The Fuzzy Frenzy
A few weeks back I was driving back home and listening to the local radio when something interesting came up (which if you knew me, you would know I don’t listen to radio stations very often anymore, instead opting to use an FM transmitter). The radio hosts were discussing the 2014 Chlorine attack at MidWest Furfest and played an audio segment from Uncle Kage’s interview with a reporter. Why they were discussing the attack over 2 1/2 years later, I admit I’m not sure, but it made me think. In what other ways has the furry fandom been brought into the public view?
The first major incidents of the furry fandom showing up in the media goes back to the 1990s. There was the above segment by the SyFy channel covering Confurence, the first organized furry convention. The furry fandom was not covered by the media very often in the 1990s since the fandom was still widly unknown. FurAffinity wasn’t created until 2005, although FurryMUCK was popular at the time. Furry conventions were just starting to pop up, the first being Confurence. Anthrocon didn’t start until 1997, in which it was just a small convention held in Albany, NY.
Some notable media coverage of the fandom in the 90s includes the Creature Comforts article in Marie Claire, an article about furries in Silicon Valley by Metro, and this NPR segment of “Beyond Computers” covering Further Confusion:
Ever since the 2000s, the media coverage on the furry fandom has taken off immensely. Although it has had a very rough start.
The 2000s era is primarily known for the multitude of negative media coverage of the furry fandom. While a lot of furs openly regard this coverage with hostility, it is still important to mention. A lot of the negativity and misconceptions that surround the fandom to this day have spawned from this media. There was the dreaded MTV Sex2k episode “Furries and Plushies” (WARNING: NSFW), the Vanity Fair article “Pleasures of the fur”, an episode of Entourage titled “The Day F**ers” (NSFW language), the 1000 ways to die episode “Em-Bare-Assed“, and of course, the nefarious CSI episode “Fur and Loathing”. On the bright side, this did lead to a rather humorous moment when Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1) learned what the CSI definition of furries was:
The 2000s weren’t all bad for the fandom however. There have also been some uplifting moments as well such as the Beauty and the Beast episode of Culture Shock, an article entitled “Super Furry Animals” by Sugar Magazine (Page 1, Page 2, Page 3), “Bringing out the animal in you” by Stuff news, and the notable “Who are the furries?” article by BBC news. Unfortunately though, the overall public outlook in the 2000s was rather negative.
However, in recent years the public opinion on furries has changed quite a bit.
There has been A LOT of press coverage about the fandom recently, far too much to include everything here. The good part? The majority tends to be positive. There have even been a couple documentaries published recently on the furry fandom including the infamous “Furries – An Inside Look” and the more controversial “Fursonas”
Furries have also made it back onto prime time television, like this appearance on TruTV’s Hardcore Pawn:
Furries have even started showing up in commercials and marketing, notably the Orangina commercials (Caution: May be NSFW) which were even picked up by BuzzFeed, there was a campaign done by Jägermeister featuring anthropomorphic animal characters, a wine commercial (NSFW) by Slo Down Wines mentioning furries, a furry Subway commercial, this Pure Storage commerical involving fursuiters, and more.
The 2014 Chlorine attack (as mentioned prior) brought quite a lot of attention to the furry fandom. News stations around the country spoke about it for weeks afterwards, including some big names such as Yahoo, The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, USA Today, DailyMail, and many others. Word of the attack spread around social media, gathering over 11,000 upvotes on Reddit, meanwhile the hilarious video (shown below) of Mika Brezinski of MSNBC learning about furries gathered over 22,000 upvotes and went viral. The attack also prompted HuffPost to publish an article titled “Furries Set The Record Straight: There’s Nothing To Be Afraid Of“, and BuzzFeed to publish an article titled “Furries Say They Aren’t A Fetish, They’re A Community, And They’re Ready To Be Taken Seriously“.
Negative press in the modern day isn’t as bad as the 2000s were. However, there was still some notable moments to be aware of, such as the Howard Stern interview, Nat Geo’s Taboo: Secret Lives, a furry episode of My Strange Addiction, and Storage Wars:Texas (Warning: It’s obviously falsified and extremely cringey).
There was also a neutral episode of Dr Phil (focusing more on the girl’s lazy behavior) and a harsher interview with Boomer, whom had many articles published about when he tried to change his name, plus a rather neutral I Hate Everything video on furries that gathered a couple million views, as well as a much darker video by Internet Historian on The Failure of Rainfurrest that was trending on YouTube for a short while gathering over million views.
Nowadays, it’s a relief to see that the furry fandom are starting to be covered in a more positive light, and it’s clear the public attitude towards furries is changing. An article by HuffPost talked about how Syrian refugees were placed into the same hotel as VancouFur, going into detail about how they were able to cheer up the refugee children. The Canadian CBC posted an article saying “Researcher says furries, people who dress like animals, offer important support system”. The Guardian wrote how “It’s not about sex, it’s about identity: why furries are unique among fan cultures“. Silicon Valley Business Journal wrote an article entitled “Furcon, Silicon Valley’s last, best hope at weird, comes to town”,
It’s hard to speculate on what the future will look like when it comes to the furry fandom in the media. If the mentality continues to change to that of a more positive one, it’s not hard to believe that the fandom will keep popping up more and more often. Recent movies like Zootopia, Rock Dog, and Sing continually bring the fandom into the limelight. Meanwhile the dark press brought on by the early 2000s still haunts the furry fandom, although it seems that more recent positive coverage is finally beginning to fade away the blemish it created on the fandom.
Please note: There are have been news articles regarding Anthrocon in Pittsburg every year since 2006, mostly positive. I choose to omit including them for the sake of being too redundant. This is not a complete collection of every occurrence of the furry fandom in the media.
I found the radio segment I heard:
“Timeline of Media Coverage.” Timeline of Media Coverage – WikiFur, the Furry Encyclopedia, en.wikifur.com/wiki/Timeline_of_media_coverage
“Mainstream Advertising: ‘More and More, Furries Are Being Hinted at in Marketing Media!’” Dogpatch Press, 19 Jan. 2016, dogpatch.press/2015/03/02/advertising-furries/