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Author Topic: The Furry Image  (Read 6709 times)
AurumLutra
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« on: January 02, 2012, 04:30:42 AM »

Something that's repeatedly come up as long as I've been in the furry fandom: image. There's always talk going on about trying to change the public image of the fandom. Furries think the public thinks we're all sex-craved animal rapists who screw in fursuits and do nothing else but. Sound accurate? Depends on who you ask. Are they furries? Who the hell knows. But the idea is getting in a lot of 'normal' furry heads that we should change that image. Sounds good, but how? Lead by example? Prove we aren't abnormal? I've heard other ideas as well, even going as far as changing the name of the fandom.

Is it really so important to furries that our image be good? And how can we define an image for something that is so broad in the first place? To me, that's like trying to define a single image for fans of rock music. There are just too many damn types to really set a single defining image on it, unless it's a very broad one. The electric guitar. Generally speaking, most people see an electric guitar and think rock music. Maybe the type of guitar will affect what music people think of, but I think it's accurate to say that. So, what's the magic image for the fandom? Is there even one at all?

So I guess my question to you all is in several parts: What "image" do you think defines the fandom best, if we have one? Does the fandom have an image problem? What should we do to change it, if anything?

My answer: I don't think any image defines the fandom best simply because there's so much about it. I think the unifying feature is anthropomorphic creatures, but how do you make that an image? Do we have an image problem? I think certain types of furs poorly represent the majority, but there's really not much to be done about it anyway. Every group of people out there is stereotyped, often negatively; that's human nature. And that segues nicely into my third answer:

F**k image.

I don't give a microscopic damn about the furry image. If people want to judge me because I think walking, talking animals are awesome, then so be it. The kind of people who do that are NOT who I want to be around anyway. I just add them to my mental 'ignore list' and move the hell on. Someone asks me if I'm a furry, I say yes. They say 'Oh god, really? Why?' I say 'Because I like being a fur and if that makes you sick, face away from me when you puke.' Someone asks me if I'm a furry, I say yes, and they want to know more, then I tell them what I like about the fandom and why I'm a part of it. THOSE are the kind of people I like; who are willing to put assumptions and stereotypes aside even for a moment to hear me out. Willing and open ears receive the most and best information.

Screw the haters, folks. They're only wasting their time. Furs do what they do because they like it and if someone else doesn't, that's just too damn bad. In the end, this kind of mindset will be what defines the fandom, NOT the things any individual furry does.
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Altivo
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 12:00:06 PM »

This is an extremely complicated issue. Image matters in some ways. For example, if furry fandom as a whole develops such a negative image that hotels refuse to book space for conventions? Or fursuits are banned from public places? These things could happen, at least in the US where public opinions flows back and forth like water sloshing in a toilet.

Suppose that squeaky clean furry literature, such as Tim Susman's Common and Precious or William Horwood's The Wolves of Time were to be widely branded as pornography or dangerous to children?

Or that television depictions of anthropomorphic characters were banned? Or animated films were automatically rated R?

All these things are possible in the US, and for proof you have only to look at the history of other "taboo" topics, such as homosexuality.

The stigma attached to furry comes from a negative association with unbridled sexual expression. Whether this is valid or not, it hurts not only the fandom as a whole, but individuals who might otherwise find fulfillment in association. When teens are afraid to admit their interest in furry, it has the same negative impact on their lives that being gay can have. This is unnecessary and really does need to be addressed.

Why should you have to hide the cover of Bambi or The Wind in the Willows and feel ashamed that you are reading it?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 06:27:06 PM by Altivo » Logged

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AurumLutra
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 06:01:12 PM »

Hmm... very good point. But if it's unbridled sexual expression that's hurting the fandom, which I do think is valid, how do you propse changing that image? Seems to me that furry sexuality is its own vicious cycle. Years ago, a non-fur decided that the fandom was all about sex. Other non-furs latch onto that and get into the fandom FOR the sex. And the stereotype feeds itself. Before you know it, you've got these mini-fandoms within our populace that very poorly represent us. How to break that cycle and introduce people to the clean side of the fandom, at least on a large scale... I'm not sure.
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Altivo
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 09:18:55 PM »

These things do evolve. The expansion of the fursuiting aspect has helped both to bring more publicity of a positive or at least neutral kind and to win more friends for the fandom, for instance.

I do believe one important key to the overblown sexuality issue is not to fight it directly or try to deny it, but rather to set an example that nullifies it. That's why my own work is free of explicit sexual imagery and I always try to promote other examples that meet the same qualification. The truth is, if furry fandom is really based where it claims to be, then explicit sexual imagery has little place in its core values. Disney of course has severe restrictions in that respect, but even the more relaxed studios did little more than suggest what you couldn't actually see. Furry literature, which goes back at least as far as Aesop, was likewise almost entirely non-erotic until after the fandom sprang up and took off on this bizarre tangent.
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Jacky
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 09:49:13 PM »

Regarding the current image of furry, I think most people who've never neard of the furry fandom think anthropomorphic animals are just for kids. I mean, almost all mainstream furry movies and books are aimed at kids. If anthro characters are cast into a story instead of humans, people will ask: why?

I do think there are very good reasons why a story should have anthro characters. For example, as Tivo mentioned, they appear in fables and serve to provide memorable and allegorical characters. Then there's the effect that they can provide a parallel to issues such as war and racial/sexual discrimination, whilst framing it in a more appealing context.

I fear that the problem lies in the fact that many furry fans, myself included, like the characters to be furry "just because", and that is something that will always be difficult for the mainstream to accept. But if presented in ways where they have a definite raison d'etre, I'd hope the image of furry could be improved in much the same way as Kyell Gold's furry stories seem to have been so readily accepted in the mainstream gay fiction market.

As for the sexual aspect of the fandom, I think that's currently rather visible and not about to change any time soon. I once showed a non-furry friend of mine some furry porn (hey, he wanted to see it, honest), and his appraisal was that it was "basically an excuse to make porn". Personally, I like that the fandom is so open about it, so unapologetic...:3 I hope that it stays that way, but I agree...the way to improve the image of the fandom is to provide good quality output that can be pointed to as an example of what furry is all about.
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Altivo
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2012, 01:01:49 AM »

Well, I do take issue with the notion that almost all mainstream anthro fiction is "aimed at kids." That's a bad stereotype you're carrying there.

Watership Down and Traveller are not really kid stuff, no matter how much some people try to make that of them. Neither were Bambi, Beautiful Joe, or Black Beauty in their time. William Horwood's furry novels are certainly not kid stuff, and neither is Orwell's Animal Farm or even David Clement-Davies' Fire Bringer. Most of these are political or social polemics of one sort or another, using animals as skillfully-drawn symbols or narrators.

It may well be that some of the contempt certain people feel for "furries" is due to the conflict between what they (erroneously) consider to be a childish medium and their (equally mistaken) perception of furries as a lot of sexual perverts of some sort.

As a librarian I fight a constant battle to convince people that not all animated features are mere kid stuff, and in fact that some of them are inappropriate for young children. (Yes, I've had to grab Fritz the Cat off the children's video shelves and reclassify it as an adult feature. Then I had to defend the decision to someone who was sure it was just a cartoon.)
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AurumLutra
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 02:05:02 AM »

On a related note, I hate it when people think that animated = for kids almost automatically, especially if it features animals. Anyone who's seen Heavy Metal knows that animation does NOT equal a 'for kids' film.

I do have to agree with you there, Altivo. The conflict between the childish medium and the fandom's obsession with sex. However, the fandom isn't helping itself, either. Check the front page of SoFurry, Inkbunny, and Fur Affinity at any given time, and you will see porn of God knows how many different famous 'furry' characters. I'm so sick of it, personally. ><
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Altivo
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2012, 03:01:42 AM »

Exactamente! Why I don't look at those front pages any more, ever. (Fake Italian. Speaking of animated features, we were just watching Allegro non troppo which is another example of why animation isn't just kid stuff.)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 03:03:28 AM by Altivo » Logged

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AurumLutra
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 06:07:51 AM »

Eyup. There's a right way and a wrong way to do fanart. Pasting oversized c**ks onto screenshots of Starfox and Sonic the Hedgehog is NOT a 'fan tribute'. But I'm not sure what's sadder, the fact that furs make them or the sheer numbers of furs who rave about how good they are. -_-

It's kinda sad how clean art is so difficult to find in the fandom, especially GOOD clean art. You really have to dig for it these days. Granted, that is one of my new year's resolutions, but it'll likely be my most frustrating... besides teaching myself how to draw. X3
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Altivo
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2012, 12:23:27 PM »

Well there are in fact plenty of artists who do all or mostly non-pornographic art of a very high quality. I'd start a list by mentioning Blotch (actually a team of two,) Heather Bruton, Foxfeather, Hibbary, and Rabbi-Tom (Jim Groat.)

It's unfortunate that outside our little group here, I find it difficult to produce a similar list of furry writers. Can anyone help?
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Jacky
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2012, 01:10:09 PM »

OK, fair comment...I'd like to change my "aimed at" to "perceived to be aimed at". Watership Down has bunnies in it, hence it must be for kids.  Roll Eyes

It sounds like that thing with Fritz The Cat is fairly common. The latest imdb reviewer said he found it in the children's section of Virgin Megastore.

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It may well be that some of the contempt certain people feel for "furries" is due to the conflict between what they (erroneously) consider to be a childish medium and their (equally mistaken) perception of furries as a lot of sexual perverts of some sort.

^ This. Cartoon animals + adult themes = uneasy mixture for the...uninitiated? I remember being slightly squicked out when I first saw Fritz The Cat (which was before I had the internet and knew about the fandom). Back then, that was the sort of reaction I had to anything that involved anthro animals that wasn't strictly general audience. That's sort of what I'm basing my ideas on of what people outside the fandom must think when they see anatomically correct Starfoxes.

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic? Who knows; I just think the sexual aspect is too popular for there to be a nice, clean image to the fandom, and I think that's OK, so long as there *are* nice clean things to be found (I would add Dark Natasha, Myenia, nimrais and Silverone to the list of those who do good clean art).

Writers....foozzzball?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 01:14:12 PM by Jacky » Logged
Altivo
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2012, 02:51:33 PM »

Dark Natasha is half of the Blotch duo (the other being Kenket,) and yes, she does non-porn as well as the down and dirty. I enjoy Kenket, HushHusky and Fluke as well, when they are behaving "nicely."

I've not seen anything by foozzball that wasn't at least pretty salacious, unless you look way, way back into history. Then it was all violence, for which I don't care either. He writes well, but his subject material has no appeal for me. Kyell Gold is better at holding my attention in spite of the greatly exaggerated sexuality in most of his writing, and I think that's because he does more with intricate settings, plotlines, and characters who have believable focus (not just sex drives with paws.)

There are many mainstream writers who do furry material at least occasionally and who don't get into porn. I referred to some of them above. Richard Adams, William Horwood, Jan Needle, Ann McCaffrey, C. J. Cherryh, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Terry Pratchett all come to mind immediately. There are a (very) few within the fandom, as well, including of course Tim Susman (whom we now know is the same person as Kyell, but even so.)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 02:53:48 PM by Altivo » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2012, 06:25:19 PM »

I currently have two furry-themed graphic novels next to me: the first book of the Blacksad series, and the compilation of the Les Lumières de l'Amalou series. Both have nice intricate stories, both have violent themes at one or several points, and both do include almost-glimpsed (barely off-panel) sexual scenes. I wouldn't recommend them to kids.

Also, Altivo, you wrote "pubic" instead of "public" earlier. Lapsus révélateur? Grin
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Altivo
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2012, 06:27:45 PM »

Thanks, it's corrected now. Not a lapse, just one of those undersized and tacky laptop keyboards.
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Jacky
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2012, 10:08:36 PM »

Actually I think I feel the same way about foozzzball's subject matter. I'm definitely not one for violence, but I admire his writing nonetheless. I think his War Dog story was the best in New fables Summer 2010.

Blacksad was not available in English for the longest time, but now that I hear it's been translated, I will definitely have to get my paws on it. Nordguard too. I'd almost forgotten about the comic book/graphic novel genre in my previous posts. I think acceptance has always been easier to find in that medium.
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