Public Perceptions of Costumers, Cosplayers & Furries: Who’s Responsible?

All #costumers, #cosplayers & #furries share one common responsibility: public perception. That public perception applies to the fandom(s) being represented by costumers, cosplayers & furries; the perceived reason(s) why costumers, cosplayers & furries dress up in #costumes; and (most importantly) the types of activities that costumers, cosplayers & furries engage in while in costume.

Any time that costumers, cosplayers or furries are in costume in a public space, members of the general public who are not costumers, cosplayers or furries themselves will also be present and they will be able to observe what the costumers, cosplayers or furries are doing while they are in costume. A public space could be a public park, a city street, a convention center, a hotel lobby, etc.

Who are the members of the general public? They are, in all likelihood, a combination of adults and underaged children. Also, members of the general public are going to be a cross-section of society itself, which includes a myriad of beliefs, as well as a myriad of ethical, moral and political points of view.

While there will always be a wide variances in the points of view that different people have, there are also going to be some points of view that are probably going to be commonly held by most people when they pertain to intimate behaviors between people who are in a public space and how acceptable those intimate behaviors are.

  • Some types of intimate behaviors that are likely going to be regarded by most people as being acceptable while in a public space include a couple holding hands; family members or friends hugging each other; someone kissing another on the cheek; a brief kiss on the lips between adults; etc.
  • Some types of intimate behaviors that are more likely going to be regarded by most people as being unacceptable while in a public space include very long passionate kisses on the lips; physical contact that is more than a simply embracing or hugging; touching parts of the body that are never shown while in a public space; etc. At this level, these types of intimate behaviors can cross over to being regarded as sexual; and anything construed to being a sexual activity or imitating a sexual activity while in a public space is probably not going to be an acceptable behavior.

Let’s ask a question: what may happen if people (the ‘participants) are observed by others (the ‘observers’) while they are actively participating in unacceptable intimate or sexual behaviors while in a public space?

Obviously, many (if not most) of the observers are going to quickly develop a very poor opinion of the participants. But it doesn’t end there: if the participants are identified as being part of a specific group, there’s a good chance that many of the observers are also going to associate other members of that same group with that behavior, then apply the same poor opinion to other group members even though they weren’t involved. It also won’t necessarily matter if the group as a whole doesn’t condone that type of unacceptable public behavior: they’ll still bear the burden of that low opinion caused by the actions of a few.

Now, let’s take this up a notch. We live in a very interconnected society thanks to the Internet and smart phones that include cameras capable of taking both pictures and videos. If an observer takes out his or her smart phone and takes pictures or or video of the participants as they are actively engaged in an unacceptable public behavior, then that observer shares those pictures or video on the Internet, what’s going to happen? Within a matter of seconds the total number of observers will increase from a handful of people to potentially millions of people.

As we have discussed in past posts, some costumers & cosplayers are members of costume clubs; and many costume clubs have written charters that include codes of conduct that define specific types of behaviors that are not acceptable for costume club members to engage in while in costume or otherwise representing the club. Why? To maintain a positive public perception of the costume club and its members. Members who engage in an activity that violates the costume club’s code of conduct face potential punishment that could include suspension from the club or even banishment.

Similarly, many businesses and corporations require their employees to take annual training in order to prevent the employees from engaging in behavior that could potentially cause a negative public perception of the company,  which could undermine the company’s bottom line: it’s ability to conduct business and make money. If an employee violates a company’s policies, he or she may be suspended, be put on probation or possibly be terminated.

So, who then bears the responsibility of public perception in the costuming, cosplay & furry communities? We all do!!!

Are there any examples of what could go wrong when one or more costumers, cosplayers or furries engages in unacceptable behaviors while in a public space? Unfortunately, yes; and the most recent occurrence that we are aware occurred at “Furry Weekend Atlanta” (FWA) two weeks ago. Ironically, our previous post was about the dance contest that occurred at FWA.

2 weeks ago, 2 individuals (presumably men) dressed as human pups (by wearing what is typically viewed as being fetish attire) started to play with each other as puppies in the hotel lobby where FWA was occurring. The 2 individuals wrestled with each other and then one got on top of the other and remained there for roughly 30 seconds, which gave the appearance that some sexual stimulation was occurring in that position. As these 2 individuals were engaged in this actively, other furries were walking by, as well as members of the general public. Then, one of the FWA attendees who was on a balcony overlooking the lobby took video of the 2 individuals and did what? Posted an edited video emphasizing the 30-second period when one of them was on top of the other onto their personal Twitter feed. The backlash was immediate and includes an unflattering article in a well-known British publication.

We learned about this incident from the World of Rooview YouTube channel:

One very important distinction that Roo points out is the difference between fursuiting and the adult activity known as “pup play”:

  • Fursuiting is the creation of anthropomorphic characters through costuming. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities, including animals and animal characters.
  • “Pup play” is an adult activity in which one or more humans behave like a puppy. It is a type of zoomorphism, which is the attribution of animal behaviors and characteristics to humans (or other things). Thus, it is the opposite of anthropomorphism.

While the 2 “pup play” participants that were publicly wrestling with each other in the hotel lobby were not wearing fursuits at the time they were filmed, there is a presumption that they were also FWA attendees because they were wearing fetish pup play attire. Whether or not they were actually FWA attendees, they’re costumes associated them with FWA, other furries in attendance and the broader furry community at large. Had these 2 individuals only engaged in this activity in a more private location (such as their hotel room or some other site away from FWA) then this would not have become an issue. Also, had the person who filmed their questionable public activity taken their concerns to an FWA representative instead of posting it online for millions of people to see, then this would not now be associating FWA or the furry community as a whole due to the actions of only 2 participants.

Our request here is simple: if you are in costume in a public space, please do not engage in behavior that could be deemed as sexual, imitating sexual activity or be otherwise interpreted as being inappropriate or unacceptable in a public setting. Because if you do, it can reflect poorly on everyone in the hobby.

References:

Advertisements

Fursuiters Do Something that No Other Cosplayers Do: Dance Contests

What you won’t see at a typical comic or anime convention you will see at a #furry convention: a dance contest! These #fursuiters (or #furries) not only put a lot of effort into their #fursuits, but their dance moves while wearing their fursuits as well.

Here’s a furry dance competition that occurred this past weekend at Furry Weekend Atlanta (or #FWA) and was filmed by Fursuiter Blazzer:

Regardless of what type of #cosplay you enjoy, it’s ultimately about having fun.

References:

Pros & Cons of Owning, Wearing & Making Fursuits

#Fursuiter Pocari Roo shared a video on #YouTube discussing the pros & cons of owning & wearing a #fursuit. We highly recommend this video for anyone thinking about getting into #fursuiting.

Fursuiter Avedis_2000 shared a video of the pros & cons of making your own fursuit. Again, we highly recommend this video for anyone thinking about making your own fursuit:

References

What is Fursuiting?

Of the various forms of #costuming & #cosplay, one of the forms that has a very vibrant & creative community are the #furries. Furries (or #fursuiters) are people who dress up as anthropomorphic animal characters, usually ones that they have created themselves and that may be a combination of 2 or more types of animals put together. The characters may appear like very realistic animals, but they are often very colorful and cartoonish in appearance, which makes sense because many fursuiters take inspiration from anthropomorphic animal characters from cartoons and animes.

Furries typically congregate at furry-themed conventions, though some may attend more generalized comic or anime conventions. They also have their groups and clubs where they like to get together. Their main method of communication is the Internet, with sites like Fur Affinity and many others.

Unfortunately, some cosplayers & costumers who aren’t furries don’t have positive opinions of furries; but in our opinion, these views are not justified because furries are technically no different from any other cosplayers & costumers: they design, create and wear costumes for both having fun and for charity work.

The biggest differences between furries and other costumes & cosplayers is that furries tend to emphasize the design of their own characters (as well as what furries call a “fursona”, which is the furry equivalent to a persona), while most costumers and cosplayers typically wear a costume that represents an existing character from a specific sci-fi, fantasy, superhero/super-villain, etc., franchise (or is a custom costume based on existing characters). Also, the vast majority of costumes worn by non-furry costumers & cosplayers aren’t based on a furry character. Exceptions include (but are not limited to) Chewbacca (from Star Wars), wampas (also from Star Wars), Rocket Raccoon (from Guardians of the Galaxy), etc. All of these mentioned characters are anthropomorphic characters.

If costumers & cosplayers (who don’t consider themselves to be furries) can wear furry-based costumes, so can furries. Thus, furries are just as much a part of the overall costuming & cosplay community as any other costumers & cosplayers and should always be treated as such.

If you want to know more about furries, we highly recommend viewing this student-made documentary about furries that was created for a film class in 2016. Check out the reasons that many people become furries and you’ll hear reasons that are essentially identical to why people become non-furry cosplayers & costumers.

References:

More on the Cancellation of the 2017 Rocky Mountain Fur Con

After posting on April 16, 2017 about the cancellation of the 2017 #RockyMountainFurCon (#RMFC), we viewed several YouTube videos on the subject from varying points of view. After going through each of them, we found that one posted by a furry named Roo on his YouTube channel called Rooview provided the most complete & unbiased description of not only the cancellation of RMFC, but also the complex chain of events from multiple directions that lead to its demise.

While the video is over 35 minutes in length, we highly recommend viewing it in its entirety for anyone who wants a much more complete understanding of what lead to the cancellation of RMFC. The thing to remember here is that what lead to the demise of this particular convention could occur at any convention; the type of drama and conflict that destroyed RMFC is not limited to the furry community as we’ve seen similar levels of conflict & drama destroy #costuming & #cosplay groups well outside the furry community. Some of which lead to the destruction of entire #CostumeClub chapters and even one costume club altogether.

Unresolved drama and conflict that is allowed to exponentially spiral out of control is a recipe for disaster in any situation; but when conflicting parties are willing to calmly discuss their differences and be open to accepting compromises, disaster can usually be averted. Sadly, RMFC is an example of the former, not the latter; combined with (in our opinion) poor convention management that:

  1. Failed to adequately address concerns with the furry group named “Furry Raiders” and its founder Foxler Nightfire, who wears a Nazi-like armband as part of his furry costume.
  2. Failed to extricate itself completely from the convicted felon (Kendal Emery, a.k.a. Kahuki,) who had originally founded the convention 10 years earlier and who had been removed from leading it in 2008.
  3. Lost its non-profit status several years earlier,
  4. Allowed Kahuki to send a “cease and desist” letter that cited non-existent laws as a way to intimidate and threaten an individual in another state (Deo) with loss of property, among other things, including being consistent with the anti-government “Sovereign Citizens” movement.

In response, Deo shared the threatening “cease and desist” letter publicly on April 10, 2017, which is what prompted the RMFC management to cancel the convention. The “cease and desist” letter (in our opinion) served only to damage the credibility of the RMFC management because:

  1. If they didn’t know the letter was sent, then there was a complete breakdown in internal communication.
  2. Or, if they did know about the letter, then they should have prevented it from being sent in the first place given that it cited non-existent laws and was highly threatening.

As we said in our original post on April 16, 2017:

Please leave your personal beliefs and politics out of costuming & cosplay. When it comes to symbolism used in custom costumes, using highly controversial and potentially upsetting political or religious symbolism or something that closely resembles it in a costume is really not a good idea. This is why costume clubs don’t permit politics & religion in their groups. It only leads to problems.

Referenced Articles & Videos:

 

2017 Rocky Mountain Fur Con Canceled

The 2017 #RockyMountainFurCon has been canceled. The #RMFC board of directors that was organizing the 10th annual event posted a statement this past Monday (April 10, 2017), which we have quoted below:

“The furry community and Rocky Mountain Fur Con have always strived to be a place of inclusion; a place where furs from all walks of life, differing religious, political, social and personal views can come together to celebrate the thing that we have in common, the love of our fandom.

Recently, members of our community have taken it upon themselves to bring in external influences of hate, intolerance, and stubborn refusal to compromise. This movement has grown into a community that promotes violence, and it is because of that, it is with deep regret that I make the following announcement:

Last month, we were faced with a sudden and drastic increase in security costs amounting to more than a third of our entire existing operating budget. This cost increase stemmed directly from the very public threats of violence against one another by members of this community,  as well as the negative backlash from misinformation spread about the convention, its staff and attendees. Therefore, Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017 is officially canceled.”

Sadly, the statement is the only part of the fur con’s website that remains.

While the fur con chairman did not directly mention the group being blamed for this in the cancellation statement, Rolling Stone listed that the source: a group within the furry community calling itself the “Furry Raiders”, which Rolling Stone described as “an outlier group within the anthropomorphic subculture” and whose founder (shown below in his “Foxler Nightfire” furry persona) has chosen to wear a red armband with a black paw print over a white circle.

furries-denver-conference-canceled-19c73c80-7108-4967-927d-05933bd57193

The armband bears a very strong resemblance to those worn by members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (otherwise known as Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or the Nazi Party for short) that was founded by Adolf Hitler and operated in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Various Nazi uniforms included a red armband with the infamous black swastika symbol over a white circle, as illustrated in these Nazi-era uniforms that are located in the Imperial War Museum in London:

german5

While Foxler Nightfire denies any connection between his armband and those worn by members of the Nazi Party (and also worn by many Neo-Nazis today), the only difference between his and actual Nazi armband was his replacement of a black paw print in place of the swastika.

Also according to the Rolling Stone article and one posted by Dogpatch Press, the “Furry Raiders” were being characterized by various online forums as a “neo-nazi cult-like group”. Also, Vice had posted an article earlier in 2017 that members of Colorado’s furry community were fighting neo-Nazis.

Then, while responding to a friend on Twitter, a furry in another state named Deo (who had never attended RMFC) tweeted that neo-Nazis should be punched. According to Deo, this had nothing to do with what was occurring in Colorado or with the “Furry Raiders”, but a member of the “Furry Raiders” read Deo’s tweet and responded by not only threatening to shoot Deo, but appeared to be threatening to bring a gun to the 2017 Rocky Mountain Fur Con itself.

Here’s where things get bad. After Deo reported the threat to Twitter, Twitter deleted the Twitter account belonging to the member of the “Furry Raiders”. She also contacted the RMFC, which we will describe by quoting directly from Rolling Stone:

“In January, Deo reached out to the RMFC board via Twitter and sent an email to their security team to report the threats, she tells Rolling Stone through Twitter. There was no response until April 3rd when she received a letter from Kendal Emery aka Kahuki, a board member of MAAAC and RMFC, who personally sent a cease and desist letter to Deo’s house.”

And who is Kahuki? He’s the original founder and former chairman of the board of directors of the Rocky Mountain Fur Con. But why isn’t he still the RMFC chairman? Apparently, he was removed from the position in 2008 after it was revealed that Kahuki (a.k.a., Kendal Emery) has a felony conviction in 1993 of Criminal Sexual Contact with a Minor. As for the letter that Kahuki sent to Deo, he attempted to make it appear to have been written by an attorney by listing a non-existent law, use of incorrectly spelled Latin and threats against her home. It also contained “dog-whistle” language and a red finger print indicative of a government-known racist group known as “Sovereign Citizens”.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, members of “Sovereign Citizens” believe they “get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore”, are “rooted in racism and anti-Semitism,” and do “acts of deadly violence”.

In response, Deo not only contacted police in her home state and a Colorado attorney, she went public with the letter on April 10, 2017. This is the day that the RMFC board of directors learned about the letter and chose to cancel the event.

Folks, we can only say this: please leave your personal beliefs and politics out of costuming & cosplay. When it comes to symbolism used in custom costumes, using highly controversial and potentially upsetting political or religious symbolism or something that closely resembles it in a costume is really not a good idea. This is why costume clubs don’t permit politics & religion in their groups. It only leads to problems.

As for what lead to the cancellation of Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017, you will have to use your own judgement as to who to believe in this complicated situation. Regardless of who is believed, several thousand furries have lost a convention, which is highly unfortunate as it’s not the only furry convention to disappear recently. This is what happens when the negative acts of a few destroy something for the many. As we’ve posted before, there are no winners when it comes to cosplay drama.

Costuming Community Drama

Referenced Articles: