Editorial: Furry - Our deliverance or our destruction?
When perusing written news articles about furries written outside the fandom you’ll usually run into the typical faire. Some articles will talk about furries and try and introduce their unknowing audience to what the fandom is. Others will talk about the local convention in town and why the denizens will be seeing all these costumes about. Heck, some will not even be about the fandom at all and will just be using the term to talk about pets or the band Super Furry Animals.
However, 2017 has started off on a very interesting foot as two articles showed up on the feed which don’t take the tired and treaded routes. Both looked at pieces of the fandom and their relationship to the recently inaugurated president, Donald Trump and what he stands for in society in general.
One article from Slate covered a Kyell Gold book and discussed how the virtues with in could counter Trump. The other, from Motherboard, describes another piece of fandom and their alt-right tendencies and pondering if crass anonymity can lead to crass actors acquiring power.
So let’s go over these two articles and what they have to say about furry fandom.
Slate - Furry Literature; Resistance to the Trump Era
Matt Baume, a slate writer who typically covers LGBTQ issues for Slate, talked about Kyell Gold’s book The Time He Desires. In his article, the author interviews Kyell about his inspiration to write the novel in a country where fear of Muslims continues to grow in the US landscape with the election of Donald Trump, who during his campaign called for a ban for Muslim immigration.
In the end the article’s main point is that through society’s marginalization of people within the gay, furry fandom, and Muslims communities it makes those within those communities more able to empathize with each other and their treatment. All of them have stints where they are used to negative publicity generated by poorly researched press articles, or even worse flat out yellow journalism (what “fake news” was called before it was termed “fake news”).
This could be seen in contrast with Trump, who some would argue was treated so well by the press when he was starting off as the son of a business tycoon and was merely handed positive publicity on prestige at the start. However during his run up to president he was finally introduced to a more pointed and critical press. This transition in relationship could very well be the reason why at a press conference he called CNN “fake news”. When you grow up your life believing the press’s job is only to say nice things about you, them suddenly turning more critical could seem like a dereliction of duty to the ones spoiled by celebrity exposure. But why someone so adamant about fighting for the truth in news would be friends with the editor of the National Enquirer, and not criticize them when they use their branch of the tabloid to attack political opponents, is another story entirely.
The goal of Kyell and other furry authors like him is to try and humanize those that we typically dismiss offhand as being less than human. That in spite of the blurring of facts and reality a President like Trump brings to the table, we never allow ourselves to entirely believe that others are lesser because they don’t follow the precise habits or norms of those about them. On the other side of the coin, you could see Orwell's book Animal Farm, which discusses inhumane forms of governance using animal allegory in order to make the horrors more approachable for a wider audience.
Using animals can be a powerful way to do this as humans do hold a fondness for the creatures we share this planet with. For instance, the choice of a snow leopard as the main Muslim protagonist was probably no coincidence in Kyell’s latest story. In Middle Eastern and African nations, larger cats are given a great deal of reverence. The snow leopard is the national predator of the nation of Pakistan, a country whose national religion of Islam is practiced by over 90% of the country.
Motherboard - Alt-Right and the Furred Reich
In heavy contrast to the Baume’s article, Roisin Kiberd writes an article for Mashable looking at another side of the fandom which wouldn’t see Trump as a force in which to oppose, but instead one to be welcomed. In Pony Nationalism and the Furred Reich: inside the Alt-Furry’s Online Zoo, the authors speaks with some individuals who call themselves furry or brony but also promote the ideas of the “alt-right”. A group that prides itself on nationalism and a more self-promotional politic that has been cautioned as a new colloquialism for Nazism.
Many in the alt-right consider Donald Trump a viable candidate that they proudly support to break the formality and niceties of international symbiotic polities and instead favor the self and one’s own nation as the priority. Mostly because they find the so called “symbiosis-ness” of the trade deals with other nations as more viral in nature instead. Many of Trump’s arguments that struck home with his audience were those on trade deals that cost the United States jobs.
The article does clearly come from the perspective of someone who finds this brand of angered nationalism disturbing. This comes as no surprise from those who write for the media, because open media usually becomes a quick target of the fervor of such movements. When national interests come first, sometimes the search for truth and freedom of speech take a back seat if either are seen as a harm to those national interests.
The piece mostly focuses on the small niche online group of the alt-right furries. While he does provide some history, as an outsider he clearly missed some marks when going into the history of the right-wing of the fandom. Burned Furs would be a big group to note, which was left unaddressed. Another missed observation is how anthropomorphic animals are utilized by others outside the fandom for promotion of politics that are pro-nationalist. An infamous example being the propaganda cartoon series from North Korea “Squirrel and Hedgehog”. This cartoon follows the adventures of a squirrel named Geumsaegi as he engages in a war against different animals, each representing a country North Korea considers and enemy. The protagonist wears a garb closely resembling that of the country’s military.
Overall the article was a bit less polished than the Slate one, but it does cover a sensational minority of the fandom that more liberal individuals in the group don’t wish to believe exist.
The impacts of these groups have had within the fandom are pretty minor. One example was a convention incident in Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2016. A group of furries with ties to Neo-Nazi symbolism, calling themselves the Furry Raiders, bought out an entire room block and offered it for free to people. Instantly this was met with criticism from normal attendees, and even staff, that they shouldn't be able to hold onto empty rooms for the sake of bribing people to accept charity from organizations they may politically disagree with. Despite the fears the unused rooms were returned to the convention for redistribution to paying attendees once they were unable to hand out any more.
At the end of the day, the fandom revolves around the interest of anthropomorphized animals. The usage of such in story telling is merely a tool. Like most tools, the resulting positive or negative impacts comes purely from their usage. We can use animal characters to ask the difficult questions that we as individuals may be too afraid to phrase in our human guise. However, we can also use those characters to enforce our worst ingrained natures.
Furries will neither be the salvation of man, nor its destruction. Those two roles would more likely come from the results of our collective successes or failings as a species. Furry as a genre is an apolitical concept, despite the political feelings of those whom call themselves furry.
The fascination by the press of those within our fandom beyond the simple questions of what defines a furry, however, is certainly an interesting evolution of news coverage around the fandom. As the inquiry of “what is furry?” is finally resolved, the deeper questions on how our presence will impact the future of humankind may continue to rise to the surface. The types of articles like the ones from Motherboard and Slate are a mere glimpse of what’s to come as humans delve into the many segments of this expanding fandom. They will begin to ask more about what the impact of our little escapades may be not only inside the confines of our conventions and online art boards, but how we will influence the world around us in general. It seems in that, the furry fandom has matured.
About the authorSonious (Tantroo McNally) — read stories — contact (login required)
a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance
Isn't it a big insult to compare a muslim to a dog? And canine fursonas are very popular. Oh no!
That alt-right "altfurry" thing seems so contrived. There's a small handful of accounts made to preach or troll, they don't do anything furry like draw or write. There's some conservative furries who didn't get into their hobby for politics. And there's a couple of fetishists who like uniforms with a cheesy BDSM hitler aesthetic. Every time I laugh about it online I get told that it's real and there's lots of members. I's always the same one account trying too hard to get me to believe it.
I would say they are extremely small subset, yes. The Motherboard article itself does take note that it's hard to tell if they are being serious or not (they also do mention Nazi fetishism elements from an old livejournal group). The author also showed reservation about writing about this group in hopes of not seeming they should be given a microphone of any kind for what they do.
Personally, I always have the naivete of taking a person at their word for what they label themselves, for better or worse. I mean laughing is a healthy way to deal with adversity at times, but at the end it's not going to stop the adversity. I mean, how many laughed when Trump rode down that escalator after announcing his candidacy?
Not enough to stop him from becoming President it seems.
How much practical difference is there between "jokingly" spreading views and earnestly doing so, when nobody can tell if you're joking or not?
If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. When you cultivate a culture--or in this case, subculture--where these views are odious, then they'll end up realizing the only people their "humor" is popular with is the people who truly and earnestly believe it, and they'll abandon ship. If they don't: well, they probably weren't really joking.
I can agree with the reservations about giving a platform, but knowledge is also necessary to effectively oppose it; it's a balancing act for sure.
According to Wikipedia, the snow leopard is the National Animal of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan – all Muslim nations, although Afghanistan is the only one militant about it. The National Animal of Pakistan is the markhor, a Himalayan goat similar to the Bighorn sheep of the Rocky Mountains.
The markhor isn't a predator, of course. The snow leopard is the largest predator in Pakistan, but I don't know if it is a "national predator" there.
Getting out of furrydom, the Uzbekistan government has recently officially recommended that Uzbeks stop displaying Santa Claus and Grandfather Winter costumes at Christmastime or New Year's since they aren't traditionally Uzbek. Unofficially, it's probably more pertinent that they aren't traditionally Muslim.
Nice alternative fact you've got there. The only way Trump was treated "well" by the press was from all the earned media he received-- and almost none of that earned media was spun positively.
The statement is not a fact but based on opinion of others, thus the words "some would argue". So I guess the term would be "alternate opinion", yes?
The fandom has always been across the board in regards to political ideology, which is a very useful trait to have in times like these - nothing would be more detrimental to the community's future than being identified with a political allegiance.
On one side the openness to all sort of sexual orientations and identities is a progressive trait, but on the other side the basic furry philosophy of hanging on to childhood fantasies and impressions feels like a conservative concept to me. I remember that when I first read the Chakat Universe stories I was surprised by how the underlying concepts were clearly on the conservative side even though the chakats themselves break almost any conservative social taboo you can think of. I find it very interesting that furry manages to blend contrasting ideas so much.
I like how political discussion can be inserted into anything these days.
Let the rain of downvotes come down upon me.
Well, I'll be...
Unfortunately, politics is like exercise. If you don't do it, you'll either be forced to a lot more of it later on, or you'll probably die early.
Unfortunately, America is pretty overweight... metaphorically and literally.
There are plenty of places (a lot of them to be honest) where you can talk politics.
You can even talk about it in real life, with your friends and family.
Well, I'll be...
Unless your friends and family don't like talking about politics. I have plenty of friends and family where I keep such things under the hat.
It's actually quite a common thing in many furry places that political/religion discussion is seen as a no go. That's all dandy and good. People sometimes need a place to go to escape from the riff-raff and real world.
But it is hard to talk about political articles written about furry without involving political discussion.
I can be as apolitical as the next guy, but that would be quite the hat-trick.
Another article about alt-right furrys just was published: http://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/social-media/2017/02/furred-reich-truth...
Article writers likes making talking about the exceptional within the exceptional, don't they?
more like his prostate. I like furries for being absurd but the whole article is endlessly gapingly stupid.
Any article with "the truth about" on its title has a special distinct strong fragrance of bullshit detectable from miles away
Well, there's the truth… and the truth!
I think those that think that way don't fully understand that fascism like that requires something called conformity.
Not just in sexuality, gender identity, or other such things but even in things as small as how you dress and how you cut your hair, what music you listen to.
If anyone thinks a true regime that take similar veins to the Nazis would even let you wear ears, no less a whole fluffy costume... you're going to have a bad time.
Another article around this topic has spawned on Vice:
And yet another one from Buzzfeed about the Anti-Facist movement in the fandom: https://www.buzzfeed.com/krishrach/meet-the-furries-fighting-fascism?utm_term=.u...
What we have is a contrast in reporting. On one hand, we have Slate doing a well-made story on Kyell Gold. Slate goes right to Mr. Gold and lets him tell his story. I disagree with Kyell Gold point of view writing about Islamahobia in the US and miss how perilous to be LGBT in Iran or Saudi Arabia.
On the other had we have a fine example of fake news. The report was constructed around a few member and tweets instead of serious investigative journalism. I dare say Motherbod has much credibility as Alt-Right and that is not saying much for ether. There no corresponding report in establish news media or in overtly White Supremacist sites like Stormfront.
Controversial interest in social groups such as Nazis, and Soviets culture exist in both furry and anime fandoms for years. While using the aesthetics nether group was politically National Socialist, Communist or racist. I only meet one German neo Nazi who happened to be a fur in my ten years in the fandom. Only now is has become an issue by the obsessive anti -Trump rhetoric by the left. This does not mean furry fandom being invaded by fascist or communist.
More disruptive to the fandom is the antifascist witch hunts and calls for protest by both Patch at Dogpatch Press and Antifa.
I do not see co-opting the fandom for one’s political cause has any redeeming value in the fandom. In this time of hate including punch out those who you disagree with, and calling for overthrow of our government, the fandom has been an island of tolerance when an LGBT counselor and chairman of RAin and a Libertarian, Conservative Reformed Christian who is a former Republican and former support of the Religious Right, can have a civilized discussion about fury fandom even though our views at polar opposite.
I want it to stay that way.
If the above article had been published by the time I wrote this article I probably would have utilized it instead of the Motherboard one. This one they interview someone by the name of Foxler, the leader of the Furry Raiders as discussed in the article above.
In the article Foxler claims his name to be a mix of "Fox" and "Miller", I think that is something they came up with in attempts to back pedal a bit.
I remember when the Rocky Mountain Fur Con thing was still a fresh controversy that I went to their FA page and saw their age was set at "127" which I had found odd, so I subtracted the number from the year. I then looked up Hitler's birthday and the number matched the age he would be if he were alive at that moment.
People probably called him out on it as he now changed it to be "Hitler's age minus 100" (29). It's subtle enough now, but I have my doubts that's his actual age.
You wouldn't know serious investigative journalism if it went to your house with an ABC chart and a dictionary, tutored you on the definition of "witch hunt" and published your essay about it under the headline "is this the dumbest man alive"
I'm not very good with words (I think) in getting across the point I am trying to make, so please bear with me. I do not like political discussions most of the time; in my opinion this country has gone from a place of many peoples coming together to form something better to two big groups hating each other and getting nothing done. Articles like this (on most sites) are usually geared to get people to dislike (at best) people of a certain (usually Republican) political affiliation in power. Things like this are one of the reasons there is so much unrest on the political landscape in America today. Before I keep going I should say that I am not a Republican myself and I do not support Trump any more than he was the lesser of two evils, in my opinion, but even I can see how messed up the news in in this country. Why is it so hard for people to get along?
A government like the one America is supposed to be, what it was meant to be when it was founded, is supposed to have very little power on a federal level. The rules and laws they make should be few in number and focus on keeping it's people safe. Now we have our federal government what parts of religions are not to be adhered to, that we have to like absolutely everyone, and we need to pay for absolutely everything. My taxes kill me every single year. These things, among others, are things that shouldn't be decided by the federal government because it leads to issues like the political scene today. Both sides are at fault in very big ways and the media is not helping the situation at all, just feeding the flames and soon they are going to be out of control.
Again, I apologize, I do not like talking about things like this, and this is probably the WORST place to talk about it, but if I have to see things about politics absolutely everywhere then maybe I should just say my piece. Sorry for the rant.
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