Journalist Maria Margaronis interviewed furry fans at a Cambridge Furs meet last month for next week's episode of The Why Factor, a programme exploring "the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions" through the voices of those involved.
In stories, cartoons, advertisements and our everyday lives, we project human thoughts and emotions onto animals—and claim their strength and style for ourselves in the brand names of cars and cosmetics. Why do we do that, and what do we get out of it? Can we ever know what animals really feel? And are we as different from other species as we like to imagine? Maria Margaronis meets the furry fandom, who put on “fursonas” and cartoonlike animal costumes to meet and socialise. Neuroscientist Bella Williams upends some assumptions about animal brains and explains how to read a mouse’s facial expression; children’s author Michael Rosen sportcasts an insect race. Farmer Helen Reeve reflects on how she feels about eating her own cows. And historian Harriet Ritvo poses a thornier question: what makes our species think we are secure in our dominance over the natural world?
The 18-minute show "Animals Are Us?", which received input from furry artists, fursuiters, fursuit-builders and other fans, is to be broadcast on the BBC World Service on Friday 24 at 18:32 and 23:32 GMT (EDT+4, BST-1), with re-broadcasts on Sunday (21:32) and Monday (04:32, 12:32).
Update (23 April): A four-minute clip featuring several furs is available (transcript below).
Update 2 (24 April): The full episode has been published. There is no additional content featuring furries, but you may find the rest interesting, as it's all about anthropomorphism.
Are you interested in fictional animal characters with human personalities and proud of it? Do you like to dress up as your favorite animal character and go to Anthrocon, Further Confusion, or the ConFurence conventions? Do you have other friends in the furry world? Are there people in your life who don’t accept your furry side? Do you feel society should have a better understanding on what the furry world is all about? ONLY SUBMIT YOUR STORY IF YOU'RE WILLING TO APPEAR ON TV WITH DR. PHIL. Thanks for contacting the show!
My guess is that this will go the way of other such shows to feature furries.
We covered stories and educated many on the fandom, but sadly I can not handle the work load. I have worked with Jackson who did an amazing job, but sadly still the views still dropped and a “furry blog” did not work out. I must say this mostly stems on the process of many other furries making their own blogs elsewhere as well as DFB not hamming it up enough to attract others.
There's been much discussion and speculation about a casting call for Furries to appear on MTV's reality show, True Life. Erika Dobrin, casting VP at the show's producer Asylum Entertainment, was nice enough to give me 30 minutes to answer questions about it.
The phone app I used didn't record (I blame an app update), so this is paraphrased from notes and approved by Erika. I would say that the answers were very, very on-message. I did ask personal stuff to make it relatable - perhaps some responses would boil down to "just doing a job", or it might have caused shyness about getting personal. (Understandable, considering that the casting call has gotten hate mail.)
I aimed to ask tough questions, balancing sympathy towards the challenge of putting out professional media with being a Furry fan who's shamelessly obsessed with fursuiting.
In the modern (mis)information era, public relations has changed from a hassle typically tossed to the side 'til bad news arises, to a demanding necessity where your job is to prevent strife before it occurs. Slacking can cause a brushfire that one has but a single extinguisher to put out.
Which brings us to an example of such unfortunate episodes: Furlandia, the third new furry convention to spawn in the past two months. This one was held in Portland, Oregon. 270 showed up and over $1,000 was donated to PAW Team, which provides veterinary care for the pets of impoverished locals. The donation comes with an asterisk, though, as it came from MTV; fans threw in $6. [Update: Comments suggest this only reflects Sunday's count.]
I was not at the convention; however, I know some who were, and I’ve looked into all sides with an open mind and am giving my best assessment. Most importantly: I’m evaluating why this incident blew up as it did, so that future convention leaders can avoid undue stress.
Logo have published their therian documentary (41:47; YouTube), covered here in January.
Producers followed and interviewed several teenagers and young adults (and their parents), including the crew of FurCast and an otherkin forum administrator, Shiro Ulv.
In a poll of 120 therians/otherkin, a majority appear dissatisfied with the piece; fully 80% felt it was only slightly accurate, or not at all. The same proportion took issue with the inclusion of furries (including various fursuiters) in the documentary.
Similar numbers saw it as important for therians/otherkin to educate the public about themselves; however, views were mixed on participation in television documentaries. Most (83%) favoured the idea of therians/otherkin creating their own documentary.
For those who missed out on the news over the last three months, here's a quick roundup.
Further Confusion 2013 garnered some coverage, including a Kotaku contributor's weekend at a furry convention – which started out with party-hopping, followed by a fursuit parade (admittedly, the experience for many FC attendees). The author reached the [adjective][species] statistics panel before returning to the party floor . . . and then, the dance floor.
SanJose.com also provided coverage of FC, albeit limited to an apparently remote Q&A session with the con's media representative, Chairo. The brief piece was fact-filled, yet in comparison with Kotaku did not venture deeply into the motivations of those attending.
Sneaking in at the end of the month was a cover piece in Nashville LGBT monthly Out & About (subtitled "It's not all about sex in fur suits"), and a photo-heavy article of the "everyday lives of furries at home", featuring the furry photography of Tom Broadbent. [tip: HappyWulf]
The Cartoon Brew reports that Ellen DeGeneres, who voiced Dory, the regal blue tang fish with short-term memory loss in Pixar’s 2003 Finding Nemo, has announced that Pixar has asked her to reprise her role in the forthcoming sequel, Finding Dory. It will also be directed by Andrew Stanton, who directed Finding Nemo. Its tentative release date is November 25, 2015.
Finding Nemo is Pixar’s #2 grosser, behind only Toy Story 3.
I haven't seen this shared around until I noticed it on the Bay Area Furries mailing list.
According to their website:
What's your Fursona? Thats [sic] the million dollar question asked in this fast paced black comedy web series about the adventures of Virginia Blake - a successful investigative journalist - who is writing an expose on the FURRY underworld to save her tarnished career!
The film promises to follow a teenager from Brunswick, Georgia, who believes he is a wolf, and is aiming to confirm this by changing his name legally to his wolf name, Shiro. It also introduces the viewer to a commune of ‘otherkin’ in upstate New York that includes a human ‘raccoon’ and ‘leopard’ in an “inter species poly-amorous relationship.”
Update (30 April): The documentary has been released.
Johannesburg sexologist JacoPhillip Crous opines that "fursonas can be understood as totem representations ... an animal that's believed by the person to have spiritual or some other, possibly sexual, subjective significance, so the person adopts it as a personal emblem to which [he or she] feels drawn psychologically."
Interpreting this in a way akin to Jungian archetypes, Crous says the fursona is a form of "empowerment" and "self-transcendence" for the individual – and, for the sexually invested, the fursona is the "idealised totemic form that drives the erotic charge for the yiff enthusiast".
The piece quotes Tumblr bloggers, WikiFur, and Internet-based surveys, but no furry fans appear to have been interviewed for it. South Africa has a small furry community, but it is not mentioned within the article.
The term furries refers to the lifestyle of a youth culture that likes to dress as life-sized animals. They are called "fursuiter" meaning "fur wearer". Most of them sew their own elaborate costumes, and from time to time emerge to confuse the general public.
The footage focussed on fursuiters, but was very positive about the hobby:
They don't see themselves as crazy, just adults who like to have fun & try new things. It doesn't harm anyone and they believe that it makes the world a more colorful place.
The Hartford Courant's recent article, and related radio coverage, has been joined by Fox CT's five-minute TV feature segment, "Inside the World of Furries". [Eagle Beagle/fursuitlounge]
What we found is, with furries, there's really nothing to fear.
The piece opens with a comment about this weekend's FurFright and mentions local sports mascots, then goes to visit Zenfuhre (Jason Miclette) at his home, where he is joined by Stattik (BladeWolf/David Sutak). Both show off their fursuits. [Higgs Raccoon/furrymedia]