The Lords of the Fur

by Simo

One ring to rule them all...

After his demise, Sauron's one Ring of Power passes from one "owner" to the next. One may temporarily take custody of the ring, but one never really owns it, as it's always trying to return to Sauron and his mortal minions, such as Sarumon. Sooner or later, the ring moves on. There are times, sometimes spanning centuries, when it seems to have disappeared, apparently lost forever. The damn thing eventually turns up, once again to revive Sauron's malignant intentions, and to corrupt the one who has taken temporary possession of the ring.

Within the fandom, there is a figurative "ring of power" that keeps coming back every time you think it's disappeared forever. This would be the elitism of <low_reverential_tone>SERIOUS ARTISTE</low_reverential_tone> wannabes. It would seem that Live Journal has become their latest bastion. First up, we have Perri Rhoades. I'd locked e-horns with him at Furtopia over a year ago. It's not that he doesn't have some genuinely good ideas that could actually be of some real benefit to the fandom: he does. However, if he has one major flaw, it's the excessively, and unnecessarily, confrontational manner in which he expresses those ideas. That isn't the problem.

Being the creator of a franchise like Spectral Shadows doesn't make me a lifestyler. It makes me a professional. And there is a big difference between the people who labor to create works of professional quality and fans who merely consume. In fact, you rarely, if ever, hear about a successful author being knee deep in the fandom related to his work. I mean, I really wouldn't expect Richard Adams to show up at a furry con. And even if he did, he'd only be there out of curiosity or because somebody was paying him...

The problem with furry fandom is some people have this mistaken idea that you can have a whole fandom of creators. But it doesn't work that way. Everything that directly comes out of The Furry Community is amateur by nature, not expected to be widely sold, and certainly nothing anyone could make a serious living at. Being truly successful requires a change of thought, a drive to reach a larger audience, and a belief that you've got something in you that's so original eventually it's just going to knock the world on its ear.

Live Journal Post

(Emphasis Mine)

Here is the root of the problem: the elitism that drips from every word. "The problem with furry fandom is some people have this mistaken idea that you can have a whole fandom of creators."

How, exactly, is this a "problem"? For whom, exactly, is it a "problem"? What we see here is that same old desire to return this fandom to its original roots: a good ol' boy's club for professional artists and their fawning sycophants. One of the first of the Furry APAs, Vootie, was strictly for pros and by pros who desired to go beyond the constraints laid down by the corporations for whom they worked. That was the entire point of the Air Pirate Funnies: an insider's send-up of Disney's legendary, and extreme, conservatism.

"Everything that directly comes out of The Furry Community is amateur by nature, not expected to be widely sold, and certainly nothing anyone could make a serious living at."

What the fuck is the problem with that?

Main Entry: am·a·teur
Pronunciation: 'a-m&-(")t&r, -"tur, -"tyur, -"chur, -ch&r
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love
2 : one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession

Merriam Webster Online

Amateur is not a dirty word. Its root means "love". There is nothing wrong with doing something for the love of it as opposed to expecting to be paid for same. For the most part, for most Furries, Furry-dom is a hobby. It's something that we do because it's fun. Most of us do not take it all that seriously. Furry artists draw fanart because they love to draw; Furry writers write fanfic because that's what they like to do. If someone reads our fanfic and actually enjoys it, gives us a good review, or a word or two of appreciation; if one can take their folio to AnthroCon and sell some prints or commissions, perhaps even come home from the con with a little extra walkin' around money, so much the better. If this is what makes them happy, then just who the hell do you think you are criticizing them for a lack of "ambition" or "ideals"?

Just yesterday, I heard an advert over the radio for a sale on Stratocaster guitars and Marshall amps. So who's buying all these Stratocasters and Marshalls? Professional or semi-professional musicians? Not hardly! The people keeping these music shops in business are folks who like to play, and hope to be able to plink their way through a recognizable song. They're not going to be the next Jimmi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, or Robin Trower. If they're lucky, some relative'll invite them to play at a wedding reception or reunion or some other family get-together. For the most part, regular gigs at the local VFW hall or bar is as unrealistic and unattainable as inking a contract with a major label. Fact is: artistic talent, even to the bare minimum of routine competence -- not talking high art here -- but a realistic expectation that one could earn a living doing something like illustrating greeting cards for Hallmark, or getting regular bookings for wedding receptions or appearances at a local lounge or bar, is not that common. Their desire to draw, or play the guitar, will always exceed their talent. There is nothing wrong with any of this, and it's a good thing that there are archives like the VCL which will accept and allow them to showcase their art. Who knows? Perhaps given enough time, effort, and encouragement, they might actually improve. Or they will prove to be as good as they'll ever be. Or they will prove to be outstanding, they might even prove to be excellent to the point of realistically going pro if they so desired. Having a venue that allows you to do what you love is what makes Furry-dom a great place to be. What will make it a not-so-great place to be is to fill it with elitist pretension. Furry-dom has always been of the fans, for the fans, and by the fans. It is not now, nor has it ever been, a fast track to a professional career. The DiY nature of Furry-dom is what makes it the unique fandom that it is. You want a marketing vehicle, then you want to be a Juggalo -- or to join one of the other bullshit "fandoms" that corporations establish to get idiot "fans" to do their marketing for them for free. (Believe me: I have never paid for clothing or anything else, emblazoned with corporate logos. If they want me to help them advertise, then I damn well expect to be paid, and paid well, for doing so.)

If you want to sell Furfans your stuff, you'd better be prepared to show us something truly extraordinary. After all, free is a very hard price to beat.

Here's Perri complaining about a musical that someone else is working on without having ever seen a script:

Please try to understand this. It's not the fandom I've been "decrying." It's the community. And your musical is exactly the sort of thing that makes me unhappy with the community.

Here you have this wonderful opportunity to do a furry musical, my dream of more than 30 years. And you see no more potential in it but to name it "Yiff" and add fuel to the misconception that this fandom is all about sex.

If I asked you very nicely, would you please not do this? I'm all for a furry musical, but for God's sake, please try to realize there are more important aspects to furry fandom than a bunch of people collecting porn art and having cybersex online. You've read my bio. Do I seem like someone who would be properly represented by a musical called "Yiff?"

Live Journal Post

After the past five years of how the MsM has treated Furry-dom, WTF does he think is going to happen if/when Yiff debuts? Really, what is left to say that hasn't already been said before? If we survived MTV, Vanity Fair, Loaded, Eurotrash, "Fear of Commitment", etc and ad infinitum ad nauseum, we can certainly survive Yiff. This, too, is another age-old mistake: the louder you complain about the title, the more people you inform that the play is "all about sex", regardless of whether or not that is the case. And if the play really is "all about sex", where's the problem?

The other hallmark of elitism is the drawing of the circle as small as possible. According to Rhoades, it's about cartoon animals. Period. Apparently, if Bugs Bunny leaves you cold, if you think Mickey Mouse just plain sux; if you think cartoons are strictly for kids, then you are out of the fandom. Even if you are fascinated by the "Francis"[*] movies, and/or the Mr. Ed TV series; if you think that the concept behind Dr. Doolittle is just about the coolest fucking thing you ever heard of, too bad: you don't qualify.

Here he prattles on and on about a figment of his own imagination: a "Furry Fandom" that's over 100 years old, and which some interloper he refers to as: "The Furry Community" supposedly hijacked. The "Furry Fandom" is 1337, the "Furry Community" is where this supposed "Furry Fandom" sends all its cast offs and undesirables. Historically this is not what happened. Prior to July, 1986 and Westercon 39, no one ever used the word "furry" as anything other than an adjective referring to that which covers the exteriors of most mammals. (Unless you're British: a "furry" is British slang for a pet.) Mark Merlino and Rod O'Riley were the first to use the word to describe the SiGs and room parties which they hosted, first at Westercon and later at Baycon. They weren't even the first to refer to the attendees of these parties as the "Furry Fandom". That was some anonymous soul whose identity has been lost to history[1]. Regardless of how long and loud you insist that 2 + 2= 5 does not change the fact that it always adds up to four. Neither does one's personal dislike for Merlino change the fact that there was no Furry Fandom prior to his inventing it. Before that, those who liked cartoon animals exclusively were seen to be a subset of the wider comics and animation fandoms. This is nothing more than an attempt to push an agenda under the guise of "righting" a "wrong" that never happened. If anyone here is doing any 'jacking, it's Perri Rhoads with his attempt to completely redefine Furry-dom in his own image with his own bullshit, revisionist history of the fandom.

The "controversy" between the "Furry Fandom" and the "Furry Community" exists nowhere other than in Perri Rhoades' imagination. Whatever differences of opinion that may have at one time existed -- and even then it was mainly a tussle over what topics were, or were not, considered "OT" at the old Usenet group: AFF. This issue was settled to everyone's satisfaction back in 1996 with the compromise that saw the establishment of ALF.

Perri Rhoades, 2006: "The problem with furry fandom is some people have this mistaken idea that you can have a whole fandom of creators."

Miguel Estrugo (a.k.a. Martin Skunk) 2004: "But, supposing you are on the fandom only to enjoy anthropomorphics, and not to 'create' them, I'd consider the number of professional-level artists drawing furry stuff would be higher because there would be a larger market willing to pay good money for good quality anthropomorphics, either comics (mainstream or not), literature, or roleplaying games."

Different lyrics, but it's still the same old song and dance: just who the hell do those Furries think they are to horn in on the creation of the fandom's subject matter. Leave the creative process to us professionals and buy whatever shit we see fit to offer to a fandom that's not even worthy of our membership. (After all, Perri pointed out that a "successful author" wouldn't even consider soiling himself by rubbing elbows with we, the hoi polloi). This "oldie" has gotten mighty mouldy over these past ten years, and I, for one, am DAMN sick and tired of hearing it again and again.

...One ring to find them...

Lest you get the idea that I've singled out an old "adversary" for special treatment here, let me assure you that Rhoades is far from alone in this. Next up we have This collection of a half-dozen rants. I'll spare you the necessity of wading through all this bullshit. To summarize:

Either furry fandom is only about affinity for anthropomorphic animals ("furries"), or it's about furries and also about other things. (No one seems to be suggesting it's *not* about anthropomorphic animals.)

Fandom Essays, In A Nutshell

Here is another canard from the distant past: the accusation of "irrelevance". It is very seldom that one so neatly compartmentalizes every facet of his life. Is it so unreasonable that an affinity for talking animal people might go hand-in-hand with an affinity for RL animals? Is it so unreasonable to expect that dealing with the prejudice of the furbashers might lead to a concern for prejudice in general?

Fact is: interests always intersect. Let's say that what got you into the fandom in the first place is seeing the Disney movie Robin Hood. So you try drawing Robin fanart. You get, if not good reviews, at least encouraging ones. So you keep at it and your Robin fanart improves. Next, you try creating your own original anthrofox characters. Since Robin is a red fox, you Google up information about the red fox. Among the fascinating things you learn, you also discover Native American and Asian literature/mythology/folklore featuring foxes. This leads you to studying the shamanistic religions and Asian folklore. You claim the fox as your spirit animal or totem. You adopt the kitsune as your fursona. You discover Weres, Therians, and Otherkin and decide that this, too, says something to you. By now, you're drawing pin-ups of cute vixenoids (after all, Maid Marian was sexy-schemecksy, wasn't she?) Perhaps it goes farther: for your night time pleasure, you retire "Blow Up Betty" in favor of an SPH-equipped fox plush. You try your hand at HTML, find a web host, and your new Furry site goes prime time. Of course, you include all of the above on your site, including all that "irrelevant" stuff about foxes, etc. Your original interest, Robin Hood didn't stay in its own little box. This is how "lifestylers" are made. It is reasonable to expect otherwise?


Screen shot


OH MY GODZORZ! Lookitwhutdat Simo done did: combined his love for Furries with his other "irrelevant" hobby: programming. Yes, I featured a Furry right there on the welcome screen of an electronic engineering app. I even explained in no uncertain terms the significance of that tri-tailed, eyeglass and bracelet wearing fox:

In case you were wondering, the character depicted on the Welcome Screen is a three-tailed Nogitsune. To those of us affiliated with Furry Fandom, it is known as a "Fursona" -- a type of alter ego/imaginary friend/on-line role-play character/subject of fan-pics and/or fan-fic, etc.

Networks-n-Filters Help Page

Hell, I even had the idea once to roll my own Linux distro. It was to be called "KitsuNix"; it would feature scads of Furry characters: on splash screens, as "mascots" on start-up pages, as desktop backgrounds. I even had a name for its proposed package manager: yiff (You Install Further Functionality, get it?) One look at the Distro Watch home page quickly disabused me of this notion. There are already about a bazillion Linux distros out there. Who the hell needs another one, especially when you consider that they all work just the same once you install them?

Is this really such a terrible thing to do? Fact is: that app was written two years ago, and has been out there for as long. To this day, I have not received even so much as one comment -- let alone complaint -- about that. Fact is: all that the mundanes care about is does the damn thing actually do what it says it does? (Yes) Do they care about anything else? (No) Has this app inspired anyone to take a closer look at Furry? (I don't know) So what's the problem here? This accusation is now, and has always been, a red herring.

Finally, we have the self-styled "Reverend" Ash M. Cairo paying homage to the original frustrated elitists. The name says it all, doesn't it? Now, I don't have the slightest idea what this "reverend" has in mind here. I highly doubt that he does either, as there are almost no specifics spelled out there. One thing, however, is clear: he's attracted quite a following of frustrated elitists.

What we're really talking about here is not some guy who slaps a Furry onto the splash screen of an electronic engineering program, or who rolls a new distro, calls it "KitsuNix", and refers to it as the "Furry distro". It's not about Otherkin. It's not about "redneck Furs" who link their other hobby of hunting with their furriness. It's not about "nazi furs" who link their interest in the history of WW II, and/or place their Furries on the front line with Gen. George Patton in their fanfic. It isn't about any of the 1,000,001 other ways that Furries manage to find to insinuate their outside interests into their personal fandom.

....One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

One can not avoid the conclusion that this is nothing other than a disguised attack on "those people", you know, the "freaks" and "geeks" with their idiosyncratic spiritualities, peculiar fetishes, and socially inept ways. Once again, we see a distressingly high number of posts that agree with this elitism. Once again, we see the false belief that acceptance from "normal, mundane" society would come so easily if only "those people" could be, if not driven out of the fandom, at the very least forced back into the darkest recesses of the "Furry closet". So far, all this is is a bunch of bullshit from the most retarded spot on the entire 'Net which draws angsty teens, drama queens, and emo kids like a ripe pile of horse shit draws flies. However, remember that it was just a single personal website that launched a whole bunch of extreme unpleasantness a little less than ten years ago. Granted, the 'Net is a whole 'nother ball game since those days. Hopefully, the increased diversity of the 'Net will prove to make another Great Internet Furry Flame War, if not impossible, then at least unlikely or less able to cause so much harm. Unforch, this may be the least of our concerns.

One also gets the impression that some Furfans would like to pave the way for the corporate co-option of this fandom by rendering it acceptable for the straight-laced, corporate conservatives of upper management: hide away those "freaks", keep the yiffy and spoogy art out of site, kill off plays and musicals that even hint at sex, deny the existence of idiosyncratic beliefs and out-of-the-mainstream philosophies. The imprimatur of Corporate America would mean the end of all MsM furbashing. However, the price is unacceptably high.

The last thing I want to see is a hotel marquee reading: "Welcome to Time-Warner AnthroCon 2017". Let that happen, and all you will see in the Dealer's Den or Artist Alley is wall-to-wall corporate flacks selling shitty products about which they care nothing. Mr. John Q. Furryfan certainly won't be able to afford even the smallest table in the back. All the thousands and thousands of man-hours that went into perfecting their art, the investment in materials and physical plant, everything that went into something like: One Fur All and other businesses catering to the needs and desires of the fans will come to nothing as they won't be able to compete with Third World slave labour and Wal-Mart prices. We could easily lose this fandom in precisely the same way that the Anime fans lost theirs.

Ironically, the furverts may turn out to be our last line of defense.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy had a happy ending: the ring whose existence so plagued Middle Earth for so long was finally cast into the fires of Mount Doom, to melt back into the lava whence it was forged, rendering the spirit of Sauron impotent.

There is no Furry "Mount Doom" into whose fires we can cast the false promises of a fast track to mainstream acceptance to be seen nevermore. It would be nice if it were that easy. It is going to take constant resolve to resist the "ringwraiths" amoung us by refusing to sacrifice our fellow Furries to the false promises of easy acceptance.

The spirit of the Furry "Sauron" <throat_clear>Eric Blumrich</throat_clear> is awakening once more...


[*]A comedy about the adventures of a sapient, talking Army mule. Proved successful enough to spawn several sequels. Francis

[1]YARF Chronology

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