Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Academic study

Theatrical Panto-animals, Part 2: Feedback, history and sources roundup.

by Patch O'Furr

Update to Part 1:  “If there was a Museum of Furry, theatrical “Panto-Animals” would be a major exhibit.

My first Panto-animal history article shared a discovery of amazing proto-Furry happenings, in an overlooked era of Pantomime theater in Victorian Britain.  Stunning photos show why the topic is worth uncovering.  From these scarce records, a handful of actor names stood out with wide publication in their time for “animal impersonation”.  Charles Lauri was covered in Part 1 – and here is Fred Conquest:

FredConquestHubbard2

Pantomime plays were popular entertainment, considered beneath the “high arts” realm of British theater.  They were not treated as equally worthy to record or remember, so these photos are all the more special because of it.  These pre-movie live happenings seem forgotten today, compared to the era of cinema that came shortly afterwards – where popular artists like Charlie Chaplin (the first international movie star) gained high respect as subjects to study and remember.

In our time, popular culture has gained respect it never had.  What used to be “nerd culture” is now the biggest Hollywood industry.  The tiny niche of Furries is one of few areas still looked down on, but that seems to be changing as it grows.  I think it’s a great time to rediscover and connect old, forgotten traditions such as Panto-Animal performance – what esteemed Furry fan author Phil Geusz calls “paleo-furry.”

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Princeton University course teaches Furry Fanfic – professor talks to us.

by Patch O'Furr

Fanfiction: Transformative Works from Shakespeare to Sherlock assigns homework to read a story replacing characters with animals.  (See March 4 in the link.) I emailed the professor for comment to furries. She has an interesting background and is author of Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World”.  (Her previous course focused on Twilight – the movie just came out, so I’m guessing that’s why she had many journalist encounters.)

Professor Anne Jamison writes:

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SEX! Researchers, journalists, and furries debate The Topic They Love To Hate.

by Patch O'Furr

Just published in the media: SF IS A HOTBED OF ONE KINKY-CREEPY-CUTE SUBCULTURE. AndSAN FRANCISCO – A FURRY FETISH EPICENTER.  More on that shortly.  (I apologize if this post is jumbled to read all at once- a lot of related topics just happened.)

1) Researcher Debra Soh recently wrote about Furries in Harper’s Magazine.  I invited her to submit a piece here.  She sent:

“A Lesson Everyone Can Learn from Furries”

 

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Researchers from Northwestern University want Furries to answer their survey.

by Patch O'Furr

When pop culture notices furry fans, it loves leaping to conclusions.  The internet has porn, and the weird furry stuff can make people’s eyes bug out and stick in their minds.  So is that what being a furry is about? Some people have a kink for that – is it fair to stick all furry fans in that category?

The assumed link of furries and sex is often made thoughtlessly by outsiders. It’s the topic furries love to hate.  But despite the attention, I’m told that no serious research has been done on this.  Sure, there have been surveys that ask blanket questions about sex orientation, or a selection of certain kinks.  But there isn’t enough broad knowledge for anybody to be fully informed.  That’s bad for two reasons.

rsearch

First, common beliefs can’t be challenged or disproved without data. Second, if data does support some of these beliefs, then the topic deserves better understanding.  Objective answers reduce assumptions.  It can replace fear and rumor with real information.  Informed people make a more tolerant society.  There are more gay people in this subculture than general society – the reason isn’t clear, but their socializing has gained more tolerance with understanding.  Other questioned activities may be reconciled too.

Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois are spreading a survey about these sensitive and murky topics. They intend to research relations between furry fan sexuality, and their identities and personalities. Their survey is on lesser studied aspects of this.

Disclaimer:  to avoid making bias, I can’t guess or tell specific aims behind their work.  Building studies and their methodology is out of my area, anyways.  All I can do is pick apart interpretation of statistics afterwards.  I did spend time talking with the researchers and emphasizing respect.  I told them to hold their cards and not tell me what the survey is testing, to prevent bias in sharing.  That leaves it up to you to choose how to respond.

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Furry Merry Christmas, media relations, RISK!, animal blessing… Newsdump (12/22/14)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Story tips are always welcome.

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Around Furry fandom and in the media:

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A Furry Merry Christmas To One and All – from Tom Broadbent, documentary photographer.

Tom takes us to the Londonfurs annual Christmas party.  “Retro gaming was the theme and it was hosted at the Amber Bar in Moorgate.” (More about his art.)

London Furries Winter Ball Read the rest of this entry »

Furries, self-esteem, and identity: perspective from a psychologist

by Patch O'Furr

‘If everybody’s doing it, it’s probably wrong’.

From The man who destroyed America’s ego: How a rebel psychologist challenged one of the 20th century’s biggest – and most dangerous – ideas:

“FOR MUCH OF HUMAN HISTORY, our beliefs have been based on the assumption that people are fundamentally bad. Strip away a person’s smile and you’ll find a grotesque, writhing animal-thing. Human instincts have to be controlled, and religions have often been guides for containing the demons. Sigmund Freud held a similar view: Psychotherapy was his method of making the unconscious conscious, helping people restrain their bestial desires…”

Furries: Do you like your fursona? Do you have higher self-esteem, and feel happier and better with it?

Or do you represent “bestial desires” of a “grotesque, writhing animal-thing?” Are you fundamentally bad, and need to restrain what you are inside?

The 1960’s brought an alternative movement of self-esteem, dedicated to boosting “unconditional positive regard” for the self. Education and public policy has now become deeply supportive for this. But there are dissidents to this, too. Meet Roy Baumeister.

ego
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Breaking the furry law

by Patch O'Furr

I couldn't find Furries doing Judas Priest...

I couldn’t find Furries doing Judas Priest…

Are there laws about this hobby? There’s the cardinal rule of fursuiting: Don’t take the head off in public. “Don’t break the magic!”

The Magic makes eyes go wide- “AHH!! A 6-foot fox person!” (Or, as I answered a comment asking “Why go public suiting?” … There’s the AHH!! reaction on the street, vs. “There goes suiter #732,” at a con where furries just perform to each other. I kid- if you love it too, you know it’s fun.)

At a street fair, without a fursuit lounge, “The Magic” is made to be broken. Crowds swarm at you in killer heat with no privacy anywhere. So you duck into a corner, take off the head, and become the Invisible Man. When the head goes back on, it flips a switch like bringing Frankenstein’s monster to life.

I think I broke some magic this week by raising another scary boogeyman… the PORN topic. More about that in a minute… First, another thought about creating and breaking.

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Dr. Tibbals on Furries, sex and sociology

by Patch O'Furr

Interview series:  Artists, animation directors, DJ’s and event organizers, superfans, and more…

Recently, I posted about the first Journal of Porn Studies. The term Gonzo caught my eye in it’s article, Gonzo, trannys, and teens – current trends in US adult content production, distribution, and consumption. I thought it held “potential” to relate to furry art and it’s raw, minimally filtered expression. Article author, Chauntelle Anne Tibbals Ph.D., runs an adult media criticism blog. She was very welcoming for a nice conversation. (I was careful to say that Furry does NOT necessarily have anything to do with adult content.)

Chauntelle Anne Tibbals Ph.D. - Twitter - @drchauntelle chauntelletibbals.com

Chauntelle Anne Tibbals Ph.D. – Twitter – @drchauntelle
chauntelletibbals.com

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Patch:
I’m curious whether you have come in contact with “the furries” before. Have you, and what way?

CAT:
Haha, of course I have! My work (and life, really) is all about gender and sexualities and sexual expression within the context of wider society, and the furry community is a vibrant part of that entire conversation. I’d be pretty off-mark if I hadn’t…

Patch:
People in this niche hobby are very passionate about it. I call it a hobby, because it’s as likely about art or writing alone, that has nothing to do with kink. That said, having an alter-identity (a “fursona”) is a fun, imaginative fantasy thing. You hear many sensitive stories under “secret identities” – does it inspire any no-name stories you could share?

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Academic journal opens door on research for Furry porn

by Patch O'Furr

Gonzo-2011_1
Ahh! Close the door! Furries love to hate their porn. Sometimes furry art is purely G-rated… sometimes it’s XXX. It causes fear about image. But if it gets humanistic interest without judgement, I suspect it can reveal things about erotic imagination. Anthropomorphism has mixed with it since the dawn of history.

Here’s a question on the minds of art students who draw furries. (One asked me, and I answered “Yes and No”)…

“Does association with furry culture have negative impact on hiring? In one of my portfolio reviews, someone told me not to include my anthro art, and that was discouraging (even though it’s not sexualized or inappropriate).”

Now imagine seeking academic respect for porn of any kind. It’s easy to sense professional difficulty. But with the first Journal of Porn Studies (Spring 2014,) “finally scholars have a venue for considering the phenomenon seriously.”

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Talking animals topic betrays culture-blind critics

by Patch O'Furr

Realistic (left) and anthropomorphic (right) illustrations for research study

Frontiers in Psychology research study illustrates realistic and anthropomorphic animals

Last year, a Flayrah news article drew outsiders who had never encountered Furries.
One wrote: “You all need therapy!”
I answered: “This IS our therapy, silly!”

Friends at Flayrah just reminded me about it. Dronon posted:

Chair of the Canadian Education Committee thinks that talking animals in children’s books are detrimental to education. …Aw darnit, scratch that – It’s a fake, satirical article. Well done!

Fred answered:

Some believe that the report of the Chinese banning “Alice in Wonderland” in 1931 because “talking animals are false” is an urban legend. Nobody can find such a law as having been passed.

Rakuen Growlithe added:

Dronon, there’s actually a bit of truth underlying the satire.

The topic led me to find that, although it may be satirized… yes, it has some truth. Read the rest of this entry »