Thursday, January 17, 2013

Furries in the Media


I always like looking at different media publications that involve the furry fandom to judge what they're like. This is easily doable through WikiFur's timeline of media coverage. Some coverage is good, some is average, some is bad. In this article I'm going to be covering some of the many media portrayals of furry and saying what I think of them. If you don't know what the furry fandom is, click here. If you don't feel like reading it all, in short, Vanity Fair's "Pleasures of the Fur" was the absolute worst, and Fox News CT's "Inside the World of Furries" was the best. But don't stop reading there, because each of those articles I have more comments on than that. I'll go by publication to publication in this post. Starting with...

Vanity Fair


Let's start with their article "Pleasures of the Fur" that was written by George Gurley and published in their March, 2001 issue. This article is 6 pages, and right from the title and subtitle it's already utterly horrible and false. "This is no hobby. It's sex; it's religion." Right from the start they call a fandom sex and religion. In a joking sense I could poke fun at any fandom about sex and the way the fandom members take it religiously, but Vanity Fair is completely serious here, and you know its readers took it seriously as well. I'm pretty sure they never once even call furry a fandom. Glad to see they don't have a vocabulary big enough to even write about fans of anthropomorphic animals. But hey, their magazine name comes from a classical sex novel, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

With the magazine name derived from sex, they live up to the name. "Pleasures of the Fur" is 6 pages of nothing but weird kinky, fetishes and sex. I don't think they even hit a single positive note in this article. And if they do, they take the compliment back by sexualizing what it's referring to. Again, this article is horrible and false. It was a while ago since I read it all the way through, but if you're a furry, the article is both hilarious at how inaccurate it is, but also sad because you know the many many loser readers of such a magazine take it all as cold hard facts. The best way I can describe the manner in which this reporter (Who's only intent is to make as much money as possible, not write a accurate story for a unrespectable magazine.), is that he'd start interviewing any given convention goer, and then stop them and leave to find someone new because that person wasn't weird enough for his article to get lots of hits. According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, that's actually true; the "reporter" interviewed many people until he found the one absolute weirdo he needed. Sex sells, afterall, and people reporting on furries sure do seem to know it.

There really isn't much to say on this anymore. It's just...bad. Simple as that, it's terrible. It isn't even focusing on furries at parts. It's just a horrible, misleading, and flat-out false publication. But there's more to say for Vanity Fair.

From WikiFur's page on Vanity Fair, under "Further Coverage" we find:
"The Vanity Fair coverage has been mentioned in subsequently in regards to furries. For example, in a 2004 interview the director John Waters is asked why he hasn't "addressed" furries. He replies "I haven't done that because Vanity Fair had that big article about it, and I never really believed it was true."[1]
Vanity Fair was also discussed in "Animal Passions", an article in the Pittsburgh City Paper about Anthrocon 2006.
In July 03, 2009 CNN's Anderson Cooper [2] joined on a report about Anthrocon. In the report they called the convention "Furry Fest" and told the viewers to google the Vanity Fair article to learn more about what is happening at the convention."
Here we have a no-no by CNN (a horrible one, to be exact) and a applause for John Waters. It also mentions the...

Pittsburgh City Paper


This article is great. Written in 2006 by Melissa Meinzer, it totally tells how Vanity Fair's article was practically fabricated. It shows off the fandom in a good light. Although, it does mention the kinkier stuff and people, as well as just the flat-out strange people, but it doesn't imply or say that that's what the fandom is all about. It also tells and explains as to why convention press passes are so hard to get and the people who do get them are kept on a tight leash by convention staff. This reporter snuck into the con posing as a convention goer. Although I normally wouldn't agree with the dishonesty, this reporter did use it for good.

BBC


On to bigger and better things, let's have a look at BBC. BBC has, as far as I know, had four different reports involving the furry fandom. Let's go through them.

This article from November, 2009, written by Denise Winterman for BBC News Magazine, is fairly good at reporting on the fandom. It puts us in a good light and isn't biased or overly opinionated, which is expected of the BBC, which I might add is one of my favourite news publications, alongside USA Today. I don't have much to say about this article other than that it's good. Well done, BBC. But as you'll see, this is one of their newer reports on the fandom. Their older ones are... less desirable.

Conducted and aired by BBC Nightlife on March 30th, 2001, this interview segment covers "lifestylers", not furries. These are not average furry fandom members, these are lifestylers: people who try and live like and think they are actually animals. Of course, BBC never debunks that. But that is actually due to the unbiased and unopinionated reporting that BBC conducts. The bad press this gave the fandom can only be attributed to the furries who allowed themselves to be interviewed by one of the biggest media conglomerates in the entire world. Not a smart move. "Look, I'm a freak! :D"

Anna In Wonderland (pt. 1pt. 2pt. 3)
This is quite a... interesting feature. And once again, the bad press generated from it is mainly due to the furries who allowed themselves to be interviewed by BBC. This feature was done by BBC Choice in July, 2002. (I'm not British, so I don't really know what any of these subtitles for the BBC mean...) The BBC reporter actually went along with everything very nicely, and didn't have anything rather harsh to say about the furries she met in her travels. But again, this is a lot of bad press for the fandom, and in fact it didn't focus on much of the usual furry stuff.

When I think of the fandom, I think of Duke running around and dancing at conventions, I think of Kage being, well, Kage; I think of Imaginary Skye being insanely adorable and cute with his rather kawaii dance moves, I think of Blotch and the incredible artwork, much of which shows beautiful love and passion between mates; I think of Kyell Gold and his brilliant novels; I think of all positive things. I don't think of middle-aged men and their stuffed animals. I feel like one big problem with the media is that they always miss the point when it comes to furry. There's a lot of people in the fandom, and a lot of different types of people, but there is a core to it all, and the media hardly ever hits the core of it all. When you think of furry you should think of things like this:
or this:

or maybe think of the incredible artwork 



A comment on part 3 of this feature talked about how although these are kindhearted people, their childishness when they're middle-aged adults is weird. I replied that as a furry, I agree, but most furries aren't that childish. Most furries' childishness is comparable to the 11th incarnation of The Doctor on Doctor Who, not grown adults playing with animal plushes.



This is a pretty good news segment, made in July of 2012. Although "movement" is the wrong word, the coverage says nothing bad. It simply shows how the fandom is gaining popularity in Mexico, and does a bit of reporting on what the furry fandom is. It is actually a pretty great report. I like it.

Wired


Wired has one main article on furries, written in March 1994: "Johnny Manhattan meets the Furry Muckers." Now, this is actually a interesting article and I liked it. The problem is, it's out to make money and get hits by making furs look bad.

This article talks about online MUDs and MUCKs and the like and the virtual worlds they possess. Most of the 6 page article takes place on LambdaMOO, not FurryMUCK. Sexual role-playing is the bad press aspect of this article. The thing is, for the LambdaMOO people, it clearly says how it's not all about sexual RPing, and that not that many people even do it. Yet, for furries, they never clarify that. They label us only as people who like to sexually role-play as anthropomorphic animals. As I said earlier, sex sells, and this writer knows it. Oh yes, this is not some shabby writer, the author of this article is Josh Quittner, who later on went to work for TIME magazine. In fact, to further reinforce the notion that sex sells, despite furries being the subject of the title, furries are only mentioned in about one paragraph and two sentences, out of a 6 page article. This article is good, but the not-so-good part is the part where it's clear this article used furries as leverage to be more popular. Slick move.

I'd also like to mention that a funny thing they mentioned was that furries RP differently than other RPers. Furries write long, descriptive paragraphs rather than short line-by-line RPing. It's like people collaborating on a sex novel rather than "type-fucking." This is true, for the most part, from what I've seen, yet it seems like a odd thing to make fun of. "Oh, these people try and RP artfully. What losers." Yeah, okay, I'll give you the RPers = losers bit (although I don't agree with it, I wouldn't exactly bother arguing against it) but at least we do it with more class than the average Joe, haha.

Wired isn't done there, though. This is what WikiFur has to say about them: 
"(? 2001) - The furry fandom was mentioned in a sidebar[citation needed] featuring fads which were coming and going; furries were considered a short-term fad already on their way out.
Considering the previous (and mostly forgotten) article, and the growth of the fandom, this was at best an erroneous view based on other mainstream attention at the time."
A fad? Really Wired? A fandom that's been around since the late 70's - early 80's is a "fad" that, after more than 20 years of already existing, is "on it's way out"? Seriously? And now, more than another decade later, your stupidity prevails. Another big problem with media reports is that no one seems to care about actually reporting well, and the editors don't seem to care either. 
Wired has mentioned furs a few other times, but abstractly and not in a more direct sense. Neither of which exactly gave us a good name and were talking about Japanese related stuff primarily. Read more here.

TLC: My Strange Addiction - Furries




This is absolutely horrible. This is astronomically bad. As one commenter pointed out, "Ooh, let's play ominous music and clips of her parents complaining to distract from all the smiles and laughs." I think that perfectly describes this video, which aired on January 19th, 2011.

At the beginning of all of this show's episodes, it states "This program depicts addictive behaviors that are dangerous and risky in nature. Viewers should not attempt." Yes, having fun and expressing yourself is dangerous and you should never do it! TLC, the show hasn't even officially started yet and you've already majorly screwed up. Bloody well done. But they're not done there, the next text slide says how she's "obsessed" with what she does. TLC, I feel like you aren't good at English; get a dictionary. It's not obsession, it's called being passionate. There's a difference, but I guess your small minds and the even smaller minds of your viewers cannot comprehend it. TLC then attempts to attribute her furriness to her dad dying, which left emotional effects on her. Of course, they portray this as a bad thing. "Oh, her dad died and she's emotionally messed up, that's why she does this." Uh, no. To quote Sherlock Holmes from BBC's "Sherlock," "You see, but you do not observe." Observe, people. Observe that Lauren is a much happier person because of the furry fandom. Observe that it's changed her life for the better. And observe how completely stupid you are, TLC.

And no, this is actually entirley TLC's fault. This is not a BBC case where the blame lies with the weirdos who let themselves be interviewed. No, this person knew what she was getting into and she made the fandom look very positive. The problem? TLC doesn't roll that way. This is "My Strange Addiction " she had to be messed up and weird. She couldn't be happy. She couldn't be in a good state of well-being. No, TLC couldn't do that, so they took out all the positive parts, and made sure to make any positive parts they left in look bad. Lauren has posted online about how TLC edited anything positive out. To me, Lauren looks like a awesome person who I'd like to hang out with. It seems that only fellow furs can look past the media's veil of bad stuff they try to portray.

Then TLC decides they haven't made things look bad enough. No sir, TLC then goes on to say "Some furries wear their suits while engaging in sexual activity. Currently, Lauren does not." Some? Currently? Some should be "very few," and "currently" should be left out altogether. I can't even believe they would say "currently" as in "Oh yeah, all furs do that, just some don't do it... yet." Where are you getting this information from, TLC? Oh, yeah, that's right, you bloody fabricated it out of thin air. Brilliant. This video could pass as a feature for The Onion with how much is obscures the truth, so much that it's not true at all.

Then we go on to talk about how she's using the suit to cope with low self-esteem, blah blah blah. Dear god, shut up already! Thank god Lauren always keeps a positive attitude about it all and continues to keep being a furry and doing the harmless things she loves.

Again, as the commenter said, "Ooh, let's play ominous music and clips of her parents complaining to distract from all the smiles and laughs." I don't think this is as bad as Vanity Fair's article though. Most of my anger towards this is how horrible TLC is. They didn't seem to prevail as much as they'd like to though. I'm sure some average viewers went away not feeling contempt for furries.

CSI: Fur and Loathing


First aired on October 30th, 2003. I don't have a link for this. I actually paid a few bucks to watch it from iTunes because I couldn't find it anywhere else. Anyway, this episode sucks. I'm pretty sure every furry knows of this episode, and has probably seen it too. This is by far the most infamous of all media that involves furries. Maybe not as physically bad at Vanity Fair's article, but, as the most-watched show on television at the time, this definitely gave us more bad press than any of the others combined. Not only is the portrayal of our fandom atrocious, but the show itself is just stupid. The blood spatter froze? Seriously? A hunter mistook a fursuiter for a actual coyote? I'm guessing rednecks in Nevada aren't the brightest, but seriously?! CSI, do you even try to make things believable? Probably they make the plots stupid so it's audience can properly understand it. I can't believe CSI is even still on. Stupid American television... Seriously, note how there's no foreign shows that have had horrible portrayals of furries, only news reports which aren't the BBC's fault for making us look bad. And speaking of which, how stupid are people to take something they saw on CSI as fact? Unbelievable.

According to WikiFur, CSI contacted furries to help them make a accurate portrayal and have extras. After sending their main man (or main fox, rather) the script, he pointed out all of the many many errors. CSI didn't care in the slightest, and went on with their original script anyway, despite the futile pleas from the furries involved. Basically, CSI knew they were full of crap, but didn't care. As I've said many times already, sex sells, and people know it.

Fox News CT: Inside the World of Furries

This right here is what I consider the best reporting of the fandom. Us furries seem to agree too. In fact, I liked this so much, that I personally thanked the reporter, John Charlton, for doing such a good report, via email. This was because another fur on my Reddit post commented that that's what he did, and Charlton even replied. He replied to me too.

The funny story behind this is that FurFright, the convention that was being held in Connecticut that inspired them to do this story, didn't let Fox News CT into the convention. This was because they were Fox News, and most people associate Fox News with the national Fox News, which fabricates information, lies, and is terribly conservatively biased. So much so, that Canadian federal law prohibits Fox News from making a Canadian station, because in Canada, it is illegal to lie on national news. But little did the FurFright staff, and apparently a lot of other people know, that the local Fox News affiliates aren't like the national one. As you can see here, this local station is absolutely superb. 

This news report debunks misconceptions put forth via the likes of the aforementioned CSI and BBC Nightlife, among others, and is only out to put us in a good light. As you can see by RossTheFox's email screenshots linked earlier, Charlton was purposely out on a mission to give us a good report that made us look good. It showed what all media should be showing. It's a shame they weren't allowed in the convention itself though, and instead had to go to a nearby diner. Hopefully next year, FurFright will get some sense in them and give these awesome reporters a press pass, or even just straight-up access to the entire convention area. They should also be thankful that even after being kicked out of the convention, that Fox News CT was still set on making us a good report. 

G4

G4 has done a few features on the furry fandom. They are all are good, but have I some critiques.

Klingons Vs. Furries: Requiem
G4 has Star Trek fans bowl against furries in a epic battle. Sadly, the Klingons won. (They totally cheated; one does not simply beat furries in bowling.) This is good press, I suppose, since it's not really reporting on anything, haha. This was done in October of 2007.

Attack of the Show - WTF - The Furry Fetish



Alright, you've already screwed up, fantastic job. Despite later debunking it, they call the furry fandom a fetish right from the get-go. Now, I don't actually know when this was made, but the YouTube video was uploaded in 2009. Overall, this is actually a alright report on furries. The big problem is that they labeled it a fetish in the title regardless.

Furry Weekend Atlanta with Sarah Underwood


Now this video is fantastic! I loved this. Sarah was great and went along so well with all the furriness; it looks like she actually really enjoyed herself! Haha! This was done in March of 2011 at Furry Weekend Atlanta, in, you guessed it, Atlanta. One "bad" part of this was that she showed the pornographic side of furry. Although, it wasn't in a way that said "OMG! Look at these freaks!" or "This is what furry is all about! Only this weird stuff! Look at it! Look!! Look at the crazy kinky freaks!!" No no, instead, her attitude was more like "Look, they even have their own porn! Cool!! Porn is great! Yay porn! ^^" which is a much better attitude towards it, haha. Thank you Sarah; well done. G4, you have redeemed your past errors. This is a close rival to Fox News CT in how good it is, in my opinion.

WTEA Pittsburgh

The local news station for Pittsburgh is on the good side of Dr. Samuel Conway, AKA Uncle Kage, the chairman of Anthrocon, the largest furry convention in the world with about 5,000 con attendees. Since us furs rake in so much money for Pittsburgh, about a 4.5 million local economic impact, how could they not like us? Here's WTEA's news report on Anthrocon 2012.

Kotaku

I'm sure Kotaku has mentioned furries quite a few times, but I'll just talk about their report on WolfPupTK and his mission to raise money for the Red Cross, sometimes by dancing in a fursuit. Article here, video of WolfPupTK below.

The Olympian

The Olympian did a report on a furry college student who wore his fox tail around campus, and delved into what the furry fandom is itself. This is a good article, published on April 24th, 2002. View the scan of it here.

Germans

Yes, I'm aware "Germans" is not a news publication or a form of media. The thing is, Germany is quick to report on Eurofurence whenever it happens, across various stations. As far as I can tell, all of them are pretty good! Funny how all the bad reports of the fandom, at least ones that are the fault of the reporters, are all American ones... Anyway, I'll put in some of the best examples I can find of various German reports on Eurofurence. 

MDR covers Eurofurence 18 (mind the English subtitles)



There's various other German reports on the timeline of media coverage, but I won't go into all of them. From what I can tell, the majority of them are good.

Channel 2 News, L.A. -- Fur Fetish

This is so bad. This is amazingly bad. I feel like this is just staged, because never have I seen fursuits that look that horrible and stupid. Never have I seen or heard of people like the ones shown here. This is a load of bollocks. All of it. I couldn't even watch the entire thing it was so bad. But then again, this is L.A., so the impact maybe wasn't too bad; they're used to weirdos out there!

Howard Stern - Wolfie interviews a furry con


If you can possibly stand to watch all of that, here's part 2.

This is horrible. This is crazy bad. This guy is just a huge d-bag. From reading his Wikipedia, he doesn't sound nice in real life either. I guess he's just like this all the time. Rude and ignorant. Fantastic. I really have nothing else to say but f*** this guy.

National Geographic TV - Tabboo: Furries

This is actually okay. The problem? It's on a show called "Tabboo" so whether it's good overall or not, people are still going to leave with the impression that we're weird and therefore bad.

Society doesn't seem to like things they don't understand, or things that don't fit the societal norms.

The Tyra Banks Show - Is Your Sex Life Normal?


Ohh man. This is bad. On September 16, 2009, Tyra Banks interviewed various couples about their sex lives. Some furries went on to save the fandom and make us look good, but they did a shabby job. Mostly due to Tyra Banks running a bit of a comedy show, and her goal is to make fun of them, not accurately report. Bad move on the furries' part, but Tyra is also to blame for being a jerk.

The furry couple denied notions of things such as being "turned on by Mickey Mouse," and that being furry meant you are a zoosexual. They did admit to having sexual intercourse while in fursuit, and explained "strategically placed holes." Big mess-up there guys. They didn't define the line between personal life choices and the core of the furry fandom. Going on a episode based purely around sex in the first place was a bad idea. As Kage says, it doesn't matter what you say, it matters what idea people leave with. To understand, I'll leave you with Kage and KP's "Furry in the Media" panel from Anthrocon 2012.


There's a lot more media coverage than that. There's tones more, if you refer to WikiFur's timeline of media coverage, but I don't have time to go over all of them. I just picked some of the most important ones and a few that I happened to stumble across. There are a few honorable infamous mentions that I should list, but due to copyright stuff it makes it hard to watch them. Some honorable infamous mentions of furries in the media would be:





Now I'm going to go on to talk about furry-made documentaries and short films/features about the furry fandom.

Furries - An Inside Look


I think this series is great. Very well done video production and great people to interview. Great stories. Very well done. This one is in my favourites. Definitely worth a watch.

A Furrytale

This is a interesting documentary. This features a furry, Fjordwolf, and his life in a remote industrial area of Germany, his only companion his beloved dog, Mylo. Fjord would rather live with Mylo than a human companion.

Although this could easily be made fun of, I found it interesting and actually kinda beautiful. I guess most people can't appreciate the beautiful diversity of humanity and complex personality of each individual human.

It was also great filmographer work.

What the Fur?! - Stories and Text from the Furry Fandom


Truly a heartwarming story of a man's venture into the furry fandom, and how it changed his life for the better. Beautiful story, great video. Another one of my favourites.

Well, I suppose that brings us to a close. I have presented to you many articles, videos, and other forms of media in this post. I hope it was entertaining or enlightening. I just wrote it for fun, and because I needed to do some more writing for homeschool. 

Please feel free to leave feedback and suggest more examples of furries in the media that you would like me to cover. There are quite a lot of them! And as always, have a nice day.



3 comments:

  1. This is really quite good.
    Also, I follow you on Tumblr.
    Guessing who I am will grant you one virtual cookie!
    Though, a few pieces could use some editing. I'd be more than happy to fix any typos on later stuff, if you'd be so willing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much! And no, I don't have any idea who you are, sorry. X3

      Typos, huh? Sure, just tell me what they are. I tried to proof-read this myself as best as I could, but I'm sure I messed up something somewhere, haha.

      Delete
  2. Did you know, I have been linking to this page for a year at my Furry news blog? Great work! https://dogpatchpress.wordpress.com/about/

    ReplyDelete