Indycision: Programming plan for IndyFurCon's 10th year causes backpedal
Being a con's programming director may sound easy on paper. You take a bunch of panel submissions, and assign them to rooms. However, there are a bunch of logistics involved. Like the conflicting interests of the panelists, who want to attend other events themselves, or making sure there are no schedule overlaps by knowing which rooms are available, and when.
And now to that list of concerns we can add: Making sure that inviting a particular headliner won't cause interpersonal issues with other performing talent who'll be attending.
IndyFurCon, a furry convention that takes place in Indianapolis with a Hawaiian theme this year, found itself in the midst of a gnarly programming snafu last week when it began to announce its guests for this year's gathering.
In order to celebrate their tenth anniversary, there was a decision to try and bring back the special guests they'd honored in all their prior years of operation. Things have changed in that decade though, and one of the returning alumni, 2 Gryphon, was seen as being too controversial. This led not only to Internet outrage, but other performers to back out of their planned attendance.
A performer portrayed problematic
Soon after the barrage of guest announcements was released on Twitter, it didn't take long for people to notice that 2 Gryphon was invited to partake in the events at the convention (though the tweet has since been deleted). For those unfamiliar with him, he's a comedian whose style in the past few years has been less about humor than making controversial statements to inspire outrage in others, particularly around the topics of trans* rights and suicide. After his removal from the programming schedule at Anthrocon 2017, he's had issues finding performance platforms.
Following this, he joined a group known as the Furry Raiders, a controversial alt-right group of furries who have leaders like Fox Miller, who is currently awaiting trial for inappropriate action toward younger individuals, and Len Gilbert, who has gone on record of wishing for more inter-political conflict in society and the fandom during an interview with YouTuber Kothrix. More details on this can be found in the article written here.
After 2 Gryphon joined this group, it wasn't long after that Eurofurence informed him that he would not be able to perform on their stage. So it may have been a last-ditch effort of the Gryphon's desire to bargain for stage presence that caused him to contact IndyFurCon's programming in the fall of 2018 in order to try and get a slot.
For if he had a shot anywhere, it would be with the volunteer Programming Director of that gathering, Huscoon. A figure who is also known for controversial tweets, including perhaps his most infamous in wishing for Boston to suffer a follow-up to the Marathon Bombing that had occurred there.
Performers are not chattel
While perhaps Huscoon could have predicted the backlash from the Internet for the decision to include 2 Gryphon, which was hotly contested decision even internally with the board, he was perhaps not ready for the blowback to the con schedule he'd been working on.
It started with Boozy Badger, a lawyer furry who'd been adopted by the fandom not long after Rocky Mountain Fur Con's collapse in 2017, when he had written about the Sovereign Citizen-style letter sent to Deo by a member of their board. The sardonic and humorous take on the event from an (at the time) outsider's perspective was well-received by the fandom, and made him an overnight furry celebrity. Since then, he's taken on a badger fursona and has been to a surprisingly high number of conventions. He's been featured on many panels throughout the northeast United States' furry convention scene.
But in the case of this year's IndyFurCon, Boozy withdrew himself from being a panelist. Citing that his own child is trans*, he felt it necessary to take a stand to not associate with an organization that would give someone a platform who had used their voice to deny his child's rights. His full statement is in the tweets below:
— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) June 11, 2019
Not too long afterwards, other performers came forward to say they would not be attending the convention in August, including animator and amateur comedian Xander the Blue, who noted that if his close friend Alkali chose to go, he wouldn't join him, despite a tweet from the convention indicating otherwise.
A Gryphon defrocked
Following the contention and the loss of talent, the IFC board said they were in discussions about the situation. It wasn't too long afterwards that the board reached their official statement on the matter, and withdrew 2 Gryphon from any programming.
From the iFC Board of Directors pic.twitter.com/fWbLGR2OBG
— ????Hawai'ifc 2019 (@IndyFurCon) June 12, 2019
Whether the performers who previously withdrew themselves plan to return - now that the situation that catalyzed their exit has been resolved - is unknown at this time. However, given the upheaval, the programming director will certainly have to work hard to rearrange the convention's schedule as a result of the wipe-out. What impacts it will have on attendance is also unknown.
Currently, IndyFurCon is the fourth fastest-growing convention in the Midwest, not the fastest as Huscoon had stated (see the first comment below for a breakdown). This blunder certainly won't help the ambitious husky-raccoon to have the gathering reach that particular goal. The local furs of Indiana are hoping that this affair won't have a negative impact on their convention's future.
Time will tell, as she always does.