Bad news for fans who plan to see highly anticipated movies in costume.

by Patch O'Furr

In March, Zootopia is going to bring all the furries!

Everywhere furries are, they’re talking about meets for Zootopia’s opening week.  My area has a proposed meet (without even a location) and already 44 are signed up. At this rate, they’ll pack a whole theater of their own (and it’s being arranged.)  Mention the idea, and without fail everyone loves it. Many want to go in fursuit.  I won’t be surprised if furmeets makes headlines.  I feel like this movie will bring Furry Fever like no other.  Is this happening in your area, too?

Why go to the movies in costume?  You’re just sitting in the dark.  Well, for some it’s just a great excuse to celebrate a shared experience with fandom. (NOTE: There has been a lot of confusion about this.  It doesn’t mean to wear a costume DURING the movie.)

Here’s a sign of the hype.  In June, maker Crafty Critters went outside furry preference for all-original characters by making a Nick Wilde Cosplay fursuit.  It appeared astonishingly early after Disney’s June 11 release of the Zootopia trailer – just in time for Anthrocon.

Nobody knows who the owner is.

At Anthrocon. Nobody knows who the owner is.

Buzz kill – Theaters are getting paranoid about security and banning masks. (NOTE: the entire article was completed prior to tragedies in France.)

Movie theaters ban ‘Star Wars’ masks; AMC doesn’t want guests to feel ‘uncomfortable.’  This is recent news about the second largest chain in the U.S.  It’s unclear if others are following suit. I’ve heard differing opinions from theater workers about how strict policies may be.

Blame it on James Holmes. In 2012, Colorado experienced the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Holmes targeted a theater showing The Dark Knight Rises:


Holmes – convicted to thousands of years in jail in 2015

He was dressed in black and wore a gas mask… Initially, few in the audience considered Holmes to be a threat. According to witnesses, he appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some believed he was playing a prank… [others thought he was part of a publicity stunt].

The shooting prompted an increase in security at movie theaters across the U.S. that were screening the same film, in fear of copycat crimes.

It was the first time that ever happened. Now, does banning masks = safety?  Could they have prevented Colorado’s Columbine massacre by banning trench coats? Is this a real solution compared to addressing guns or mental health? Well, there’s no need to go off topic because security is clearly an issue. The point is, it’s too bad that everyone’s social lives suffer because of extreme but very rare offenses.

Mask/Hood Bans: beyond fun to free speech.

Corporations can regulate private property as they like. But there’s a public issue.  It brings concern about the way private security influences communities.

The corporate policies are happening on top of older local laws that ban hoods and masks.  Some communities have seldom-used ordinances.  An original reason in the 1960’s was to control hate groups like the KKK.  Now, there’s debate about these laws being misused in capricious, prejudiced, or reactionary ways, even to suppress protesters who would be first to oppose hate groups. (Anonymous speech is considered an important First Amendment right.)

That’s news this week in Vermont: 12784861Burlington ban on masks raises free-speech questions.

Searches are coming in to this blog for the issue, because The Vermont Furries are on the leading edge of it. They have engaged their city government about repealing the law.  Vermont town selectively bans fursuiters: Prejudice complaint and update.

More – Mask/hood bans: Haters love this excuse for war on fun and freedom. 

Returning to furry wishes to celebrate, and how to solve this.

It takes special imagination to fear fursuit attacks. (What do you call that – “yelling Furry in a crowded theater?”)  But since the attack in Colorado, at least three shootings have piled up to ruin things for everyone.  What the heck!?  It used to be called “going postal”, so why theaters?

Oh, OK.  That’s true about theaters.  The guy who rips your ticket typically isn’t even as formidable as a school guard who grabs surly 4th-graders by the elbow and marches them to the principal.

It makes you wish people would just lighten up and be more loving.  But it doesn’t mean we’re falling into a dark age.  Crime just comes with crowds.

There’s been widespread talk about security issues affecting Furry events.  (I was sad to have to take down a recent post about event security, due to a privacy request.)  The MWFF chlorine attack and cancelations of Oklacon and Rainfurrest involved issues that come with community growth – it’s the village vs. city problem.  It means Furries are growing up as a fandom. The upside of strong growth is the way any drawback is matched by many successes.

Here’s a solution – the same way to maintain a friendly community anywhere:  Trust.

A theater manager who discussed organizing my local Zootopia furmeets explained that a specific member list and signed waivers could do a lot to persuade management.  Any fans who organize meets can raise trust by crafting professional proposals, and making sure their members are prepared and mature about understanding these issues.  Share this article to them.

This March, I’m looking forward to seeing fears calmed by friendly audiences, with many fuzzy ears silhouetted by silver screens.

Watch for followup soon: a guest post from a Furry theater worker, and an example for how to propose a meet.