Where Is the Fandom Going?
What are some of the problems that you feel need to be addressed regarding the fandom and how do you feel we can solve them?
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That is a huge question that is a bit too large for this column (and will be discussed in my book), but I will try and give the Reader's Digest version....
Essentially, the fandom is experiencing growing pains. When this whole phenomenon started back in the 1970s and 1980s, the fandom comprised a small group of sci-fi/fantasy fans who shared a love of anthros in fiction. Pretty much everyone knew everyone else in this small group, and the APA magazines they produced were a testimony to the exclusiveness of that club (e.g., you only got a copy of Vootie or Rowrbrazzle if you were a contributor to them). In the online world, IRC chat rooms were in their infancy and social media like Facebook were decades away, so there wasn't nearly the amount of online interaction that we see today.
Fast forward a couple decades, and you now have a fandom comprised of over 100,000 furries all over the world. There are dozens of furcons and hundreds of furmeets and parties all over the globe. The fandom membership is diversifying as well. The days of furries being mostly males in their early twenties is changing into a population including a far wider spread of young and old (ages 10 to 80), more women, and a more politically diverse spectrum.
The result is increasing chaos in the fandom, increasing drama, and increasing problems. I don't know about Europe and other places outside the US, but in America, we have seen the encroachment of political divisiveness into the fandom, which has given rise to such ugly things as Nazi Furs. The failure of American society to raise responsible children and adults has also resulted in self-entitled, downright stupid behavior of furries at conventions, and the result of that has been, as we have seen, the closure of several furcons (Rainfurrest, Califur, Rocky Mountain Furcon). And the phenomenon of an exploding Internet and its social media has seen an offensive rise in trolling, hacking, and bullying among furries in online communities.
Today we are witnessing what happens with uncontrolled and unregulated growth. Just like a city experiencing exploding growth without any urban planning, the result is the creation of an unpleasant, congested, dirty, and sometimes even dangerous environment. And just like a large, metropolitan city, there will be areas that a nicely maintained and prosperous and others that are like venturing into an impoverished ghetto at 2 a.m. in the morning. Often, those who loudly announce they are "leaving the fandom" are the ones who have spent too much time in the ghettoes, while some furries avoid chancing upon the seedier parts of the fandom entirely by being furry without participating in any events or online communities at all.
Furries--to gently and cautiously step into broad generalizations--tend to be anti-establishment, rebellious, and resistant to structure and authority. A couple of years ago, I experimented with the idea of creating a national furry association that would provide some structure to the fandom. The idea was widely dismissed and resisted by the community as an unwanted venture, so I dropped it as a bad idea. Furries don't want structure, rules, or laws. In this way, they rather resemble the hippie culture of the 1960s, which is an observation my late husband once made.
To answer your question as succinctly as possible, the problems we are facing in the fandom stem from there being so many furries now, for the fact that "what is furry?" is very loosely defined, and for the fact that when you have these two things combined what you are going to get is subcultures springing up within the subculture. This results in conflict between the various sub-subcultures. This is nothing new in the fandom. You can find discord going back all the way to the arguments that were occurring in the early days of Rowrbrazzle's administration and then, later, with the Frozen v. Burned Furs arguing about porn in the furry arts, and then the movement to reject Bronies from the fandom as "not real furries." Other subcultures within the subculture include Therians, Otherkin, Alt-Furries and the Fur Right. There has always been drama in the fandom, of course, and furries tend to overemphasize it because they are part of a culture that already feels alienated and rejected. The irony here, of course, is that many furries flee to the fandom in an attempt to socially bond with like-minded people only to then create new divisions within the community and once again alienate each other.
What is the solution? There is no solution, only evolution. What you will likely see is, as the fandom continues to grow, the sub-subcultures will break apart from one another in a fashion similar to what you see happening in the LGBTQ community (e.g., within the gay community you see subgroups of bears, twinks, daddies, leathermen, femmes, and so on and so on that prefer to associate within their smaller groups more than with the LGBTQ community as a whole.) Likewise, you may one day see conventions devoted to, say, just fursuiters or just Otherkin or artists or writers or or gaming furries. Actually, I predict that furcons will start declining somewhat, and we will see more things like weekend-long furry parties, large furmeets organized around parades or parks, and mini-cons that will be tailored to specialized furry groups.
The furry fandom isn't what it once was, and in the future it won't be the same as it is today.
11/29/2018 05:23:11 am
While change is an inevitability within the fandom, I believe that furry conventions have their place in this day and age. Despite furries talking online, it's usually a chance for them to actually be able to interact with one another in-person once or twice a year.
11/29/2018 10:06:13 am
Oh, I agree. I didn't mean to say furcons would disappear. Just as you said, they will evolve.
1/6/2020 04:17:38 pm
Coming back to this post a few years later, it is still holding true. This post inspired me at least a year ago to look into making a video about the growing pains of the furry fandom. While The Furry Book still appears to be far on the horizon, It's something I want to talk about now. I have a lot of beliefs of what might be symptoms of this. As you mention the increase in polarizing groups in the fandom, but specifically with the "furry ghettos", I think that may be a reason why some people have left the community after having such a shift in how they percieve them fandom. I think it is possible figures such as Kurrel The Raven, and more recently Kothorix may have sort of lingered too far into the furry ghettos, and had their perception of furry tainted. I'm sure there are others, but these two come to mind,
1/6/2020 04:26:57 pm
Believe it or not, I'm still working on the book. Too many personal setbacks. Most recently, my mom died, and then last month I broke my ankle. I'm sorry for the delay.
1/6/2020 08:03:45 pm
I know you are, and I am still really excited! (Wondering if I'll still get that mention actually). Furry Nations was a good read, but personally a little underwhelming. My condolences for your mother as well. The delay doesn't bother me at all, I suppose as long as it's a when and not an if.
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