Midwest Furfest 2019 had a pleasant surprise for its charity. An anonymous donor had decided to match the generosity of those that had gathered, which was $110,000. This doubling to $220,000 was a major push that had set up the fandom to make it past a milestone last year of raising over a million dollars to charitable causes cumulatively. The final total coming to $1,109,974.51.
The reference for this was not Wikifur as one might expect, but instead was released via a Youtube video, put together by Thabo Meerkat and Dixie Lioness. While it may seem to be a simple feature with just a bunch of numbers, these figures actually tell us a lot about the future of fundraising in the furry fandom.
Cats is such a bizarre phenomenon, I don't really know where to even start.
It's not just the movie. That a stage play based on a series of children's nonsense poems would not only be made, period, but that it would go on to be one of the most popular plays in some of the biggest venues is one of those things that make people say things like "well, it was the 80s" and "cocaine is a hell of a drug". Heck, there isn't even a lot of anecdotal evidence that drugs were involved any more than usual, if at all.
But, of all the inexplicable things, I'd like to point out the original tagline of the movie, which is so generic for such a weird property, stood out to me. "You Will Believe".
I will believe what, exactly? Neither the poems, play nor, it turns out, this feature length film has much in the way of thematic content, other than maybe "cats". Certainly, questions of faith or belief are not addressed. You could say the "jellicle cats" are a sort of feline cult to the moon, but there is no interest in the philosophy or theology of this possible cult. Certainly, I didn't come away believing there is some "Heaviside Layer" that would grant cats an extra life if they sing a song really good. Furthermore, I don't think the movie was trying very hard to make me a "believer".
So let's actually talk about the movie. The very first shots are set at a human level, as a canvas bag with a cat inside that we will learn is named Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is thrown out the window of a moving vehicle, apparently abandoned by her human owners, who we never see. This departure from the stage play, where we are given a point of view character who is new to the world of movie to have stuff explained to, is a welcome addition.
It's also the only thing the opening scene gets right.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and its 2020, so that must mean a look back is in order. In lieu of the usual top ten best movies of the year, let's actually, for once, do a furry list on the furry site and countdown the ten best furry movies (or at least the ones I liked the most) from the last decade.
The winners of the 2019 Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards have been announced! There are too many wonderful pieces to show here, so if you have the time, check out the complete list in their Google doc. (Some mild NSFW content.)
The other two finalists were "Wildflower" by Neonhorns, and "Adventure awaits!" by Hitmore. There were four runners-up to this category, and over twenty contenders on top of those! A special merit award was given to "Courage on Two Wheels", in honor of Dogbomb.
I was browsing my Google news feed, as people who read non-fiction writing tend to, and low and behold, a news article from Rolling Stone came up entitled Will Furries Ever Go Mainstream? The reporter reviews his experiences while attending Midwest FurFest last December.
It’s a good piece that poses the question of whether our fan club, that has grown to the size it has in Rosemont, will garner mainstream attention - or acceptance. It's also long, and coming from me you know that’s saying something.
Like most coverage deemed “positive”, they do seem to marginalize the adult aspects of sexual expression in the fandom pretty quickly by saying that it was not the “main aspect of the fandom”. However, like most clever furs they snuck in a risqué quote about foxes:
dozens of six-foot alligators, snakes, lizards, and other assorted reptiles scramble to pose for a group photo.
On the floor, about three dozen foxes lie on top of each other in a “fur pile,” orange-and-white limbs and bellies knotted together on the ground.
I see what you did there Rolling Stone. You should be proudly ashamed.
But back to the concept of going mainstream. It isn’t a new question within the fandom which can bring excitement or concern depending on who you ask. We claimed it was happening when Disney used the word “anthropomorphic” to describe the world of Zootopia.
However, I would like to claim that, yes, we are entering the mainstream, whether we like it or not. I even have evidence that we may already be there.
Underdog (언더독, trailer) is a South Korean animated film from 2018, written and directed by Oh Sung-yoon at Odoltogi Studio, and co-directed by Lee Chun-baek who previously directed Leafie, A Hen into the Wild.
The main character is Moongchi, a dog who loves and trusts his owners, so he's understandably confused when he's deliberately left behind in the woods. Luckily he soon meets a group of other abandoned dogs who take him in, surviving in an empty slum on the edge of the nearby town.
While his fellow strays beg and scrounge to survive, Moongchi is still figuring things out. Wandering up the mountain into the forest, he meets a small group of wild dogs and wants to impress one of them, a female named Bami. Trouble is brewing for both groups, and soon they must unite and find a new place to live.