Furry Writers' Guild Forum

The "Furry" Problem (link)

This has been making the rounds today, and I retweeted the link from the FWG Twitter account, but thought I’d also post it here for those who aren’t on Twitter or Tumblr…

Thoughts? One thing that occurred to me is whether this same sort of stigma affects fiction as much as visual media.

Well, it is pretty common in our community to spend time worrying about whether the fact that characters are animals actually affects the story or not. As a group, we spend a lot of time trying to justify “why” rather than just being okay with “why not?” So, I’d say, yes.

I had heard some years ago that the entertainment industry was uhh…not exactly welcoming of furries.

I feel like if Hollywood would take a chance on just one good, adult-oriented furry movie, a lot of the stigma would disappear. (Ok, by adult-oriented, I don’t mean there needs to be blood, or cursing, or steamy scenes, or any of that, just an artful and thought-provoking feature. Don’t shoot me.) Why? Because money tends to annihilate whatever stands in its way; if producers get it in their heads that this is going to make them rich(er), then just watch the flood of movies that follows. And of course, the media we consume affects how we think.

But then, Hollywood is a bit crap lately, so perhaps this “oil and water don’t mix” situation is better for the time being.

The stigma is more deep-seated than that, of course…but I suspect (emphasis added because I have no data!) that the perception of anthropomorphic animals as fare solely for children does more to impede us than the notion that we’re all perverts.

Though we do have some perverts. I’m not convinced they’re a minority, either, but maybe that’s a “birds of a feather” thing. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, I personally think visual media by its very nature can get away with “why not?” a lot easier than fiction can, so to me that’s kind of apples and oranges. That wasn’t really the point I was going for, though – what I’m wondering about is the situation he’s describing, where he claims mainstream media creators are getting scared away from anthro characters because people associate them with “furry” and therefore the baggage that can come with the fandom. Would it be possible for book or magazine editors, for example, to shy away from work featuring anthro characters because they don’t want readers to associate those works (or their publishers) with the furry fandom?

I’ve always felt like if that’s going to happen, it’s going to have to come out of the fandom itself, because the mass appeal just isn’t going to be there to support it from a major studio. (Maybe if it were based on a graphic novel or something. Maybe.)

I mean, we can’t even get an animated movie (at least an American one) anymore without at least 2 doofy sidekicks inserted for comic relief, in an attempt to pack the theater with the broadest age range possible, so I’m not going to hold my breath on something similar for furry.

the perception of anthropomorphic animals as fare solely for children does more to impede us than the notion that we're all perverts

In a way, I think maybe the two are related. At best, we’re seen as weirdos because we like something that’s seen as being only for children. At worst, we’re seen as perverts for taking something supposedly for children and corrupting it with adult themes and content. shrug Could be wrong, but that just occurred to me.

Your points were valid IMO, but I want to touch on this one in particular.

I think you may well be right about this; if so, I think we can all agree that the only suitable work in the whole of our fandom is Org’s Odyssey.

Or no one would notice.

Rango: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rango_(2011_film)

I don’t know. I mean, if you think about The Wind In The Willows (a classic of furry literature), how much does it really matter that they’re animals? It could probably be redone with humans and actually make more sense. And, yet, wouldn’t that completely destroy it?

Rango was fun, and better than I expected it to be, but I don’t know if I’d call it artful and thought-provoking. :slight_smile:

It probably would destroy it – and that’s why I personally make a distinction between the anthro characters being crucial to the plot and being crucial to the story. This possibly would be an example of the latter. Unfortunately, it seems like everybody takes the “humans in fur coats” criticism as meaning that the furriness has to be central to the plot somehow.

That… was pretty good, now that you mention it, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was adult, but “all ages.”

A solid flick, though, and a step in the right direction. I’m glad you brought it up.

I seem to recall there being some adaptations of The Wind in the Willows with human actors.

It seems to me that the stigma where writing is involved is “but talking-animal books are for kids!” rather than “Ugh, furries!”

Early in my writing career I got several rejections based strictly on the “talking animal” thing. Later it became clear that my writing was of professional quality-- the criticisms from the professional editors all contradicted each other, with some identifying as strengths what others saw as weaknesses and vice-versa, all of it at a level of nitpickiness that bordered on insanity-- but I still wasn’t selling anything anyhow. At that point I began to tumble to the fact that yes, the subject matter was the problem. They just didn’t want to say so.

At first I tried to persuade a friend to start his own publishing house, but that didn’t come out well. Now, with the advent of Kindle and Kindle-like products and furry publishing houses like Sofawolf I can access the masses fairly directly and don’t have to take “no” for an answer from some stick-in-the-mud publisher. I’ve never looked back-- my feeling is that at this point in history the mainstream publishing industry has little or nothing left to offer anyone-- certainly not to me. So I really don’t care what anyone thinks of us anymore except for those I want to sell my work to. While I may still have to overcome an odium with them, well… The Birkenhead books have taught me that SF readers will give us a chance if we offer them something palatable to their tastes as well as our own. The rest is on us.

I was listening last night to a podcast about Kindle publishing and how it’s changing the entire relationship between reader and author. They were singing right of my hymnal! One of the people interviewed was an Amish science fiction author. (True both ways; he’s Amish, and his fiction is SF about Amish people.) One of his books hit top-100 (I forget what rank exactly) and sure enough a mainstream publisher contacted him to offer a $5000 advance if he’d sign a contract. “You don’t understand,” he replied. “I made more than that yesterday.” The podcast mentioned that the “academic” world of literature hasn’t even begun to get a handle on how to deal with the new phenomenon-- for example, though the podcast didn’t mention this I can verify that at least as of a year ago nothing self-published is eligible for much in the way of awards, and the SFWA’s rules (as of a year ago) wouldn’t allow this $5000/day salesmaker to be even counted towards membership as a “real” publication. So, we’re on the cutting, bleeding edge of something very new and exciting here, something that’s going to affect everything right down to things like basic story-structure, and I for one am having the time of my life bunny-hopping all over the heads of those who for all those years felt my “talking animal” stories weren’t good enough or potentially profitable enough to be bothered with. In a few years movies will face the same crossroads when top-quality stuff can be made at home by anyone. I can’t wait to be freed from the tyranny of Hollywood as well!

I tried to make it with non-furry fiction. I found a minefield of charlatans who won’t pay for your work even though they play interested, flooded markets where editors take years to respond to queries, and publishers who think the insipid inanity of insertion fantasy fiction with blank slate characters or poorly-researched thrillers with terrible prose count as high-quality literature.

I came to realize something: furry was the one genre that gave me a chance. Furplanet published me, furry readers read my stuff and critiqued it, and furry writers helped me hone my craft. Furry fiction today is about where Sci-Fi was when people like Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, and Dick started, easy to get into if you’ve got the talent. They became institutions.

Also, I got some reviews on my first published work, Basecraft Cirrostratus, from non-furry readers and although they were squicked by the sex, they liked what I had to offer and thought I was good for an amateur. Cirrostratus was even nominated for a Rainbow Award for LGBT fiction, and although it didn’t win I was a furry author getting the attention of non-furry critics. I know I can do it again.

“Escape from St. Arned” was my last novel to feature explicit sex. I’m focusing on writing high-quality SFF stories that just happen to have furry characters, and I’m trying to become the best author I can be. I’ll be promoting my work by sending it to non-furry reviewers and touting my work as an all-too-rare queer voice in SFF.

The legendary rock band Queen’s late great front man Freddie Mercury once said “Talent will out, my dears.” If you’re good, people will notice you. I’m putting that theory to the ultimate test by writing the best furry fiction I can.

And then there was Rocket Racoon!

Seriously though, there seemed to have been a lot of tension on all sides on whether or not GotG could pull off what many deemed the impossible- make a popular anthro character in a mainstream movie. Non-furs figured it was the plague of the fandom leeching into mainstream, furs worried that as good as Rocket looked, the characterization might screw over the fandom. All seemed to believe that Rocket could easily make or break the movie. Yet IMdB still ranks it at 8.5/10 stars, and Rotten Tomatoes still has it at 91%/95%, Critics to Audiences appropriately. It also held #1 at the Box Office longer than any other Marvel movie, including the Avengers.

Does this mean that Rocket’s the only reason for its huge success? Heck know, and we’d be crazy to believe that (let’s be honest, it’s Groot xp). Yet Rocket definitely didn’t break the movie, and has a whole score of his own fans now thanks to it. Even more, many fans who dared to dive deeper into Rocket’s past weren’t turned away by a planet of anthros, but intrigued by a tragic yet intense storyline.

We all know how much the movie industry likes to latch on to what works and squeeze out everything they can from it. This could be the beginning of a whole new set of movies, games, books, etc. For the first time in a long time, the world might finally listen to the vast majority of us that aren’t the eccentric rather than the loud, screaming minority who has shined such a poor light on us for far too long.

…so this is what happens when I have a cup of coffee after going without for a week… very interesting…

Mainstream, populist media never is at the forefront of any innovation. In terms of literature, most of the canonical Modernist works were never originally published by the then mainstream publishers, so I wouldn’t give a toss about Hollywood not paying any attention to anything with a specific focus on anthros.

It’s interesting that the Rocket Racoon is mentioned, because I remember reading he was originally going to be cut from the film over fears that the audience couldn’t relate to him. It seems to be generally assumed that the public can only empathise with characters similar to the, though Rocket was first very easy to empathise with, wildly popular, and alongside Groot is one of the best characterised heroes in the film (but that’s another topic).

In short, don’t expect Hollywood to pay any attention to anthros until it is a popular precedent proved by some other sector of the industry.

It’ll be an interesting thing to watch play out. I wouldn’t so much say that the subject is the start the spark so much as how to make that spark grow into something that even mainstream can see the beauty we always knew was already there.

It could be argued that a lot of things that were considered ‘too geek to be cool’ are now huge because of geeks of old invading the movie industry, among other thnigs. Especially with the strides Marvel made into it. Think about it. They took what originally started as a throw-away villain way way back in the Tales to Astonish days and evolved him into a not-so-well-known hero and further as a very popular, much beloved character. Seriously think about it. A walking tree that is capable of saying, from what we can understand, a grand total of only four words, and it has an entire fan base.

It’s true that even Marvel will latch onto the idea of “We can make unknown superheros popular and loved!” a whole lot more than “Anthros can actually work in the Mainstream!” However, it does help to pave the way to any other producer, director, etc that anthro characters don’t have to break a popular movie. They can even be beneficial to it. And I’d be willing to bet that somewhere out there someone was on the fence about it, and GotG helped to assure them that it’s not such a bad idea afterall.