CNN’s This Is Life is amazing TV – relations with the media – and more positive furry stories.
by Pup Matthias
CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling: Furry Nation aired last Sunday. As Furries do, some loved it and some hated it. That’s not surprising. When the critically acclaimed show (built around exploring the different corners of people’s lives) tweeted their season five episodes, fandom freaked out. Furries were tweeting about how CNN would cover them in the same season with MS-13, meth, screen addiction, and gender fluidity. Or how Furries complained that Anthro Northwest was letting TV do recording at their convention. Or how this episode was either the second coming, or the dawn of the apocalypse.
Boy, that changed overnight. If it sounds like I’m salty, I am to a degree. The reactions leading up to the premiere were just tiring. Many furries painted all journalists as TMZ tabloids looking for the next juicy clickbait headline, but looking at an episode shows Lisa Ling being a thoughtful reporter who wants to show the human stories behind the topics she covers. (You can see all episodes legally with a TV subscription here.)
It’s funny to see Furries wanting to share their stories and promote the good this community can do; yet push away anyone wanting to report on it. It lets rumors continue to define us. Of course, as I’m writing this, the BBC has done a piece about the hacking of an adult furry site many haven’t heard of. It’s actually a relatively neutral story in comparison to what happened to Ashley Madison (the website devoted to helping people cheat in their relationships), but with buxom zebras and scantily clad lionesses instead of mistresses/guys on the side (or whatever). Beyond the furry aspect, it’s neither positive nor negative, it’s just there. Perhaps those rumors are losing power just from becoming old and familiar.
It’s not without merit to be skeptical about the media covering this fandom. YouTuber Quartz Husky did a video about cable news coverage:
The issue as I see it, isn’t pointing out that there are people who will use us for sensational clicks. The issue is then finding positive examples to compare and contrast for what we, as a community want. The dialogue about the media vs. the fandom is so black-and-white, that any form of coverage is seen as bad. It leaves very little room for us to showcase who we are because there are no “good” reporters.
But Furry Nation is amazing! It’s a moving hour of television showing what some attentive furs have been preaching for years. It showcases three different, and personal stories, that reflect how the fandom is a wonderful outlet to be who we are. Captain Boones, Leilia Spaniel, and Asheda did an amazing job of sharing who they are and what a positive impact the Furry Community has made for them. Personally, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting yourselves out there. You each deserve GOH recognition to at least one con for this.
....and now... FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS at HIGH SPEED!!#roguefur #rogurefurproductions #furry #furryfandom #furries #cosfur #cosplay pic.twitter.com/lEsb4ZV8zA— Captain Boones Leone (@captainboones) July 23, 2018
As for any negative to the show, the main complaint is how it lacks representation of POC or queer Furries. There’s also the classic “all they cared about was fursuiters and art.” These can be valid criticisms, however, the topic of Furry is so broad with thousands of different subgroups and people and experiences, that trying to distill them into a mere hour of television is simply impossible. Consider that this special covered Fursonas, anxiety, basic history, the military, PTSD, handicaps, hybrid fursonas, cons, panels, sex, popufurs, dances, kids, and marriage at cons, all while keeping the focus on the three main personalities. The way it never loses focus is frankly pure skill, and at the end of the day Furry Nation is a positive no matter what. Although if anyone wants to be represented, after all the resistance, next time I suggest you raise your hand.
For years, the media took every opportunity to make furry look as lurid and lame as possible.— Emotional Support Animal (@microdile) November 19, 2018
Now they're finally coming around little by little, yet there's still so much anger & resistance.
No piece on the fandom, especially an hour long, is ever going to be comprehensive.
Most hottest take ever: we got good press for once, let's roll with it. Were parts missing? Sure! Instead of focusing on that support the creatives in our community and if you want to share what makes furry special to you put yourself out there and share it with the world.— Midwest Ash Fest (@AshCoyote) November 20, 2018
Gotta admit #ThisIsLife with @lisaling did an amazing job, finally got to watch it and I’m really happy with how well she portrayed the fandom. Coming from being a furry in the army, I wish this much positivity from media was done sooner.— MFFarks Barks (@Marks_Barks) November 20, 2018
This is the biggest positive coverage of our community I can name, but it shouldn’t and won’t be the last.
It’s big, but not an anomaly. There’s already a lot of positive coverage to sink your teeth into and share. So let me showcase some more examples from the media and from members in our own community.
Furries Surprise Strangers For The First Time from BuzzfeedVideos
I love pointing out that Buzzfeed has been a positive source about furries. Say what you will about Buzzfeed, but I think they have always been positive like that. Check out this video released back in August. It actually brings up the topic about POC furries, and has one of the purest “derp” reactions to meeting Furries I’ve seen.
The Truth About Furries: Fandom Not Fetish From VICE
Before CNN, Vice took on the topic of Furries over a year ago. It’s another great piece showing what our community is about. As well as featuring the wonderful Arrkay from Culturally F’d.
Furries: A Documentary by Eric Risher
Let’s look at creators within the community spreading the fluffy word. This doc by Eric Risher came out two years ago. It’s an overview of the fandom for those who want to understand what we are about. It screened at several cons to positive reception. You can order a physical copy, or watch on demand. Eric is still doing great work in the fandom. His next project, Making a Musical Tail, chronicles the play created by Fox Amoore and Pepper Coyote at BLFC 2018. It will premiere at Midwest FurFest. If you aren’t already too busy, come to the premiere and support one of our own creators.
Trans Voices by Ash Coyote
Ash Coyote is a Trans Furry YouTuber doing short advice videos about Furry, transgender topics, how they can overlap, and gaming videos with her husband. Right now, Ash is doing a series called Trans Voices. It’s a project to reach out to her community and share their personal journeys. While not “fully” Furry, Ash is providing a platform for us to learn and understand. Very few Furry YouTubers are doing that.
Here’s a familiar face! It’s Arrkay’s education series that explores the fandom. This is what you would get if Idea Channel was Furry. This informative and well researched video series is a go-to for those curious what the fandom is about.
These are just a few I could name. There are a lot of more positive stories out there than one might think, whether it’s CNN or a small YouTuber. I hope they help brighten up your day. That’s all I have to say. Until next time Fluffer Nutters, have a nice day.
A very good piece, Pup Matthias. We had a viewing party here for THIS IS LIFE with Lisa Ling last Sunday at my apartment – and despite the small criticism over the lack of LGBTQ Furries mentioned in the report, it was a very good ‘shot in the arm’ documentary for our fandom. There is NO WAY you can fit everything into a 44 min episode, and the three incredible individuals who were interviewed (Captain Boones, Leilia Spaniel and Asheda) touched my heart greatly with their stories. I’ve made a friendship with Shawn (Boones) before the airing and we chatted for a bit. His story made me cry – I had to take a moment to recover, and I thanked him later for being brave and willing to tell his story to a worldwide audience. There are people who will be critical of things, including this program. I’m going to take this episode of THIS IS LIFE as a positive, fluffstep forward to show the non-furry world that we are a welcoming community that fosters a willingness to incorporate, nurture and for the most part support one another through our love of creativity and art. This is what I felt about the furry fandom all along, especially after Lisa’s amazing documentary, it’s something we should all be proud of. Joe G Bear