Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Politics

How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Fandom is big business in the mainstream – but furries have their own place apart. Why does this fandom grow independently? Let’s look at unique expression at the heart of it. Of course furries do a lot more things than this story can look at, but one aspect brings insight about decentralized structure.

Some subcultures rise and fall with media they consume. But the influences seen in Part 1 didn’t make one property in common for every furry. They didn’t rise with a movie like Zootopia. Instead, this fandom is fans of each other.

Part 1 looked at the roots and growth of their conventions. Furry cons make a platform for the specialized craft of fursuiting, with bespoke, full-body mascot costumes that cost thousands. They’re uniquely original expressions of identity. They’re tangible, huggable products of imagination. They put the fur in furry.

A lot of the fandom’s rock stars are fursuiters, who give it a photogenic face. Unlike stars of other fandoms, their original characters usually aren’t promoting something else — and fursuits can’t be downloaded or easily pirated — they’re for live experiences. It matters because online community can be temporary, but live events glue it together. They can show why this fandom is independent, here to stay, and not tied to certain media.

Rather than naming great works tied to their activity, you could say that the group is its own greatest creation. And if writing, art, or other creativity in the fandom didn’t rise out of a certain type of event, fursuiting did.

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Story of a Former Alt-Furry: Clouded by Clout

by Dogpatch Press Staff

This guest post was submitted for anonymous posting on the guest’s behalf. That’s a community access service offered by this site. The story gives details about hate groups that can help readers with similar experience know it’s true, and can put the poster at risk of backlash. Part of such stories that often goes unspoken is the extreme abuse that such posts attract. That’s why it’s important to offer community access service, even for some stories that may have scary information that may be impossible to tell openly.

Sadly, abuse often comes from people who claim to be allies, as well as from enemies — and in cases targeting this site, they often fall for lying and baiting from bad faith sources. The knee-jerk reactions come from acting tribalist and putting agreement above finding out what’s going on. It may gain clout for the group but make you less informed.

“Perhaps we need to spend slightly less time asking whether we agree with, or approve of, a text, a piece, an experience, and ask what it does; or, better yet, what it might do? There is a power in simply asking “hmm, what’s going on here?” – @L0v3byt3

If you find the post valuable, be aware of abuse that comes with hosting it, not to gain clout that others fight for, but just to offer the service (since 2014). Of course nobody owes debate or an audience for bad faith and it’s fair to simply block it, but the post also describes how hate groups can be reinforced by attacking them – and a different solution.

To learn more about how hate groups seek to get attacked for publicity, check out the Behind The Bastards podcast about George Lincoln Rockwell, the American pioneer of those manipulative tactics. – Patch

Hate groups prey on loneliness.

I want to preface this by saying that I understand if you do not want to listen to the words of someone who used to be part of something horrible. What I have brought on myself and my reputation is nobody’s fault but my own and saying sorry after the fact may seem like an afterthought or a way to staunch the bleeding. What I am offering you is an insight into how these insidious groups like Alt-Furry work from an insider’s perspective, and how to avoid them if you feel unsure of yourself, or help others avoid falling into the same trap.

Since the beginning of human history, when we banded together in tribal groups, feeling like you belonged offered you a sense of safety. If you didn’t have the charisma or the skills to start your own group, you joined one, or tried. A sense of community makes you feel useful. It makes you feel like people need you around. Sometimes, this is so intoxicating, especially to people who have been alone for quite some time, that you overlook things that others in your group do.

After all, they are your friends, right? It’s okay for people to be imperfect. If you point out that what they are doing is wrong, they won’t want to be your friends anymore. You will have to be alone and afraid again. Unfortunately, this feeling of fear is sometimes what drives us to turn a blind eye to things that hurt the people around us. It just gives you company when the ship begins to sink. Anything is better than dying alone, even dying together.

Taking advantage of this feeling is the core of how many hateful groups operate, and Alt-Furry is no exception. By convincing you that others hate you, and are always out to get you, they separate you from the world and trap you into a bubble. This is not to say that they are master hypnotists or that they force people to act the way they do. Instead, they are master manipulators, and nudge people who are vulnerable emotionally into doing the wrong thing. They convince you that they are your friends not because they like you specifically, but because everyone else -hates you-, and so they are the only friends you will ever make.

You have every chance in the world to walk away, but they convince you that doing so will only make you alone again. This is how they got me.

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Sorry To Bother You: this dystopian comedy is off the hook.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

RING RING. Did you ever get a scam caller who needs money immediately? One time I answered one of those and played along with a “dumb voice” (it was method acting) while I pretended to walk to Wal-Mart to send them a wire transfer. My friend played store noises in the background, and announced “Sir, you can’t be here without pants!” The caller persisted until I pretended to get lost and fall in a duck pond and couldn’t stop laughing at the quacking noises. Of course the dumb prank only tied up time (and maybe reduced scams), but now let me tell you about movies that are very worth the time. They’re wake-up calls that deliver truths about society while being artful and entertaining too.

VIDEO Q&A with director Boots Riley below. SPOILER WARNING – watch the movie before reading!

Sorry To Bother You (2018) is the debut movie by Boots Riley, a satire set in a worker strike among telemarketers. The story device that gets it going is code switching with different voices. The main character is a black guy (Cassius Green) who uses an absurdly ethereal “white voice” – when the actor Lakeith Stanfield opens his mouth, the voice of David Cross comes out. The trick makes him super successful at telemarketing. It gets him out of poverty that sucks down everyone around him, but sets him up to pay a horrible cost.

At first you think it’s a story about underpaid workers fighting for respect. Then it aims higher at capitalist dehumanization. Then it goes over the top with a hallucinatory sci-fi reveal that transforms the characters. The screenwriting is eccentrically formula-defying. Hollywood likes to play safe with big budgets and crank out polished turds, but this movie takes chances with a modest budget for a gloriously gutsy indie production with a message.

It looks like an odd choice to cover on a furry site, so why’s it here? The answer is in the reveal we’ll get to.

I saw Sorry To Bother You with Fruitvale Station (2013) at a small library screening for this program– RESISTANCE, RESILIENCE, & ANTICIPATION: ​ a fresh look at the Black Arts Movement in Oakland. It was more than an ordinary show, it was a special community happening, so let’s look at how the movies connect. (It’s also the second Dogpatch Press story from the same neighborhood after the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.)

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The conspiracy of Beto O’Rourke, AOC, Sex, Politics, Furries, Hackers and the 1980’s internet.

by Patch O'Furr

Announcement: Until March 31, vote for the Ursa Major Awards to support the best works of furry fandom!

Hang on, this will be a weird ride. Start with recent furry news about this guy:

The story goes like this – this dude was deep in Jesusland and high on snake venom and arm-wrestled The Zodiac Killer, and … OK, I can’t do serious writing about political battles here, but Beto almost won a Senate seat from Ted Cruz in Texas. I think it’s kind of unusual for a Democrat to do so well there. It’s unusual enough that he joined the 123547 people who want to unseat Trump in 2020. That made some Republicans want to embarrass him with typical anti-sex, anti-gay stone age bullshit, so they dug up an old video of him wearing a sheep costume on stage when he was briefly in a punk band, and called him a furry with insinuation about freaky sex. (Like that’s bad? Could anything else make him seem cooler? Yeah, wait for it…)

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Sonic the Hedgehog artist injured by hate crime; life can be prickly for struggling artists

by Patch O'Furr

Milton Knight has a hand in works of animation and cartoon art seen by millions. For the 1993 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog TV series, he did storyboards and animation and is credited with design for the villain Robotnik. In nearly 40 years as a pro, he’s made countless fans happy. But on February 25, he was hospitalized with “cuts, a broken nose, and more” at the hands of a racist stranger. Knight described enduring 15 minutes of provocative hate speech before it exploded with “endless punches to the head”. The attacker injured his fist and was jailed for battery.

Knight’s creative drive is inspired by retro style from the Golden Age of animation, and traditional ink and paint. As a pro since 1980, he got into animation on Ralph Bakshi‘s Cool World and The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. In comics, he worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Mouse. Like his inspiration from untamed 1930’s cartoons, he also did mature work like Heavy Metal and his own indie comic Midnite the Rebel Skunk. A fact that readers here may like is that he experimented with “extremely adult furry” work in the independent spirit of 1980’s fandom. In the network where pros, fans, and art curators meet, he has done archiving for the International Animated Film Association (whose president Jerry Beck was very close to “fandom founder” Fred Patten.)

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Representing furries in 2018: Good news on CNN, Sonicfox, and a tiger on Jeopardy. (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

In 2018, fandom had so much going on that this needs two parts. Part 1 has the media, and Part 2 is for conventions, charity, art, celebrities, awards, spending, and more. 

Pic: Cecil Shepherd (center) with Mr. Disko and Patch

Ever been on an aircraft carrier? The USS Hornet, in Alameda CA, is docked across the bay from San Francisco. It’s a fearsome wedge of rust-flecked metal bigger than most city blocks, and bristling with guns, planes and artifacts from WWII to the Apollo Space Program. Now it’s a national historic landmark and museum, but if you walk down the cavernous hangar deck and look at photos of Pearl Harbor in flames, it almost tingles with the smells and sounds of a global struggle against the evil of fascism. It made me think of my grandpa in the South Pacific, taking islands from Japan. It could make the world’s biggest hippie feel a sense of pride and humbleness from the history there.

Look ahead a few months, when this ship will be full of furry animals throwing a rave. That’s the cutting edge of turning swords into plowshares!

The second Space Camp Party is coming. On 12/9/18 it started with a photoshoot on the ship that drew a whopping 130 fursuiters just for a pre-planning meet. Previously in March 2018, over 500 went to the first party at Faction Brewing (a converted aircraft hanger on the same navy base). From early demand, the followup is likely to reach the size of a single-day con.

While I was doing silly poses in my rat suit against a giant ship anchor (does Bad Dragon make one of those?) – I thought of furries taking over the ship and conquering the nation. Next, the world. Then the blue skies above, and then the moon.

2018 is an intense year with many furry news stories topping ones that just happened. It’s too much to easily keep up with, and Fred Patten’s death affects publishing here, but on the plus side, I’m now paying for articles. Get in touch about submitting your story. And check out how much cool furry stuff there is to share.

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Jello Biafra’s Incredibly Strange Interview and dance party with furries: San Francisco, 12/1/18

by Patch O'Furr

Info: Frolicparty.com or Facebook – Frolic with Jello Biafra

Are you a man or are you a mouse?
If you love your fun, die for it!
The Power of Lard by Lard

Man or mouse: why pick just one? Furries can have their cake and eat it too. (It’s cheese cake, of course!)

That line jumped out of my car music on a drive to San Jose’s PAWcon, on the day after Halloween. Besides rocking my giant ears, I was geeking out about just doing a 45 minute phone call with Jello Biafra.

Jello is a punk legend, the singer for Lard and the Dead Kennedys, the founder of Alternative Tentacles (one of the longest running indie record labels)… and he’s friendly to this fluffy fandom. Is that punk? Well, will it annoy purists and/or make you laugh? Then it just might be. And will the average furry care? I’d say it’s cooler than the times when furries infested the White House and assimilated Insane Clown Posse. If you could put all those things together, and let the mayhem commence with cute animals and crazy clowns doing a coup on the Capitol lawn, it would only be half as outrageous as this amazing event.

Speaking of Halloween, that wasn’t just a date on the calendar. Halloween is a classic Dead Kennedys song, and Jello referenced it when I asked for his thoughts on furries. The song rages against social regulations and asks why people don’t express themselves like that day, every day? So, furries, you got compared to a classic punk rager by the legend who wrote it. (He also wrote Nazi Punks Fuck Off. By the way, Nazi Furs Fuck Off!)

See why I was so stoked? Getting in that spirit also reminds me of Ministry’s Every Day is Halloween; Jello’s band Lard is a metal/industrial collab with the guys from Ministry. And when I asked what his fursona could be, he gave the punkest answer:

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Furries vs. Evil: Habits in geek social spaces

by Patch O'Furr

This was written as introduction for a planned series. I edited it to stand alone in response to recent events of bad things being exposed. Expect to see it reposted in the future to fit a series. It’s kind of a thinkpiece to provoke open ended conversation. Let’s start with a weird question… (- Patch)

Q: How are furries like Catholic Nuns? 

Aside from silly headgear or being anthropomorphic penguins… this isn’t about being moralistic, but it involves contrasting black-and-white appearances.

Do nuns make you think nice thoughts about The Sound of Music or Mother Teresa, with harmless ladies playing guitar and taking care of orphans?

For a huge contrast, now think of scandals with abusive priests, where churches shift them from diocese to diocese to cover it up. It’s easy to assume nuns don’t do abuse like that. Until news comes out that they do, but the church hasn’t been accountable. This news may be loaded with a certain counterintuitiveness that increases the WTF factor. But in both cases, it’s dishonest to blame individuals for an institutional problem.

Furry fandom is made of loose federations of groups. Almost all of them are super positive and friendly and it would be gross exaggeration to suggest an institutional problem like above. It’s not a church with a pope. At worst, dramatic stories like a ring of abuse in Pennsylvania was limited to personal friendships that didn’t go as far as alleged. (Lupinefox, who was accused of hosting it at his house, was found not guilty on all charges in court.)

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Dwale’s critical review of “Red Engines”: When furry fiction becomes islamophobic propaganda

by Patch O'Furr

Dwale is a member of the Furry Writers Guild whose story “Behesht” won a 2017 Coyotl award. Follow them on Twitter. Thanks to Dwale for this guest post! Here’s a few previous articles about the anthology. – Patch.

Dwale continues – and see an update from Furplanet at end.

Disclosure: I have a story in this anthology. This analysis will contain spoilers.

I’ve been making my way through “Dogs of War II: Aftermath”, edited by Fred Patten and have now almost finished. I had thus far thought it more or less innocuous. Then I read the second to last story.

I’m not going to beat around the bush: I found “Red Engines” to be an offensive, even dangerous work of fiction. It is a nakedly Islamophobic diatribe, the publishing of which, while not surprising given today’s political climate, is saddening.

The story is told from the point of view of an AI-controlled robotic bird who calls himself Hughin. Hughin comes to an unnamed village in an unnamed part of the Muslim world; desert country (these kinds of stories never take place where the land is green).  He sees the dust trails of an approaching army identified as the “Allies.” He perches on “the town minaret” (I guess this is a one-mosque town?), then flies down to a school.

At the school, he meets Aisha, a young girl, and asks her if there are other children present. She takes him inside where he meets and questions the others, recording their answers. Hughin, you see, comes from an island of artificial intelligences and has been told to collect as much data as he can from these kids before they are killed. The reason he does this is to preserve them in some fashion. He is not part of the conflict, we are told, he is supposed to be a neutral observer.

From this information, Hughin constructs within himself what he calls a “djinn,” a virtual representation of what he has learned from the children. Throughout the remainder of the story, this “djinn” spouts off phrases such as “Eat the Jews!” And while Hughin admits that this pseudo-mind is a “nasty parody,” the reader is never really offered much of a counterpoint.

They hear an explosion nearby, and when the children ask who is attacking, Hughin says, “The allies.” He thinks to himself, but does not say, “and you’re all going to die.” This makes clear that the coming battle is not a surgical strike. It is to be a wholesale massacre.

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Furry Socialism: You’re Soaking in It! – by Tempe O’Kun and Dralen Dragonfox

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks Tempe and Dralen for this guest post, a good followup to my “heart of the furry economy“. – Patch

The furry fandom is big and complex. We each have our own groups of friends, and our little sub-fandoms centered around specific shows and interests. It’s easy to not see the fursuit for the fluff.

Once it a while, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at it as a whole.

Furry is incredibly socialist.

This seems like a weird statement on its face. How can a community of people who like cartoon animal media be socialist? Well, we make, buy, and sell things.

“But wait!” you might say. “That’s using money! Furry must be capitalism!”

Socialism doesn’t mean abolishing money, like they do on Star Trek. It just means the economy has to benefit regular people, instead of companies and a handful of the ultra-rich. In fact, since the Furry fandom literally invents itself without some overarching canon coming from any one movie, TV, animation, or comics studio, no one person can ever control who gets paid for their unique creations. This power resides in the creators themselves and the furries who support them. Furry is open source.

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