More Furries Are Being Featured in the Media, and That’s Good
by Pup Matthias
Is it me or are Furries popping up in news stories more? It feels strange to bring it up, but I swear the fandom has been getting more media attention and a good amount of it has been positive. Yes, I know, it weirds me out too. The reason I’m writing this opinion piece is, in part, because of my own history in the fandom. I got involved with the Furry Fandom around 2009. If you were a Furry around that time you were under the shadow of, what I prefer to call, the “Vanity Fair Era”. Named that cause of the infamous article published by Vanity Fair titled, “Pleasures of the Fur”, in 2001. Which presented the Furry Fandom as a sexual fetish and only as a sexual fetish. Along with MTV’s Sex2K episode, “Plushies and Furries,” and the famous CSI episode, “Fur and Loathing,” in 2003 that painted a clear picture of the fandom to mainstream audiences. Supposedly we are about sex and only sex.
Of course that isn’t true. It’s a part of the fandom but it’s not what defines the fandom. Furries are people who love walking talking animals and how they show that love depends on the person. It is as silly for people as it is serious. You can have a fursuit or not. You can create artwork in the fandom or be an observer. It can be sexual for you and it cannot. We all have different levels based around that same love and as long as we are respectful and understand people’s different viewpoints we bring forward a beauty of community the Furry Fandom provides. Anyone who has been in or actually explores the fandom understands that, but with stories like CSI that wasn’t what people were seeing. It’s why for the longest time, and still to a degree, Furries don’t talk to the media because the media has done a poor job with representing us.
Which has lead to moments like the Inside Edition undercover story at FC in 2015 or several smaller press organizations trying to sneak in to get the right sound bite that fits into the ‘Furries as only a sexual fetish’ narrative. I remember when getting involved with the fandom watching those Uncle Kage videos about how to interact/ avoid the media or how he responded when the media went to him. There was no question about it. If you were a Furry under the Vanity Fair Era you were one of the lowest of the low. Someone to be openly mocked and ridiculed. Something you had to hide.
Now we are clearly out of the Vanity Fair Era. I can’t say when it ended, with history there’s rarely any cut off date, eras come in waves and in the last few years the previous wave has died down. As it was dying, around the start of the 2010’s, I began to come across several small articles now and again actually tackling the topic of Furries and what the fandom is about. Though the main word here is “small”, with coverage from local press outlets of a local convention or a furmeet with an even smaller audience. For a point of reference, the biggest outlet I can remember covering Furries outside of a sexual fetish was Buzzfeed. If you listen closely you can here several people clutching their pearls right now.
While the biggest story I can remember coming from mainstream presses at the time was the Gas Attack on Midwest Fur Fest in 2014 where one news anchor, who had no idea what Furries were, couldn’t stop herself from laughing. But it was after that, for some strange reason that this new wave of Furry stories really started to take off. There were still the standard small press stuff, along with coverage about the Fursonas doc, but then around 2016 we got hit with one of the biggest positive articles for the fandom. The Syrian Refugees at VancouFur. To say that story put the fandom under a new light would be an understatement. It was a watershed moment that spread like wildfire over social media.
Then we come to this year where the stories continue. Notably, popular writer Kyell Gold’s new book, “The Time He Desires,” getting featured on Slate’s LGBT Blog Outward, about tackling a gay immigrant Muslim romance involving furries in front of current events took social media by storm. Offering more exposure to Furry writers then anyone could ask for. Along with the obvious hate that came with it. Have you ever witnessed someone being triggered on Tumblr? Think of that, but with Nazis – which is funny to watch. Shortly after that, YouTube puts a Furry YouTuber, Rainy Chaos, on their Creators on the Rise bringing forward a lot of attention both good and bad. Rainy Chaos discusses her experience following the event.
So why are Furries being featured more? Hard to say. My best hypothesis would be that since the novelty of making fun of Furries has died down it has open us up more to be who we are and able to feature the full spectrum of the community. That’s not to say it’s all peaches and sunshine. As big as having these stories break out, it has also brought out a lot of the same hate that has haunt the fandom. Not to mention stories like the ridiculous Tonygate to the sad like the recent murders in Orange County to the disturbing from Philadelphia about the men arrested for pedophilia who were part of the fandom.
If there is a silver lining with the last two stories, it would be one – these monsters have been caught, and two – when the topic of the fandom came up they never tried to connect the fandom as the cause. These are tragic stories that just so happened in the Furry Fandom. No different than if the same stories came from a Trekkie, Anime, or Comic fandom. The only draw back I’ve seen is how several articles are using pictures of unrelated fursuiters, which can leave the impression that that person was a part of it. These stories do bring up the question of reasonability in the fandom, but that’s a discussion for another day.
The main thing I want to bring up with this moment in the fandom, is that things are changing. The fandom is not seen as it was over a decade ago. However, it still has a lot to prove. There will always be someone who will openly hate us, make fun of us, or make us out as the worse. But if we are given the chance, we can show who we are, all the good we can do, and occasionally step up if something bad happens close to us.
We now have a chance to bring a spotlight where we want it, rather than ducking if it catches us unaware. How far do we go to get it? That’s an easy question with no easy answer. Till next time you crazy Fluffer Nutters. Stay amazing. Stay awesome. Stay you.
The artwork is of Aberguine, but it’s actually fanart by SmokeFox
Referring to defendants who were charged with a crime but not convicted (as is the case for some of the people you’re referring to) with labels like “monsters” is poor journalism. Mind changing that?
Another very recent positive article from The Guardian, yet it focuses on fursuits only: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/feb/04/furry-fandom-subculture-animal-costumes?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-2
Interestingly, the article is listed in their Fashion section.