Documentary review: 'Fanboy Confessional'
Fanboy Confessional: The Furry Edition by Markham Street Films is a very good, well-balanced, objective and positive review of furry fandom.
With six television episodes examining steampunk, LARPers, zombie fans, furry, real-life superheroes and cosplay, this documentary mini-series doesn't try to present each fandom's inner complications. Instead it focuses on individuals, exploring personal meaning, enjoyment and creativity. Each show interviews unabashed yet functional fans, all of whom obviously love their fandoms and are having a grand old time.
The furry episode talks to fans in Ontario, primarily Kitty (costumer and fursuit-maker of Fun-Fur-All), and Pyat (RPG writer and all-around really nice guy!1), but also Frostscar, Roxicat and footage from furry convention Condition. All together, a wonderful job is done of talking about the fandom, how it appeals to the interviewees and to others.
The adult aspects of the fandom are acknowledged without dominating or embarrassing the discussion. There's a concerted effort made to break the CSI mold and show that the fandom is much more diverse than its stereotypes. (Though with sexual orientation, a 2007 survey indicates that indeed, the majority of furry fans aren't straight.)
Although the people being interviewed all explain how most furries aren't fursuiters, the show largely targets them anyway. This is nothing new; if you watch the other five episodes of the series, there's a similar focus on people who like to dress up and/or make things. Furry is shown to provide a very strong sense of fandom community and social engagement.
Two things I wish I could change would be that (A) the role of artists and artwork in the fandom is severely under-represented; and (B) there isn't really much animosity between anime and furry fandoms, aside from juvenile snarking. Otherwise it does a great job of presenting the basics of and enthusiasm within furry in 22 minutes.
All six episodes of Fanboy Confessional can be watched online at Spacecast — however, it may only work in Canada. If you're worrying how to explain furry to your family, this documentary might be exactly what you need.
See more: Fursit Bowling with Fanboy Confessional – Fanboy Confessional teaser
Apparently they are having problems with videos on their website.
They ARE available in US of A, but not "starting" at all. Their YT channel gets comments about this from a lot of people, so it's not just me.
I'm having the same issue with the videos displaying, but not wanting to play. It seems to be a technical issue, though. They usually display a message saying the video is not available in your area if it's a region thing. If anyone has a link to the episode that actually works, please post it. Would love to see it.
They'll fix it, with time.
Fanboy Confessional is produced by a indie documentary production company who licensed broadcast and streaming rights to Canada's Space Channel for Canadian Territory only. Which is why it wont stream south of the 49th Parallel. We've offered US rights to a few US broadcasters and are awaiting their response. So hopefully you'll get to see all the episodes, including the Furry Edition, ASAP! In the meantime, bug the folks at SyFy and IFC to buy the series! Thanks!
How very kind of you... I guess.
It's not a matter of kindness so much as a matter of economics and scale, sorry to say. The license fee an indie gets from a Canadian broadcaster is nowhere near enough to pay to actually make a tv documentary. So the producers go into debt to make em, hoping to get out of hock eventually by making sales to broadcasters outside of Canada. But there would be no reason for a US broadcaster to buy the show if it was readily available worldwide online. Hence the geo blocking. And it works both ways -- very few US shows are available to watch online in Canada. Web services for tv and music, like Hulu and Pandora, don't work in Canada at all. Things would be different if the US became Canada's 11th Province. ;)
The day Canada took over teh wurld... is coming!
Speaking of juvenile snarking . . .
Of course, many people are or have been heavily involved in both furry and anime, including a regular Flayrah contributor.
All fine and good - but something that kind of got glossed over...
How many of the other five fandoms even *mentioned* the sexual distribution of their fans? Why did it even come up at all?
Yes, compared to many articles and 'documentaries' on Furry fandom - this was vastly kinder - but it still played to the same stereotypes.
I do agree that the role art was weirdly underplayed (considering it comes up in the other episodes), but I suspect they'd want to go right to the adult art and that would be hard to pull in a family show. Hmmm.. I'd have to go back and check, but I think the furry ep was the ONLY one to get a content warning before the show as well.
And not surprisingly, this is the episode everyone I know who knows about Furries has been asking me about.
BTW, Dro. I've finished encoding *all* of the eps for you, if you want them. :)
Sorry but this line of criticism is misrepresenting the actual content of the episode and the series. Given that Furry fans have rightfully accused the media of misrepresentation, it's only fair to expect quid pro quo. These accusations that the show is part of a pattern of victimizing and stereotyping Furry fandom are just groundless and unfair.
ITEM - The "underplay of the artwork"
Very early on, the narrator says there are "two main forks in the furry road:
Furry Fanboys, like Pyat, are dedicated to enjoying, and producing, anthropomorphic artwork, RPGs and fiction.
and Furry Lifestylers -- fun-seekers whose purpose in furrydom is more centered around socializing than in the artwork, and whose behaviour is more noticeably furry - including wearing ears and tails or full costumes."
Obviously there are more forks in the furry road, but there's barely time in 22 minutes to survey 2 of them. This episode chose an artist who draws and paints but whose main form of expression is as a Fur Suit Builder (lets face it - lots more opportunities for a camera to explore in 3 dimensions.)
ITEM - sex and sexual orientation of fandoms.
The subject matter of sex and orientation was done in the context of "myth-busting". When you talk to the uninitiated about Real Life Super Heroes, teenage cosplayers or zombies, sex in costume is NOT the first thing people wonder out loud about. Face it, no other fandom has an old episode of CSI lurking in the corner.
To the best of our knowledge, none of the other fandoms examined in the series have been the subject of a survey the likes of that conducted by the University of California Davis Campus, or the ongoing one developed by Alex Osaki.
ITEM - Furry was not the only episode preceded by a "Content Advisory".
Clearly the series is meant to speak to both newbies and actual fans. So there is bound to be some redundant or obvious content for those steeped in the culture. And where and when stereotypes are part of that culture, the series attempted to address those and explain them. Thea Munster, the organizer of the Zombie walk admits to her own prejudices when she says that she thought only punk rockers and hard core fanboys would be attracted to the Zombie Walk and that the broad appeal was a revelation to her that "I can get along with anybody". Another interview subject talks about the stereotyping of RLSH's as crackpots, and then goes on to talk about how much more there is to the phenomenon.
The fact is, the series was researched and written by people who are film makers first, and fanboys second. We had to rely heavily on people within the communities for insights, and of the 6 fandoms explored, Furry was the least accessible. We posted on numerous websites looking for stories and were pre-judged and maligned by a few because of a series of films we did on positive body image. We pressed on and finally found some people who wanted to help set the record straight.
There is no question that the media generally treats fandom as a cheap source for crackpot eccentric villains -- Furrys had the CSI episode and more recently the Castle series had a murderous villain at a Steampunk gathering. Fanboy Confessional is an attempt to transcend this sort of marginalization. We also plan to do many more episodes and drill deeper. And we hope people will be more responsive and willing to share their stories with us based on our track record as respectful storytellers.
If so, and you would make a second episode about a sub-culture (if there is more to tell and the audience's response to "part 1" was positive), I would be quite happy.
I would ALSO be happy if I could watch the show AT ALL. I don't live in Canadia after all.
We'd love to tell deeper stories on any one of the fandoms we explored for sure! And we do hope you will soon be able to see Fanboy Confessional on US TV (assuming that's where you are, Mister Twister).
I'd like to highlight one point here: when doing report-style coverage in any medium, there are often strict time limits, both in terms of run-time and research/creation. I speak to magazine writers who have four pages to do a feature, news reporters who must fit an overview into 1000 words . . . they're lucky if they have a week to put it all together.
Often the purposes of the reporter – and, indeed, of the subject – are better-served by focusing on one topic, doing a really good job with it, and then filling in around the edges. If you want a comprehensive picture, go to Wikipedia.
Do you know how many jokes there are, centered around Wikipedia?
Uncyclopedia was not created for no reason, you know...
Yes, I do. I wrote several myself. But I also know it is – at its best – a tertiary source, where articles are compiled over years, not days, drawing from a variety of sources which no single secondary source can match.
Put it this way: sometimes, the most important part of a story is what you choose to leave out. An encyclopedia article contains elements which have been drawn from (and may be woven into) many different stories.
Furry was the least accessible
You ain't kidding; some furry conventions have anti-media rules so draconic, you'd probably get better inside access from the Illuminati's inner circle.
Note to furries: Fair and unbiased does not mean unfair and biased for you.
However, I would like to share a story from my one anime convention attendance. I met a very angry, very male Sailor Moon cosplayer. I later learned he was forced to wear this costume when he lost a bet, which I thought was brilliant in a very cruel sort of way.
If you're a guy who shows up to work or school one day wearing a skirt and blonde wig with pigtails, well, you will almost definitely be asked to change back to more appropriate attire. But everyone will assume you lost a bet or are winning a bet or something.
If you're a guy who shows up at an anime convention wearing a Sailor Moon costume, everyone assumes it's because you like wearing Sailor Moon costumes.
What I'm saying is we don't have the monopoly on sexual dysfunctions in fandom.
Thanks, TW, I'll nab those when I have the chance and can catch you online! (Sorry folks, not sharing; I have monthly bandwidth caps.) I didn't notice the absence of discussion across the series, because so far I've only watched two episodes in their entirety, and caught bits and pieces of three others. Yeah, it still plays to the fursuiting stereotype, but given the time limit and the need to simplify for a non-fandom audience, things end up being left out. Part of the reason furry is a difficult fandom to cover is because there are so many sub-interests with no obvious centrality. No matter what part you focus on, some significant chunk is going to be neglected.
Fanboy Confessing - Thanks ever so much for putting this together. Don't worry about my nit-picking, that's just the nature of critics and fans. Given a longer episode length, there would have been ample time! Partially I brought it up so that if anyone shows it to friends, they can mention other aspects that there wasn't time to cover.
As for being a difficult fandom to crack, I feel for you there. I remember you posting to furry.ca something like three years ago and yeah, the cold shoulder treatment was pretty standard. We'd been burned so many times it's hard to trust, and when you know nothing about the people asking... :-/ Even the fellow at the con who would talk but only while in costume... and there were probably lots of people who avoided you while you were there. Thanks for finding presentable, articulate and enthusiastic members of our community!
I haven't seen it yet since I'm in the states, but sounds like you guys did a good job from what I've heard. As for why you had trouble getting furries to participate, it's due to the negative press we've gotten so far, and also because of some furries getting drama from the community for participating in documentaries or other shows featuring furries. Even if someone doesn't mess up and gives a good overview of the fandom, reporters, shock jocks, and the like love to use techniques such as taking quotes out of context to give the impression they want to give. Even if it was unintentional, the community tends to hold grudges against those who poorly represent the fandom.
Anyone (other than me) thinks these ppl should be interviewed for SOME OTHER documentary?
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