Furry fandom

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Furry fandom, also known as furrydom, furridom, fur fandom or furdom, refers to the fandom for the furry genre of literature, art and entertainment. Furry fandom is also used to refer to the community of artists, writers, role players and general fans of the furry art forms who gather on the net and at conventions.

Members of the furry fandom, known as furry fans, furfans, furries, or furs, particularly enjoy media that includes fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphic attributes include exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, the ability to speak, walking on two legs, and wearing clothing.

Characters that morph between human and animal form are also considered by some to be part of the genre. Even certain superheroes with animal derived powers are considered of furry interest by some fans. The general idea being a combination of human and animal attributes, for which there is no documented science regarding what degrees of mixture are required. Even characters like Josie and the Pussycats are considered of interest to furry fandom, though they only wear costumes with animal ears and tails.[1]

The furry genre

Definition

The furry genre (sometimes referred to as a meta-genre) is based on the idea of fantasy animal characters, rather than any one type of fiction. Any title in any form of media can be considered relative to the furry genre simply by having a fantasy animal character in it. Such characters are most often seen in cartoons, comics, science fiction, allegorical novels, Gothic horror movies, commercials and video games.

Outside the fandom, the most common term used to describe such characters is anthropomorphic (a word derived from the Greek; Anthropos Morphe, literally meaning Human Form). Those within the fandom prefer the term furry - hence the name furry fandom. Other terms for these types of characters are funny animal, talking animal, or kemono in Japan, although each of these has subtle differences in meaning.

History of the Furry Fandom

See main article: History

In the earlier days of the Furry Fandom, fans used to gather mostly at science fiction, fantasy, and comic conventions before the furry parties broke out into full-fledged furry conventions. The fandom for furry characters traces its organization back to a science fiction convention in 1980,[2] when a drawing of a character from Steve Gallacci’s Albedo started a discussion of anthropomorphic characters in science fiction novels, spawning a discussion group that met at various science fiction and comics conventions.

As the Internet became more accessible, it became the most popular means for furry fans to keep in touch and share their artistic efforts. This gained the fandom higher visibility and it began to grow rapidly.

Virtual environments, such as MUCKs, soon became the most popular places on the net for furry fans to meet and communicate. One of the oldest and largest MUCKs in existence is FurryMUCK. One of the newest virtual environments to attract furry fans is Second Life.

Near the beginning of the 80’s, the furry genre enjoyed the first explosion of popularity it had seen since the 1930’s. Furry characters littered the animation world as well as toy stores. But there was also adult furry entertainment.

Today, those furry fans who have discovered the large concentration of fellow fans on the net have joined with them to create the virtual society that is the collective furry community. Other furry fans, particularly the computer illiterate, remain isolated in their interest with little to no awareness that there is an organized community for fans of the furry genre.


The Furry community

The furry community, referred to by many as furry fandom, or just the fandom, is the virtual universe inhabited by all those who refer to themselves as "Furries."

It is a separate entity from what many fans of furry entertainment mean when they use the term furry fandom. To a traditional furry fan, furry fandom means fans of furry characters, period. But the community encompasses a great deal more than just the fandom for furry characters. It includes elements of religion, lifestyle and philosophy.

"Furriness" is the action of doing anything related to the furry character of a person.

Furry lifestyle

See article: Furry lifestyle

The most commonly stated interest cited among members of the community, other than an enjoyment of furry entertainment, is a sense some may have of personally identifying with a certain kind of animal.

This is a relatively common aspect of human nature. Many people may feel an affinity for a certain type of animal. Marketers of collectibles have been creating products for people with such feelings for generations. Though it has rarely been something one had an open atmosphere in which to explore and get more deeply in touch with. The furry community, through its many virtual role play environments, provides this avenue for exploration into why certain people feel their particular affinity.

Some may view animals with a kind of religious reverence reminiscent of Buddhism, Shamanism or Otherkin. They may feel that they are the reincarnation of an animal, or that an animal spirit watches over them.

Creativity

Because the furry genre is widely considered to be a children’s market, there is a considerable lack of furry entertainment specifically geared to adult aged audiences. The community of mostly adult aged furry fans that has formed around the genre is particularly dedicated to filling the need for such products through fan creativity.

Content available from furry fans on the internet and at conventions covers a wide range of interests, including all manner of fantasy, philosophy, sex, politics, religion and lifestyle.

The genre is considered to be so versatile that it can extend into just about any form of creativity, from things as simple as recipe books with anthropomorphic illustrations [3] to technical creations as complicated as interactive furry companions for your desktop.[4] Other forms of furry craftsmanship include the creation of flash animation [5] and fursuits.

But by far the most prolific output of furry fandom is artwork. Furry artwork produced by the fandom ranges from basic cartooning to highly detailed works fit for hanging in galleries. Furry artists also create a wide variety of comic strips. The subject matter of this artwork being as flexible as any other area of the furry arts, ranging from innocent depictions of cute furry character suitable for all ages, to mature works that are age restricted. There is also some writing in the furry fandom.

Sociability

Others may join the furry community simply because it is a free environment where one can form friendships without the normal social problems of having to hide one’s sexual orientation. It is also a place where some may come to find compassionate understanding and assistance with personal problems. The furry community prides itself on a concept of open mindedness and tolerance.

Fetishes

See article: Fetish

The furry community also attracts furry related fetishists who warm to the non-condemning atmosphere and the ability to express fantasies of a sexual nature that would rarely be tolerated anywhere else.

Surveys place the number of extreme fetishists in the community at a comparatively low percentage, though the few there are tend to be extremely visible on the net.

Creativity beyond the furry genre

Some creative members of the community create works that are not furry of nature. 2, The Ranting Gryphon creates rants on real world politics and the state of human society. Joe Strike has written film reviews for the New York Daily News. Steven F. Scharff maintains a database on new country projects, "micronations" and independence and sedition movements. Tom Howling writes full-time about technology and science. A number of furry musical groups produce music without furry subject matter. Some furry online radio stations play popular music that rarely has furry subject matter. And some amateur film makers in the fandom create films that have no visible furry themes.

This sometimes brings the community unexpected positive attention, though it further confuses people as to just what the furry fandom is supposed to be about.

Furry controversies

Defining the genre

See article: What is Furry?

Historically, very little has been written about the concept of furry as a genre of entertainment. And the community itself sometimes has difficulty getting a grip on what the main object of the fandom is supposed to be. Consequently, some prominent members of the community may express ideas of limitation based on their personal taste in anthropomorphics. Others may feel that their taste in anthropomorphics are excluded by such limitations.

There are no written rules as to what types or levels of human and animal attributes are necessary for inclusion in the genre. The only noticeable defining factor seems to be that there be some kind of combination of the two. Thus, it is best to approach the genre with the broadest possible view, rather than being influenced by individuals expressing dissatisfaction with areas of the furry arts they personally don’t like.

Misinformation

Many people misunderstand the fandom due to a lack of non-prejudicial information being available. In many cases, the first things outsiders see of the fandom is sensationalistic fiction on TV shows. Others may take note of the adult themed art on the net and assume this is the whole point of the fandom.

Sexuality

The free atmosphere of acceptance in the furry community makes it far more likely for members to be open about their sexual preferences.[6] As such, most non-furries believe that nearly all furry fans are gay.[6] Recent surveys suggest that the percentage of homosexuals and bisexuals in the fandom may be higher than in the general population. Furries have proposed various theories for this.

Confessions of more unusual sexuality and lifestyle have also been noted in the furry community, and though the majority of furry fans will attempt to be tolerant, certain sexual practices will stretch the tolerance of certain furry fans to the breaking point.

In particular, discussion of bestiality is a trigger for angry debate within the community. Many insist that absolute tolerance must be absolute, while others resent the association of the fandom with a practice that is not only illegal in many places, but is considered by many to be a form of animal abuse. Because of these two hallmarks of the current fandom — tolerance and the protection of real life animals — acceptance of bestialitists is a hotly contested topic of the furry community.

Another practice that sparks controversy from within the fandom itself is plushophilia. Though plushophilia is physically harmless, being confronted with it causes extreme reactions on both sides of the issue within the fandom — from total acceptance to outright disgust.

Erotic furry art

See article: Furotica

If one looks on games like Star Fox and movies like Over The Hedge as the main furry genre, and the erotic art coming out of the community as a parody of the main genre, a direct parallel to anime and hentai can be seen as well as a parallel with the general fantasy genre and erotic fantasy art. Types of hentai might straddle both furry and non-furry genre. The major difference is that the output of furry titles by major companies is relatively small when compared to the output of other genres.

Thus it is easy to mistake the mature art aspect of furry fandom for being more prominent than in other fandoms. When, in reality, the amount of erotic content coming out of the furry community pales in comparison to the anime/manga erotic output, which is much better organized and even supported by the main industry.

Anime fans enjoy the availability of endless hours of erotic animation created by professional companies, and even the erotic manga comics created by anime fans display a level of professionalism that furry artists can not even begin to aspire to. Yet, this tends to not be a problem for anime fandom, as the high output of non-erotic anime keeps the erotic subgenre in perspective as parody. While with furry fandom, it is highly likely that the first output of the fandom an outsider will see will be something of an erotic nature or sexual humor art.[7]

Fringe segments of the community

Just about anyone with any kind of interest that can somehow be tied to furry can set up a new neighborhood in the furry community for that interest. For some reason, the furries who create these neighborhoods have a tendency to give them names that sound worse than the actual intent, and thus may generate prejudice or attract the wrong kind of attention.

Furry hate groups

See article: Anti-furries

Furry hate groups have been created that ridicule the fandom at every opportunity and continue the spread of various types of misinformation, largely based on overplaying activities that exist in the fringe areas of the community and have no direct relationship to the fandom.

It is the general assertion of fans that these hate groups are mistaken in their assumption that furry fandom is all about sexualizing animal characters and animal related fetishes. It has also been confessed by certain furry haters that they attack furry fandom, not out of any belief that the furry fandom is any worse than other fandoms in these respects, but rather because it is much easier to get an entertaining reaction out of furries than it is to get a reaction out of Trekkies or Otaku.

Thus, the anti-furry movement exists largely for entertainment value and should be taken with a grain of salt. Furries may even be seen to play along with furry hate groups, as some furries insist that it is important to maintain a sense of humor about such things. Indeed, there is hardly a fandom in existence that does not parody and laugh at its own idiosyncrasies and stereotypes.

Self criticism

The furry community also is sometimes criticized by its own for being too tolerant of various things, especially the over visibility of controversial fetishes.

Particularly for those who are only in the community because of an interest in furry cartoons, it may be found painful that the community feels free to associate them with things that seem completely unrelated to a fandom for furry characters.

Other furries will then turn on those who claim not to want to be associated with every controversial element in the community and accuse them of being a detriment to the stability of the community, often accompanied with accusations of Nazi behavior or being a Burned Fur.

Over the years many furries have left the fandom in a state of grief over such controversies and disputes.

Unsympathetic media

See article: Timeline of media coverage
Uncle Kage talks to KDKA-TV reporters

In years past, the only value the mainstream media has seen in furry fandom has been over emphasis on the fetishists and lifestylers within the community. Many of those who were interviewed for such media portrayals claim they were deliberately misquoted. As a result, misunderstanding of the nature of the fandom has been widespread. However, this appears to be changing, as less sensational media sources are starting to take note of the community, which are more inclined to see interest in the fandom aspect. [8]

Furry politics

As with any type of community, even a virtual one, political issues will arise and certain people will champion them, attempting to attain a measure of power and control over the rest of the community. However, the community is seldom able to be united on any single issue. And most attempts to force change fall flat.

Political topics in the community can revolve around pushing tolerance for controversial segments of the community, people trying to put limits on the genre celebrated by the fandom, and those who wish to completely separate the furry community from any relationship with the mainstream entertainment industry.

A typical example of furry politics is the attempt to draw a distinction between a "furry comic" created by self professed members of the fandom, and a traditional "funny animal comic," created by someone who has not acknowledged a connection to the fandom. This type of political ploy may cause a lot of heated debate, but in the end there is no artistic difference between the two, and furry fans rarely stop to ask an artist’s affiliations before enjoying his work.

Becoming mainstream

The mainstreaming of the furry fandom is a subject for ongoing debate. As the fandom grows and becomes more popular in the mainstream, some furs worry about the fandom's popularity and the effect it will have on its image. It can ostensibly be argued that increased awareness and popularity of Furry in mainstream culture could result in increased public acceptance and lessened negativity towards the fandom. The alternative viewpoint, however, suggests that if Furry becomes too mainstream, it will lose its appeal and fail to attract and retain members to the fandom.

Examples

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Characters and titles that contain characters who may be considered relative to the fandom for furry genre may include the following, among many others.

  • From classic comic strips:

Snoopy & Woodstock, Garfield, Rupert Bear, Krazy Kat, Pogo, Fix & Foxi, Bloom County, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine.

  • From classic cartoons:

Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Felix the Cat, Mighty Mouse, Andy Panda, Woody Woodpecker, Baby Huey, Donald Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, Tom & Jerry, Super Snooper & Blabber Mouse, Yogi Bear.

My Little Pony, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Monchichis, The Get Along Gang, Care Bears, Shirt Tails, The Puppy’s Great Adventures, Family Guy, Popples, Sylvanian Families, Pound Puppies, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Father Of The Pride, The Angry Beavers, Rocko's Modern Life, SWAT Kats, Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats, the Blizzarians in Storm Hawks, Arthur.

  • From commercials:

Tony the Tiger, The Trix Rabbit, The Exxon Tiger, The Geico Gecko, The Taco Bell Dog, Chuck E. Cheese, Charlie Tuna.

  • From feature animation: see category: Movies

Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Charlotte's Web, Watership Down, The Secret of NIMH, The Plague Dogs, The Last Unicorn, The Flight of Dragons, Disney’s Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound, The Lion King, Madagascar, The Wild, Over The Hedge, Happy Feet, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ice Age.

  • From novels: see category: Novels

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Little Prince, Redwall, Spellsinger, The Apprentice Adept, Xanth, Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, The Jungle Book, The Chronicles Of Narnia, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Animal Farm, Sirius, Miss Bianca, Tailchaser's Song, Breed to Come, The Moreau series, Fire Bringer, The Sight, Fell.

  • From anime: see category: Anime

Luna & Artimas from Sailor Moon, Ryo-okki from Tenchi Muyo!, Unico, Hello Kitty, Amazing 3, Kimba The White Lion, Dragon Half, Slayers, Sherlock Hound, Bagi, Pokemon, Digimon, Tokyo Mew Mew, Samurai Pizza Cats, Angel's Tail, Ko Century Beastketteers, Di Gi Charat, Super Pig, Ranma ½, Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Yu Yu Hakusho, My Neighbor Totoro, Omnyou Taisenki, Inuyasha, Word's Worth.

Darkstalkers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy X, Star Fox, RuneQuest, EverQuest, Jazz Jackrabbit, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Animal Crossing, Ōkami.

  • From old time radio:

The Cinnamon Bear, Smiling Ed’s Buster Brown Gang.

  • From gothic horror:

Dracula, The Wolfman, Cat People.

  • From live action television:

Dark Shadows, Doctor Who, ALF, Mr. Ed, Muppets.

  • From live action films:

Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, Ladyhawke.

Cats, The Cunning Little Vixen, Swan Lake.

  • From classic comic books:

Atomic Mouse, Atomic Rabbit, Fawcetts Funny Animals, Frisky Fables, Cerebus.

  • From modern age comics: see category: Comics

Albedo, Batman, Buster the Amazing Bear, Cutey Bunny, Critters, Elfquest, Fritz the Cat, Furrlough, Genus, Gold Digger, Hepcats, Howard the Duck, Maus, Ninja High School, Omaha The Cat Dancer, Rat Bastard, Shanda The Panda, Spiderman, Tank Vixens, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Usagi Yojimbo.

  • From flash animation:

Foamy the Squirrel, Bonzai Bunny, Happy Tree Friends.

  • From net comic strips:

Newshounds, Boomer Express, The Suburban Jungle, Kevin and Kell, Faux Pas, Namir Deiter, Last Resort, Sabrina Online, Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, VG Cats, Better Days, Ozy and Millie, Tales of the Questor, Umlaut House, Freefall, Supermegatopia, Las Lindas, A Doemain Of Their Own.

References

  1. Invasion of the Furries - Description of furry fandom with Josie And The Pussy Cats reference.
  2. An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996 - Fred Patten, Flayrah (15 July 2012)
  3. Sweet Treats - an example of a furry cookbook.
  4. Foxee - example of an interactive character.
  5. Foamy The Squirrel - example of a flash animation character.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Sociology of Furry Fandom. Retrieved October 19, 2006.
  7. A Google Images search for "furries" generates furotica as its initial results.
  8. Furries Descend On Golden Triangle - example of more favorable press coverage.

See also

External links

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