Fursonas ★★★½

The furry fandom is something that has endlessly fascinated me, as someone who has a pretty keen interest in abnormal psychology (not an expert, mind you, but maybe some day), in seeing how an interest like this develops with a person into something as physical as furries who dress up in fursuits and the mindset that must be circling through to make this a natural part of your life (it should be noted that fursuiters are only a facet of the vague descriptor that is being furry). Probably helping that are two friends of mine, one of whom is an open furry and one who has...well, a troubled history with the seedier aspects. I've learned some shit that most normal people never should from these fine chaps (Furs For Christ, RainFurrest 2015, Stalag '99, do me a favor and don't google these), and Fursonas is thankfully more of an introduction to the concept that eases us into the negative side of the fandom with grace.

For the first half of the documentary we are greeted with a couple members of the fandom, most of whom we know only through their fursonas' names for the sake of preserving anonymity to most and to highlight the side the public will inevitably attach to their realities as a sort of cover for who they are (each main interviewee, incidentally, receives a special title card that also serves as a visual reminder of the many styles and talent within furry artists). Most of them live average lives and partake in activities like video games, dancing, or smoking weed (excuse me, ganja) while also fulfilling busy life events like moving to a new state or raising a family, and prove that the furry aspect of their lives isn't something that completely consumes them, but is more of a hobby that they love partaking in, and in these first 40 minutes it's hard not to sympathize or relate to these people.

Then the second half hits, and the cracks within the fandom begin to reveal themselves. The way media perceives furries becomes a focal point that reoccurs as a sort of balance to the level-headed but immensely supportive approach the documentary takes overall. Because of the way media outlets like the news have to find a way to keep people watching, and because everyone loves some good ol' negativity, it's fair that a few of the people interviewed come to the conclusion that the media is a reason why there is such a heavy stigma against them, even if a small subsect of the fandom is factually kinda scummy. Yet, none of that really deserves the scorn that furries have received in this decade (to the point where anti-furries are more cancerous than actual furries), and this becomes most egregious when a couple who appeared on the Tyra Banks show stated that they were furries who have sex in their fursuits, something that brought the internet to its knees and gave something to latch as the poster children for what is wrong with the fandom (at one point a forum poster is quoted in saying (paraphrased) "people who have sex and are furries are worse than actual pedophiles." What is wrong with people). And wouldn't you know it, the producers of Banks' show asked for the couple's story to be embellished, to have as hot a story as possible in order to get people talking and watch more of Banks' show. Manipulative fuckers.

Yet, the media is not the only enemy here, and a more insidious figure with a similar mindset to the media that is scorned is Uncle Kage, AKA Chairman of Anthrocon and regular guest of honor. Scattered throughout the first half with inspirational speeches like an evangelist speaking the word of God, Kage's furry Bible is revealed to be more radical than the goodwill of the fandom should be, clearly experienced with the mindtricks of the media and turning that around like a smug patrician thinking he has gained the upper hand. A key interviewee throughout is Boomer the Dog, a person who's beliefs I disagree with and yet does have some sort of talent in radio transmission to prove there is some worth to the person who believes he's half-dog (again, heavily disagree but that's his thing). Kage shows just as much contempt towards Boomer as the manifestation of the media he so chooses to combat, a hypocrite praised among peers that don't realize how damaging his real-life persona can truly be (it also seems to be heavily implied that alcohol plays a big part in the way he acts, if his belligerent nature in his "winestreams" is something to go on).

I could complain about Fursonas, like how the presentation is plain and some moments seem to ramp up the inspirational music a bit much. The film, at only 80 minutes, seems like it could dive much more into the world of furries and almost feels thin because of it, not to mention a clear bias that even the director admits to having. Still, this pretty much covers everything you could need to know or want (or don't want) to know about the furry fandom and give you that launchboard towards finding out more information on this community should you feel inclined to do so. A thorough, clinical write-up can't do justice on the respectful nature that our initial interviewees exhibit that seems like a decent counterpoint to the arguments against, and the hypocrisy that does work as an argument, but more from something to learn from rather than feel shame. A lot of people know this as the meme film of 2010's that represent these dumb people who dress up in animal costumes, but if you take the time to watch it (again, won't take very long), you might end up rethinking your stance on this culture (or not, it's your choice, just don't be a douchebag about it).

Side-note: Wouldn't have checked this film out if it wasn't for GroudokaHG and his compelling write-up. The man's got skill, and is worth a look. Follow him, like him, ignore him, hey, it's up to you.

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