Wednesday, June 22, 2011

01011001 (or, Stereotypes)

Why would you want to write about animal-people, as opposed to regular people? In order to be recognizable and interesting to humans, the animal-people (or anthropomorphic animals, or furries, or werewolves, or K'zin, or those cat things from Doctor Who, etc.) would have to be mostly human in behavior in order to engender empathy.


Seriously, one of the questions that any obsessively thoughtful furry fiction writer will inevitably encounter is, "why are they furry?" Why are you writing about furries? It might be interesting why the furries are furry, but that's internal to the story. The author's motivation is external.

You could probably argue that the author's motivation is not very pertinent to the story, in which case, you should stop reading this article because that's what the goddamn thing is about in the first place, asshole. If you have that attitude, you probably also go read blogs about things you don't like just so you can complain about them in the comments.

Assuming that you actually care about why someone would write about anthro animals, read on for some discussion as to why I write about them, and why I think they are important. You'll also find out why the title is in binary.

Uniform Attraction

While I was in college, I took a course titled, "How To Be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation". It was a 300-level English course (that would be literature, not the modern language) which means that it dealt with applications of literature instead of just the machinations of analyzing it. Or some shit like that.  Upon hearing that such a class existed, people tended to immediately assume that it involved some kind of pro-gay agenda. Those people are idiots. Also, it was a very real class: Here's the course description.

At one point in the class, we read an essay contrasting the quintessentially straight male uniform (the business suit) with the gay community's obsession with uniform fetishes. The essay made the argument that uniforms served to remove a person's individuality, and replace it with an archetype. The business suit desexualized the wearer to some point, simply replacing it with professional conformity. The types of uniforms that gay men tend to like, such as public servants, the military, superheros, etc all had a much more sexual shape to them, but they still abstracted away individuality into an essence.

That's probably an imperfect argument. After all, business suits are hot when there's a penis coming out of the fly. Right?

When I read that essay, a lightbulb went on in my head. Furries were humans, but with their individual human appearance removed and replaced by some sort of animal.

Power Wolves, Hear Them Stalking

In that context, let's examine Hawk.

Hawk is a tall, black-furred wolf with a penchant for leather clothing, a mean smirk on his face, and a sadistic but not psychopathic attitude. He is dangerous, reckless, ruthless, bestial, and predatory. All of those things are commonly ascribed to wolves.

In actuality, wolves are predators, and they are technically dangerous since they are strong and will defend themselves, and even attack humans if hungry or threatened. However, they are simply animals.

The (often fearful) human archetype of 'wolf' is generally not related much to the actual animal. If it was, we probably would have not domesticated them into one of the two most popular household pets on the planet. Instead, humans project their own image of a wolf onto the actual animal.

An animal hybrid takes that concept of projection and extends it to a literal sense, in that a human person is overlaid with the visual idea of a particular animal.

I find that extremely interesting. A character's animal serves as a role in the context of the story. The character fits into human society by way of the interaction of their actual biological nature, the human stereotype of whatever animal they resemble, and their actual individual personality.

It is easier to manipulate archetypes around, to manipulate stereotypes, to manipulate big picture ideas. It is easier to take a Byronic Hero and pair him up with a Helpless Maiden and watch them have freaky sex, than it is to take a troubled man who struggles with his difficult animal nature and pair him up with a  barely-willing man desperate for sexual attention to bolster his self image.

And so, that is why I write about animal hybrids. I find the collision of animal stereotypes, animal nature, and human identity to be fascinating, and I find it serves some types of story so easily. Harley Benson is a businessman lion, and the two are as inseparable as Harley and his favorite business suit. Kyle Blake is a psychopathic ex-Marine german shepherd, man's best friend (and army companion) but also a figure forged by authority and without a direction (like an army dog who needs to be put down after his master is killed.)

I also just think they look neat.


01011001 is the binary representation of the ASCII character, "Y".

Get it?

It's also the title of a very good progressive metal rock opera.

Speaking of metal, one of these large text bits is also a Metallica reference.

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