Coda: A Response to the Response to “The Sound and the Fur(r)y”
I recently upset a few furries with our (renamed) piece “The Sound and the Fur(r)y,” which chronicles both my and Hayley’s experiences at FurCon 2015. And when I say that I upset them, I mean that they threatened to contact my employer with screenshots of some of my more incendiary and (out of context) offensive jokes. This was all to be done in the interest of getting me fired and on the pretext that because I had had the temerity to infiltrate and thereafter write an exaggerated and comedic account of my and Hayley’s experiences at one of their conventions, it was only fair that my employment be subject to attack.
As you may expect, I have a few thoughts on this issue, though I was strangely not as furious and outraged as both you and I might otherwise expect. In truth, I was actually more confused than outraged, and I felt strangely vulnerable and violated by the conflation between my stage presence (I consider BannedCast, apart from my essays, to be a stage) and my professional and private life. Because oh by the way, I don’t exactly make a living at this shit, and I probably never will (though I’ll keep trying). Mawkish and cliche as it may sound, BannedCast and comedy are my platforms to express myself in an unfettered forum free of the restrictions and conventions that polite society, business, and an increasingly politically correct police state impose upon free expression. And by politically correct police state, I don’t mean to say that I’m a radical conservative or closet racist (“why can’t I make racist jokes and say the n-word?”) or even a Libertarian—I’m a lefty leftist of the highest order, but I don’t buy into the nanny politically correct bullshit that aims to regulate any and all expression and speech in the interest of protecting and preserving misguided body politics. But that’s an argument for another time, and perhaps a longer, more in-depth essay that no one will read …
The point is that BannedCast and (mostly open mic) comedy stages are where I can indulge my most incendiary and creative impulses for a mostly small audience of innocent passersby, but that still represents enough of a platform to satisfy the urge, or rather the need to express those ideas and be (occasionally) heard because I believe that I have something valuable or perhaps only entertaining to say. It does no good to keep those thoughts and ideas inside where they only fester and rot like some bloated corpse left slowly distending inside a ramshackle greenhouse. They will out, as they say—the blood, insofar as those ideas are a sort of blood-like life force coursing through my meager attempts to weather the buffets of an often soul-crushing life, will out. And better that they do because they exist to question and to prod insight from out of those cultural memes through which our lives endlessly run.
Cultural memes, those lenses that focus and contort the world around us into agreed-upon conventions that shape our experiences and our understandings of them. And my contention has always been that these memes should be prodded and tested. That is at least the nature of scientific inquiry, and it should also comprise the nature of artistic expression and inquiry into those memes. As a brief aside, that is how I understand Satanism—not as a comical worshiping of a demonical demigod through circus-like rituals but rather as a pointed assault upon the inculcated conventions that comprise those memes and cause the collective retina to become lax, relying upon them as a crutch and an unquestioned security.
In this way, then, do I actually concede some solidarity with the furries who are the subject of this piece—they represent a sort of form-breaking creativity, and they certainly constitute a counter-culture interested only in its own comradery and freedom of victimless expression.
But that should not and does not make them beyond reproach or the scrutiny of an outsider’s pen. If nothing else, my piece and the reaction to it only illustrated an ironic hypocrisy in furry culture: that the very outsiders who collect around their own outsider interests and have undoubtedly been the targets of persecution (from bullies, the media, etc.) will turn hostile and persecutory themselves in response to any joke-making that may be at their occasional expense.
Ultimately, that is all “The Sound and the Fur(r)y” is: an extended, hyperbolic joke that is almost impossible for any discerning reader to take seriously. It’s most definitely not an attack on furries or anyone else if for no other reason than that Hayley and I clearly had a blast at FurCon. Sure, part of the fun was due to infiltrating the festivities and breaking FurCon’s rules, but it was altogether harmless fun nonetheless. And yes, both Hayley and I make some jokes at furries’ expense along the way because oh, by the way, if you are willing to dressing up in furry animal costumes in public, then you had also better be willing to have a few jokes made at your expense, too.
And insofar as a few furries saw in my piece the voice of the douchebag high-fiving jocks who made fun of them in high school, they might try to exhibit a little more self-awareness and consider the fact that they are projecting rather than accurately interpreting the tone of my piece. No one who knows me or listens to me or even sees me would ever mistake me for either a current or former jock. I’m much more of a bookish pussy with a penchant for discussing politics and popular culture than I am the player who scored the most points during last night’s game that I didn’t watch.
The point is that making jokes must always adhere first to one guiding principle: is it funny? Whether or not a joke is funny takes precedence over all else, including myself because I never exempt myself from being the target of a well crafted joke, and I often make jokes at my own expense so long as it remains true to that guiding principle. And with respect to some of our humor, it’s true that we here at BannedCast sometimes go out of our way to get a reaction, but that’s because it’s often imperative to find a way to cut through the noise in order to be heard. Sometimes that requires saying shocking things, loudly, because you believe that what you have to say matters, even though it may be buried beneath the sound and the fury.
Upon reflection, I think that some of the misinterpretation on the part of furry readers has been my own fault. I’ve realized in the days since this fracas that I should have written some sort of a reflection that put furries and my and Hayley’s experiences into a proper context. I think I left this up to Hayley’s remarks at the end of the final audio clip that is included in clip 8, but Hayley’s defense of furry fandom was perhaps too brief and came too late, and most people had either stopped reading or stopped listening by that point in the sequence. Hayley and I were curious, to be sure, about the most salacious and popularized elements of furry fandom, such as the sex parties and diaper-wearing furs, but we also didn’t consider ourselves inherently superior to those with whom we were communing that night. I felt that Hayley’s comments in this audio clip sufficiently illustrate that.
In fact, Hayley’s remarks constitute the final takeaway from my and Hayley’s excursion that night: that both Hayley and I are sort of outsiders, and we were attracted to attending and infiltrating a furry convention because we in some way identify with them. We both have our own community of outsiders in our own lives with whom we share our friendships and with whom we combat the isolation of not quite fitting in elsewhere.
For me, that community tends to be aspiring comedians and other artists, including the musicians I grew up with. We’re not exactly your machine-manufactured cogs in the social machine. We’re abberations in our own way, and we enjoy our own company because we can’t always meet the requirements of becoming functional players in the social circus in which we find ourselves. Instead we create our own community, and in that way we become, just like our furry subjects, another feature of the pageantry of life.
In closing, let me take a moment to directly address those furries who were most upset and who wished to see me fired for some of my jokes:
The piece that raised a small army of furries against me was titled, “Is this the Year Furries Finally Get Respect?” I would like to answer this question for those who posed it: No, absolutely not.
But you know what? Who cares? Insofar as you may be a furry and you’re enjoying your form of expression and you’re certainly not hurting anyone, who the fuck cares if you earn the respect of a lot of people whose respect you probably wouldn’t want anyway? It’s probably, almost certainly a losing battle to fight for the respect and understanding of dressing up in furry animal costumes and taking over convention centers across the country while occasionally fucking each other in rooms covered in plastic, and so it’s one that probably isn’t worth fighting. Because the fact is, you’re not going to win it, and it wouldn’t make much difference even if you did. You have each other, and fuck those of us who either don’t get it or don’t like it.
The only thing is, I actually do sort of get it, at least in that limited sense of collecting around a group of similar-minded outcasts, and so I’m probably not the one toward whom you should be directing your attacks. However, that doesn’t mean that I and everyone else at BannedCast is not going to occasionally make jokes at your expense. I most certainly am, and I won’t ask for your forgiveness for it. The point is that I’m only going to fuck with you and make jokes at your expense because I understand how to fuck with and make jokes at my own expense, too. Furthermore, all of us here at BannedCast welcome your jokes in return. Because my hair is always a pretty vulnerable target …
It’s this sort of relationship with life, one that is not afraid to laugh at everything, including oneself, that makes it a lot more endurable, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.