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2009 Ursa Majors open, but not to all

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Best Magazine nominee Softpaw #4 would be excluded today [Papaya Kitty]

Nominations have begun for the 2009 Ursa Major Awards, furry fandom's popular award for excellence in published works. But new rules intended to safeguard the reputation of the Awards and its sponsoring events will exclude works which won nomination in previous years.

While nominees and winners will still be chosen by popular vote, the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association intends to block material they deem "obscene, libelous, or otherwise detrimental to the integrity and good standing of the Ursa Major Awards and the anthropomorphics fandom."

Their definition includes "works of a predominantly sexual nature, or which include explicit sexual situations involving characters which may be underage or non-anthropomorphic animals."

The UMA website also advises against "stacking", though it is unclear whether a request to vote or nominate a candidate - or even mentioning that a particular work had been nominated - would constitute such action.

The changes are in response to last year's nominations; particularly of Softpaw Magazine #3-4 and Finding Avalon, both of the genre colloquially described as "cub porn."

Apparently legal in North America - though fear of legal action blocked their sale at Further Confusion - such works deeply concern many furs, including influential members of the awards committee.

As the Awards grow more popular, these members have become increasingly uncomfortable about the presence of materials which might spoil the image they wish to project for the fandom.

Worse, con staff - who form the bulk of ALAA members - fear having to sponsor an event celebrating works which they themselves have banned. In a publicly-posted comment to Eurofurence's representative to the ALAA, convention chairman Cheetah said (translated): "Damn it. So they have just nominated the people that we have officially thrown out of the convention."


Waterways is Kyell Gold's third award-winning novel, after Volle (2005) and Pendant of Fortune (2006) [Cooner]

Anthrocon art director PeterCat also expressed disquiet, suggesting segregation of "mature-themed" works from "pure wank material" so that he might "wholeheartedly support and be proud of the UMAs."

Fully half of last year's winners (and six of the eight normally won by fan-made entries) arguably involved such themes, including Dog's Days of Summer, Heat, Heathen City and Waterways

The popularity of underage pornography is not the only problem ALAA may hope to address. Last year, erotica writer Kyell Gold gained five nominations, four of which were in the same category, and won Best Short Fiction and Best Novel. While some defended these nominations, others felt furry publishing house Sofawolf Press had too great a share. Kyell's six lifetime wins have brought him equal to Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.

In the wake of last year's events, the Awards opened a public discussion area and a LiveJournal. However, despite a promise for information last May, no information about the rule changes was published until now.

Nominations for the Awards close on 28 February; the final vote is scheduled for March 13-April 18. There is no change in the award categories, which have remained static since 2003.

Comments

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Same thing I already said on LJ:

Oh great, so "we" can vote for "our most favourite art and the work that means most to us in the fandom", as long as "others" agree with it.
Great concept. Mh...I personally think romantic and drama films are quite boring, is it possible to exclude them from the academy awards? I also fear they might hurt the reputation of full-action films.^^

No, I know this is a strange and nor really serious comparison. But well, my opinion: I'm sad to hear this. I can totally understand some people don't like certain things and damn, they're free to not like this, but I personally am sad to see such changes, not only on the UMA, but also on conventions and all. *sigh*

Well, I will not recommend or vote anything I guess, I'll continue to support stuff I like by either donations or simply by buying it. Let's hope the best for us all, whatever "the best" will be.

Greetings,
RealZero

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I think it is partly because of the conventions that this has become such a big issue. Thanks to the introduction of convention delegates as directors (which I believe began around February 2007), the vast majority of ALAA members now serve two masters. Naturally they do not wish to bring controversial material to the forefront of their respective events. This would be true wherever the awards were held; though oddly the option of holding them purely online seems not to have been considered.

I don't want to undermine the real feeling of concern shared by many fandom members about the mere possibility of granting awards to such works; and honestly, I'm not surprised at the decision. It is rational given the interests of the members and the events they represent. I am, however, disappointed the way it was made - in secret - and that it was the only thing ALAA bothered to change.

Perhaps I'm being unfair - after all, this is just a small part of a few people's lives. But when I see groups like Fandom's Favorite Fursuit Fracas evolving when the UMA seem to be stuck in last century's awards model, I feel I have to speak out. Excluding certain works may save the awards from scandal, but it will not save them from continued obscurity and increasing irrelevance.

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It originally became a big issue without the pressure of the conventions when last year's nominations were named. There were a number of protests from many sources (myself included) as it was felt that the material being nominated was not only objectionable but running pretty far afield from the original purposes of the award, which was to promote the best and most noteworthy material that would put the fandom and field in the best possible and respectable light. What we got instead was material that seriously worked against our collective best interests.

Hopefully, this will resolve the situation and deliver us all from the potential of future embarrassments.

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Mh, alright, I do understand your point in this.
So, I won't change my general opinion: To me this change is a pity, BUT yeah, you have a point.

To ME the meaning of the Ursa Major Awards was to show the appreciation to the best works the fandom has to offer. And this "goal" would kinda be gone for me once someone decided "what is allowed to be 'the best'".

Considering what you said: "that would put the fandom and field in the best possible and respectable light" I have to agree. I don't have a problem with yiff, even on the contrary, I like it. I also don't have a problem with "cub porn", in general I don't have a problem with most of the "fetishes" in the fandom, as long as they're not violently pushed onto me.
But in the view of "respectable light" I agree with you, that stuff "like that" would really not be a good choice, especially not to represent the fandom as a whole, at least not to the public.

I can understand this decision to some degree, to me it's simply sad because of one reason: What if a publication with outstanding quality is produced, having a clearly better planning, printing quality, content quality and whatever, better than everything else in that category, BUT it falls in one of the "forbidden" categories? The publication will never have the possibility to get this award and the producers will never have the nice feeling of winning "something cool like that".
And because of this I think it's a pity. What would be the best solution? Have an own award for "yiff"? An own for "cub art"? I honestly have to say, I don't know, and I'm sorry I cannot give more constructive criticism in that specific matter.

But yeah, that's what I think. I don't like the UMA's decision, so I don't fully agree with you, but I can fully understand and accept your opinion and I hope that, in whatever way, there will be something in the future to resolve such issues with a pleasant result for everyone. Chances are small for that, yeah, but I guess one has to think about and hope for it at least.^^

So, yeah, thanks for your opinion as well, it helped me getting a bit clearer about of my own as well.
I hope for the best, nya.

Greetings,
RealZero

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With all due respect, what you are describing is not a popular award. If you or the ALAA want to promote "the best and most noteworthy material", you want a juried award, where the jury is selected from a group of people you trust to make "the right decision". Anything else is asking for trouble.

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So you guys did it -- with your cub fetish, you got other non-cub authors kicked out. Grand. I hope you are proud.

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Well, I agree that it's a problem. But this is what furry has become. It's unfortunate if you're not into that, and I'm remaining neutral on it, but we've had opportunities to approve or disapprove of the cub type thing in fandom, and the result has been from too many people:

"Well, I was excluded because I was weird, we should welcome everyone."

If Furry wants to exclude Cub, then Furry needs to get some balls :P

EDIT: Corrected grammar and other issues. No, actually, just grammar.

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I have talked to a few ALAA members, and the fact is, the Ursa Major Awards aren't as "big" as they make themselves to be. It takes only a few hundred votes to be nominated, and after that, it's about knowing the right people to win.

Maybe it's time we had a "People's Choice" type award, where the committee picks the nominees and then the voting is done, instead of the other way around .

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A few hundred votes is all the UMAs get, period - 270 last year. As there are normally a minimum of five nominations available for each slot, I suspect it only takes a handful of nominees to get on the ballot.

The irony is that the Ursa Majors were already an award that reflected the choice of the people, or at least the people who could be bothered to vote. Those running it just didn't like some of the choices made.

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Hey GR,

It's not letting me reply to you. I click reply, and it just gives me a blank page with a captcha, I'm on Chrome.

BUT.

I didn't know that about the 270. Kyell and the sofawolf crew easily have the majority of those, since they send out msgs' to everyone to hint that they vote on it.

And yeah, I agree completely. It IS what Furry likes. The fact is, though, Furry just likes cub. If we want to solve that image issue, then pretending like it's not there as the UMA are doing won't be successful in the long run. Newcomers will still easily find it.

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Thanks for the bug report, which I can duplicate. It's a known bug in the reCAPTCHA module which should hopefully be fixed soon. You can avoid it by turning off Javascript using "-disable-javascript" on the command line; unfortunately Chrome has no in-browser method of doing this. (Or just use another browser temporarily.)

I think even without the suggestions, a nomination might have resulted. I reviewed the Softpaw forums for last year's related news report and there seemed to be significant grassroots support. The Awards have also encouraged this kind of behaviour in the past, and it will be interesting to see how many votes are made without it.

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Kyell and the sofawolf crew easily have the majority of those, since they send out msgs' to everyone to hint that they vote on it.

While this is true, it's worth keeping in mind that any nominee can do that. Kyell Gold has the undeniable advantage of being one of the few "name" authors left in the fandom. Having said that, he also has the not inconsiderable advantage of being really good. He gets dismissed a lot in discussions like this as "just another pornographer" (I know you didn't write that, but I see variants of it a lot), but most of the people doing the dismissing haven't looked very deeply -- if at all -- at much of his stuff. His upcoming Shadow of the Father is one of the best novels I've read in years. The absence of qualifier for "novel" is deliberate: not "best furry novel with gay main characters," just "best novel."

The fact is, though, Furry just likes cub.

That's a very dubious conclusion to draw. The low "turnout" for the Ursa Majors makes it very easy to, in effect, stuff the ballot box; if you can successfully coordinate just two or three dozen people to nominate the same thing, it's very likely to get that nomination. But that doesn't mean those two or three dozen people are a good statistical sampling of What Furry Likes. That's like asserting that science fiction fans must "just like" L. Ron Hubbard, because Scientologists have successfully coordinated campaigns to get one of his novels nominated for a Best Novel Hugo.

A more supportable -- albeit still anecdotal -- conclusion is that furry fans seem to have an extremely strong aversion to the idea of collective censure. I think there's probably a lot of psychological reasons for that; many fans even early on felt like they were outcasts, and the current generation of fans in high school and college are becoming members of the fandom when it's gotten a fair amount of mainstream attention "that thing where people dress up as animals for spiritual or sexual reasons," which hasn't exactly helped the sense of isolation. (Twenty years ago in the fandom I don't recall it being nearly as common as it is now to use "in the closet"-style language when speaking about being a furry.) Because of this, a lot of fans seem very hesitant to support public, formal disapproval of other fans, very possibly because they're thinking, "Hey, even if I find what Those People are doing to be appalling, what if I'm Those People to somebody else? There's a lot of somebody elses to whom I'm Those People just for being a furry. Do I really want to support this precedent?"

Having said that, any awards organization gets to set the standards for what they will and won't accept. A rule which says erotica with adult characters is okay but erotica with child characters is not would not be considered controversial in very many contexts and I'm not at all convinced that there's a good reason for it to be controversial in this one, either.

Having said that I generally agree with Greenreaper that the Ursas are pretty irrelevant; I just suspect that this rule change is, er, irrelevant to their irrelevance.

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I'm a Kyell Gold fan :) Don't misread me :) I think he deserves the accolades, I would like my writings to be as well received, and I think he has a bright future. In short, he should change nothing and continue doing what he does. He's very, very good at it. I look forward to Shadow.

I'm not complaining that he "rigged it." He had fans, valid ones, that put his name forward repeatedly. (Though, now there is a chance his votes could be tossed if he's "blocking" , whatever that means)

My point is that the cub people ALSO have fans, equally valid, that put forward things.

I agree that my second statement is anecdotal, regarding Furry just liking cub. However, if you look at what's viewed on FA, what's favorited on FA, Sofurry, etc... you'll see the numbers are skewed towards it. You can see it in story views, number of favs, etc. If you go on IRC, you can see it in the popularity of the rooms. It _IS_ popular, perhaps far more than people think it should.

I also agree that any awards organization gets to set standards for what they will or won't accept. That's fine.

But this rule excludes Waterways, and Waterways is a good novel which won the award the previous year.

This rule excludes HEAT, a good magazine that won the award the previous year.

Half the things on the recommended reading list for 2009 are automatically excluded. Many of the top selling products in Furry would be excluded.

And if they are to be an awards show that state that "These Awards are decided by the fans, not by a committee" and "It is intended as Anthropomorphic (a.k.a. Furry) Fandom's equivalent of the Hugo Award ® presented by the World Science Fiction Society, mystery fandom's Anthony Award, horror fandom's Bram Stoker Award, and so forth" then by excluding the most popular items of the fandom they are even less credible than they are now. It'd be like your L.Ron Hubbard example. As if they said "Battlefield Earth is the best sci-fi novel ever, if you exclude the ones we don't accept nominations for."

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I don't know that all the things suggested as potentially being excluded would be, but then that's kind of the point - it has rather a chilling effect on the nominations.

Certainly it's possible to argue that comics on the Recommended list like Jack and perhaps Concession should not be nominated based on the current definition - even though they're wildly popular among furs. I'm not sure I'd call either "excellence in anthropomorphics", but that hasn't stopped Jack being nominated twice in the past.

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Something else that just hit me is that the rules as written seem unclear and pointed. It's like the old definition of obscenity used by the Supreme Court , "I know what it is when I see it."

For example... if we were to apply rules from 2009 to 2008..

Waterways involves underaged characters in.. those situations. It would not have won in 2008 and should have been disqualified.
HEAT would not have won, as it is a magazine that falls under "Works of a predominantly sexual nature"

It just seems like they're trying to pretend that furry isn't what furry precisely IS.

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It's more like they're trying to focus on the best parts of Furry rather than leaning towards its more prurient leanings. Furry is NOT predominantly about sex, regardless of the highly visible indulgences towards it. It is about anthropomorphics, and the awards need to reflect THOSE interests and spotlight the best across the board without giving in to the indulgences.

There's good reasons why pornography isn't represented in other major award presentations in other fields; primarily, because those awards aren't for pornography, and because the inclusion of such would lower the overall quality (and the expectations of that quality) of the field.

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The point is that depends on the ALAA's definition of "best". And that's fine - it's their event and their site, they can feature what they like - but calling it a popular award when you exclude some of the most popular works from consideration is misleading.

As for "spotlighting the best across the board" . . . from all I can gather Softpaw appeared to be of a relatively high quality, both in materials and production. The works were subject to editorial review and while stories were of an uneven quality, the artwork included some of the better artists in the fandom.

Were they "the best"? No, and that's one reason they didn't win. Personally, I gave ANTHRO my first choice for magazine. But they were a valid nominee within the Award's definition of "excellence in the furry arts," and that's why I'm sad to see them - and works like them - excluded.

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Agreed. However, a glance at FA, or what makes artists money, or what sells better at Sofawolf or Furplanet will very clearly point to what drives the Furry economy. You call these things indulgences, I call them things that move product and drive the economy. To say that furry isn't predominantly about that is to ignore a very obvious reality. Yes, furry at its base is about anthropomorphic animals, and it stops there at a simple definition. However, the FORM of media most preferred in fandom is sexual in nature.

Kyell Gold isn't popular because he's a good writer. He's popular because he's a good writer who writes what the market wants.

Other fields are not built around the inclusive nature that we are built around. Other fields draw hard lines between acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. We tend to not draw those lines. If you want to have an award that both represents the best of the community in the community's mind, and you don't want it to indulge in the more risque things of fandom, you're going to have to find a different community.

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And that's a sad concept because I know Chuck has been a part of this community for decades - far longer than I - and contributed many great works to it. I'd like to find a way in which he and other artists who feel the same way could happily co-exist with the entire fandom as it exists today.

However, I'm not convinced the method chosen by the ALAA to resolve this dilemma is the best solution. As a popular award, the UMAs derive their legitimacy from the free choice of the people. If that choice is denied, the Awards are likely to lose what stature they had within the fandom.

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Believe me, I have nothing but great respect for Chuck and anyone who has been in this fandom for decades. :) It's great to see people stick with it, doubly so with productive people such as yourself, GR. My comment wasn't telling him to find a new fandom, that's cold, and not my call.

My comment was that the fandom has dictated what it finds important. And ALAA is trying to change that because they don't find what the fandom finds important very convenient. So, we have a variety of options if we don't wish to let that be the status quo. We can change fandom, we can subselect a fandom out of the current fandom, we can set up our own awards show, etc.

I just don't see, if the current state of the porn in fandom makes them uncomfortable, how we can continue on the path we're on and end up with them being comfortable again. It will take action of some type.

But yes, I have GREAT respect for Chuck's work. If it came across any other way, then I apologize deeply. My respect, and his past, however, don't change what the fandom currently has become.

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I might see the fandom as more then it is but to me it's another opportunity to challenge trains of thought. When it comes to something like softpaw I'm not advocating legalizing pedophilia (too much consideration and perspective on people I know who are forever damaged by it.) BUT I see works such as softpaw as something important, I see furry as a whole something to challenge the status quo if you will much like comic books did when they first came out, challenging the ideals of the 1950s when it came to the american family, race, and politics.

I have only been aware of this committee for a few days and I see them as cowards playing it safe. I want to know what they feel they have to lose. On the other hand I guess that's fine. It seems the more ridicule the artist and writers get by works such as softpaw, among other works like waterways, the more thought, development, ideas, promotion, and possible relevance they seem to put in these things. This isn't some avocation of so called 'rights' I just don't understand the exclusion of such works because in the end it will only bring more attention to it and provoke more thought that strays away from the futile black and white views.

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You do realize that comic books came out in the 1930's? They were never meant as anything other than a quick and dirty way of making money as quickly and as cheaply as possible. They didn't develop into an artform until decades later, pretty much in spite of itself and its commercial interests.

How this equates with cub porn (a term which is itself self-explanatory) is beyond me. No matter how well crafted a publication like SOFTPAW may be, it is still an advocation of pedophilia and incest, either of which is morally and socially reprehensible. This may be a status quo, but how is it one worth challenging, and how is it one we would want to raise as representative of the best of the fandom? It taints all of the rest of us with its squicky brush. You won't find any other popular awards supporting, say, NAMBLA, no matter how well produced a presentation they can present.

And if you think the committee is playing it safe, think again: because apparently even challenging the status quo of acceptance of questionable material (as becoming evident here) is anything BUT safe.

Furry is nothing more than a metagenre. It has no specific agenda of its own. It IS a venue through one can present ideas and icons, but that's all.

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Many people in the fandom have spent a long time associated with it, and with organizations that are a part of it. If nothing else, they stand to lose their reputation in the wider community by being publicly associated with works that are offensive to others. Aside from that, many feel that the material is harmful and should not be created.

For some, "furry" just means a particular theme of artwork. Others see the furry community as a movement or subculture of individuals with shared objectives and values. Whether it is truly cohesive enough to be called that, I don't know. But it is clear that there is some kind of difference between furry fans and the general population, otherwise we would not be having this conversation.

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I'm not sure what the big deal is about keeping the Ursa Majors "clean". I'm sure that if a piece in softpaw was of sufficient artistic merit and had enough writing chops, it could get an exception, but I'd imagine it would be a lot easier for that piece to be nominated if it was published via a non-pornographic-focused magazine.

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I'm happy to see this discussion going on here. I think the soul-searching that we've been through the past couple of months at the ALAA rather reflects a lot of soul-searching on the part of furry fandom, and it's good to see these points debated. There was a considerable amount of arm-twisting in several directions to wind up with the current language that we have in our new charter. Is this the final word on our rules and regulations? Hardly.

As for those who have fun snearing about the awards' 'irrelevance', I can say only this: We want, very much, to be relevant. That's why we keep plugging at this, for nearly a decade now. Our last go-round had nearly 300 people taking part. We joke at the ALAA that that's nearly 6 times the voters of the Golden Globe Awards... It's also, more seriously, on par with the average voter turn-out for the Hugo Awards these days. A sad but true thing. We continue to advertise and spread the word, and HOPE against hope that more and more people will decide to take part. We STILL get people coming to us late in the game and complaining "Hey! How could ****** not be nominated when it was so cool??". And our response is always the same: Get together with your friends and nominate it!

Rod O'Riley
ALAA Member
CaliFur Staff

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If you want to be relevant, I'd suggest the following, for starters:

  • Add some of the categories that have been suggested for several years now.
  • Get out there on forums, LiveJournals, etc and tell people about the event - now! Conbook ads don't work because people can't nominate when they read them.
  • Make your voting easier than it is. Online forms, not copy-and-fill-in-the-ballot-and-press-send. You might try figuring out a way to do that for nominations, too.
  • You know who voted last year - why not email them and tell them to nominate and vote at the appropriate times this year? (On the same note, it would have been a good idea to tell voters about last year's results.)

As I said above, the depressing thing is that these things and many others like them have been suggested before, but the only "fix" was to something that wasn't a problem - that a popular award was popularly chosen.

As for getting together with your friends, that sounds suspiciously like "stacking" to me. Or did you mean something like "nominating many items from a single publisher or author"? Or something else . . .?

I know you want flexibility to disqualify votes or nominations, but the wording as it stands creates uncertainty, and dissuades people from doing what you want: nominate works they like and get others to do so as well.

For what it's worth, this isn't the only place people are talking, though it is the main one. (Why proposed changes weren't explained and discussed beforehand in the areas created by the UMA for that purpose, I don't know . . .)

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In response to Mr. Melville, since I don't seem to be able to respond directly:

"No matter how well crafted a publication like SOFTPAW may be, it is still an advocation of pedophilia and incest, either of which is morally and socially reprehensible."

Fiction of _______, which is morally and socially reprehensible, is an advocation of ________ in real life situations.

Can you fill in those blanks with anything else that is morally and socially reprehensible for anyone to actually do in reality, and not have the statement be not only ridiculous, but speaking of something that modern popular and mainstream fiction is not >rife< with? Murder, rape, violence, there is no end of horrible things that works of fiction are built around yet people accept that they are simply fiction. But this subject, for some reason, people lose all reason over. I mention him a lot when this argument comes up, but Stephen King has written some of the most twisted and horrible scenes imaginable, including acts of violence and death and (so I'm told, I haven't read IT myself so forgive me if I'm misinformed on this last point) even sex involving minors. So why isn't he accused of advocating the deplorable acts he puts into his fiction?

This argument is weak, flawed, and hypocritical in the extreme unless it is applied to >any< topic that is taboo, or "morally and socially reprehensible." But it's not. Because people understand that accusing a person who writes murder stories of being an advocate for murder is ridiculous. Somehow they fail to understand that ridiculousness applies to your assertion here, too.

I'm hesitant to speak with such a tone to someone who's been involved with this fandom since I was 5, but I should think someone as old and mature and experienced as you would have at least a stronger argument than that for why you disapprove of this sort of thing. It seems to me the separation of fantasy and reality is less of a concern for the creators of this fiction and more of a concern for the people who seem intent on treating art and stories of make-believe animal-people as little to no different from the act of actual real world child abuse. The very assertion is simply absurd.

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Your own argument is flawed in trying to make a comparison between 'cub porn' (which is thinly disguised pedophilia) and mainstream fiction. Horror and murder mysteries may or may not (depending upon the specific writer) depict scenes of terrible, horrible acts, but in doing so they convey the full impact of those horrible acts and follow through the consequences of those acts. Every monstrous act committed in King's novels has been a catalyst to other actions within the stories, often leading to a resolution of retribution. (IT is ultimately destroyed by the children it tormented and preyed upon.) Even if this resolution is not achieved, consequences are still played out. The murder mystery, MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane, tells of how a man seeking revenge for his murdered daughter hunts down and kills the man he believes responsible, only to learn afterwards that he's killed the wrong man.

Ad infinitum.

'Cub porn' has none of these qualities. It serves only to excite and titillate, in the fashion of all pornography, projecting the pretense that sexual obsession for children is normal and natural, and portraying it with neither consequence nor conscience. It blithely ignores the real world horrors of pedophilia, hiding itself in the illusion that because it is fictional and portrayed through a veneer of furry illustrations, that it is somehow not the same thing.

It is morally and socially reprehensible.

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So there's never fantasy fiction? Fiction written outside of the realm of reality, where things don't work the same way they do here? Is it the responsibility of any work of fiction to be sure to show real-world appropriate consequence any time someone does something that would be bad to actually do, or else it's just advocating that people go and do it? That if you let a character do bad things and don't appropriately punish them for it, you are effectively advocating that people in reality do the same?

This is at least a better argument than the previous, but it's still weak. You're making assertions about the purpose and intent behind the works of others, and insisting that there's an agenda behind it. That this kind of fiction is >meant< to try and decrease the outrage and revulsion to actual child abuse. Which is a bit of a stretch at best. To validate your stance, you have to state as a Given motives and purposes that have no basis in proof or fact and are just your personal assumptions as to the motives of others.

Speaking for myself, I draw characters that, regardless of their apparent age or physical proportions, are physically, mentally and emotionally able to do what they do and enjoy it. They're made up, they don't exist, so reality does not apply to them. Someone finding an idea appealing when many pivotal elements of that appeal are firmly rooted in fiction and fantasy does not irrevocably translate to them finding appeal in the real world equivalent, stripped of all the purely fictional elements.

If you write a story about a race that gets sexual gratification from having their heads removed, because they can just be stuck right back on without dying or suffering any harm, that does not mean you're advocating people going around chopping off human heads in real life. You've created a fictional race where the laws of biology, psychology, and reality in general >do not apply to them.< The crucial distinguishing elements which define the fictional race that are pure fiction do not exist in real life, so the act portrayed in the fiction does not >have< an exact real world equivalent.

If someone is drawing sexual gratification from fiction where the characters >are< mentally and emotionally unprepared and unable to handle what is being done to them, if someone writes fiction that >does< have the characters react with trauma and upset as real children would, and tries to portray that as perfectly okay, THEN your argument might apply. But I for one don't go that route. Warping undeveloped minds and committing abuse and trauma towards real living human children is not part of the fiction I create. So I do take strong offense at the insinuation that I'm an advocate for child abuse. But even if someone did write such fiction, how is it not trying to push the concept of Thought Crimes as a valid notion if you suggest people be judged based on things they have not actually done or shown clear and undeniable intent to do?

And if you feel it is sensible or rational to apply real world laws and consequence to fictional worlds that clearly do not operate on the same principles as the real world, then again, I have to say that the person with trouble keeping a firm distinction between reality and fiction here is you more than me.

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Watts gave a more comprehensive response below, but let me directly address a few specific points:

"Is it the responsibility of any work of fiction to be sure to show real-world appropriate consequence any time someone does something that would be bad to actually do, or else it's just advocating that people go and do it?"

Yes.

"That if you let a character do bad things and don't appropriately punish them for it, you are effectively advocating that people in reality do the same?"

At the very least, you are advocating that it is permissible and acceptable.

"This is at least a better argument than the previous, but it's still weak. You're making assertions about the purpose and intent behind the works of others, and insisting that there's an agenda behind it."

There may not be an active agenda at work, but there is certainly an expectation of acceptance just by its very publication.

"If you write a story about a race that gets sexual gratification from having their heads removed, because they can just be stuck right back on without dying or suffering any harm, that does not mean you're advocating people going around chopping off human heads in real life."

And yet, if your lead characters, presumably from outside of this race and who are your (the author's) de facto spokesmen, do not object or react with horror and revulsion at this act, then you are doing just that.

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I disagree. Not all works of fiction do not convey a moral message. Many - probably most - are primarily written to tell a story that the author considered interesting. If the author's morals impinged on the story and its characters, I would actually consider that a flaw.

Take fiction set in the World Tree universe, where all of the protagonists are primes - created directly by the gods? Why would or should these characters repudiate the idea that the so-called monsters (other creatures in the world) are of lesser importance than them? That's simply the truth - an axiom in that particular universe.

It doesn't mean that the author agrees with the idea of treating other races as lesser. It just means they've decided it would make for a good plot.

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"Is it the responsibility of any work of fiction to be sure to show real-world appropriate consequence any time someone does something that would be bad to actually do, or else it's just advocating that people go and do it?"

Yes.

I have to bow out at this point. With all due respect, you can't be half as versed in literature or fiction as one would expect if you actually believe that. As Greenreaper points out, the first purpose of fiction is to tell a story, not to preach morals, and there's no shortage of fiction that has characters doing unacceptable things without consequence or disapproval from other characters because in the world that fiction exists in, there was nothing for those >make-believe< people to object to.

Your opinion on what fiction's purpose should be >does< make your otherwise absurd notions about the intent behind cub porn make more sense. But it just means it's not simply your view on this topic that is, in my opinion, wrong and greatly skewed. It's your view on fiction in general.

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"It is not that I don't like fantasy, I don't like what it does. Fantasy, and fiction in general, is failing to do what it might be doing. It has unlimited potential to explore all sorts of metaphysical and moral questions, but it is not ... My quarrel with fantasy writing is that it is such a rich seam to be mined, such a versatile mode, that is not always being used to explore bigger ideas...

"Try as hard as you can, you can't leave out morality from a book. Everything we do, however small, has consequences. The greatest fiction always has a sequence of actions followed by reactions, followed by consequences...

"You can't leave morality out unless your work is so stupid and trivial and so worthless that [nobody] would want to read it anyway."

--Phillip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials

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Speaking for myself, I draw characters that, regardless of their apparent age or physical proportions, are physically, mentally and emotionally able to do what they do and enjoy it. They're made up, they don't exist, so reality does not apply to them. Someone finding an idea appealing when many pivotal elements of that appeal are firmly rooted in fiction and fantasy does not irrevocably translate to them finding appeal in the real world equivalent, stripped of all the purely fictional elements.

It doesn't, no -- but it seems to me that this is actually a kind of orthogonal argument to the issue that gets people tied up in knots here.

Set aside the specifics here for a moment, and look at it this way instead: if you give awards to art and stories that's heavily fetishistic, you will be seen as endorsing those fetishes, not as celebrating the quality of the art and writing in a way that's completely separated from the content. And this is what gets people upset. For an example, it's not that hard to find really top-notch artwork of giant furries doing horrible violent sexual things. Could we then say, "Hey, ignore what's going on here and look at the amazing composition and use of color in this piece! Don't you think it's deserving of general audience recognition?" It's appealing on some philosophical level to think that we could, but we'd be deluding ourselves. And if we hold that up as the best of what furry fandom produces, it's going to identify that fetish with "furry" in the minds of most viewers, a result that I doubt even most furry macrophiles would really find desirable.

And really, that's the issue that people are chewing their fingernails over. It's not a free speech issue, it's a "what do we want to shine a spotlight on for the world as what furry fandom is about" issue. Softpaw is merely a catalyst (which I think they deliberately chose to be, honestly), but I'd submit that ultimately this really isn't about them and their content, even though their content is about as hot-button as content can get. The underlying argument here, though, is whether furry fandom is a celebration of anthropomorphic animals that allows and includes fetishes, or whether furry fandom is a celebration of fetishes that just happens to include anthropomorphic animals. These are fundamentally different propositions.

- Chipotle

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All excellent and completely valid points.

The issue though, is that UMA was supposed to be what the Furry "public" chose to spotlight. Not what the UMA officials chose to spotlight.

My complaint is not that they are choosing what they want their awards to go to. My complaint is that they claim to be an award where the public chooses who it goes to, which is not the case so long as >any< furry content, regardless of the reason, is not allowed to be in the running if the public chooses to place it there. It's the fact that as things stand, what the UMA claims to be is a lie. If it's a juried award where voters only have committee-approved works to choose from, that is totally their choice to make, but that needs to be what they tout themselves as.

My other issue is the difference between such an organization saying "We are choosing to represent this portion of the fandom, and not represent that portion of the fandom," which they did not do and which I would not powerfully object to, versus "we are choosing what is and is not "the fandom," regardless of what even our minority participants apparently consider validly a part of the fandom." Any time anyone tries to impose what the fandom is or is not about, it will likely get me agitated, since "what the fandom is about" changes constantly and is different for just about every individual within it.

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"The issue though, is that UMA was supposed to be what the Furry "public" chose to spotlight. Not what the UMA officials chose to spotlight."

That's a mistaken assumption. The UMA was initially put together to highlight and promote the best anthropomorphic works in and out of the fandom. The goal was to help promote furry works in a positive light and to try and work against the sleazy label that keeps getting slapped on it. It was hoped that the fans would help advance this by choosing the very best from the works around them, but no one considered that they might, instead, promote nominations that work against the ideal.

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Posts like this one by Fred Pattern appear to support Wolfblade's assertion:

...it is open for all Furry fans to recommend the best anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, artwork, games, etc. that they found during 2002. It is for fans who want to know what anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, etc. are worth looking for...

I think you are conflating the Ursa Majors with your own proposal for furry awards. As noted by AJL in that thread, The ConFurence Group had by that time already set their plans in motion.

While AJL said that your proposal was "exactly how we have it set up", this appears to be incorrect; you specified a juried award, while the Ursa Majors were a popularly-chosen award.

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"Posts like this one by Fred Pattern appear to support Wolfblade's assertion:

...it is open for all Furry fans to recommend the best anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, artwork, games, etc. that they found during 2002. It is for fans who want to know what anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, etc. are worth looking for..."

And I don't believe that Fred had ever meant or anticipated that people would take his meaning so loosely as to take it to mean that absolutely anything, regardless of taste, execution or bent, would be thrown up for nomination, when it was expected that participants would be looking to push forward the absolute best the genre had to offer, given that the intent was always to put the fandom in a better light. I think he and the committee had overestimated the fandom's common sense and better inclinations. To be fair, the UMA finds itself in a tight place between not wanting to censor material on the one hand, and not wanting to give undue attention to work that only cements us as a fetishist fandom, but unless it's decided that the latter is somehow in the better interests of the furry community, the rules may need to be tightened further and delineated more clearly, so as to leave as little confusion as possible.

"I think you are conflating the Ursa Majors with your own proposal for furry awards. As noted by AJL in that thread, The ConFurence Group had by that time already set their plans in motion."

Wow. I'd forgotten all about those proposals. It's interesting to see how much or how little progress has been made on them since then.

But, no, I wasn't confusing my proposal for juried awards with what was eventually created, though if anything, I do think there's even more need of a juried award system as well. And I do remember the overall conversation and debate that was going on back then, and what the general thrust of those exchanges (as can be seen throughout the rest of that topic thread you've highlighted) was in that we were looking for ways to offset the bad publicity we were getting at that time (the infamous Vanity Fair article had just been published) and to garner some positive public image for the fandom.

But then, maybe that's been forgotten.

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Any time anyone tries to impose what the fandom is or is not about, it will likely get me agitated, since "what the fandom is about" changes constantly and is different for just about every individual within it.

Given how often variants of this come up, you will be agitated a lot. :)

Somewhat more seriously, I'm going to quote the essay of mine I linked elsewhere:

To be meaningful, definitions require boundaries. As long as both you and I can distinguish full-spectrum light, we can tell whether one thing is orange and one thing is blue. We may disagree on just where orange ends and yellow and red begin, but there's a wide swath of colors we should both agree are in the "not orange" category; if we can't do that, we can't talk effectively about color at all. Likewise, not everyone in furrydom needs to agree on precise boundaries for "furry," but most need to be able to fairly easily say what isn't furry, or the term becomes meaningless.

There's a basic truth that sometimes gets obscured in discussions about subjects like this when they get too deeply into philosophy: just because somebody in the fandom says something is furry does not make it so. I really like Woody Allen's movie "Annie Hall," but that doesn't make it furry.

So, sure, "what the fandom is about" doesn't have a perfect answer. But if the answer doesn't include, you know, something about anthropomorphic animals, it's probably missing something crucial. :) And that's why -- even though I basically agree with you -- I think it's important to try and say what the fandom is about. And it's not about science fiction or fantasy or slice of life, not about art or animation or costuming or stories, and certainly isn't about any given set of fetishes. All of those things can be furry, but none of them are furry, if you see the distinction there.

- Chipotle

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That's fine as far as it goes, but it falls down when people try to extend that to saying "CrushYiff isn't furry, it's just an expression of a fetish that has furry characters in it."

Does the recognition that this work is part of the furry corpus mean furry is "about crushing"? No, of course not. Furry fandom is about anthropomorphic animals. CrushYiff is just one rather disturbing (and entirely fictional) example of the furry meta-genre which also involves crushing.

Might people get the wrong idea about furry if they saw this work by itself? Possibly. But they're far less likely to do so when seen in the context of four other works in its category.

It's actually quite hard to think of works that are "pure furry". I suspect most aren't very good.

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The ironic thing is that works that are pure furry that end up winning, that contain little or no fetish, are often from outside our own community.

For example, last year's movie winner was Bolt. Did anyone ASK Disney if they wanted to be nominated? Does anyone know anyone from Disney who came to the awards to pick up their plaque/certificate/whatever is handed out? Does anyone think of the bad publicity Disney might get from being linked to Furry?

No, of course not... and we can go back and apply that to various other UMAs that have been given out.

It seems that we're perfectly willing to say things are furry that aren't even created as furry, but when something that IS created as Furry has popular support, suddenly we're willing to say it's NOT suitable or Furry for the UMA?

Disney did not create Bolt to show excellence in Furry. So what's it doing winning?

There are strange, strange things that go on with the Ursas. It seems what they want to do is define Furry in their own scope, and they're willing to latch on to things or people that outright find Furry disgusting.

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As I said to GR above, I don't think there's such a thing as "pure furry"; Bolt was an adventure story.

I think it's very easy, however, to find furry stories that have little to no fetish in them, unless you believe that "furry" itself is a fetish. I don't. It's hard to find furry stories that don't contain elements that can be fetishized, but that's because it's hard to find any story that doesn't contain elements that can be fetishized.

Did anyone ASK Disney if they wanted to be nominated?

Nobody asked anybody if they wanted to be nominated! This is also true of the Hugos: The Handmaid's Tale got a best novel nomination, for instance, despite author Margaret Atwood's loud insistence that she hated science fiction.

Many people got "into" furry, particularly in the first generation of fans, because of works that were created outside the fandom that all had what fans today would recognize as very "furry" elements: Disney's Robin Hood, the novel Watership Down, the movies Animalympics and Rock & Rule, and so on. What's the line that makes them not furry? With all respect to Ms. Atwood, when you write a novel that's set in a future dystopian America, you're writing science fiction, and by the same token, if you're making a movie that's full of anthropomorphic animals, you're making a furry movie. That you may not be a furry fan and that you are certainly hoping your multimillion dollar production has much wider appeal than a bunch of yoyos who dress up in animal costumes is somewhat beside the point as far as the (meta)genre goes.

There are strange, strange things that go on with the Ursas. It seems what they want to do is define Furry in their own scope, and they're willing to latch on to things or people that outright find Furry disgusting.

While the Ursas obviously have their issues, I'm going to stick up for them a little here. I don't think you're being quite fair to them -- or possibly even to Hollywood. There's some animosity toward furry in the industry, but a lot of fairly big name animation people have been GOHs at various furry cons.

And in fact, I'm going to gently point out that you can't argue this both ways: you've been arguing (very well, I might add!) that either the UMAs are a popular award voted on by the fans, or they aren't, and that if they're claiming to be a popular fan-driven award they can't say "except not when it comes to this or this." It doesn't make sense to stand by the idea that if Softpaw gets enough nominations to get on the final ballot they have to put it on, but to then say if Bolt gets enough nominations to get on the final ballot it should be disqualified. Either furry is what the majority of fans say it is, or it isn't. Right?

- Chipotle

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That's just what I'm arguing, but I got crossed up a bit there. :)

It's the Ursas that are insisting that they simultaneously are for the "popular" thing, and that they are not.

But all this is just so much reiterating the point. Truth we know is that nothing will change the Ursas position on this, and that any try to do so has been met with a nose stuck firmly in the air and a "we know better than you do" mentality. I'll probably just let this drop :)

Mind, I'm not saying that is what is occurring here, just what has generally been the response of the UMA's on this issue

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I don't actually think this observation is at odds with anything I said. :)

On a practical level, the sort of (anthropomorphic) elephant in the room over this abstract discussion is that stories that put the fetish front and center tend to have very limited appeal, i.e., only to those who like that fetish. There can be good stories that have fetishizable elements, to be sure, and even ones that deliberately play with it -- I'm "guilty" of that myself in stories such as "Rabbit Pens," for instance, which involves a human captured as a pet by a nine-foot-tall rabbit girl. There are erotic scenes in it which I can't deny are fetish bait (at least not with a straight face), but the story is actually about the human trying to get across the idea that he's as intelligent as she is, and the rabbit girl trying to figure out what she needs to do to make things right when he does.

It's actually quite hard to think of works that are "pure furry". I suspect most aren't very good.

I don't think there is such a thing as "pure furry"; as you observed, it's a metagenre, which is essentially what I meant by "furry is an adjective."

- Chipotle

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So why isn't [Stephen King] accused of advocating the deplorable acts he puts into his fiction?

While in essence I'm restating Chuck's point, King isn't accused of advocating deplorable acts because he isn't advocating them. He's just depicting them. Writing about something in a way which depicts it as horrific is fundamentally different than writing about it in a way which depicts it as pleasurable. (This is actually also a very sticky point about laws that try to ban child porn, by the way -- it's very easy to write a (presumably) well-intentioned law which would make it illegal for a comics artist to draw an autobiographical story about sexual abuse she suffered as a child.)

It seems to me the separation of fantasy and reality is less of a concern for the creators of this fiction and more of a concern for the people who seem intent on treating art and stories of make-believe animal-people as little to no different from the act of actual real world child abuse.

The practical reality is that child pornography really is a hot button issue in ways that almost no other issue is. Very few people assume that people who enjoy over-the-top violence in video games are predisposed to enjoy genuine acts of murder, but it's fairly common to assume -- and even to write laws predicated on the assumption -- that people who enjoy depictions of illegal sex in artwork would be predisposed to commit those acts in real life.

I'm not sure the truth is really as clearcut as "that's clearly right" or "that's simply absurd" in this case. If you possess photographs of children engaged in sexual acts, you're going to be in a lot of trouble, and the defense that they're just poses won't cut it. What about if you possess realistic line drawings of children engaged in sexual acts? Legally... you'd still be in a lot of trouble. (This has actually come up in court, in fact; the example of the comics artist with the autobiographical child abuse story came up in that trial, IIRC.) Is there some kind of line of realism beyond which it suddenly stops being a problem, or is the intent -- i.e., is this artwork intended to design to get you off to the idea of underage children having sex -- at the heart of the issue? If so, then kiss the defense goodbye. "But Your Honor, my client only gets off to the idea of underage animal children having sex."

As I've said elsewhere, I think the Ursa Majors should get to set their own rules, just like any other award. I'm dubious as to whether this rule change was handled particularly well, but if their goal is to promote the best image of furry fandom, this is the kind of controversy they simply don't need. And frankly, I think furry fandom needs more fans to be more concerned with projecting a good image. There is no one central arbiter of furry fandom to manage anything for us, and by and large that's a Good Thing -- but it also means that there's no central arbiter to blame for "bad perceptions." We're responsible for our own PR, and we need to get better at it.

- Chipotle

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I don't know if I buy the "It's different because it's pleasurable" argument.

I know of stories that glorify rape and they are written to be pleasurable. I know of stories , in furry, that glorify snuff, bug chasing, neutering strangers, etc, that are all written for the purpose of getting a fur off. All these would be considered crimes, and all of them seem passed over in this mad quest to eliminate the cub stuff.

The reality is, the cub stuff is just a symptom of a larger problem, one that I doubt will ever be solved in Furry. That problem is inclusivity. We allow everyone into Furry. We welcome pornography of all blends to the conventions, we tell people that they can be open and accepted with whatever they do, and that nobody's really wrong.

And then we get surprised when people come in with PRECISELY the types of thoughts that we're basically looking for.

If you want the cub stuff to go away, ultimately, you're going to have to push for a furry that is far more restrictive about what it does, and frankly, I don't think that'll sell.

Because what's AFTER cub? After you get rid of the cub artists and writers, do you go after the rape artists and writers next, or do you go after the zoophile artists and writers? After that, do you go for the snuff artists and writers? Or do you go after the ecstasy / drug artists and writers?

Which pornography depicting illegal acts will be after the cubs? What will get the blame NEXT?

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I know of stories that glorify rape and they are written to be pleasurable. I know of stories , in furry, that glorify snuff, bug chasing, neutering strangers, etc, that are all written for the purpose of getting a fur off. All these would be considered crimes, and all of them seem passed over in this mad quest to eliminate the cub stuff.

Child pornography is considered especially heinous in society at large. One can argue that's not particularly logical or fair or whatever, but on a practical level, it is what it is. A picture of one furry character eating one another isn't going to get the same kind of reaction as two clearly underaged cats engaged in sex.

The reality is, the cub stuff is just a symptom of a larger problem, one that I doubt will ever be solved in Furry. That problem is inclusivity. We allow everyone into Furry.

This is something I've written about before at length and alluded to above: there aren't any gatekeepers. "We" don't get a say in who slaps up a web page and stamps the word FURRY over it, leaps in front of TV cameras to explain What Furry Is, and so on. A lot of people would like to believe that conventions have the ultimate power over what is and isn't furry, but if that were true, this debate wouldn't have come up in the first place.

I don't think it's practical to "go after" any group because of this; it's a futile proposition. But that doesn't mean that you can't draw a line, however arbitrary it may be, at what we promote. Nobody can stop Softpaw from being published, and perhaps nobody should try. But that's a very different proposition from saying that nobody can tell them they can't have tables at conventions they ran, or that nobody can tell them they don't qualify for an award that's ostensibly supposed to represent the stuff that represents our best creativity.

Which pornography depicting illegal acts will be after the cubs? What will get the blame NEXT?

I've asked that question before, in an essay a few years back I wrote called "Those People." It's a valid and concerning question -- we might want "those people" out of the fandom, but many of us are "those people" to somebody else.

But I can't help but wonder: just because a line we draw is necessarily arbitrary, does that mean we can't draw any line? Do we let our fear about the slippery slope prevent us from ever saying that anything is unacceptable as a public representation of what furry fandom is all about? That we should never say, "Those people don't represent us?"

- Chipotle

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Would I'd hold up something like Softpaw as the best example for the outside world? Probably not, any more than I'd use West Corner of the Park or Sabrina Online. They're hard to explain without being a fan. But should such works be eligible for an award that celebrates excellence in animal anthropomorphism? Absolutely.

The question of whether it "looks good" to the public if they win has remarkably little to do with the question of their quality. The Awards were created to promote what's good, not what looks good, and I'm deeply disappointed that conventions have been allowed to interfere with the integrity of the process.

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If they win via the majority of votes, then the answer is, yes.

These people DO represent us.

If you don't like that, leave, or get more people to vote for YOUR things.

Like I said earlier, and repeatedly. This is what Furry has become. It is what it is. If someone is going to have an award for the best furry "XYZ" voted by the furry fans, then you cannot simply exclude the most popular item because you don't want it to look bad.

The Ursa Major awards are not really that popular in the mainstream. They aren't. You'd be hard pressed to find one mention of them amongst mainstream media in the past five years. HOWEVER, you'll see newspaper and TV reports about FC abound through the mainstream media last week.

You'll find AC covered from a multitude of angles. So the "let's present our best face in the Ursas" is a joke, because the Ursas don't really get looked at by the public.

If the Ursa Major Awards are truly to be representative of furry, they should be truly representative. It sounds like a tautology, but it seems to be a bit more difficult to grasp, given the consternation that has occurred here.

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If they win via the majority of votes, then the answer is yes. These people DO represent us.

Fair enough, but keep in mind that Softpaw in fact didn't win via the majority of votes, presumably because enough people didn't agree with the idea that they represent us. They weren't blocked then, there was no dirty dealings, no controversial moves. They just didn't win.

I'm sure someone might argue that they didn't win because of the "bad publicity" caused by their nomination, and again fair enough -- but one can't simultaneously argue that it's representative of furry fandom at large for Softpaw to win its nomination by "getting more people to vote for them" but not representative of furry fandom at large for them to lose the award by getting more people to not vote for them.

Actually, you make a pretty good case that this is a tempest in a teapot not because the fandom demands that Softpaw be considered representative of it, but rather that it's a tempest in a teapot because, in the final analysis, the fandom decided to send a message that it wasn't.

The Ursa Major awards are not really that popular in the mainstream.

By "not really that popular" I submit that you're tactfully saying "completely unknown." :) And that's a very good point to make. I'm overstating their importance by talking about the message they send to the mainstream -- although I perhaps cynically suspect that if we actually had given one to Softpaw, the Ursas would suddenly be much more widely known outside the fandom.

If the Ursa Major Awards are truly to be representative of furry, they should be truly representative.

Despite arguing that they should be able to set their own rules, even if they seem to be arbitrary, I don't disagree with this. I'm aware of the contradiction in those two stances and have yet to quite figure out how to reconcile them. I really do think that the guys who give out the awards get to set and change their own standards. At the same time, I'm reminded by the observation that Softpaw did not, in fact, win that there's a way in which the Ursa's new rules basically argue that they don't trust the fans to have good sense if such a subject comes up again, and that is problematic.

- Chipotle

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Agree 100% :)

I agree that they should be able to set their own rules, even if arbitrary... but at some point they lose the "truly representative of furry" and the "by the furs, for the furs" backing. It'd be like saying that people who are 5'9" and taller can't win an academy award because we don't want to appear "tall centric" in our awards, and then turning around and saying that the "people choose!"

Softpaw won it's nomination, ostensibly because so few people are required for a nomination.

It lost the award because it wasn't voted enough in the final vote.

What are the Ursas afraid of? That maybe it might win? If that's the case, and if softpaw was nominated and won, then I submit one of two things have occurred:

One, the Ursas aren't popular enough inside Furry to fairly represent Furry, and thus they are irrelevant, and a failure.

Two, Furry truly does consider it the best, and thus, the Ursas ARE representing furry fully, and that we have a bigger problem than an award for a magazine.

Unfortunately, a popular election is a popular election for a reason.

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What are the Ursas afraid of? That maybe [Softpaw] might win?

Going out on a limb here and saying: "Yes, precisely." :)

As I observed to Greenreaper below, the pragmatic problem is that no matter how lame the Ursas may be perceived within the fandom (and how much of a non-entity they are right now outside), child porn really is treated differently under the American legal system and there is legal precedence already set that drawings of underage characters can be prosecuted as child pornography. It's a seriously hot-button issue in a way that, for practical purposes, nothing else is likely to be. (Even writing about underage characters doesn't get the same kind of reaction: the novel Lolita gets studied in college literary courses, but the chances are that's one book that isn't gonna get a "Classics Illustrated" edition done.)

I should note I'm pretty much in agreement with your last three paragraphs. And that while I'm good at batting around all these concerns, I don't have much in the way of answers to propose.

- Chipotle

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Like they sent a message that ANTHRO, New Fables and Tai Pan weren't representative?

The simplest and most likely reason that Softpaw didn't win is because it wasn't the best work. There were several good candidates — the fandom just thought HEAT was the best of them.

And that's fine. The point is they had the opportunity to make that choice.

Your rating: None

You're taking me a little too literally (which is probably my fault); my point wasn't that losing is about what is and isn't representative. Winning is much more likely to be interpreted that way by observers, though, whether or not statistics actually bear that interpretation out. And it strikes me as fairly likely that the "anything but Softpaw" flap around the Ursas last year appreciably lowered Softpaw's chances.

I get your basic argument and basically agree with the idea that, if an award is supposed to be voted on by fans, you pretty much have to let the fans vote on it. My dilemma is that I also agree with the assertion that giving the award to a publication whose legal status is genuinely unclear has the potential for creating some seriously bad fallout.

- Chipotle

Your rating: None

The interesting part in that one is that portions of the law not requiring the Miller test were thrown out as overbroad. The question then becomes "is Softpaw patently offensive" and/or "does it have serious literary or artistic value?"

Personally, I suspect being nominated for excellence in the anthropomorphic arts would be a point in its favour. Of course, mentioning that would also draw the UMA into a court case which I have no doubt it wishes to avoid - and perhaps places like Fur Affinity as well, given that patent offensiveness relies on "contemporary community standards".

Your rating: None

And all of those examples you list would also be excluded from Ursa nominations by the same rule that excludes 'cub porn'.

As for your point about inclusivity being the root of a lot of these problems... yes, I agree. And I said as much ten years or so back when it began rearing its head.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Would be, yes.

But somehow, I don't see the Ursa Majors saying anything bad about the minor character and the minor character sex in Waterways, and the award that novel won.

I don't think they've said anything about HEAT. I don't see them taking back the award or removing it from the current list even though it is "predominatly sex."

I think X is a fantastic anthology.

But it would and should be out too, shouldn't it?

They want to stop Softpaw and other things. THat's fine. But half the furry stories out there seem to be minor aged character comes of age and comes out as gay in a rough area. What happens to those "cub porn" stories?

Your rating: None

"King isn't accused of advocating deplorable acts because he isn't advocating them."

And neither am I. My works on this subject operate in fictional worlds with fictional standards and rules of biology and psychology for the characters represented, i.e., this is not bad and traumatic to the fictional make-believe characters I portray. Nowhere do I imply the notion that such carries over to real life. And I can't help but get offended when people insist on stuffing that implication there anyways.

If I recall correctly, the Supreme Court (and common sense) has said that the purpose of Child Protection laws are not to police thoughts, but to >protect children.<

If someone has sexual photographs of actual children, then that is a link to an instance of actual abuse done to actual children and >yes< that should absolutely be within the realm of extreme legal repercussions. It is not, or at least >should not< be AT ALL about a "line of realism" where the completely fictional and artificial work looks "too close" to real, and it should not be at all about what the creator or viewer gets out of those works. It >SHOULD< be about whether or not an actual living breathing human child who exists in reality has come to be harmed, or is in clear and unarguable danger of coming to harm.

That last part is the only point that should be sticky, because obviously (or it should be anyway), I do not think law enforcement should ignore a legitimate threat and wait until after harm has actually been done to a child. But I just cannot get over how easily people want to accept the concept of Thought Police and people being punished and tried and judged for things they have not done, and had not displayed clear intent to do.

If their goal is to present what their opinion of the best image of the fandom should be, then that needs to be what they state their goal as. Because that is not what their website boasts to be, and it is not what the majority of people seem to have assumed their goal to have been, as evidenced by the amount of people dismissing them because of this change (though I'm starting to get the impression still more people had already dismissed them even before any of this).

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

And neither am I. My works on this subject operate in fictional worlds with fictional standards and rules of biology and psychology for the characters represented, i.e., this is not bad and traumatic to the fictional make-believe characters I portray. Nowhere do I imply the notion that such carries over to real life. And I can't help but get offended when people insist on stuffing that implication there anyways."

Does that mean I can write a story that exists in an alternate universe with alternate mores, in which people arnt upset by the notion or act of systematically torturing and killing every individual with your fetish (lets be honest, mental defect), by peeling their face off with a pair of red hot tongs and skull raping them until their brains ooze out of their ears? And that Im allowed to feel insulted when such individuals in the real world become upset, despite the fact that my doing so would be profoundly messed up in much the same way as your paraphilia is?

Your rating: None

When will music be added as a category?

Real recognize real. Game recognize game. Paw Recognize Paw. Real furries don't change.

Your rating: None

Not sure it ever will be, unless "Anthro" becomes a music genre. Just being created by a furry doesn't count.

There is an open suggestion that "best podcast" (or equivalent) should be a category. Normally if you think a work should count, you'd suggest it for the recommended list in the miscellaneous category.

Your rating: None

Right... but there is music written not just by furries, but about furry. Both of my albums fall in this category.

Real recognize real. Game recognize game. Paw Recognize Paw. Real furries don't change.

Your rating: None

You could certainly suggest it to the UMA. At the very least, enter it as a recommendation and send them a link to a music file that can be sampled. It might take a while for a music category to be initiated -- I expect there would have to be a minimum number of furry music pieces from more than one source -- but it should at the very least be included in a miscellaneous category until then.

It would have to be something released within the year, of course. Within last year in order to be nominated for this year's award, or released this year to be included in the recommendations list.

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.