A Look Inside The Colorful And Bizarre World Of Furries
DIRECTOR: DOMINIC RODRIGUEZ / 2016
“Will was gone, nobody could see me… I could be as energetic and crazy as I wanted to be and people loved it!”
“The suit lets you put on a persona, live it, and do what you want to do!”
“It’s about putting a smile on someone’s face and for just a minute you forget the real world.”
These are the perspectives that introduce you to Fursona, (like persona with fur!) a documentary about adults who wear athropomorphic full-body costumes of Saturday morning cartoon animals or other animals that they feel a kinship too. First-time director Dominic Rodriguez, who occasionally dons his own fursona “Video”, uses curiosity, cuteness and flat-out oddity to draw you into this intriguing world. He introduces you to men and women who live the furry lifestyle and interviews them multiple times over three years. In those years you learn about what drew them to their fursona, how they interact with the real world, and if indeed the furry world is as accepting and supportive as believed. He starts in an interesting spot, the 2012 furry convention, Anthrocon. We see raccoons walking around hand in hand, A bright red wolf with a sign that reads “Free Hugs”, and a dance competition where furries aren’t judged but cheered on by thousands. It looks friendly and fun!
Okay, so I didn’t know this world existed but it makes total sense to me. With Comic-Con, Trekkies and even Lebowski Fest out there it’s obvious that people like being someone else for a bit. An escape! We all love Halloween, we love to pretend, it’s fun! And while I won’t spend $7,000.00 on a costume (yeah, some of these furry costumes cost that much!) I do indeed love spirit week, tacky Christmas parties, and any old reason to trade out the normal weekday wear for something special. But being a furry is much more that just playing dress up for a day. One well-known furry, Boomer The Dog, put it this way:
“For some it’s a weekend release, but for others it’s more, it’s a lifestyle!”
Boomer, Gary Matthews, was the only furry willing to give his real name in Fursonas. Matthews, who is 50 years old, wears a dog collar and homemade paper dog suit, tried to have his name legally changed to Boomer The Dog. Yeah, it’s a pretty extreme lifestyle. There are couples that have found love because of the mutual respect for a furry costume and even moms and dads that share the interest with their children. Then you have Bandit, who memorialized his old dog by making his fursona an “old dog” complete with reading glasses.
In the second year of the project Rodriguez shows the average day and life of these furries. Diesel isn’t as involved because of changing shifts at work, Boomer runs a radio station out of his basement and young Skye talks about his new furry boyfriend. Diesel also speaks about how the real world perceives furries. “In the work environment you can’t trust people. People only accept the norm.” There’s nothing mainstream about the furry world. Rodriguez introduces Uncle Kage who chairs/organizes Anthrocon conventions and deals with the media’s coverage of the furry lifestyle. Up to this point I was sold on Fursonas. Touching on thought provoking points I was totally interested. But it’s in year two that we realize that it’s not all “kitten whiskers and puppy dog tails” in the furry community. Not all furries are accepted by other furries and extreme behavior is controlled and disciplined. Boomer says it best,
“The furry fandom has a long way to go in accepting themselves and others.”
From here Fursonas gets dicey for me. Rodriguez becomes too involved and the second half of the film is about how he disagrees with Uncle Kage’s position on furry behavior. Questions from the beginning of the film are left unanswered and the allure of the furry world diminishes. I want Rodriguez to go back and wrestle with what furries are escaping from and how the furry lifestyle stays relevant to each person. But in the end it feels empty and sad. The only glimmer of happiness comes from Boomer. That’s right, the man who enjoys a Milk-Bone every now and then is the only one content with his odd lifestyle. He finds joy in the six people that listen to his radio station and he makes large dogs out of snow for everyone to enjoy. The rest of the furries including Rodriguez seem bitter and disenchanted with the lifestyle. While Fursonas is entertaining, provocative and professionally made, the fur falls flat in the end.
Fursonas is released by Gravitas Ventures and you can watch it on VOD starting May 10th, 2016, on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VUDU and On Demand.