Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Dignify this, buddy!

I was bumbling around Yahoo! Groups the other day and came across a group called the "Dignified Furs." Allrighty then, I thought. A little exploration showed the most recent messages to be--and I know this will surprise all of you in the fandom--mournful complaints about the state of the fandom. Having nothing better to do, I dived into the muck and did a little raking there, chiefly with a gentleman who seemed to be arguing that furry fandom was small and pathetic and smut-oriented compared to anime fandom and comics fandom and what-have-you fandom. Now, setting aside the cries of "hentai! yaoi!" aside, there's a surface truth to it--within the last 15 years, anime has burst onto the mainstream and the fandom has grown exponentially. The red herring here, in my book, has nothing to do with pornography: it has to do with the fact that anime fandom exists because of a huge body of work created outside the fandom. So does comics fandom and Trek fandom and most other what-have-you fandoms. Sure, those fandoms are old enough that people have in fact moved from fan to professional--but furrydom is unique in that the majority of its content is fan-created.

But, my erstwhile opponent chose to ignore this central point of the argument, and to mostly ignore examples I trotted out of creative people and companies within the fandom. My last response--which may well be my last one--was this short piece.

On Feb 3, 2004, at 10:55 AM, Erstwhile Opponent wrote:

Creativity without focus isn't creativity. There are plenty of wanna-be creators in the fandom who, let's face it, haven't moved on because they simply couldn't survive outside the fandom. The fandom has always been focused on artwork, you see a heck of a lot of people who want to be artists but couldn't really draw to save their lives. Creativity and talent are two different things.

Okay, I'm calling your bluff here. Your definition of furry seems to include "cannot be creative," so there's really no point in looking for any silver linings, is there? Dark Natasha, Susan Van Camp, Heather Alexander, Heather "Kyoht" Baeder, Michael Raabe, Shawn Kellner, Herbie Bearclaw, Goldenwolf, Terrie Smith, Michael Payne, John Nunnemacher--all undoubtedly to be explained away as either not really creative or not really furry!

If this is NOT part of your definition of furry, then stop throwing the puppy out with the bath water. Admitting that there are things of quality and worth in furry fandom doesn't mean you can't believe that there's vast room for improvement, but steadfastly denying their existence makes it appear that you're not interested in surveying the whole of what's out there--your real interest is in calling attention to what you consider sludge, and nothing else. "But there's so much of it" is not an adequate defense; one good novel in a shelf of a hundred dreadful ones is still one good novel, and an honest critic must acknowledge it.

Whether the fandom is "obsessed" with sex and whether the fandom is capable of producing creative artists and writers are two separate issues, and they are not intrinsically related. A lot of great art has been produced by people who were obsessed with sex, and sometimes pretty kinky to boot. What I think you're trying to say by scrambling those arguments together is that, for a creator, it's a much greater risk than it should be to say "I'm a furry fan." And yeah, it is. And that's unfortunate.

But the only way--the ONLY way--that's going to ever change is when people ARE willing to say it, and are willing to say, "And here's what that really means."

The Burned Furs never got this. You can't lead by crusading against the "undesirables" and get very far--you'll only polarize people. If you want to be an AM talk radio host, maybe that's all you want, because being hated just increases your ratings (at least for a while). But if you really want to lead, you do it by example. If the BFs had taken all the energy they put into pissing and moaning and ranting and mocking and put it into creating something lovely and wonderful that they could hold up and say, "This is what furry can be," maybe they'd have actually been the force for good they seemed to picture themselves as.

. . . What can be done to change [the fandom]?

Create what you would like to see more of, and promote what you would like to see more of. You're concerned about the content and quality? You can kvetch on mailing lists all you want and maybe you'll get arguments and maybe you'll get sympathetic ears, but the one thing that you won't get is a measurable effect. If you really want that, work to create, distribute and/or showcase quality content.


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