It’s time to get personal here about furry.
Oh man, he we go about talking about the furry fandom. This will probably be one of those blog articles that will be driven to the depths of the internet as it really doesn’t deal with technical ability or is all that exciting when it comes to graphics. But after watching a YouTube video about the Psychology of Furry Fandom 2015 . I felt it was appropriate to throw out my little commentaries and viewpoints about the fandom. Upon such note it is now disclaimer time:
Disclaimer: The thoughts, views, and opinions of this blogger does not represent the entire fandom and has no intention or will to represent the entire fandom. Any psychological, emotional, or physical damage that occurs when reading this cringe-tastic entry we at s-config.com are not responsible for.
Program complete, enter when ready.
Starting off at how S joined the fandom. Which is as of the date of this entry would mark its 20th anniversary. In our teens but never disclosing age upon joining so you can do the math from there. The one conduit that got me into this fandom was my parents for they were huge sci-fi convention-goers. So right off the bat, I was exposed to a lot of great fandom sub-cultures that during this time of the mid-’90s was all one big happy family. I really liked animation and one of the things that the early conventions used to do is show you independent films from around the world. This validated the notion that the world is a much bigger place then the animation houses in America that you could count on one hand.
I was watching anime like Robot Carnival and thinking at the time. That the Japanese have progressed with making cartoons for the adult audience. Cartoons are more than two-dimensional stereotypes of personalities but characters that actually evolve. Surely there has to be a movement or an uprising in America that represents the same thing with cartoon animals.
Problems of the 90’s.
Now after doing some research on the very archaic internet which was nothing but text browsers there was a group of people from Cal-Arts who was doing just that. A lot of independent comics and eventually access to the Use-Net where they mentioned FurryMUCK. And boom! We were sold! It was a very different feeling than the fandom of today. That a lot of people were writing books, doing art, trying to produce something on their own because the assistance of a giant corporation was just not there. You have to understand that thanks to the Clinton administration the hammer was dropped on the cartoon industry in the late 90s. Here’s an excerpt from this:
On the Wiki:
In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 – which was signed into law by then-PresidentBill Clinton; among the changes to broadcast regulation incurred by the passage of the law included the relaxing of radio and television ownership limits, and it would also regulate children’s television substantially. All broadcast television stations would be required to air three hours of educational and informative (“E/I“) children’s programming on a weekly basis.
Although it didn’t impact the weekday cartoon programming the money-maker was the weekends for the cartoon industry. This law dropped an already anemic industry of cheap cartoon production to its knees. And took years for the pieces to be picked up by the cable network world. At this time, many people expressed their overall frustration towards the industry to the point where artists were going “Fuck you!” to big industry. They started making cartoon animals do violence, have sex, smoke, etc. Obviously you can date comics with furies all the way back to the mid 70’s with the age of Ralph Bakshi. But the appealing factor about the fandom was it was slowly turning into punk rock. That it wasn’t about the vision of a corporation as much as it is the vision of freedom. The freedom to produce and the freedom to tell a story the way you want it to be told.
Conventions, in particular science fiction conventions in the late 90’s to early 2000’s were undergoing this level of collective pooling. Why have a series of small no-nothing conventions when you can pool all of your efforts into one giant convention extravaganza? This is where the concept of World-Cons were founded. But this didn’t come without backlash. Conventions were realizing that these massive conventions were not coming anywhere near their state nor were they benefiting their community. So upon starting up a smaller convention once again then big players of the game decided to go off on a war-path against these smaller conventions. These conventions have to out of self-preservation! This resulting in subsections of the science fiction community feeling alienated at the convention space or flat out locked out from the convention all together! Ultimately, the sub-sections of these fandoms got fed up and simply started their own conventions not even relating themselves as apart of the science fiction community. Why deal with all of the fandoms when you have enough to fill the hotel of just YOUR fans? Go Furry, Anime, Steampunk, you name it!
Another factor that you have to weigh into the mix of things is during the 90’s when the furry fandom began to branch off starting their own specialty conventions. That the first known convention was based out of Orange County California known as Confurence. California during the mid 90’s was experiencing a huge push for gay-rights within America. The furry fandom being the culture it always has been was overtly accepting of the new influx of people within their fandom. It is of our belief that the movements that were happening politically within that state also affected the fandom in a profound way as well. That if you did not have that movement going. Or if the foundation of the fandom was not even in California at the time. You would have a very different fandom then what you all see today. I can’t say it would be any better or worse as all of that would be left to speculation and fiction. We just wanted to say that it would have changed.
I have to segway into this because this sort of plays into what was all going on. The media reporting the “news” about the fandom. Understand that to this very day that there’s very few people in the industry that can do honest journalism. Everything is about entertainment and ratings. During this time; The reporters couldn’t go on about scaring everyone about the cold war anymore. So the 90’s was all about scaring the living shit out of the conservative family by showing off the freaks of the world on national news. Ohh no! They have sex in hotels! Who the hell does that? Have sex in a hotel. Obviously the reporters at Wired Magazine and Vanity Fair didn’t and they assumed that the rest of America did not either.
Wired magazine (warning: Ad-popup-hell) in particular should be congratulated for it’s level of click-bait before the internet. It takes a pretentious magazine like this one to have a title “MUDs: Sex with the FurryMuckers” “Why Playing MUDs has become an addiction in the 90’s” but then turn around and give a cosmic hand-job to LambaMOO leaving readers having to jump around between the magazine to see this writer actually talk about FurryMUCK. multiple pages yet the author failed to keep readers up to speed on what all of these MU* acronyms were all about! Nowadays wired spends its time ass-kissing CEOs of the tech industry with the occasional politically leftist slant on world views just like every other media outlet out there. It could just be the Midwest but Wired has all but dissipated from supermarket shelves. Guess we know why now.
Vanity Fair (also Ad-popup-hell) however simply said to hell with journalism when it comes to the furry fandom and just make up some random furry sex crap with no factual basis. Since this was the 90’s there really wasn’t much of a voice against these media outlets whenever they screwed up. The people that had their character names and even real-life names got royally screwed by the media. This is why the furry fandom is not very forward with the average reporter. Be thankful that you have places like free video and web hosting to fight this kind of garbage.
America got desensitized through education or simply acknowledging that it happens and moved on. The media rather admitting they were wrong simply moved onto the next big thing that would scare the hell out of people while getting their ratings. Like national politics or even more war! Even though the media has been considerably nicer towards the fandom in the later 2000’s it’s important to remember history so that we do not repeat this dark part.
Some would say the golden years of the fandom was probably the early to mid-2000’s. The internet was maturing more and more and as a result, people become more connected online as they would be offline with the sci-fi convention scene losing its momentum leaving the specialty fandom to part ways from working with other groups to starting their own conventions throughout the united states and beyond. Suddenly you didn’t need to spend a few thousand dollars to experience what was going on in California. You simply had to travel a few hundred miles. Even if your state did not have a full-tilt convention there were room parties that represented that age of the fandom.
Though the art of DIY and reverse engineering the concept of a Fur-Suiting became less of a niche thing to do and more of a performance of character and form. It wasn’t cheap! But at this time it was at least accessible to people!
The fandom took what the science fiction community built upon for a number of years and incorporated the structure of running events as their own
The impact of the internet on a fandom.
It wasn’t until the mid-2000’s which is where interest in the fandom began to divide for us. You see, although it’s great that the fandom is growing and getting bigger. And that technology of the net kept getting better and better . However; It seemed like the technology that brought the fandom together is now separating and isolating people though the expansion of stating that comics and working with a group is no longer necessary. That everything has to be done all on your own. The end result is nothing really changes or gets done. And when a fandom stops producing in a way that interests the majority. You end up with convention rot which is what was described in my previous blog article.
2010’s – The now!
Well, it’s 2016 now, I live in the age where according to cyberpunk authors we should be running around on hovercycles wielding plasma samurai swords in some sort of “Concrete Armageddon”. But alas. We still have wheeled cars. And even though anarchy does not reign supreme we do have the occasional protests! Unfortunately we are not able to upload our consciousness from analog to digital. But at least our cameras and video processing technology got better! It’s a more watered down future then what was promised to us by the Sci-Fi writers of the 70’s.
2016 is where S has never felt so divided from the fandom. Could it be the age difference? Possibly. But it does get down to the psychology of the fandom and what it’s doing now versus what it wanted to do when they started. That the fandom was all about production. But the vast majority don’t see it that way and view it as just a way to meet people and to party. Get drunk until you blackout and wonder why you spent hundreds of dollars on a hotel room you can’t remember. That’s not progress. That’s just watching a sad situation get worse.
I’m leaving the fandom forever!!!!11!!!!1
Okay! We all heard this one before! You thought we were going to go there, weren’t you? Truth be told. You can’t leave something that never says goodbye to you. But at the end of that YouTube Video they do acknowledge that people leave this fandom. That they don’t leave it quickly. That it’s something that happens over time. That as you get older something goes off in your head where you go “Wait a minute, what am I doing here?” and you get in your car and leave. This results in neither side saying goodbye. But one party scratching their head wondering where the hell is everyone?
Put your money back into your pocket: Welcome to HOME-CON!
The primary purpose of a fandom based convention is to show people things that they would otherwise never see anywhere else in the world. San Diego Comic Con has the right idea with showing your previews of movies that haven’t even hit the trailers on YouTube yet. That is a unique element that many conventions cannot pull off anymore. But when you analyze what each function of a convention does. You quickly find out that you have those very tools in your own home.
Lets break down the anatomy of a convention and show it’s internet counterpart:
- Dealers Room – The Dealers Den, Ebay, FurAffinity, Furry Network, Ink Bunny, SoFurry, DeviantArt.
- Art Show – FurAffinity, DeviantArt, Furry Network, Ink Bunny, SoFurry. May seem a little repetitive. But if you go to a furry convention these days you’ll understand the repetition.
- Fandom Discussion – IRC, Amino, more forums then you can shake a stick at, and yes, MUCKing still exists. Also note Second Life too.
- Fandom Specific DJ and dance tracks – Second Life, SoundCloud, and Mixcloud. Just look for tracks by the convention name on the last two and boom you got the rave in your own home.
- LAN Gaming – The speed of the internet has corrected this issue. There’s also Twitch and YouTube live for that up-close feel. Larger cities have cyber-cafes. So there you go.
- Retro Gaming – Uhm.. MAME? You could buy some HAPP parts on Ebay too. Soooo
- Consuite – I pray you know what to do here!
- Film Room – Netflix/PirateBay/Hulu/Amazon Prime and chill! (don’t give me that look about piracy, How did you think half of the subbed anime hit the states?)
- Furry Parade – YouTube, Vimeo, vid.me. If you’re lucky you’ll get a good 1080p to 4k quality version.. No standing shoulder to shoulder by people. You can hit the mute button when that annoying fursuitor with the boombox rolls on by.
- Panels – YouTube technical and help channels.
I suppose the only thing you can’t replicate is having hordes of thousands of friends at your house. Which you have to sit back and think:
Do you really spend time with every single person at a convention?
Probably not. And with enough planning. Such feats can be achieved by having those friends over.
Evolution from fan to creator.
Regardless of where you travel for a convention in the states. It becomes redundant and repetitive. As panels are considered “Old World” event dealing with education. Less panels are formed and more panels for entertainment take it’s place such as stand up comedy and dances. This is all well and fine however your missing a major aspect of what a fandom is. Which is a ultimate goal of a fan is to grow to the point of being the first attendee of the Tri-City comic con to writing a popular fantasy series on HBO! The fan that makes a fandom himself! That’s not something that happens overnight or something that happens all by your lonesome.
Lining up with HOME-CON mentality. Being a creator does not mean you have to go to conventions anymore. You can simply be on YouTube now. Or host your own site! That the advantage of the net in this day and age is that anyone who is willing to put forth the effort can produce. You do not need massive financial backing and investors for small projects anymore.
Life goes on.
So the new kid fresh into the fandom will look at an old guy like me and go “why aren’t you going? what the fuck man? Don’t you want to support your local convention? ” The answer is simple. It’s all been seen and done before! The truth as to why S is slowly drifting away is simply put. In the words of Love and Rockets:
No new tale to tell.
Sometimes life has a way of saying “stop it” to older people. That you have to take care of family members. You have children of your own. Or you have a business to run where people depend on you. Suddenly your wishes and ambitions go onto the sidelines for the well being of others. Is it fair? No, but who said life ever was? and just because those ambitions went away doesn’t mean new ones have taken their place. ambitions that have little or nothing to do with the fandom you loved during your teenage years.
Other things that can really change a person’s outlook on the fandom are witnessing the attitude changes that are happening from within. That this isn’t the 1960’s sci-fi convention fandom where we are all a small tight-knit community where everyone looks out after each other so we all have the best of times. That due to their over-accepting nature of fandom. There are some mentally deranged people who wish nothing but harm upon their fellow members in the community. To those ends, you have to seriously re-evaluate why it’s necessary to spend that kind of time with such a group of people. Because it’s not just the handful of deranged people that ruin the community. It’s the majority that quietly looks away and does nothing. When a group does nothing; They are really saying that behavior is perfectly okay.
The dangers of positive thinking on full display at that point.
The final thoughts.
This does not mean that our views of the fandom is about unilateral hatred and contempt. Just that priorities change and eventually people take what they want from the fandom and leave the rest behind. Perhaps it wasn’t as much about community as much as it was finding identity and proceeding out into the world from that point onward.
S still enjoys the aesthetics of the fandom. But as for the convention lifestyle approach to things now where basically you are viewed as a walking wallet of money. No. That part is so done! S was even apart of that machine for a while and now S is free. S will stop talking in the third person now because the story is coming to a close.
The fandom, regardless if it’s furry, anime, you name it. Is what you make of it. If you are not enjoying yourself with any group of people, you have to sit back and ask yourself:
Why am I doing this? – Your subconscious.
Understand that despite what people like to tell you; The love of a fandom does not end in a rundown hotel in the middle of nowhere. It’s with you as long as you choose to keep it.
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