What does justice mean among furries? An unauthorized account of Megaplex, VancouFur, and Samuel ConwayPosted by charles they on Sat 18 Sep 2021 - 13:07
It can feel a kind of madness when the memory of the world has moved on without you and you are left unsmothered. It is not madness, however. The feeling is called injustice, and what I aim to show in this account of events, beginning in May of 2020 and ending with Megaplex of 2021, is that this injustice is a cultural issue in furry, produced from west coast to east by figures as disparate as Samuel Conway, the Megaplex convention board, and the British Columbia Anthropomorphic Events Association (BCAEA). I take these as case studies because they involve prolific figures, because they are current, or—with the BCAEA—because they are well-known to me even if they are not well known in general.
I could have chosen other case studies. There’s no scarcity of them—every few months there is a new bad story about a furry-run community group, a fursuit maker, a popular furry personality, or, most recently, a furry convention. This account, in its intention, is both to attempt a brief history of furry spaces since May of 2020 and to explain them as a part of a larger, overarching, and cultural issue. I do this in part because when there is a bad story every few months—one which often involves trauma of some kind—and numerous smaller pains arrive in the weeks in between, it can feel as though you have walked into a numbing fog.
The details become fuzzy and their dates more distant in memory, although they may have only happened months or weeks ago. For others, however, those bad stories aren’t just stories—they are real things that happened to a person and the numbing fog is not always so kind to them. It can feel a kind of madness, and historicizing them, putting them into context and connecting them with other, similar events, is my choice of remedy.
I grew up a nerdy theatre kid who wanted to be a punk. It taught me that I loathe the spotlight (I was compelled by an editor to add this section on myself). I get stage fright, with only the shakiest of legs, and, while I have an excellent memory—as this account may demonstrate—my perpetually flat affect made me unsuitable for serious acting. After that, I turned to writing, first stage plays, then later and with much more enjoyment, fanfiction. Furry as a subculture was a short leap away. While doing what amounts to queer/feminist studies at university, I joined a small poetry community on FurAffinity in 2016, and, unexpectedly, encountered a few poets who were upset whenever my poems mentioned punching Nazis.
My furry experience has continued in that general fashion ever since.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tails and Tornadoes is a young convention that's been running in the Central U.S. state since 2019. Its premiere year was reviewed here on Flayrah by one-time contributor Koori Kitty. Like the weather system it was named after, the con has subsequently found itself in a whirlwind that's rattled its organization.
The first shakeup was one that affected most gatherings, in that its second year was unable to be held in 2020 due to COVID-19 closures. But on top of this, the same year brought in political fallout from the final year of Trump's presidency. Riots in the American Midwest soon spurred worldwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by a law enforcement officer, where the unarmed black man was strangled by a knee to his neck that was held there for over eight minutes. The entire duration of the strangulation was recorded on a smartphone and shared over the Internet.
The United States government, under the leadership it held, decided to go against the advisability of de-escalation in these matters and instead responded with hostile rhetoric. Given the shutdown of many non-essential jobs due to the pandemic, this created a perfect storm of vocal protests and rioting towards an unsympathetic system, sentiments that spread far beyond the Midwest where the murder took place.
Update: Correction made about staffing shifts from 2020 to 2021 in Tails and Tornados per Koori.
As it turns out, Flayrah never reviewed Five Nights at Freddy’s when it was released to much fanfare in 2014. But to be fair it never won an Ursa Major, getting beat by a Pokemon remaster in 2014 and Undertale in 2015. What a bullet the furries dodged on that one, huh?
You see, in recent days, the independent creator of the franchise, Steven Cawthon, had his sizable political contributions to members of the Trumpian Brigade(™) picked up by Social Media. The candidates in said brigade typically speak about the subversion of American Values and see people who are outside those “Values” as an enemy. They use this fear to get people to donate money to them.
To highlight this, we see Cawthon’s statement in response to this revelation. "I felt [Trump] was the best man to fuel a strong economy and stand up to America's enemies abroad, of which there are many" he goes onto indicate that he prioritizes the need for this foreign defense over the issues of American citizens' treatment by their own government with, "even if there were candidates who had better things to say to the LGBT community directly, and bigger promises to make, I believed that their stances on other issues would have ended up doing much greater harm to those communities than good"
Basically he is noting that we should fear foreign governments more than we should our domestic one. Which is usually a position that people who are generally left alone by their own government can comfortably have.
Interestingly it is this quote that made me think of the story of Five Nights at Freddy’s in a whole new way. So let’s go down this Bonny hole— metaphorically, you freakin’ furrys!
What happens when an outgoing fursuiting feline is stuck indoors with a copy of VRChat, Unity, and hours of time on his hands? He builds VRChat worlds of course. In his ever growing interest in VRChat worlds, Coopertom, decided to bring his building skills into the trashy alleyways of one infamous location: Four Seasons Landscaping of Philadelphia.
Because of its renowned, this VR World caught the attention of Buzzfeed and other news outlets and was featured on Twitter’s “What’s Happening” page, along with having tens of thousand of engagements.
Ha ha ha OMG! The grand debut of Four Seasons Total Landscaping was AMAZING! Thank you to everyone who showed up! pic.twitter.com/2c5KQKQwgC— coopertom (@thecoopertom) November 9, 2020
Early next month, Americans will vote for various political offices, including President of the United States, the U.S.'s head of state. This is usually considered a pretty big deal in America, and even the world in general, as America still manages to wield a lot of political, economic and even cultural power on the world stage, despite itself. Some of the idiosyncrasies of the American political system may be a bit opaque to non-Americans (no, we don't really understand what the Electoral College is supposed to accomplish anymore, either). One aspect that seems to be uniquely American is the strong identification of American political parties with certain animals.
A Furry created hashtag trend, #SocialistTeeth, ended up as the top trending tag in the United States after Conservative Bots picked it up to launch criticism at the concept of Socalist policies in general. A Twitter thread by Dream Hyena shows some examples of some of these bot blunders.
As many around the world continue to practice social distancing during this viral moment in humanity, it is of little surprise that some are engaging in unusual behaviors. From collective mooing or howling from their homes, or telling comedy from their backyard, people are finding ways to try and engage with their neighbors from a safe distance. Then there are late show leads Samantha Bee and John Oliver, both known for their time as Daily Show correspondents before getting their own shows on TBS and HBO respectively, who have in a strange turn of events set their sites on the furry fandom in very different ways.
Both have done segments or furry hijynx in their shows, giving our fandom some unusual mainstream attention.
The Fandom is certainly not the first documentary to be done by furries about our own fandom. Over the past decade a handful have been made. Sometimes they focus on a particular incident surrounding an individual such as Rukus. Or perhaps they talk about the group in a way that may be more useful for political discussion within the community rather than introducing us and where we came from such as Fursonas.
I can say that if you were to want to introduce someone to the concept of what the foundations of the community are and its growth in the modern era, then this would be the one you would want to show. It covers our history in the same vein that Joe Strike’s Furry Nation did in book form.
Its release comes at a very appropriate time as the world has been set on pause, so it is a great time to reflect on where we came from and where we are going. This certainly appears to be the goal of this film as it explores the growth of our communal spaces in the world from the 70s to today. You can help support their efforts by buying a copy here.
Furries of past connected mostly via the internet behind avatars and characters of varying species. In chat rooms they would engage in discussion and role play. However, many folks of color found opportunity through being through a world where interaction was through text and art alone. That if they did not discuss or indicate their race then they could see the world in a whole new way. They could finally escape their skin and put on a new one here.
However, no one can live on the internet alone. A systemically racial bias in justice systems throughout America came to a head, once again, in the death of George Floyd, a black citizen of Minneapolis. The cruelty of this death was of grueling note as video was released of Officer Chauvin knelled down on his neck for many minutes until Mr. Floyd stopped breathing.
A furry fan drew an inflated skunk embroidered with the emblem for the Industrial Workers of the World union squishing a hamster in a top hat with the caption of “squash the boss”. Such a piece is not anything too unusual. The oddity that caught the eye of the Daily Dot was that the union itself posted the piece to their Facebook page.
Soon thereafter, the IWW's Twitter account joined in. Though, for some reason, they quietly back out later, as the original Tweet referenced in the Daily Dot article appears to be deleted. (Its text remains in the article despite this – a feature of the standard embedding code for other sites. Tweeters, be wary of this.)
But has furry reached a point where we need to squash the boss and organize? Or are unions barking up the wrong tree? The answer, like the fandom, may be complex.
According to convention chairman Rizzorat, "configuration changes to our payment systems" which include switching payment providers necessitated a delay to "reliably implement and test" them. ConFuzzled registration, previously expected to open tomorrow (Friday, October 11), is now to open November 1 at 20:00 GMT/UTC+0 – British Summer Time to have ended October 27.
Organizers apologized to those who may have "made special plans to be available tomorrow evening to ensure you secure your registration", going further to justify and explain the change, which was felt to be "absolutely necessary to ensure your peace of mind" ahead of the event's 13th instance:
Why are we making this decision? As a result of uncertainty surrounding the UKs departure from the European Union, our banking & credit card handling partners have imposed additional conditions that we’re having to work through. Unfortunately, this is resulting in various operational changes, including (but not limited to), switching our payment partners to ensure we can maintain our normal operations.
We’d like to reassure you all that registration will be going ahead on the new date, and that ConFuzzled is not financially impacted by the above changes. Furthermore, we are fully confident that we can continue to welcome those of you who visit ConFuzzled from EU countries. Whilst we expect travel documentation requirements may change, as long as these are satisfied, we see no reason you should be unable to visit ConFuzzled.
Midwest Furfest has come to learn that being the largest furry convention in the world comes with its follies as news broke of an infamous alt-right provocateur, Milos Yiannopoulos, setting his sights on the gathering. After he went public with this, and word started to spread around, the pressure was on for the convention to make a decision on the matter of this particular would-be attendee.
In a statement released by the convention they said that his presence would not be appropriate for the goal of giving attendees an enjoyable gathering experience.
Self-registration for our event does not imply a given individual’s presence is condoned or appropriate.Our full statement is below, along with a link to our Code of Conduct: https://t.co/bf78xOGSOo pic.twitter.com/0CnTi6AbYt— Midwest FurFest ???? (@FurFest) September 16, 2019
In return there have been statements by the banned individual that they plan on showing up to the event anyway. With this debacle covered by many outlets outside the fandom such as the Rolling Stone, it has inspired other far right political actors, such as the Proud Boys, to claim they’ll try and be disruptive of the event as well. Convention security has been working with the venues and law enforcement to ensure that precautions are taken. Furs have been informing other attendees to take necessary steps and be aware when attending this December’s gathering.
On March 14th, following the announcement by Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke that he plans on making a presidential run, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) made a tweet incorrectly claiming that the candidate is a furry. This claim stems from video of Beto in a sheep costume was released in January, however his purpose for wearing it had nothing to do with furry fandom activities.
Beto was a part of a band who donned their sheep costumes while performing punk covers on stage in El Paso. The intention was to hide their local demeanor and to play it off as if they were a New Zealand band from out of town, according to a Mother Jones interview. I suppose it's fitting if you are fleecing your band to be more exotic than it is, than a sheep outfit fits quite well.
Furry Youtuber Majira Strawberry and Youtuber YourMovieSucks(YMS), at a combined total of around one million subscribers, had announced that they had planned on accepting a guest spot on a podcast with the Youtuber h3h3 Productions, who sits at 6.23 million. Since its announcement there had been very passionate discussions amongst fur fans on whether this is something that should even be considered. As reasons they should decline critics brought up some of h3h3’s other guests, support of controversial figures, and particular jokes that were received as having transphobic connotations— apparently while h3h3 was actually trying to make a joke at his own expense about his body weight, which seems to be a running gag for his personal feed.
At first Majira stayed stead fast with his commitment to join the podcast. However, as time went on and more fervent messages were received from individuals within the furry community, the strawberry fox eventually relented and backed out of doing the interview.
I've officially decided to back out of the H3 Podcast. After listening to everyone's concerns, it doesn’t feel like the right choice for me to go on the show
I sincerely apologize for the grief I caused the community. I’ll continue to work to earn your trust in constructive ways
— Majira Strawberry (@tallfuzzball) February 22, 2019
This event has driven a stark divide in the furry community, with Furry Youtubers and other content creators getting frustrated about having their peer in the crossfire, while others claiming that Majira had adverted what would have been a disaster for himself and the fandom, believing h3h3 to have ill-intentions.