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"Worst Of VCL" causes rumblings in art community

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A recently-created furry portal called Fur Central has caused a few eyebrows to be lifted recently within the Furry community. The proprietor of the site has created a half-joking, half-serious list that he posts about once a week called "The Worst of the VCL." This hand-picked list profiles the thumbnails and description entries from various VCL artists. In the inaugral posting of the "Worst of the VCL" the author explains, "I've decided to start a new weekly feature ... for something that's been driving me nuts for a long, long time: bad art in the VCL. ... starting now, every week I will point out my picks for the 10 worst images from the VCL's recent uploads."Within the last three days or so this has evidentally gotten a great deal of attention from VCL artists and fans alike. Many of the artist and fan's responses have been going into this article, the tenth in the "Worst of the VCL" series. Many of the posts have been from artists who feel that their copyrights are being infringed upon. Several others have been from artists who have referenced the potential copyright violations and also voiced their opinion that having this sort of forum is in bad taste and harmful to the desire of developing artists to continue working to refine their skillsets. Another group of artists and bystanders have voiced neutral or even supporting opinions for the creator of "WotVCL."

Copyright issues aside (there have been a number of court rulings both for and against the use of thumbnails as "fair use" in the public domain) the issue essentially boils down to the question of "does a member of the public viewing body have the right to select individual artists and pieces and ridicule them, when said artists post their art to a public forum/archive?" How far does your right to an opinion extend? Is the author of "Worst of the VCL" within his rights to select and poke fun at art that could, very easily, be considered of poor quality by some individuals? Or has he crossed a line in daring to share an inside joke with the rest of the world?

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the issue essentially boils down to the question of "does a member of the public viewing body have the right to select individual artists and pieces and ridicule them, when said artists post their art to a public forum/archive?"

Question: how could the answer to this be anything *but* "yes"?

Should I be able to sue anyone who says they think something I post is crappy? Or who says anything else non-complimentary about me?

Of course not.

People have every right to post art, crappy and otherwise, for the world to see, and people also have the right to post their opinions of said art, nice or not nice.

Part of the price of putting your work on public display is that you'll be hearing from people who don't like it. If you don't want to be reviewed or critiqued... why are you posting the art publically in the first place?

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Precisely. The ONLY thing that could be considered REMOTELY off-legal is the thumbnail thing. And that's a gray area anyway. If you can't take the criticism, don't post the art. I can take criticism. I MAKE criticism. My art is sucky compared to others. But I take pride in the fact that I'm improving by leaps and bounds, and comfort in the fact that there will always be artists whose art is worse than mine is. And there will always be better artists--that's my motivation to improve.

Smile! The world could use another happy person.

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And there will always be better artists--that's my motivation to improve.

That, sir, is a very mature attitude to take. I applaud you.

Now if only the people who are being so vocal about how they are being "so unfairly picked on" would take a clue from you and focus on improving their work instead of demanding that everyone say nice things about them, we would have a flood of truly awesome artists on the VCL.

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Thank you. *bows* That's also why I don't have much posted--I don't post sketches, and I haven't been producing enough finished art lately to put more up. In fact, all I have "finished" since last year are two Flash animations, which, being animations and not still images, go on my website and not VCL. They were part of an Animation course I took which greatly motivated me to sketch more. However, job-hunting and continuing school pressures have forced to the back both my drawing and writing projects. This is unfortunate; I should be working on it in spare time, but unfortunately I'm the sort of person who feels a need for a lot of devoted time in order to truly produce. Perhaps as I'm working on improving, I'll be able to create things more efficiently. At least none of the work I post up on the VCL is "bad enough" to get me into one of those lists. If I did see one of my images there, I'd take some serious reevaluating of what I had been doing (and thinking!) when I created it.

Smile! The world could use another happy person.

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I personally love this site. Some of this stuff is so fantastically bad, or strange, it boggles the mind. If you draw this, you may be made fun of:

1) Bad furry porn

2) Drawing very poorly in MSpaint or occasionally with a tablet (or coloured poorly in photoshop)

3)Drawing something poorly, and writing "I know this sux but i'm posting it anyways lol"

4)Drawing poorly on pupose because it's some sort of cool style

5) Strange, strange, strange stuff (fans in his chest? what the...?)

6) Incredibly cheezy ansgt (I will kill myself now because the world is horrible and that person who knows who I mean was mean to me, you suck)

7)To a lesser extent, incredibly cheezy love

8)Descriptions which have nothing, NOTHING to do with the picture. I mean, man. And they're like some long conversation with the artist's 'fans' and take up several lines in cute speak... okay, maybe I have a problem with them too.

But the most unifying thing of them all is the sence that the person drew this piece of dreck for a specific audience, real or supposed, who supports their dreck by going "Oh, cool!" all the time.

I think they do need a nice little reality check once and a while. Nothing wrong with discovering not everyone is unabashidly supportive of art that is not as good as it could be. Or, well, bad.

Melissa "MelSkunk" Drake

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Is it mean? Is it cruel? Is it just plain sadistic?

Sure.

Can you legally do anything about it?

Nope.

Do we have the right to criticize him as he has criticized others?

HECK YEAH.

Enjoy.....

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Do we have the right to criticize him as he has criticized others?

HECK YEAH.

Yep, it's a two-way street.

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Precisely. ANYTHING put up for all to see is open to criticism. Including this post. Feel free to criticize my grammar, spelling, or use of capital letters or emoticons if you so desire. }=)

Smile! The world could use another happy person.

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After reskimming the thread that has the most attention (it is at 184 posts, as I write this), all I am seeing by way of argument from the WoVCL detractors is "You are being mean, you meanie. What gives you the right to be so mean?" Well, frankly, a number of things give him -- and anybody else who found the series amusing -- the right to point and laugh.

1)The first amendment, as has already been discussed here.

2)That some of this art does truly suck, in my estimation.

3)These people posted it on a public forum, so public criticism, even backlash, is something they should simply expect.

I am not an art scholar, but my opinion is my opinion, and I'm entitled to it. Interestingly enough, in a lot of cases other artists I have spoken to tend to back my judgements of some of these pieces -- so I must not be too insane when I point at something and say "That is pretty bad." Just because these various people drew the art in question and think I'm cruel and heartless does not mean I cannot say what I think, nor does it make my opinion (bad Pokemon fanart is just bad, sorry) any less valid. They think it is pie, I think it is refuse. But because I happen to say so, I am the villan. Have these kids always been this emotionally pampered? Does nobody ever utter criticism on VCL's forums? It seems like everyone walks on eggshells around everyone else, afraid to say anything that might be negative lest they start a big fuss. They need to learn to suck this whole thing up and move on, because if they are that easily discouraged, then it was just not meant to be.

I will close by saying that I do not condone wanton cruelty, but some of what Neuracnu posted was pretty darn bad, and his zingers were often on the money. I compare this to a VCL version of "Mystery Science 3000," myself. If somebody wants to get their nose out of joint about it, they really need to find another hobby, but they are welcome to complain in my book just as Neuracnu complains about some of their art; as the anonymous poster said earlier, "It is a two-way street." I am not ashamed for enjoying MST3k, and I will not be ashamed for enjoying WoVCL, either.

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I will close by saying that I do not condone wanton cruelty, but some of what Neuracnu posted was pretty darn bad, and his zingers were often on the money. I compare this to a VCL version of "Mystery Science 3000," myself. If somebody wants to get their nose out of joint about it, they really need to find another hobby, but they are welcome to complain in my book just as Neuracnu complains about some of their art; as the anonymous poster said earlier, "It is a two-way street." I am not ashamed for enjoying MST3k, and I will not be ashamed for enjoying WoVCL, either.

Yeah... I enjoyed some of it after going through it, myself. The only thing is, sometimes he is Just Plain Cruel, and I can't find teh funny. When he's funny, it's hilarious, but if he's just being mean, well, it's thoroughly unredeemable. I think he's trying too hard sometimes. Hopefully true quality will come with the maturation of the site.

Hmm, I almost want to try to draw a bad picture to try to be featured. THat would be really funny. >:)

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I would think that this type of criticism would inspire artists to try better at the art that they post to the VCL.. there's lots of things people have to consider with this site.. this is by farmost the largest and oldest depository of furry art on the web. I can't even imagine how much space and bandwidth VCL takes up. I also can't fathom how much of that bandwidth is taken up by bad art. Now, there's a difference between art which is amatuer and just plain ol' BAD. You can tell.. people who are really serious about their artistry vs. people who are just aching to spew their scribblings somewhere for free without consideration to the quality of their work or the size of their images, the resolution, etc...

This is also a problem with furnation, however in FurNation's case, they have it even harder, because not only is there bad art, but in some cases, bad web design... bulky, huge bells'n'whistles web design which takes up huge amounts of space and bandwidth.

I see WotVCL as just another version of that very good book for HTML design: "Web Pages that Suck".. the book as well as the website both post the URLs for bad websites, as well as advice and tips on what should have been done to improve.

Perhaps that's the angle that WotVCL needs to take up differently. Instead of just showing the bad art, maybe they should offer a critique forum?

--Crassus

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I pretty much agree with the above comments, in that if you're going to post any art to a public forum, you should expect to receive both positive and negative commentary. I think a lot of this hearkens back to Peganthyrus' complaints about people using the web as their "refridgerator door", as in, "Lookit what I drew, ma!", and having it stuck on the fridge just because you drew it. This led to the VCL Sieve, and thanks to it, you can skip over the daily dose of 90% crud that appears on VCL.

However, I think another cause of concern in this whole debate are the motives of the people doing the satire. There's such a thing as positive and negative criticism, and satire vs. insult. Unfortunately the lines between them are blurred. Some artists are given positive criticism and take it as negative criticism; some people write satire but it is taken as an insult. Personally I think a lot of the crappy VCL art deserves harsh criticism; sure it's a big ego blow to beginning artists, but I think they need to take their work more seriously and reconsider why they're posting it: to learn from their mistakes, or to get an ego boost?

To make things more complex, I personally think that *some* (not all) writers of harsh satire are, in effect, emotional bullies using comedy as a shield for delighting in insults. ("You're an idiot! Ha ha, I didn't mean it, what, can't you take a joke?") I think of lot of the people upset with the whole "Worst of VCL" thing are questioning the motivations of the satirist. The counter-argument is usually along the lines of "Well, some people deserve to be made fun of", but one eventually has to ask the question of whether enough is enough? This is one of the reasons why I stopped reading Jim Groat's WCoTP strip, because although the charicatures were great and reading it gave me the occasional chuckle, a lot of the "jokes" were depreciating in nature, and while fun at first, the repetition got me questioning the motivations of the satirist.

If a satirist is wallowing in the joy of being a jerk, yet is making relevant commentary, the satire may leave the reader with mixed emotions of both glee and anger. Telling the satirist to cut it out may be taken as an attack of character (sometimes justified, sometimes not), rather than an attack on the satire itself. There are lots of examples that have already been argued about before: The Portal of Evil, "Skunk" by Mu Press, Shawn Keller's "Horrifying look at the furries", etc. And as the attacks continue, the saner fans begin to get disgruntled. ("Okay, yes, thank you for reminding us for the 100th time that we've got some real dinks in this fandom.")

Another facet of the problem is that furry fandom has a problem with criticising and self-policing itself, at least on a social level. On the Toronto furry mailing list, we actually had a member post to the effect of, "Heck, I don't care about this furry stuff, but you're the only group that accepts me!" It's a strange set of affairs that the newsgroups alt.fan.furry and alt.lifestyle.furry are both pretty open about what you can post to either newsgroup, but if you post to both newsgroups together, watch out! On one of the fur.artwork newsgroups, last year, complaining about people's art had gotten so vicious, that for a while everyone agreed to try to say nothing but nice things. The VCL forums have had similar discussion cycles. The only place where furry fans seem to unite in general is when copyrights are being threatened (for example, the Sibe situation).

I believe, strangely enough, that there is a good reason to complain about things in the fandom, and that it should be done. The Burned Furs went way overboard, but a simple call for people to clean up their act isn't such a bad idea. One of the FEW times the fandom tried to boot out one of its members was the whole Nekobe incident. There's lots of bad press that's been flung around about others, like Ostrich and Galen, after their media spotlights, and they're still in the fandom. Ask yourself: how "bad" does a furry have to be before you start asking them to show some public civility? When is critique bad? When is it good? What, at heart, are we trying to say when we complain, and what are our true motivations for doing so? Since we're probably not ever going to all get along together, what factions are there, can they be balanced, and can they agree on any common principles? How can we complain?

There's not going to be any kind of easy answers; all I'm asking is for people to think. For another essay on this subject, check out http://www.ranea.org/falf/articles/Mange01.html .

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Um.... wow. And I thought I was the queen of introspective essays.

What you said, 100%.

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Perhaps 'Worst of the VCL' is too harsh a title.

Maybe the name could be changed to

'Please Skull Me'

:) :) :)

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while i'm not going to debate one way or another his 'right' to do so - it occurs to me that he just MIGHT be missing the whole point of why we have online galleries - and maybe even just what the heck 'art' is in the furst place ... personaly i'd say leave the spectator consumerism in the realm of economic fanatism - the desire to express ourselves creatively - however flawed our ability to do so - is what seperates us from an amoeba ... sure there's such a thing as better and worse done and more and less visualy appealing but no thanks - there's enough coersion in this world as it is - i don't need my personal tastes dictated to ... ~;)

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