If you were to Google the definition of a comedian you would see it defined by Dictionary.com as an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh. Likewise the New York Times has a comedy critic, Jason Zinoman, who defines comedy in a moment of reflecting on his own career of analyzing them.
This often dictates the form of my column, since while the goal of comedy is to make you laugh, what’s fascinating about the art form — especially these days, when it’s so fragmented and aesthetically diverse — is that there are many ways artists accomplish that goal.
However, if you were to ask one furry who considers himself one, 2 Gryphon, you’d find an entirely different etymology of the word, and what the job of a comic is.
It's the JOB of the comic to bring forth uncomfortable things and question them in a way that makes people think about them.Since that has become "wrong", expect that the Western world will not be laughing as much. https://t.co/EIExUX5W2h— 2, The Ranting Gryphon (@2_gryphon) June 9, 2019
It is this quote that we are going to be over-analysing today. I have broken this down into three main points as to why this definition of the job of a comedian is not only a fundamental misunderstanding of the role, but also a resignation of the foundational principles of comedy.
This is us. Animation veteran critic Martin “Dr Toon” Goodman has just written an article for the Animation World Network on “The Animation Critic’s Art: Taking the Heat”, in which he reveals that in 2003, he was asked to name the worst Disney feature ever made. He chose Robin Hood.
This article is also pertinent to all the discussion lately on whether there should be more criticism in Furry fandom. (And don’t miss my AWN review of The Art of Rise of the Guardians.)
Not criticism of the fandom (though that's fine too) but of the material which people post — and not criticism of its topics, but of its quality. We need people to point out deficits in artwork or stories so that they can be fixed, even if it can be tough for the creator.
I've been critiquing art and stories for a number of years now – perhaps sometimes a bit too harshly – and I find it quite depressing how some people react. I don't expect them to be happy when I point out flaws, but some go so far as to delete and re-upload their work to remove criticism. Some furry sites also allow users to hide comments that they don't approve of, or prevent them entirely. That's fine when people are trolling, but you lose something important when those features are used to stifle criticism because the user finds it upsetting.
On the plus side, some users do actually pay attention and listen.
Academia strikes again. This scholarly study, #20 in the McFarland’s “Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy” series, edited by Donald E. Palumbo and C. W. Sullivan III, presents a literary and historical analysis of the theme of intelligent animals in modern (20th) century science fiction and fantasy.
Though animal stories and fables stretch back into the antiquity of ancient India, Persia, Greece and Rome, the reasons for writing them and their resonance for readers (and listeners) remain consistent to the present. This work argues that they were essential sources of amusement and instruction--and were also often profoundly unsettling. Such authors in the realm of the animal fable as Tolkien, Freud, Voltaire, Bakhtin, Cordwainer Smith, Karel ?apek, Vladimir Propp, and many more are discussed. (back-cover blurb)
To celebrate this month’s most monstrous of holidays, let’s take a look at monstrosity, and how something as seemingly innocuous as furry can have more connection to the horror genre than mere werewolf movies.
Furry fandom has had more than its fair share of criticism, both from within and without. A Flayrah review of Shawn Keller's "Horrifying Look at the Furries" (2001) notes that Mr. Keller "associated furry with bestiality and pedophilia." A decade later, most of our critics do the same.
But the title was purposely provocative. This may come as a surprise, but I'm not talking about the furry fandom at all. Instead, I'm calling for more criticism of the furry genre.
This piece has three goals: to explain why criticism is needed, what kind of criticism, and finally to offer a few points of criticism as examples.