Monday, 27 July 2015

The Other Side - Human Furry Animals

I first saw this documentary when it aired back in 2000, and since at the time, I'd had no internet access, and the infamous CSI episode, as well as the various more salacious and exploitative furry documentaries hadn't aired yet (or if they had, I hadn't seen them), this was the first time I'd ever heard of furries as a subculture. Looking at it now, it's actually very different to the modern-day stereotypes of furry culture: there's no fursuits on display, only at the most face and bodypaint, and ears and tails. Furthermore, rather than simply looking in from a distance, the bulk of the documentary is spent on long, personal interviews with a few furries, and the sexual aspect of the subculture is touched upon, but it's far from the focus.

Instead, furries are shown to be pretty much just like any other subculture outside of the mainstream, just a group of disparate people brought together by a common interest. Though, it is mentioned that there's a higher than average proportion of LGBT members in the community, and we do see a lot more men onscreen than women, too, and also everyone in the documentary is white. I don't know if this was representative of the furry scene as it was in London at that time, if it just happened to be whoever was present when the cameras were, or even if there were people who didn't want to be filmed, though.

As I've already mentioned, the sexual and fetishistic aspects of the subculture are only touched upon briefly, and with more respect towards the subjects than most later documentaries would afford, but a great deal is made of tactility. The way furry material feels against the skin, the fact that furries do a lot of hugging, scratching, biting and other physical interactions when meeting in person is talked about a fair bit. Sounds pretty nice, to be honest, though I can imagine that some less socially adjusted members of the subculture would probably cause problems by overreaching people's boundaries (this possibility isn't mentioned at all, though. Maybe it hadn't happened at any of this group's meets? I don't know).

There's also an interview with someone from a sub-subculture of "weres", who believed that he was a wolf in a human's body. I guess in modern internet parlance, this person would be considered Otherkin? This segment made me feel a little uncomfortable, as the interviewee talked a lot about their innermost feelings, and the way they perceive the world through the senses of a wolf, and it all felt a little bit voyueristic. Only a little bit, though, and it doesn't put a damper on what's otherwise a nice little documentary. When I did get internet access the following year, I was surprised to learn how vilified furries were online, it seemed odd to me that people would get so angry about those nice people from the doc i watched.