Furries show how a good community is the antidote for soullessness.

by Patch O'Furr

There was a silly post here that mixed politics and the friendly community of furries. I got a little heat from all sides for that. (I wouldn’t have it any other way… whether it’s a controversy or a furry cuddle sandwich, I like being in the middle.) Why do that? Because it’s a group of people just like other people, so they mix it themselves sometimes.  Not my fault for noticing.

It relates to a post by another blogger. Let’s get to his in a minute, but first meet Zachary Byron Helm. He’s a talent I have appreciated since Livejournal, the kind who would be considered some kind of subcultural mogul in a big coastal city.  He has gathered a following of his own from his lair in Colorado. It’s an entirely different subculture, but you might have seen me post about loving punk/goth and industrial music from time to time. (Subcultures are at their best when they mingle and mutate.)

Zach makes up for lack of fluffy tail with outrageous fashion sense. Look at this guy:

  • sorpHe collects hearses, rebuilds them by hand, and customizes them with no-shit working flamethrowers on top.
  • He gathers fellow hearse enthusiasts for an annual event called Hearse Con.
  • That’s totally a goth thing to do (goth in Colorado: why not), so he also makes goth-flavored Youtube videos with his own bad-ass auteurial vision under the moniker S.O.R.P. films.
  • They’re funny. Goth humor can be as unexpected as seeing mainstream tastemakers act like they just discovered a cool new trend called “furries”. It makes me wistful for when SNL had Sprockets with Dieter.
  • Check his Nine Inch Nails parody. I think there’s a micro-genre of those and it’s the best one.

  • Zach has a super-ambitious labor-of-love DIY B-movie in the works, called “Death Hearse on Satan’s Titty Highway.” Look at that title. It’s a finely-crafted string of magical power words. The little bits shown so far have stunts with flaming police cars. Is that not bad-ass?
  • So, like I said, a bad ass and he blogs like it. (I hope he replies and tells us his favorite or most widely-shared pieces.)

That stuff is a great example of true passion and creativity. I hope this brings him a new follower or two.

Recently, I saw Zach post stuff with some politics in it, about the 2012 movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. (Zach said he knew people at the theater.)

It caused a problem specific to furries, a chill on activities that are close to our hearts.  Look no further than 2016’s biggest movie, Zootopia.  Many of us wanted to celebrate it in furry form, but theaters aren’t so tolerant about masks or costumes any more. (Previously a topic in “Furries and security worries“.)

Blame the shooter, James Holmes. That jerkwad ruined our fun (on top of everything else.) He was convicted for the murders and thrown in a hole for a few thousand years.  But sadly, that didn’t make it easy again for us to have movie meets and spread hugs in fursuits.

Despite the issue, Zootopia meets DID happen and boy were they popular. My article about furries renting theaters was the most viewed ever on this site.  I didn’t give it a fraction of the effort that some other Furry News gets, and it had thousands of shares on Facebook and quotes in national news.  Back in 2000, Vanity Fair did a hit piece about us on the level of a class jock picking on you every day in high school and then following you home to keep it up for 12 years. They were led to quote Dogpatch Press while positively covering furries and Zootopia. Our enthusiasm won out.

Zach probably doesn’t know about any of this, but he looked at another side.

Several victims of the Aurora shootings sued the theater chain because they said the theater didn’t have sufficient security to prevent a mass killing.

First off, WHAT theater in this country is equipped to stop a mass killing? ANY!? The whole lawsuit hinged on the notion that another victim in this whole tragedy (The theater chain) should have done something to stop a horrible event that no one could have foreseen….

…The one person we can blame isn’t someone we can go after any more than we already have, so people go “Well shit, who can I go after!?” Then someone suggests the theater chain and they see a payday for their suffering.

I’d like to mention the woman who sued McDonald’s for spilling coffee in her lap. It was widely ridiculed as a frivolous lawsuit.  If you take a closer look, it wasn’t (third-degree burns, skin grafts, and two years of recovery after the restaurant was warned about serving molten lava.) She made a statement about corporate practices. Don’t judge so fast!

With the Aurora victims, I doubt they were just looking for a payday. Look at how little money was on the table. It would have been $30,000 each for three worst victims and less than $2,000 each for the rest. I wouldn’t take that for suffering unconsensual noogies. That’s “condolences, have a jumbo bucket of popcorn.”

It’s known that movies are some of the last large gatherings with little to no security. They were looking for a change to corporate policy to stop future shootings. Justified or not, that’s good intentions. But the court couldn’t find the theater liable.

Fine, but… then they piled $700k in cost penalties on the last holdout plaintiffs, who apparently had so much grief that they would be martyrs for a message about corporate responsibility. IANAL, but I believe it should be said that was due to a special quirk of Colorado law.  Usually, sides are supposed to bear their own costs. So good intentions were treated as frivolous in a manner usually reserved for exceptional malicious litigation. Uncool, man.

That’s my small beef with Zach’s opinion. The theater isn’t Mom and Pop’s sandwich shop defending itself from an evil billionaire developer like in the movies. It’s a damn national chain. That’s not a person vs. person dispute. Getting to throw costs back just makes me think, even if nobody was a winner, it seems to award suited executives power to not even have to listen to The People for anything at all.

I sympathize at least with the victims intentions. And I’m a furry who wants less paranoia!  This connects to fandom in the way it involves business vs. culture. With the bigger-dumber blockbuster business, I see a trend towards soullessness, where art and passion is an afterthought.  They could be herding passengers on and off of busses as much as putting butts in theater seats. “Ass the movie” isn’t far off.

Caring Citizens and Fans were the losers of these broad happenings. Corporations and Holmes won that.

In the Furries and security worries articles, one is by Andrew, a furry movie theater employee. He discussed how Holmes used costuming (and how it’s unfair to judge us by his attack and ban all masks).

I’m no Dr. Fureud, but I think Holmes could be an example for Fandom Gone Bad. That genius confused movies with real life and somehow decided to be an actual Batman villain, at everyone elses expense. Unlike some of our own Fandom Problem Children I can’t find anything sympathetic about that.

furries_vs_klingonsYou can say that the antithesis to Holmes is guys like Zach, and every furry who makes the activities we love possible. I’m not inviting Zach to a cuddle sandwich (it might mess up his mohawk) but I have dreams of wacky-ass mashups like the furries vs. Klingons bowling meets and Goth Day at Disneyland.

That huge preamble serves to make a point. I wanted to mention what convinced theaters to let furries come in costume to Zootopia shows.

Caring about community. We had to find the small, independent, or personally-caring theaters who would overlook things like liability or furryphobia or whatever, and let us come be silly animals anyways.

That’s the antidote to corporate soullessness and empty evil narcissism. It might bring a little of what those plaintiffs could use.

I don’t find it anywhere more strongly than with my furry friends. If you organize a meet, think about how to get support by showing what a great community we have. I don’t know if goths would care, but you can see the appreciation here. (And they have flamethrowers!)