Anthro Northwest premier forgets history of Furlandia's rough first year
Washington state has had a rough time with furry conventions in recent history. Rainfurrest had to shut down after they gained a sour reputation with hosting hotels due to reports of vandalism. So local furries were elated to hear of a new organization starting up by the name of Anthro Northwest. This convention, while a bit more stringent on their rules (particularly around adult material), was a welcome possible restart in relations with hotels in the region with furries.
But as activities started word leaked onto the internet of on camera release forms being deseminated for a show called "This is Life with Lisa Ling", a property of the channel CNN. Instantly locals had recollections of another incident that had occurred at another pilot convention one state south, Furlandia.
Update 11/15/17: Attendance has been announced and Anthro Northwest has been noted as being the largest attendance for a first year furry convention at 809, article updated to reflect this.
First Furlandia’s Folly
In 2013, many young and strapping furry conventions were borned to the world, each of which were covered by Flayrah. There was Fur the’ More north of the Baltimore metro area, Biggest Little Furcon in the tourist trap of Reno, and lastly Furlandia which is hosted in the eccentric city of Portland, Oregon. While we had no one on the ground for the last article, a lot of negative publicity had gushed from the, then young itself, platform of Twitter.
What had triggered this firestorm was that attendees had learned that MTV had been invited to do shootings for a documentary there. There was only a simple mention of this at opening ceremonies, but no other public facing statements. More details can be found in my article Furlandia: Portland's first furry convention overshadowed by MTV controversy.
three four bits of silver lining for the new Seattle convention in comparison to the Furlandia incident:
- Anthro Northwest did release a statement regarding the situation as soon as the issue as the information was spreading instead of waiting until after the convention to make a public statement. They made good use of their public facing social media accounts showing that the fandom's experience with the medium has grown.
- Furlandia, despite the blunder, has had several years of successful and less controversial events. It continues to see an increase in attendance every year. An asterisk on that second point that of the three mentioned debuting in 2013 it is the slowest growing convention, but that could be due to other factors as well. But in short this shows that a incident like this is not a convention killer as some on social media seem to fear.
- The show and organization they chose is a lot less controversial than Viacom’s MTV was at the time Furlandia had vetted them. Viacom’s CBS and MTV were responsible for the media blunders such as CSI’s Fur and Loathing episode and Sex2k which many furries still hold as some of the most infamous bits of media on the fandom.
- Attendence number out of the gate set a record for a first year con at 809! This more than likely was helped by the implosion of a top 10 attended convention in the local area. Thanks to Munchkin in the comment section for providing the number, couldn't find it on official channels.
Looking to the future
However, despite these improvements to the problem compared to the predecessor, the underlying communication issue still remains. If you’re going to have a major media outlet at your convention for a documentary, it should be practice to let the attendees know as soon as the decision is made. The lack of transparency not only harms the furry gathering, but it also puts undue suspicion on the organization there recording. The animosity received by Lisa in this case is also the result of the improper disclosure.
By not discussing it, the convention allows the general public to set the narrative and the tone regarding the media presence. So when people who complain about individuals who blow the whistle say they’re "not official sources", their point is moot. By not discussing such an action with the attendees, one that many would care about, the 'official sources' are in essence giving the general public permission to be the first to open the discussions on the matter when they inevitably find out at the convention itself.
Their conchair had signed off on this media agreement on 9/20/17, silence for the 2 months is more than likely going to be seen as unacceptable to your attendees and the source of their ire. It should be the public relation staff’s responsibility to try and get the first hand in announcing decisions and putting it into the public sphere. By doing so, even if there are those that disagree with the decision, the seeds of distrust would not be planted because the staff was upfront about the controversial decision.
Like Furlandia, many furries are counting on you to do the right thing on your way out the gate. My hope is that lessons learned about the issues at this convention are recorded to make for a stronger second year and another growing and successful convention. And honestly, I hope this is the last article I have to write about this kind of situation, as it is easily preventable. Learn from your neighbors and talk with one another, because those that forget history have a tendency to repeat it. Let’s not have this happen a third time.