|Review by Elizabeth Weitz|
Directed by Dominic Rodriguez
Starring Boomer the Dog, Chew Fox,
There is a dichotomy within us as humans that wants to be both individualistic as well as belong to the whole of society, without ever feeling the seismic pressure building within us because of it. In Dominic Rodriguez’s incredibly moving and insightful documentary Fursonas, that constant struggle is beautifully personified within the niche realm of Furries, a fandom most easily defined as people who are drawn to a world of anthropomorphic characters, due to a psychological, spiritual, or yes, even sexually need.
While the media tends to present this particular fandom as a wild abnormality it is desperately trying to compartmentalize through the lens of normality, the Furrie group itself is trying to figure out a way to describe the world so that the lowest common denominator of the public won’t think it’s, well, odd.
Something that is, as we all know, harder than we think to accomplish. But Rodriguez actually does a pretty great job of it, and in doing so gets to the gist that plagues society as a whole and not just the Furrie sub-culture; that within itself there are rules and regulations of conduct just as severe as those found in the so called “Normal” world.
As an outsider watching a documentary about Furries you’d think that the focus would be all on the differences that we have, but after 20 minutes, that contrast is forgotten because the drama is much more universal, that of the individual vs. the group.
There is a hierarchy even here, taking the form of Uncle Kage (Samuel Charles Conway, chairman and chief organizer of Anthrocon) who is almost militaristic in his views on the media and who seemingly loves to bestow his harshest criticism on those in the group who would dare speak about being a Furrie in public. There is also the subjugation of Furries who don’t follow the accepted group status like Boomer the Dog (Gary Matthews), a Furrie who felt a profound connection to the titular character of Boomer in the 1979-1982 TV show, Here’s Boomer, who goes to court to have his name legally changed, makes his costume out of paper and through his outspokenness, is called names and belittled by a lot of the Furries.
Sadly, even in a culture that you would think would be more accepting of uniqueness, even it is paralyzed by the prejudice that lives in all of us.
Now, lest you think that Fursonas is all about the bickering within a group, it isn’t, I assure you.
There are plenty of people and characters in it that showcase the beauty of being part of and accepted by a subculture and the amazing effect it has on them to connect to other people (Something that gives you hope for the human species, especially when the world seems to be all about our differences these days) as well as an intimate look as to why people are drawn to the culture.
Regardless of how “Normality” is defined, there will always be the weirdos, the freaks, the geeks, the dorks and the beautiful dreamers who reflect our trues selves back at ourselves no matter how uncomfortable it may be…and yes, we need them.
Which is why Fursonas is definitely worth a watch.