Furry reached new heights in 2016. Disney came to our party. There was a low point of a chemical attack on Midwest FurFest that turned into a high quality Vice News story. Notice the title, “CSI Fur Fest” – I’d like to think it was chosen to make up for the other CSI, who did us a disservice. But this time “the media” earned a nomination for a 2016 Ursa Major award.
It was cool that Vice did that story. The media was on our side. That’s the theme of this post.
In 2017, there was the unreal experience of Furry Nazis grabbing the wheel for a minute and making us swerve into no-man’s land. Maybe we’re getting back on track, but don’t relax. Those headlines were rough, but rougher ones are coming.
Look at California, where you might say Furry Fandom really got started. In SoCal, the Skiltaire House is where you can hang out with the founders of the first convention and have a friendly night of fursuiting or watching animation. That’s where Jennifer Yost was known as a mom to others, including her daughter Daydreamer Fox. They went together.
One day in the fall of 2016, Daydreamer went missing. The Skiltaire put out an alert. I shared it and got contact from a reporter. Then Daydreamer was found. It wasn’t a missing person alert any more. The Yost parents and a family friend were dead and two other kids were orphaned.
Two furries were arrested for triple murder.
It was crazy. That isn’t something we do. I legitimately cried.
A lot of furs felt the same way. I put out a statement for them. Scott, the reporter from the OC Register, helped send it up the chain to national news. It was carefully meant to tell what furs were feeling with no gory details, to reduce using them for attention. Some trashy blogs tried and got criticism instead of clicks. I jumped into the comments and the regular public supported me. Scott took my suggestions and quoted people I referred to him. Tips came in and rumors were abated. We turned down subsequent interviews. Out of many sources, Rolling Stone did a surprisingly good job.
There’s a trial soon and the news is going to bring all that attention back.
There will be clickbait from hacks who want traffic. Professionals will try to tell a deep story about regular humans and a hobby they love. Hobbyists and regular people will dig into the topic to figure things out.
2017’s news brought such a regular person to the fandom. Boozy Barrister was looking at legal issues of subcultures. He found the RMFC story right when it came out and put it on his blog. It was like opening a can of tuna for the neighborhood cats. Suddenly he was adopted by the fandom. He’s a face for the theme of this post.
Good writing helps – will there be a story like Vice’s?
With all the attention coming for the trial, furries know it’s a bad story. They know the vultures will circle around, and every vulture can pretend to be a helper. Uncle Kage might tell you to avoid them all. That’s a theme since before furries were on CSI.
That isn’t my theme. I started this blog because so many stories were untold. Regular news doesn’t know how to get it right. So I got into writing about it like others teach themselves to draw or make fursuits. I’m too yappy to stop. Now I get asked for help. So let me tell you who asked about this.
The Atlantic wants to cover the story.
That magazine is one of my inspirations (like writing by Eric Schlosser). They do quality long-form stuff unlike fast news that can be shallow. One way they can set theirs apart is by adding more quality with exclusive info. That means talking to furries who were close to the story.
Sanjiv B. is the writer. He specializes in writing about subculture. I’d like to help Sanjiv. He’s run into a “furry code of silence.”
I think a Code of Silence was part of why RMFC died. It involved the leadership and questionable decisions when things went out of control. Privacy is good, but silence can be harmful.
The family’s privacy is more important than fandom public image, but it’s impossible to deny this is a furry story. It’s as if a crime happened at a company or school and they put that in the headline. I don’t think it would be fair to exclude that aspect.
There are a lot of unanswered questions. Respectful coverage could dispel mystery and judgements to help others.
What Sanjiv is looking for:
“My hope is that this is an opportunity to present the furry world as everyday people, full of complexities and contradictions, and prone sometimes to tragedies like this one. If anything, perhaps some misunderstandings about furry culture can be addressed along the way.
In the end, this is a story about a brutal triple homicide, and that’s my focus. It so happens that the people concerned are longtime furries and the fandom was an important part of their lives, so I do need the help of the community. I want to understand the relationships, the characters involved, what their lives were like and how it seems a few young people in Orange County went down such a very dark road. The goal is to portray everyone concerned as a fully human and understandable, not as a cliche or stereotype. Naturally, I want to speak to anyone who know those involved in any capacity, the closer the better. There has to be something we can learn from this.
How Sanjiv ran into a Code of Silence:
“I’ve been quite angrily rebuffed a couple of times. It’s taken me by surprise how some people have responded. In one case I was told of a good person to talk to, but their first response was to threaten to sue me in all caps! I understand that there is skepticism of the media, and with good reason, but I’m not “the media” as a whole, I’m just a writer in LA, and I feel I’ve been prejudged by people who have already made their minds up – which is something furries complain about all the time I’m sure. It’s a little demoralizing! I’ve no intention of misrepresenting anyone. And I can offer reassurances about quote accuracy, going on/off the record, concealing identities if absolutely necessary etc. I get why some groups have a code of silence, like gangs or cults, but furries though? I thought you guys were friendly!
Honestly, my hope was always to make enough friends in the furry world that we could just hang, you know? I want to be familiar enough with the fandom that I can come to events and it not be a big deal. That’s how I think we can really do this story justice and tell it fairly. It would be easy to write sensationalist rubbish, I could have done it already if that’s what I was here for. I’m not. I’m trying to put in the time and effort to really get to the bottom of this. Surely that’s what furries want journalists to do.
I have until early June to get a proper insight. Any help you can give me is much appreciated.”
If you can help him, please consider it. I think this is a story that deserves to be told right.