To interview or not to interview; publish or not to publish
Furry Youtuber Majira Strawberry and Youtuber YourMovieSucks(YMS), at a combined total of around one million subscribers, had announced that they had planned on accepting a guest spot on a podcast with the Youtuber h3h3 Productions, who sits at 6.23 million. Since its announcement there had been very passionate discussions amongst fur fans on whether this is something that should even be considered. As reasons they should decline critics brought up some of h3h3’s other guests, support of controversial figures, and particular jokes that were received as having transphobic connotations— apparently while h3h3 was actually trying to make a joke at his own expense about his body weight, which seems to be a running gag for his personal feed.
At first Majira stayed stead fast with his commitment to join the podcast. However, as time went on and more fervent messages were received from individuals within the furry community, the strawberry fox eventually relented and backed out of doing the interview.
I've officially decided to back out of the H3 Podcast. After listening to everyone's concerns, it doesn’t feel like the right choice for me to go on the show
I sincerely apologize for the grief I caused the community. I’ll continue to work to earn your trust in constructive ways
— Majira Strawberry (@tallfuzzball) February 22, 2019
This event has driven a stark divide in the furry community, with Furry Youtubers and other content creators getting frustrated about having their peer in the crossfire, while others claiming that Majira had adverted what would have been a disaster for himself and the fandom, believing h3h3 to have ill-intentions.
The history of furries and media
Furry’s clamping down on those furs who go to extra-fandom platforms to discuss furry is nothing new. It’s just rare to have it get to this high profile of a figure. This phenomenon is a bit of residual from the late 90s where everyone in the media was looking to sensationalize furries. Okay, that’s a stereotype, mostly everyone in the media.
As a result leaders within the fandom took a stance with fans to treat those in the media like drugs pushers and “just say no”. I’m willing to put money down that someone wrote pieces of hard skepticism about those that had allowed filming for the recently well-received Lisa Ling episode and that the episode was going to do something a bit more nefarious. Don’t know who’d ever do a thing like that.
The furry fandom pressuring other furs not to go onto programs has been happening for over a decade at this point. While those in power would use panels to try and educate people on how to interact with the press should they need to, there was a sort of sense of that you really shouldn’t at all unless you want to end up as a bad example story in those panels. So either you deal with that animosity and go on anyway, reject those opportunities outright, or just forward them onto Samuel Ka— I mean those who put themselves into the position of being a media liaison.
Or you could do the strangest thing and work toward becoming a mixture of furry and press yourself. But don’t do that, it’s weird.
But back on topic, the relationship with media and the fandom is like that of an abusive one, only at a more cultural level. And there are insidious parts of an abusive relationship that can also lead to self harm, including those with the media and furries. It gets tough to distinguish when a person is really changing or if they are just trying to lure you in with a false sense of security. And it’s not just furs that deal with these kind of internal political clashes on whether to expose ourselves to others that could mean harm.
Extra-Fandom examples of ‘Community Abuse Syndrome’
I think the best way to describe this phenomenon is to create a new definition for it since it does not seem to have one. So Community Abuse Syndrome is a noun that describes the phenomenon caused when individuals in a community are abused by another community or society at large which creates a distrust toward those institutions for generations beyond the original abuse.
One prominent example that comes to mind is the relationships that those in the GLBT+ communities have with police officers. Since officers of the law enforced some dehumanizing laws that did harm to these communities in the past and so there continues to be animosity in the present. There are intense debates in the GLBT+ community as to whether they should allow those who are in law enforcement to participate in their pride parades. Those who don’t wish their presence are resentful to the way that officers had abused, on a systemic level, those they love in the past. So in turn want to show, by example, what rejection by those in power feels like. Even if all they really have power over is their parade and gathering.
Others who are younger may be confused by the animosity and be more accepting, until the older ones educate them about the past and why the conflict exists. The Stonewall is why the cops should be stonewalled. At that point the younger generation can take one of two paths. They either reject it and leave the past in the past, viewing the fights of the past as having been performed for the wish of the opportunity now before them. Or they begin to understand that they should not be so quick to fully forgive the transgressions of those groups in hopes that the world understands them and doesn’t forget the struggles of those no longer with us, and to note there are still struggles in the present.
Now before any cops reading the above sentences get on their high horse and say that forgiveness is the way to go and should be easy, I have two words for you: Drug War.
In the light of the passing of legislation legalizing recreational marijuana there has grown a heated debate in the law enforcement community that similarly is tied to the losses and abuses of the past. Those cops who are vehemently angry at the law’s passage probably have a colleague they were close friends with put to rest at the hands of illicit narcotics organizations who used that mostly harmless plant to build their harmful empires. Other cops may be fine with legalization and are happy that they can focus on other “more worthy” crimes. You can see where these two kind of officers are going to come to philosophical blows. It can seem that the later is being dismissive to the former that the officer who died, had died for nothing.
So moving on from the past is never easy, and the balance between vigilance and forgiveness can be a very precarious call. It takes similar forms as abuses on the individual level, but creates the complexity that every individual in the community deals with those abuses in their own ways, and leads to the conflict within that community on how to handle those in the aggressor communities. But, given time and efforts to do things better, the wounds of the past will eventually heal. Thus will happen with furries and the media. But as the examples show, it could take quite awhile, and there may always be a scar.
To interview or not to interview
I had to add a rule to my own Youtube channel of “World in Rooview” where I stated that I would not be doing any interviews. The pattern I observed from other furry Youtubers who have done an interview style show is that the first person invited to speak on the channel set the tone and would limit who else would be willing to talk.
Basically, if you interview a person who holds a particular worldview, then you close the door to anyone with an opposing world view; from not only doing interviews but from consuming any of your content whatsoever. In a strange sense, people in this modern era seem to believe that heinous beliefs are some kind of communicable disease, as soon as you share the room with someone who has it, you’re contagious. So in that case, it’s just not worth the hassle creating such a show that brings on anybody.
On top of this, if people want to go see what someone is all about then they can go to them directly these days instead of relying on a third person to ask questions. In such a world where we have Q&A videos, Ask Me Anythings from Reddit, or even CuriousCat— is the interview even necessary?
Well it could be. I referenced a Kothrix interview with Len Gibert, who is seen as a leader of the Alt-Right furry groups to highlight that Len's words seemed to indicate the purpose of their organization is not to alleviate partisan wounds, but instead to inflate it to fulfill his fantasy of a future of conflict. Which I noted had countered other statements his organization had made that they are opposed to the increasing political divides that they laid to blame at the feet of 'the left'. Boozy Badger noted that when Jon Stewart went on Crossfire, despite believing that it as platform was a disservice to American discourse, went on anyway and gave a performance that was credited for the show’s closure. It should be also noted a similar situation recently where a Dutch historian met with Tucker Carlson and their conversation once again has painted Carlson as someone who bit off more than he planned on chewing, despite him wearing a regular tie this time. History repeats in its own way.
These examples show that while it can be agitating that some individuals are given platforms, an interview that is carefully analyzed or presented can do more good then harm. Even if the individuals in that interview are harmful.
Let's also not forget that it was during an interview that Donald Trump admitted on camera that he fired James Comey because he was investigating Russian collusion. Which will probably be used against him in any future possible obstruction cases. One doesn't have to be a Yoshi to have their own tongue to form a noose around their neck.
To publish or not to publish
When it comes to asking questions and interviews, though, the average person will probably get nervous about asking people they admire questions directly. In those cases they will likely find someone they trust within their social network and then rely on their perspective instead. Since I am aware of this kind of trapping, I typically ask myself some questions when evaluating another’s statements if I need to rely on third-hand information.
- How long did the person have relations with the person?
- What is the person’s political views and does it lay in opposition or support of the person they are discussing?
- Are there other people who are independently (not in same thread) making the same statements about the person? Were they on different dates? This can establish a pattern of behavior.
- What is a person’s reputation for seeming to do the due diligence of answering the above questions themselves before making their own statements, if they are a public figure?
As I’ve become an editor of Flayrah I’ve come across people wanting me to share stories that don’t pass the above questions. Those individuals can, and usually do, go to Twitter to make their statements once the story doesn’t make it through editorial processes. Like the interview to Curious Cat situation, it may seem like news organizations have no role, but I think arguments could be made otherwise.
One example had been when an old acquaintance of mine had an issue with a moderator from /f/-list and was being banned from their communities. He stated to me that the site’s leadership is corrupt and it was my job to bring them to justice. In discussions I had tried to establish the above questions. I would ask them, “You are saying there are others who are angry about this moderator, can you provide me their contacts?”, but he never gave me any. As he continued to make claims without providing answers to the question, I found that it was what is called an ‘interpersonal issue’ and it would be corrupt of me to give it a platform just because he knows me. Anyone else having an issue with a moderator would not have that access.
The moderator told him he broke a rule. He vehemently appealed to the moderator directly that what he was doing was not against the rule he was told he was breaking. His appeal was denied. It’s not the press’s job to rule lawyer, but it is their job that people understand how rules have been enforced so they aren’t caught by surprise in the future. Because when a human is told they broke a rule that they didn’t know existed, or don’t understand, some tend to get very perturbed.
In this case my friend was using a dark web streaming service to play videos to his community, which the moderator found in opposition to using the site to share pirated/copyrighted material. The defendant stated the service was legal, but my research provided no evidence that the service’s legality was ever tried in court. It was the first I ever heard of the service, so I’m sure the big media owners of the content may not have either as of yet. So the stance /f/-list is taking is one of self-preservation. The content they serve is controversial enough, if they allow other activities that could possibly run afoul of the law some puritans could use it as the vulnerability to destroy their entire site. It would be wrong for me to say they are wrong for wanting to rule in that way given that circumstance.
I’m guessing that my old friend had felt betrayed that I never published an article supporting them, and that may shape his own political views of the furry news. That the furry news is just used to protect those in power like that ‘corrupt f-list moderator’. However, it is for the best that Flayrah doesn’t publish every time someone has an interpersonal issue and instead wait until there is enough evidence to back up that there is a pattern of corruption. Or state that those in power are making sweeping decisions that could have impacts the community at large. To educate how the rules are enforced so it’s less likely one’s ignorance of the rules doesn’t lead to unnecessary contentions.
Otherwise the same arguments the 'corrupt' individual uses against the person asking us to publish will be used against Flayrah itself. And if they succeed in discrediting the publication then it has less authority should the next time something goes awry. To be more poignant, it’s better to wait until you have enough information on a supposed wrong-doer so they cannot wiggle out of instead of blowing your information load prematurely.
Speaking of which, come on Robert Mueller, stop edging us already and give us some release.