The Furry History Project, Part-9: The 2000's And Concluding Thoughts
In 2000, Disney released Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, and The Emperor's New Groove
In 2000, Radio Comix offered Eureka.
In 2000, Unleashed Comics offered The Wild.
In 2001, PBS introduced Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat.
In 2001, Nintendo gave us the Animal Crossing video game.
In 2001, The Carspeckens began the Faux Pas comic strip on the internet. They also invented Sweet Treats, a Furry cookbook series, as well as selling general anthropomorphic and wildlife art.
In 2001, Purrsia Press offered Purrsia, its debut title.
In 2001, Derrick Fish introduced the web comic Dandy & Company.
In 2001, Shawn Keller released his parody comic, The Horrifying Look At The Furries.
Most fandoms have parodies like this. Anime Fandom has "Otaku No Video." Comic Book Fandom has "Comic Book, The Movie." Most fans laugh their butts off at such parodies. But, with the heat of Burned Fur still raging out of control, Keller's parody was received with mixed reactions. And it was evident that, there after, Furry would be the one fandom that could not afford the luxury of laughing at itself, due to the unusual tendency of critics to take anything that comes out of the fandom for the sake of comedy as being a factual statement of what all Furries are like.
In 2001, an article in Vanity Fair began a trend of defamation against the fandom by main stream media sources. This article by itself would probably have been quickly forgotten, except that the fandom, embroiled in the heat of Burned Fur, made a big deal out of it for 10 years, effectively keeping the memory of it alive. And also creating a furor large enough to encourage other media sources to think it would be profitable to jump on the train.
In 2001, the Burned Fur flame war caught the attention of the producers of ER. An episode resulted in which the positions of the apposing forces in the Burned Fur war were pretty accurately portrayed.
The reaction of the fandom to the ER episode has never been as harsh as with some other portrayals. Probably because the ER portrayal is honest about the conflict, and is thus more heartbreaking for a Furry fan like myself to watch than it is insulting.
What's missing from the Wikifur article on this is that the "suicidal mother" in the episode is designed to bring to mind Shari Lewis, which would make the episode Furry even if there were no Fursuiters. And that the "Pawpet" in question is meant to represent Lamb Chop. Which makes the shock value of the final scene hit most aging Furries where they live, rather than playing up to the LOLZ of the trolls.
In a sense, the producers of ER got closer to the reality of the situation than most younger Furries realize, not only having both sides of the conflict there, but having a representative of the golden age of Funny Animals there, being blissfully unaware of the two squabbling fursuiters.
In 2002, Jonathan Ian Mathers began Neurotically Yours, introducing Foamy The Squirrel as the first Furry star to come out of Internet Flash Animation.
In 2002, Disney released Lilo & Stitch, introducing their first ALF Furry character.
In 2002, MTV became the next link in the chain of Furry defamation, airing a contrived pseudo-documentary called Plushies And Furries, created exclusively for shock value.
In 2002, the next show to ride the train of Furry sensationalism was The Drew Carey Show, which was most likely inspired by the Vanity Fair article. Though being as misleading as other such portrayals, Furry Fans don't hate this one like they do the others, as it is not unkind or condemning.
It demonstrated something odd - that society actually warmed to the fantasy that had been projected on the fandom. It was being romanticized and found attractive. The result being a huge serge of people flocking to join the fandom in search of this fantasy.
The fandom, of course, was never capable of supplying that fantasy. But many who came found that they liked the fandom for what it really was and stayed anyway.
In 2003, the BBC animated The Cunning Little Vixen, employing Geoff Dunbar, who also worked on Paul McCartney's Rupert project.
In 2003, Disney released Brother Bear.
In 2003, Jerry Gallen self-published Org's Odyssey, A Tale Of Post Human Earth, kicking off a trilogy of anthropomorphic novels taking place in a world called Anthropia. This was significant in demonstrating the potential of internet publishing sources for fan based novelists.
In 2003, CSI (Crime Scene Investigations) unleashed its infamous Fur And Loathing episode - the single most devastating misrepresentation of the fandom to be inspired by the attention attracted by the Burned Fur flame war. Following airings, Furry fan clubs have been forced to close at colleges, and at least one fan on 2 The Ranting Gryphon's now defunct message board reported being attacked, uploading pictures of his injuries to prove it.
The CSI episode was one of a number of events during this decade that demonstrated how subcultures could be victimized, due to them not having the same legal protections as religions and ethnic groups. The media was free to foster prejudice against the community for profit, and anyone attacked due to that prejudice did not have protection under hate crime laws. While trolls were free to go about the internet whipping up hatred against any subculture they chose, and incite impressionable young people to violence in a manner that would do the KKK proud. It would take the violent murder of a young girl in the Goth subculture for the courts to finally take notice of this shifting trend in persecution.
Given the level of prejudicial hatred that was whipped up with the CSI episode for backing, it's a miracle no one in our own subculture was killed. Though the toll in emotional trauma, unnecessary anxiety, stifled creativity and broken homes is beyond estimation.
To this day, the producers of CSI have offered no apology, nor have they withdrawn the episode from rotation. And viewers continue to judge their friends, and even members of their own families, by this gratuitously exaggerated work of fiction.
A long series of less significant misleading media portrayals followed, a significant number of them citing the CSI episode for validation of their claims. This would continue through the rest of the decade.
In 2004, a prime time CGI show for adults called Father Of The Pride featured an all Anthropomorphic Animal cast. The show quickly failed for several reasons, one of the more interesting of which seems to have been protest from a parents' group against using Anthropomorphic Animals in a show for adults, effectively telling adult aged fans they weren't allowed to have Anthropomorphic Animals.
In 2004, Disney released Home On The Range.
In 2004, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, included a significant line of dialogue referring to Garfield as "A disgrace to the Furry race," acknowledging that the Anthropomorphic Animals in the cast consider themselves to be members of a social genus called Furry.
In 2004, Lisa Cotton, aka Hollyann, began the web comic Mountain Poutine.
In 2004, I began serializing my own Furry saga for the net. Spectral Shadows had been in the works since the mid 1960's. It tends to include influences that span the full range of the Furry history documented here, written with a seriousness and eye towards adult age readers rarely applied to such things. And though I'm reluctant to praise my own work, I can honestly report that the response from the fandom to Spectral Shadows has been entirely favorable.
In 2005, Dreamworks produced Madagascar.
In 2005, The Pinky Show began on the internet. A flash animation show using talking cats and bunnies to explain politics to adults.
In 2005, Disney released Chicken Little.
In 2005, the anime Ginga Legend Weed began on Japanese television.
In 2005, The Financial Times published an article, officially introducing Furry Fandom to the business world as a new target market.
In 2006, Disney released The Wild.
In 2006, Dreamworks produced Over The Hedge.
In 2006, Anthrocon had grown to such size as to be declared an important asset to the Pittsburg economy. A flood of positive media coverage and an embracing of the fandom by the general public then started to undo all the bad press of the last few years.
In 2007, the trolls of the net were outraged by the prospect of Furries gaining respectability, which would mean they'd lose their favorite kick toy. In protest, they began The YouTube Furry War, which was apparently intended to humiliate Furries to a point they'd never recover from.
All this managed to accomplish was to show the general public the true face of the Furry bashers, who made themselves look so stupid and unattractive that people just wanted them to shut up. By the time the YouTube Furry War breathed its last gasp, it had accomplished exactly what the trolls sought to prevent. It had turned internet sympathies towards the Furries, and Furry bashing had ceased to be considered cool.
The fandom then emerged relieved of the traumas of the past 10 years and settled into just being The Furry Fandom, without any great need to argue about what it was or how it should represent itself. And right away the great snowball began rolling at full speed again, bringing in new Furries by the boatload to what is rapidly becoming one of the most attractive fandoms out there.
In 2008, Dreamworks produced Kung Fu Panda.
In 2008, Disney released Bolt.
In 2008, Jerry Gallen serialized an updated version of Org's Odyssey on the net under the new title Saga Terra Odysseus. Author's description: "Odysseus is the first installment of my Saga Terra series, about a world, Terra, populated by anthropomorphs, where two nations, Asgard and Niflheim, have engaged in several wars across several millenniums, and another war is about to break out upon the islands of Britannia, with a hero, Org Odysseus Otterland, being fated to bring peace to his land."
In 2009, at The Palais De Tokyo in Paris, a Furry art show was held, formally introducing Furry Fandom to the Paris art scene.
In 2009, a stop motion animation film of Fantastic Mr. Fox was released.
In 2009, Disney released The Princess And The Frog.
In 2009, The Tyra Banks Show took one last stab at the dead horse of gaining ratings through Furry sensationalism. But by this point the majority of Furries just didn't care enough to raise the episode to the level of infamy they had granted to earlier attempts. Which hopefully is an indication that the media will be looking for better ways to get its ratings.
In 2010, Andrew O'Hagan wrote The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog. A story told from the perspective of Marilyn Monroe's pet terrier.
But, perhaps more significant still to the subject of this essay, he went on to write an article for The Guardian on the subject of Talking Animals in literature, which is a bit more enthusiastic than this one.
Upon reading it, it seemed to me something like I might have written in the late 70's, before having connected with other Furries, when I still thought myself alone in the interest. Is it possible that, even at this late date, there are still many Furries and potential Furries who don't know about the fandom? Articles like this one would seem to indicate so.
As for the fandom and how it is viewed by the media these days, accurate articles like this one have become the norm, in contrast to the derogatory fantasies that were common in the media in the early 2000's.
That brings us up to date, and to the part of the document where I'm supposed to write some kind of summery or draw some kind of conclusion about all this.
In a sense, it seems pretentious to be so over analytical about something so simple that has been a fixture of human culture since forever. Humans will be humans, and it's only human to love animals. We adore them for their cuteness and the things they indirectly teach us about ourselves. Why then should it be any kind of surprise that the long history of human culture is littered with animal art and stories, or that you should learn a large segment of the human population are fans of such things?
The fans themselves only over analyze it because outsiders insist on seeing something sinister or depraved in it, and therefore Furry fans have to be able to explain themselves. Otherwise it's just an interest or hobby like any other - only really interesting to those who share it. But as long as we've come this far, I'll try to explain what I see in all this.
One thing I have learned from researching this material is how big the misconceptions are in regard to just who constitutes The Furry Fandom. With only a handful of exceptions, just about every Disney animated feature made the list. While the number of comic strips and comic books these characters have starred in through the decades is beyond counting. Which reveals to me a picture of millions of people all over the world of all ages enjoying this material, honoring it with awards and recognition for its artistic merit.And all of these people who enjoy this material being justified in calling themselves Furries, if they choose to do so.
Another thing I've seen are the similarities that so many detractors of the fandom refuse to look at, insisting that the name something is called makes all the difference, as if Furry couldn't have existed before the late 70's, because we hadn't started calling it by that name yet. As if the fans who gathered under that name hadn't already been fans, probably for the length of their entire lives, some of them at that time being old enough to have enjoyed the interest since the 40's, regardless of what it was called, or if it was called anything at all.
Was Felix Salten what we would today call a Furry? Absolutely. Walt Disney? No doubt about it. C. S. Lewis? It would appear so. These were the people of their times who caught the enthusiasm for Anthropomorphic Animals and worked their tails off on risky ventures when they could easily have found more secure types of work to create. But they had the passion for that type of character, just as every artist in the modern fandom does.
But, were they the only ones? Or are they just the ones we commonly know about because they hit it big? It seems inconceivable to me that, back in the 40's, when Funny Animals were at their highest peak in history, that there wouldn't have been a huge fandom of young people, drawing their fingers off, trying to learn that craft, either for fun, or in some hope of having a future in that art form.
The links that tie the current day fandom to the relative fandoms of old are obscured by time, but you can see in the history a thread passed from generation to generation, artists inspiring other artists to try new things with the idea, causing it to snowball through the years, until it finally got so big that it demanded notice and recognition as a specific idea in the arts.
This stuff has been selling since the 1800's to children and adults alike. That in itself is evidence of an unacknowledged fandom existing, and waiting ever impatiently to see where the idea would go next. The only change that occurred at the point where the fandom is commonly claimed to have started was the advent of the internet, allowing the fans who had long existed to finally have means of communication.
If I were to put a video here of an artist drawing a Furry character with no commentary, you wouldn't be able to tell if it was a Disney animator, a comic book creator or a Furry artist drawing it. All practice the same skill, and all would look perfectly identical. Only society seeks to make some distinction for the sake of some useless prejudice, which has no basis in fact.
Furry, like cartoons and art in general, does not create society. It is a product of society, a reflection of it, something that grew up with us as we matured as a society down through the ages. So, if you see something different in the Furry art of today and the Furry art of yesteryear, you will find the reason for that in society itself. It's not an indication that the art form has changed, or that the artists themselves are any different. It's that the human condition that Furry characters reflect has changed in some pretty drastic ways—not all of them positive.
In times when human society was innocent, Furry was also very innocent. In times when society went through periods of relaxed morality, Furry became risqué to whatever extent society demanded. In times of war Furry became patriotic. In times of excess Furry reflected our prosperity. In times of poverty, Furry sought to sustain us. And in times of intolerance, Furry sought to enlighten us.
Even during those recent years when the fandom was under constant attack and at odds with itself, it was showing us an allegory of the world at that time, which was wrestling with some pretty serious changes that a lot of people did not want to accept—teaching us lessons we should apply today when society encourages us to expend unreasoning hatred on groups of people we know hardly anything about, other than media sensationalism.
We are at a point these days where anything can be done, and the things in greatest demand are the things that push the envelope. And Furry, as always, is right there with society, helping to break down the walls of restraint. And whatever the next generation demands, Furry will be right there, reflecting back who they are, for better or worse.
Through time and memorial Furry has and will continue to show us who we are through the thoughts and visions of those we can never be—those Furry characters who so easily become our conscience, heart, inspiration and sense of humor.
All this portends an artistic idea of extreme relevance, as worthy of respect and adoration as any other field of the arts. It suggests that when one says one is proud to be a Furry, one has a heck of a lot to take pride in. Especially if one has created something worthy of taking a place in this prestigious history.
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