Written by Perry Prinz
I don't think it's so much a question of is The Furry Fandom dead, as much as was it ever alive? I came to The Furry Community in the early 2000's looking for a fandom for The Anthropomorphic Arts that was similar in nature to the Japanese Pop Culture Fandom, which is what Anime Fandom actually is. It's not just about Japanese animation. It's also about Pocky, understanding the cultural quirks of Japan, Japanese history, Japanese spirituality, and generally anything that has to do with appreciating the Anime experience.
So, when somebody said there was a Furry Fandom, I figured it would first and foremost be about Furry cartoon and literature characters, but it would probably have a lot of peripheral interests, because Furry, like Anime, has a long history of development that goes back thousands of years; there are historical, religious and philosophical connections. And if one was an Otaku for Furry stuff, one would definitely be into knowing about all that.
I've never, ever found any such thing. I've never seen a proper fan community for The Anthropomorphic Arts that in any way equates to the legitimate fandoms that exist for other things. What I found in the early 2000's was a community of people that was politically divided between fans and lifestylers. The lifestylers were dead set against anything that furthered the interests of fans, and the fans were too busy dealing with politics from inside the community and Fursecution from outside the community to spend much time thinking about being a proper fandom.
And there was something else that you would never see in any other fandom. There was a driving push for acceptance of the idea that being a Furry was something bad, something worthy of the hatred and contempt of the entire world, something your parents would throw you out of the house for. So when I arrived on the scene and started informing people of the long and generally respectable history Furry has, and how it deserves at least as much, if not more, respect than Anime, the hate just rained down on me.
This was not a fandom for The Anthropomorphic Arts. It was some kind of social media pity party for losers. And the last thing the people in charge of it wanted was somebody giving members of the community reasons to feel good about themselves. They wanted every Furry to feel isolated and at odds with the rest of the world. It was, to be honest, a cult.
Over the period of a decade and a half, I and several others worked tirelessly, within the framework of this cult, to drive it in a positive direction. My personal objective was to make Furry Fandom live up to its name, but failing that, my objectives were to emphasize the positive aspects of the cult that already existed. There seemed to be great social potential in a community that emphasized tolerance and acceptance of anyone who couldn't cut it in the world of what was considered "Normal."
So, as far as I was concerned, The Furry Community had failed from the very beginning to give life to the idea of a Furry Fandom. I don't think most people in the community properly know what a fandom is. But all the same, they did give rise to a community that produced such interesting and socially conscious public figures as 2 Gryphon. And though the artists of the fandom produced mostly porn, they elevated porn to a level that could be respectably interesting. And by the time Zootopia was announced, there was so much good stuff going on that was unique to the community that it was well worth being a part of, even if it wasn't a proper fandom for its stated art form.
But with the incredible success of a movie like Zootopia, after having been marketed directly to the Furry Fandom, changes were to be anticipated. One would have expected a drive to make The Furry Community more family friendly, because Disney obviously had visions of building it into a market for anthropomorphic family films. And I expected there would be much resistance to this from the people who are determined to defend the porn and fetishes to the death. Not to mention the people who hate the idea of commercialism. But that conflict, which was to be expected, never materialized. That's because Zootopia was hardly out of the theaters before this Nazi crap hit the mainstream. And over night a decade and a half of work in developing The Furry Community into something we were proud to present to the world went in the toilet and was flushed away.
But this time it was not just the reputation of the fandom that was swept away. This flushing also took the general spirit of tolerance and acceptance that had given the community value, in spite of its failure to form a proper fandom. And what you have left is a community with heartless Communists in just about every position of power, selling ideas of censorship, hatred and fear to a community that, frankly, was never smart enough to understand even what it was supposed to be a fandom for.
Basically The Furry Community is overwhelmingly comprised of innocent, gullible, overgrown children who are far too comfortable letting other people do their thinking for them. And with no voice allowed to be heard in the community, other than the word of Communism, this can't help but turn into a very depressing place.
The Furry Community may continue to exist for some time, but it has lost its soul and become a different entity; an entity in which there can be no place for the old guard, like 2 Gryphon and myself. When we say it's dead, what we're saying is that, as far as we're concerned, it might as well be dead, because the spirit and identity of the community that we found so attractive has been destroyed.
So now you not only can not have a proper fandom for The Anthropomorphic Arts, you now can't even get together to do your own Furry thing without worrying about offending somebody. You can't be freely creative. You don't dare be in any way provocative in a Communist fandom. And, as someone who would probably be considered the ultimate Otaku of The Furry Arts, I can attest that the whole reason for The Furry Arts to exist is to be provocative, to make people think, to show things from a different perspective.
If you take away the purpose of The Furry Arts, you render them truly worthless. And all that will remain will be a rapidly dwindling parade of generic plushie suits at conventions, all having been created from the dictates that will be handed down from the humorless ones who run the show. There won't be any interesting stories to buy. There will not be any comedy what so ever. There will be no innovation in art. There will be no innovation anywhere, because in a Communist environment innovation is the quickest way to get yourself blacklisted.
So that is the long and short of it. The Furry Community turned an initial failure into an astonishing success that, for one shining moment, captured the fascination of the entire world, and then was abruptly shattered by an influx of uninvited political infiltrators who had nothing to do with The Furry Arts or The Furry Community. And I think that the fact that so few people lifted a finger to protest, and in many cases so quickly embraced the changes, puts the lie to how we conceived the community in the past.
On the whole we weren't really all that tolerant and accepting. There have always been those who wanted the power to kick certain people out. And now the community has given them that power. Would we really give power to such people if there was anything here we're actually proud of?
Probably not. Probably we've just been kidding ourselves all these years while we enjoyed the freedom to act like overgrown kids, which we so thoroughly took for granted. But now it's time to grow up. And grown ups do not run around in fursuits acting like there was nothing at all wrong in the world.
That is what's truly dead; not just in Furry Fandom, but all over the world the freedom to be a happy overgrown child is fading fast. And without that precious, misunderstood, undervalued freedom, all fandoms will surely fall.
Please note these are individual statements and not that of the Furry Raiders as a collective.