Friday, November 30, 2007

Furries stole their future.

Opinion piece. Views expressed are solely that of The Angry Otaku and do not speak for any group The Angry Otaku is affiliated with and all that. My past stuff was a bit more analytical... this time I am out to piss some people off.

The following writing is based off of a recent experience that I had with something specific, that probably doesn't represent a the entire group as a whole. But I am gonna let it taint my view anyway and go ahead and write this. So remember this going in; what you are about to read is based off of both years of following titles that would eventually end up over at Radio Comix or MU Press but still biased unfair and generalizes large groups, and is intended to provoke a reaction (read; I am being confrontational on purpose because I really wanna see if anyone is actually reading this) . On with the show!

Ok this isn't what I was mentioning above, but still just fucking made me so angry.

I am going to cross into an area of commentary that has started many a flame war and in the end only serves to widen the divide between what a “fandom” is as apposed to “escapism” amongst the masses. That, my friends is the ever increasing and irreconcilable gulf between the anime and furry followers that has grown exponentially since the year 2000. Although I use the year 2000 as a point to mark the moment where great divide passed the event horizon, the truth it that those furry dog-fuckers had been working on splitting off “anthro” from normalcy for some time up until that point.

There was once a time where both genres existed on the fringe, but neither had anything too terrible going for it. The early influx of “gekiga” never caused any “Crying Freeman” style shooting rampages in a mini-mall, and The American Journal of Anthropomorphics didn’t produce any skunk-fuckers. But there was always a danger that as both fandoms grew, the fringe would get out in the spotlight and not only have an influence on how mainstream medea viewed the entire group, but more importantly effect the direction of commercial production of material (without which, there IS no fandom). Anime worked hard and got lucky that the "all anime is violent girls/guns/nudity" label of the 1990's didn't stick. Furry seemed to have the opposite happen to it and had a commercially viable future shot down by the publicity of what some call a fringe group, or a segment not totally representative of everyone. That may be true but it happened anyway. Sure the intellectual furry fodder will argue about things like “Fritz the Cat” and “Omaha the Cat Dancer” were out there but those have about as much to do with the pile of ferret vomit that is modern furry fandom as “Kamen Rider” or Yukio Mishima have anything to do with “Inu Yasha” or “Naruto” (that’s a big fat nothing by the way).

The day that “Anthro” went from an artistic appreciation to a sick form of escapism similar to the Absinthe craze of over a century ago but without the Anthony Bourdain-esque coolness factor, and later degenerate further into something like the NAMBLA movement. It was the day it was hi-jacked by the very same destructive elements that seek to destroy anime fandom as well, although anime fandom was able to fight off most of these elements with the power of commercial success, Anthro didn’t stand a chance once the downward spiral started.

At first it only looked like a few bad apples spoiling ConFurence East, or some idiot artists taking things too seriously like in the “I saw her yawn” comic short at the end of one of the early Shanda issues from AP (or was it Katmandu …or Furlough… I don’t remember anymore). Although it seemed something was wrong, things appeared to still be mostly grounded, I mean Tank Vixens was fun, Salusians were an important part of NHS, the whole nekomimi ting was as popular as ever, and Fred Perry’s Gold Digger was proving it had staying power. But the undercurrents had entrenched themselves and before anyone knew it, “Anthro” was simply no more, and there was only “Furry” which was mostly hard core yiff porn (nothing wrong with pron. Porn=good. Gay or straight doesn't matter, BUT it's not a good opening act), and then the people dressed as Bugs Bunny with boobs or even worse the body paint and nothing but a dixie cup in a hotel lobby (don’t tell me I’m wrong, I was there back in the 1990’s, ok fresh?). This might have been simply a swing to one extreme of the fandom before progress returned to a middle ground, if not for the internet explosion that happened at the same time. That would change everything.

This new ability to massively archive and distribute this fringe “Furry” media meant that the very first thing many people saw of was this degenerate corrupted version of what was once a true art form. This first face that was shown to most of the world was simply a case of the wrong art attracting the wrong crowd, and the snowball effect was enormous! The last bastions of normalcy were pushed out for people who have sex with animals and call it a lifestyle, and people who think they are a really grey wolf with opposable thumbs, the ability to walk upright, and the power of speech. Shamanism would be a spiritual excuse if they tried to make themselves look like the exact physical thing they thought they were, but labeling yourself “Zig Zag” trapped in the body of a dude? …That’s just dumber than Kirk Cameron’s “God Banana” times a million. Fursuits aren’t animal suits, they’re CARTOON ANIMAL suits, and you misguided idiots out there are not, and never will be an animal, nor a cartoon, and certainly not both at once.

In 1996, I actually penned a small essay on the divergences of Anthro and anime… I forget why (and I think I cited Eric Schwartz), but as I noticed some major differences it was still not enough to send up red flags. I never would have imagined the kind of defilement that Anthro would suffer at the hands of assorted deviants and uneducated morons, and later that messed up product would actually come back to latch itself on to anime to try to legitimize it. To read that list linked to at the top of this post is to see apologist tripe at its e-worst. It is not holding up a mirror to another fandom, but rather a magnet. A magnet that sucks the kind of depravity and fancer (that’s fan+cancer) to any genre that shows the slightest sign of weakness regardless of what it is, had it been oil painting or origami at the time then that would have been it. If you think that’s something that doesn’t happen outside of pop-culture, then you haven’t seen Detroit lately have you?

“Furry” has indeed sunk very low from what it once could have been, and the extreme actions of /b/, Anonymous, and Legion are but necessary and natural defenses against this sad development. To have squandered the mainstream success that Anthro was enjoying in the 1980’s and 90’s with Heathcliff, Nimh, American Tail, Tail Spin, and so on, only to be stricken from commercial animation completely and categorized as some fetish-fed subculture which sabotages its own industry's growth, well all I can say is that for letting that crap happen “Furry” deserves another CSI episode. The lines have been drawn by the very side that is trying to free itself from what it sees as oppressiveness, but the more it gets out into the spotlight, the more the rest of us wish they would get the hell back off stage.

Some guidelines if you feel the need to comment (which I don’t think anyone will because no one is gonna read this anyway):

-If you are currently in High-School or younger, DON’T bother commenting. I’ve got manga and anthro comics that are older than you. If you weren’t there to experience what was lost, then don’t come up with some crap about how today is just as good. (Oh and your Deviant Art sucks).

-If you have a wikifur account; I already know what you’re gonna say, just as sure as Dr. Comet likes Krystal, and no Jeremy Bernal style hissy-fit is gonna do anything so save your energy for fapping to Mr Hands or Dog Whisperer or Aragon or whatever it is you do.

-If you think “otherkin” or “otakukin” are a legitimate religious anything, then I just hate you so don’t comment on basic principle. ..ok maybe not "hate" but I won't take you seriously.

EDIT: The above rules don't apply if you can be as smart as that first one. Then comment away.

Oh, and FYIAD. …no really.

Pool’s closed bitches. dance.


GreenReaper said...

We didn't steal our future, we just chose a different one. But first, here's a highly relevant picture.

Actually, MFF's quite a good example of what you talk about. It's very much about having a good time with other furs - an "active relaxacon". Most of these photos show that.

They're not the whole story, of course. There was still plenty of art going on in places where cameras were not allowed, though perhaps not all of it the serious anthro work that you might be interested in. Even furry artists have to live in the real world, so they draw what sells (and I don't mean sex, though there was probably some of that).

Nowadays, people at cons - and probably furry fans in general - are just more interested in their imagination of themselves than other people's imagination of their own set of characters. It's a bit narcissistic, but it does supply a ready source of commissions. Art trades don't pay for lunch.

I can't speak much for past decades, but it's clear most furry cons are being used more for social interaction than for doing fandom business. One bookseller I know of has mentioned it's more about the promotion, even for them. At the larger cons you'll see dealers who are there just for this aspect. Many others are there just to pick up enough money to cover their expenses so they can have fun the rest of the time.

I think the drift in focus was somewhat inevitable. Did artists (or art fans) think that everyone who wanted to buy/discuss/create furry art (or literature) would be solely interested in that? Not for three days. We want entertainment. And our friends. Maybe a little dancing. And what's better than dancing with wolves?

On that note, most fursuiters don't want to be animals or cartoons. They just want to be able to put on a costume and be silly for once in a while. Yep, it's escapism. Wouldn't you like the chance to put on a different body and be someone special to others for a while? It's a rush - and refreshingly legal, unlike so many other things young people could be doing.

I think the problem with "what could have been" isn't the wrong crowd, it's any crowd. People were looking for a market, and they got it - only, unsurprisingly enough, they weren't just selling to themselves.

And that's the key, really. The laws that govern furry fandom are those of economics, same as anime; it's just developed along a different path, for a slightly different market. Recent events at Anthrocon has shown that Anonymous has little power over market forces. Heck, it's getting to the point where furry sites are more popular than theirs.

As for commercial animation: I've said it before, but they don't need fans - they have a huge audience already. Fuzzy little critters with intelligence have wide appeal, and it doesn't take us to point that out. And abandoned? Hardly. Ratatouille might not be quite the equal of The Secret of NIMH in every respect, but it's budget of $150 million and revenues of $600 million certainly are.

I'm sorry the fandom didn't turn out the way you wanted, but people are still having lots of fun . . . and wasn't that the whole point? People spending time on a hobby they find fun?

Simo said...

Hi Tim.

Still obsessing over my web site I see. It's been two years now, don't you think it's high time you got over it?



The Angry Otaku said...

Thanks to that first poster for the reply. Someone is actually reading this! Yay! Unfortunately I was hoping for some snarling flamage about furry stuff and wasn’t expecting something coherently written with an actual counterpoint, so I had to wait to reply until I had time away from the project I was working (read; job).

To respond the comments points in the order in which they were made. Conventions… I won’t be going to any furry cons any time soon, but that doesn’t change the basic premises of the argument. That being, the ongoing question about the nature of conventions, are they social events or commercial endeavors? I am a firm believer that for any fandom to live, it needs to have elements of commercial success behind it, not for the sake of profit but for the sake of sustaining production of what the fandom consumes, since fandoms are bound to the consumption of their focus whether that be media, technology, artwork, food, travel, or the inter-web. This shit all costs money and there is a very large area a fandom can operate in which lies between death from starvation, and over-commercialization to the point of publicly traded shares on the Nasdaq which some argue causes the death of creativity for creativity’s sake by causing creativity for profit’s sake to proliferate.

The furry convention is where some of the elements that are hi-jacking the fandom are sometimes thrown into the spotlight. And they love the spotlight. The reason that the rest of the fandom should oppose their presence is not one of intolerance based on what these sick fucks do, but rather the simple fact that these sick fucks scare away both creative and capital investments faster than you can say “Chinese Toy Recall.” That can stimey growth to the point of stagnation and death, since as you say “The laws that govern furry fandom are those of economics” …same as anime, same as anything, and for a fandom to survive it MUST evolve and grow. When things evolve they run the risk of hitting a dead end, and elements outside and inside the fandom are pulling it in that direction and one of the most important places to observe this progress is at the conventions. Though you won’t be seeing me at one of those things.

To hit a specific point, you use in your response the term “we” when referring to what I am assuming are furry convention attendees. I believe you should be very cautious when using the term “we” in a furry setting. Mainstream anime in the past was lumped in with the ultra-violent, tentacle porn, and “Rape-Man” and any otaku using the term “we” could expect to be forced to defend themselves against the aggressive speculation all anime was violent porn. That was BAD FOR FUCKING BUSINESS and anime fans fought hard, got lucky, and left that shit behind. Now the only issues we put up with are wee-bees who shop at Hot Topic and the occasional loli freak that we shoot in the face with a 12 gauge.

It is the furry fandom that cares for the future who must stand up to the same elements that once tried to invade anime and are now looking ad furry for signs of weakness. You know who I speak of, they are destructive deviants First and furries only Second! They are doing a great job of tainting the fandom in the eyes of BUSINESS INVESTORS that would otherwise send their money into something that would be used to grow something good within the fandom. If anime can fight it off tooth and nail, so can anthro/furry.

To speek for all fur-suit wearing people may be a bit presumptuous. All the fur-suiters that I had come into contact with believe themselves to be an animal, animal spirit, reincarnated animal, or a fucking dragon/unicorn/cheetah/wolf/bird/rat/peacock/raptor/centaur/pepperonipizza hybrid or something like that. That belief is wrong just as assuredly as a belief you are the Queen of Spain is equally wrong (actually statistically you have a better chance of being the Queen of Spain). That ridiculous delusion that one is an animal trapped in a “mundane” body is what keeps investment money away.

Everyone needs escapism, but those who can’t draw the line between escapism and reality are dangerous people, whether they wear fur-suits or watch Ninja Scroll or “ScarFace” too much, they pose the same danger to their fellow living animals (which are all human beings, because if you are reading this I can guarantee you’re not a ferret). In ten years from now, do you want “furry” to mean something economically viable as a form of art and expression, or do you want it to mean “diaper-wearing-pants-shitting-adult-babyfur-cubbing-pedophile-fringe-beastiality-dog-raping-religious-fanatic-unsustainable-publishing-market-wasteland”? Take a look outside the gopher hole for a moment and you’ll find that the fandom’s effort to be as inclusive as possible has opened the door to other elements that superimpose themselves upon the fandom and fuck it up for everyone else.

Anonymous’s abilities aside, they hold up a mirror to something that has become a parody of itself. Much as “Pokemon” isn’t really “anime” so much as it is mainstream commercial children’s entertainment, so too do Nimh and Ratatouille fall under the guise of commercial movie properties in general more than representative of a genre. They therefore operate on different levels and are not applicable to the kind of smaller finite issues that operate within the subculture. Hence, as you say the wide appeal.

They way I want the fandom to turn out is something I think is much less relevant than bonafide signs of a direction that, if continued in, will scare away the money. I’m not talking about revenue from sales of products and media. I am talking about the large investments required to reach a definitive level of sustainability. Even anime is still having problems with that and the massive $40million loss posted by Geneon was partly due to the anime fandom’s inability to control its downloading, which created an illusion of a larger market than was actually there.

I’m not here to pass judgment really. Ok I am here to do that a little bit, but my general point, is that “furry” has fast become equated with behavior that investors would not want to support. If you want to save what’s left of it, you’ll suck it up, get together, and make sure the face shown to the world is one of economic opportunity, low-risk, and free of social landmines. (You think ADV would have been a successful label if they had picked up Rape-Man? Fuk no, but some people still think “Rape Man” when they hear the word anime, and its up to the collective market to fiercely defend against that image). For furries it’s an incredibly uphill battle and one that may already be lost. Prove me wrong.

LOL you may call me… “Tim” What’s your favorite color?
Sorry, you’ve been promoted, totally new source of criticism from an anime fan that thinks that comparison of yours is really full of crap.