hurled at furry lifestylers by hobbyist furries on FurAffinity forums? Attention-seeking. They say furry as a core identity does not exist and that lifestylers are just acting out. And right now, the lifestyler community can just ignore those accusations because it's too small and niche for those accusations to really mean anything yet. But as furry becomes more and more mainstream, those accusations are going to get louder and louder, and then the lifestyler community will face real stigmatisation unlike anything they've seen before.

I will admit, my initial reason for defining "core furry" was to get across my own personal identity. But having now recognised that core identity is being conflated with furry lifestyler, I think this is a dangerous standard and it's only going to do harm to furry fandom going forward. "Core furry" is a potential solution to intercept that danger before the trouble really starts.

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It sounds like you are trying to fix a problem that only exists in your own mind.

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Furry fandom isn't the same thing as "the" gay community, and they have separate histories, cultures, and...basically everything. Aversion to using the word "lifestyle" to describe LGBT people comes from a completely different context. You know, a context of hate crimes and criminalization.

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As I just said to Brian, I think the only reason why furry lifestylers are not facing more stigmatisation than they are is because they are currently so small relative to the mainstream. But the same accusations that were hurled at gay people for attention-seeking, I have seen being hurled at furry lifestylers as well. And as furry becomes more well-recognised, I think those accusations are going to get worse and worse.

PS: Look, I'm not saying that furry lifestylers are going to be treated as badly as gay people used to be. All I'm saying, stripping the argument down to the barebones, is that I don't think confusing core identity and lifestyle will be good in the long term. It's going to confuse people and it's going to invite unfair accusations going forward.

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Attention-seeking? You think LGBT peoples' issues are about us being attention-seeking?

I mean, if you're going to compare issues you're having with those of a historical group still being mistreated to this day...you might want to understand what exactly those issues are.

It's not that your comparison "isn't sinking in"; it's that it's so laughably thin a comparison that it barely merits response.

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Again, you're misreading my argument.

I'm not saying that the gay commmunity was ONLY facing accusations of attention-seeking. That really would be laughable. But I am saying that accusations of attention-seeking was one way (among many) in which homophobes attempted to deny the existence of a core gay identity. And even if those accusations pale in comparison to the violence and hate crimes, it's still relevant to the conversation. It was still something that gay people had to fight against in order to protect their rights and dignity in mainstream society.

Honestly, I wasn't even thinking of violence and hate crimes when I brought up the connection to the gay community; not because I wasn't aware of it but because it simply wasn't relevant to the point I was making. For me, this debate has always been purely about personal dignity.

There are many hobbyist furs who refuse to believe furry lifestylers when they say that furry is a part of their core identity. I know because I've seen it. Yes, even in the short time I've been a member of the fandom. The hobbyist furs may not understand or even like therians, but they're more willing to believe that therian exists as a core identity. Because "therian" describes a psychology in clear terms whereas "lifestyle" describes a behaviour. Behaviours are simply easier to dismiss. But if that lack of distinction doesn't bother you right now, or the lifestyler community in general, then fair enough, I guess. I've always said that language is memetic; if you don't need new language, you're not going to adopt new language.

But it bothers me. The last two weeks I've spent on Flayrah have been very tiring on occasion, not only because of the troubles I've had trying to articulate an identity that does not have a name in furry fandom, but then to get people to believe that my identity exists at all, even when I state it in the clearest possible terms. For example, because there's no distinction between core identity and lifestyle, I now have to deal with people like Brian constantly telling me I'm a furry lifestyler when I'm not a furry lifestyler.

It's demeaning, it's undignified and it's completely unnecessary. If we accept that furry lifestylers hold furry to be a core identity, then there's no good reason not to give that a separate label. It would give furry lifestylers a firmer ground to stand on when expressing themselves, and it would give people like me, who do not engage with furry as a lifestyle, an easier way to communicate our identities with other people.

In any case, I'm going to continue to use the term "core furry" because it's an important and useful term for me to use. If you don't need to use it yourself, then that's fine. The point is that it's here if you need to use it at some point in the future. And I think you will do.

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How did we get to this rabbit trail.

I guess we need a better word than coming out. I know fist hand about the stigma of being furry. Its specially hard if one is an Evangelical Christian. For some in more pietistic circles fury = LGBT = on step below Satanism. It why I a bit hard on some in the furry media. It one thing to say there is LGBT element in the fandom but one cannot say furry (in its entirety) = LGBT.

I admit I dealt with this being on bot sides at first I wanted to be a furry in 2004 but my last vestige of my fundamentalist piety was afraid what the church will think if I became a fury. It was when I left Baptist church for Reform theology and Anglicanism I realize there no scriptural basis that says I cannot be a furry as long I do avoid immoral side to it.

Still the stigma, when unwittingly promoted by other furs is unnecessary hard on Evangelical Christian furs.

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New insult.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3602177/Puppy-play-definitely-not-sex-TV...

"Puppy Lifestyle"

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I thought the Daily Mail was more serious than that. It has contradicting statements, and also plain wrong ones. Anyhow if it's true that "around 10,000 people in the UK enjoy the pet play craze", I'd ask a couple of hundreds to move to sunny Spain so we can play some together.

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the bizarre practice of 'yiffing', a form of dry-humping.

Ha!

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The Daily Mail is practically the embodiment of the trash tabloid. It has a well-earned reputation both here and abroad for being one of the scummiest sensationalist newspapers in Britain. So for this article to be misleading and/or wrong does not surprise me in the slightest.

Also for your amusement, a randomised (and yet surprisingly accurate) Daily Mail headline generator: http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/

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Cool ^^ I thought that place of honor was saved for The Sun magazine.

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The Sun certainly has tackier presentation, but it's never been as openly hateful as the Daily Mail, at least not since I can remember.

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a Kangaroo from Syracroose, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, philosophy and writing