A Dose Of Reality by Perri Rhoades

In the interest of being unbiased, I think it is time I wrote something negative about the Furry Fandom, or just fandoms in general, since I don’t see anything real that sets the Furry Fandom apart from other fandoms I’ve been in.

The people who are actively involved in any particular fandom will, of course, look at it through rose colored glasses and think it’s just the most wonderful thing they’ve ever experienced, and if only the rest of the world could be like this, world peace could be achieved. This, even as bricks of the most incredible asinine drama are flying about their heads.

Yes, being in a fandom is a bit like being in a cult. It involves a good bit of brainwashing and screwing around with the logic of one’s core beliefs. This is why fans of anything tend to appear bats—t insane to anyone who is not in a fandom, or even someone who is in a different fandom operating under a different set of screwed up core beliefs.

Not that it’s always a bad thing to screw with your core beliefs. Reality doesn’t offer much to live for or get excited about. Indeed, even people who are obsessed by the idea of reality have to join cults to screw with their core beliefs. Else the constant dwelling on a reality that is never going anywhere good would depress them to death. And these more common cults of thought fall under the categories of politics, religions and philosophies – all of which are designed to make you see something that isn’t there in order that life might continue to seem worth living.

Considering how badly religious and political cults can screw you up, getting into a fandom cult might seem a pleasant and benign alternative. It basically sets you to believing you’ve got this big family of wonderful people who are all drawn together by a shared interest in one thing. But even that’s a lie, because interests, interpretations and resulting beliefs tend to vary widely within any given fandom, making the political landscape of a fandom just as diverse, divided and antagonistic as any other political or religious arena.

This reality, as it applies to Anime Fandom, is well reflected in the episode of “Martian Successor Nadesico” where the protagonist is confronted with the reality that not everyone believes the point of Anime is to inspire a deeply held belief in love, justice, honor and heroism. Rather, those in power, who also worship Anime, see it as inspiring an imperialistic right to conquest, the joy of blowing things up, and just in general being total murderous bastards.

A similar revelation fell upon me towards the end of my own stay in Anime Fandom. Not that people hadn’t been trying to tell me all along, in any nasty, unfriendly and otherwise hostile manner they could come up with, but it finally started to sink in that the core beliefs I had developed around Anime were not shared by a hell of a lot of Anime fans, and that wonderful, magical world of acceptance and tolerance I was always harping on existed exclusively in my head. While the reality that swarmed around me, propelled into my awareness by the advent of 4chan, revealed the cult breaking truth that I was in fact surrounded on all sides by intolerant idiots of nasty disposition who got off on violence and trolling people in other communities; particularly The Furry Community.

During my early days in The Furry Community I would encounter these people, trolling and putting down Furries as degenerates, and I was like, “I’ve been in your fandom. I know all about your shelf of Hentai child porn doujinshi and your rape simulation video games. Furry Yiff is tame compared to what you do.” And they would come back with statements to the effect of, “Yiff is unrighteous and unclean. How dare you compare such things to our pure and beautiful Japanese smut?”

This would be funny if they weren’t serious as all hell. They’re so screwed in the head they think they ought to be able to order child porn from Japan, through the mail, which is totally illegal, and not get arrested when the customs officer opens their package and totally freaks out. Yes, crap like that happens in that fandom, because they are under the influence of a cult that leaves them with no perspective on reality.

But are Furries any better off? Of course not. Furries do the same stuff in their own way. They get stoked on this totally false belief in a community that is tolerant and accepting to such an extent that they should be able to display their most private and off the wall fetishes in public with pride, and not expect to get any backlash for it. And even when they get boatloads of flack for it, the core belief is not shaken that the community not only supports what they do, but it also has some kind of obligation to share the stigma for it.

This, of course, has had Furries at each others throats practically from the beginning of the community. And still you get people like The Furry Raiders turning up speaking longingly of the good old days when the fandom was accepting and tolerant, and everyone was nice, and it was just this paradise where everything was perfect. I hate to burst anybody’s bubble, but that was never a reality. The history of this community is of non-stop drama, hatred, rebellion and mockery of off the scales insanity, as exemplified by such LOL Community stars as Crusader Cat and Insane Kangaroo.

It’s also a history where the people who go out of their way to do good for the community, like 2 Gryphon and Uncle Kage, end up being constantly vilified, probably because they are seen to be challenging some core beliefs about the fandom that are held by some, in complete disregard to the harm those beliefs do to others. Thus you have a fandom where you don’t dare try to be a hero, because people will automatically hate you for it.

At least if you’re a Crusader Cat you get laughs and are seen as part of the entertainment value of the community. But if you’re an Uncle Kage people just outright hate you, with no amusement factor at all. One person went to the trouble of making an entire movie, just to be a vehicle for spitting hate at Uncle Kage.

As for myself, from day one I’ve gotten hate from this community for being more into the entertainment aspect of anthropomorphics than the social aspect, for suggesting the development of programs that would help writers find illustrators, or to encourage Furry creators to consider the commercial potential of their talents, and to strive for higher goals.

Why are there furs who hate me for that? Because there are furs who have developed core beliefs to the effect that this is a cheap underground fandom that exists primarily to produce smut, that one can not be commercially successful and still be considered part of the fandom, that Furries are meant to be loathed by outsiders and therefore should embrace stigma rather than trying to rise above it, and above all, Furry is all about sex.

Such people hate folks like The Furry Raiders with a passion, because they hold to the idealistic acceptance and creative freedom core beliefs. And there-in is held the basic right and left of Furry politics. And when these two factions get together, the community becomes a virtual flame war zone. That’s how we got the Burned Fur situation. And it’s what’s fueling the current turmoil, with a little outside help from Anitfa, who know well that these political differences exist in all communities, and that all you need is a little drama to bring them together and get both sides going nuts with moral outrage as their core beliefs are threatened.

No need for black outfits and curb stomping. Just get one side calling the other Nazis, then sit back and watch the fun as we beat each other to death with words, until the entire community lies in ruins. All because we’re such a loving, accepting, tolerant, open-minded fandom. In a pig’s eye.

Fortunately, all this is easily avoided, as I eventually took to doing, by hanging out in closed environments like Second Life, where it is easy to join a small isolated island of furs who mostly agree with your core beliefs. But even in that situation I find my life is non-stop drama.

If it’s not forces from the degenerate left seeking to force their vices on the creative right (see Perri’s Xanadu vs. Peach Fuzz) it’s conspiracy theorists in the group coming to blows with the Relay For Life organizers, or something equally beyond the scope of rationality. Basically we’re all but family in my Second Life group, and we still can’t get along without the group moderators fielding a boatload of drama, assuming the mods themselves are not the instigators.

Which brings me to another bloody awful thing that tends to happen in fandoms, namely the biggest left wing nutcase ending up in charge of one of the key sites that influences core beliefs in the fandom. Yes, that is what has happened at Dogpatch Press. But there’s nothing at all unusual about this. That is pretty much what happened at Progressive Ears, which ended up ruining the entire Progressive Rock revival, because the moderates who didn’t want ungodly depressing music to dominate the scene weren’t allowed a voice. Neither were those who sought to set up some relatively sensible genre terminology, resulting in nobody being able to find the music they’re actually looking for because any genre term used in a review can mean literally anything.

But this is not new in Furry Fandom either. For years the fandom was overshadowed by sites like Crush, Yiff, Destroy and it’s still existing legacy site Vivisector, where you may expect to find a large congregation of the leftists in Furry politics, spitting ire at those of us who are actually out here trying to create good stuff for the benefit of the community, because they don’t think the community deserves good stuff. They think the fandom is a dirty joke that exists for nothing but fueling they’re contempt and their LOLs.

This is the reality of the fandom I’ve been dealing with for the last decade and a half. It can be beautiful. You can avoid message boards, you can handpick your friends, you can block the sourpusses who never have a nice word to say to you, and you can end up having such a good time with your friends that you end up thinking this fandom must be God’s paradise established on Earth. But that’s only happening in your little bubble of experience. It’s not the reality of the fandom as a whole. The reality is that there are, and always have been, some seriously nasty people here. Why do you think we need all these “Beware” sites? And these nasty people don’t care how they hurt you. They get off on it. They go on TV and cheerfully portray us all as sexual deviants who have sex in fursuits, never mind that most of us don’t even have fursuits.

We’ve got one right now who’s working to sensationalize us as a fandom of extremists who physically attack and murder each other. While yet another is planning to get another convention shut down by sending false accusations to the hotel and stirring up another storm of drama. Like Twitter isn’t already ablaze with hateful, intolerant Furries spitting out poison towards one group or another. And that’s the reality check everyone in the fandom is having to come to terms with at this moment.

Now, I should end this by saying what’s good about the fandom in spite of all this negativity. But, seriously, I’ve done a 10 page essay on what’s so great about anthropomorphic animals and the fandom there of, which a lot of people in this fandom have rejected and denounced. For every compliment I get on it I get five comments to the effect of “How dare you portray this fandom in such a positive light?”

I will just say that, in spite of all I have said above and all the negative experiences I neglected to include for space, I still love the anthropomorphic arts, I believe in its potential to express socially significant ideas, and I would not want to be creative in any other field.

I love all the friends I’ve made in the community. And I love experiencing the creativity of my fellow furs. In that sense, Furry Fandom is a wonderful thing to be a part of. It’s just not the ideal utopia we sometimes like to imagine. And part of the reason it isn’t is because so many of us get this idea in our heads that the fandom is how we dream it to be, and anyone who seems to be threatening or defacing that dream must be destroyed.

But in reality, there’s no paradise here to be lost. It’s just another fandom community that is only as good as the people within it can be bothered to make it. And if you’re busy hating somebody or trying to tear down a group of furs you’ve got some unreasoning prejudice against; if you go calling the police telling them this con is a Nazi con or that con is a pedo con, you’re not really helping to make it a better place.

What you need to do is just take a step back and realize that you’re dreaming. You’re in a cult, and your sense of reason is not subject to reality. So that bunch of furs whose Facebook group you can’t be bothered to join, or whose con panel you can’t be bothered to attend, might just possibly not be as bad as you’re thinking they are. And maybe it’s actually not worth causing an embarrassment that will reflect badly on every single member of the community just to get rid of them. Maybe, in a reality that exists beyond the scope of your rose colored glasses, you actually do owe it to those in the community that support and care for you to not be a hateful, thoughtless idiot.