Aesthetic fandom : furries in the 1970s




Dunn, Kameron Isaiah

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This report offers a cultural history of the furry fandom by analyzing their emergence in the 1970s within broader transnational economic and cultural flows. The furry fandom is a community of people interested in anthropomorphic animals, the kind you see in Disney animated films and newspaper cartoons. This aesthetic interest differentiates furries from other fandoms emerging at this time whose congregation is normally predicated on an interest in a particular piece of media, such as Trekkies and their love of Star Trek. Furries’ interest in the aesthetics of anthropomorphic animals can be transformative and places them within a group of people who foster this niche interest as well as aspects of their queerness. Indeed, the furry fandom is majority LGBTQ+-identifying. This history examines niche interest and the queerness of the furry fandom, placing these facets into broader conversations of queer theory and consumer capitalism. Ultimately, this report shows how furries co-construct a sort of utopic reality within larger society’s political and economic anxiety in the 1970s, and how these originating practices continue today. Furry cultural production demonstrates elements of American cartoons as well as Japanese anime made manifest in their art, such as their alter-egos known as “fursonas.” This blending of anthropomorphic styles into something uniquely furry is a practice that is ongoing. This report utilizes a mixed methods approach including historiography and visual analysis to tell this story of furries’ origins in the 1970s and their persistence to today.


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