[originally posted here at Castalia House]
We interrupt our regularly scheduled review of the pulps for this important and exciting interview with The QuQu and Dan Wolfgang, the team behind QuQu Media, who are with us today to talk about science fiction, new media, and the Alt-Furry. Short Reviews will return next week [actually tomorrow] with Asteroid of Fear!
Alex: Thanks to both of you guys for agreeing to do an interview for us. First, can you tell us a little about yourselves and what it is you’re doing with QuQu Media?
The QuQu: I was the stereotypical lurker on the internet until March 2015 during the GamerGate events. When I posted prior to that, I largely used small community websites, or posted anonymously. I had been a gamer for ages, and was dissatisfied with the videos that were being produced at that time on the topic of GamerGate. I decided that I should just report on it myself. With the help of a video editor, Johnny D, I got my start making RECAP videos, summarizing the current news related to the event in a brief and amusing manner.
After my assistant departed, I kept doing RECAPS myself until December of 2015 when Dan Wolfgang, AKA Rayndrops, joined the team. With his writing skill and knowledge, we were able to cover broader topics with more depth, including subjects outside of my personal area of expertise. Around this time we started covering things like Sci-Fi/Fantansy literature, visual novels, and more. QuQu Media became what it is today: A small team of two seeking to present news and opinion on various happenings in both political and cultural spheres, giving it our own twist to avoid just jumping on the latest Youtube bandwagons. Mostly, I’m looking to have fun, as this is a hobby to me.
Dan Wolfgang: I first spoke with QuQu about a year ago in the Dountain Dew and Moritos teamspeak, and we got to talking about Nintendo 64 emulation. Since his previous collaborator had moved on, I later asked if he was interested in resuming video production with my help. My interests have always been more toward reading and writing stories, so that influenced the content of the channel. As an example, I really enjoy stories written by Harlan Ellison, and because of this, you can see references to his work in some of our videos. The intro for our video on Science Fiction was directly inspired by the opening of Harlan’s commentary show on Sci-Fi Buzz (now SyFy.)
We think that a lot of the older video creators have fallen into the trap of seeing everything through the lens of their social justice worldview. For them, it’s no longer about discussing the qualities of the game or book itself, but instead how well the work conforms to their political beliefs. So we want to provide quality video content with our channel, content that is informative and funny, that doesn’t pander to a sweet sounding false narrative.
Alex: You guys are involved with something called “Alt-Furry”. From an outsider perspective, this appears to be a mix of satire and self-parody that’s combined with an actual politically conservative/right-wing bent that mirrors the new so-called “Alt-Right”. Care to explain just what Alt-Furry is?
The QuQu: The founder of the #AltFurry, John Kelly (@jmktwit on twitter), made the observation that O’Sullivan’s Law held true in the case of #GamerGate, and had a devastating effect on its impact in mid-to-late 2015. As such, #AltFurry is an EXPLICITLY right-wing and EXPLICITLY radical furry political movement. It will stand as a bulwark against the furry fandom completely surrendering to the excesses of the left. It’s motto is “We must ensure the existence of our species, and a future for Furry children” and its core principles are “Anti-speciesism is code for anti-furry” and “species-mixing is furry genocide”.
It is also a furry supremacy movement. Too long has social justice rhetoric been used to advantage one group of humans over another. It’s us non-humans’s turn to utilize the same absurd rhetoric to point out human privilege wherever we see it, and institute furry affirmative action policies to take down the homosapientarchy. This includes demands for increased furry representation in media, demands that people unpack the knapsack of human privilege when performing cultural criticism, putting an end to humansplaining, seeking legal permission to wear a fursuit in driver’s license photography, getting the phrase “yiff in hell furfag” labeled as hate speech, and more.
If you want to join the #AltFurry movement, you simply need to adopt a fursona, and start using the #AltFurry tag on social media accounts to do the work of the movement. If you’re tired of the fandom slipping leftward and want to demonstrate the absurdity of the increasingly common rhetoric based off of hierarchies of privilege, join the internet’s least privileged group and help us weaponize it against the very humans who invented it in the first place.
Dan Wolfgang: I concur with everything my partner just said. After all, pookas are known for their honesty. :^)
Alex: When I entered this region of web-space [twitter], I almost immediately noticed an overlap between those interested in Sad/Rabid Puppy, Gamergate, and Alt-Furry.
I actually found out about you guys through Jeffro Johnson, because he’d been mentioned in one of your videos that discussed the state of science fiction and the Hugos debacles from last years. Is Alt-Furry a front on the war within SF fandom or is SF Fandom a front on the Alt-Furry revolution?
Dan Wolfgang: I’d say it’s more the latter. As stories about rocket ships and dragons have become normalized in mainstream culture, so too have stories about anthropomorphic talking animals. There are many examples of Furry Science Fiction or Fantasy, and even idea of talking animals in a story is often presented as a fantastic narrative element.
Just look at the massive popularity of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, which has the Khajiit and Argonian as playable races. Or how Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie with a talking Raccoon as a main character, and an episode of My Little Pony were nominated for the Hugo Award. When the Rocket Raccoon spin-off comic later debuted, it was Marvel’s highest selling book for the month.
By this point, the gatekeepers at the big publishing houses are only thing keeping Furries from being just as commonplace in books as they are in movies, animation, and video games. Obviously, a company that cares more about “PoC Representation” than publishing quality books is going to turn down stories about talking animals. So naturally, we’re interested in what’s happening in SF fandom right now, as the defeat of the gatekeepers means that we’ll be able to spread the Alt-Furry to a wider reading audience.
The QuQu: *QuQu clears his throat and looks bashful*
Uhh, well… to me, it’s all a front in the culture war at large. This whole thing started during the height of GamerGate when I noticed my Twitter account existed at the odd intersection of furfag Twitter and GG happenings Twitter. I quickly formed a DM group due to a shitposting follow-friday, and that furry DM group is one of the most active ones left from that time period.
Of course, during those events, you couldn’t help but notice The Sad and Rabid Puppies. The Honey Badgers interviewed some puppies, Vox Day was making considerable noise in my circle, and Daddy Warpig kept making announcements to keep us all on the same page. I even covered a brief summary of the whole Sad Puppies campaign in a rather slapdash way in one of my RECAP videos.
To me, it all blurs together. I don’t think of it as different fronts. Just one big united front, and only one side in the battle ever seems to have any fun. I think it’s obvious where we should throw our chips.
Alex: The “right-wing” has traditionally been known for its fear and reluctance to accept alternative lifestyles and identities, but that’s been changing lately. Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, has probably done more in two years to change how conservatives see gays than decades of activism. Now, a lot of people who aren’t Furries or who don’t quite ‘get’ what it is you’re all about are starting to see you guys and what you’re doing, whether it’s politics, gaming, or science fiction, and saying “Hey, these guys are on the same page as us!”
Do you think that Alt-Furry will achieve similar successes for bringing a degree of understanding and acceptance for the Furry community?
The QuQu: Similar to how hacker culture split down the middle with half drifting far leftward and the other half drifting rightward, any group that values personal freedom highly will, in my view, eventually undergo such a split. The portion that thinks it is the role of an expansive government to guarantee rights and freedoms will drift leftward, and the part that thinks that it is the absence of big government that protects rights and freedoms will drift rightward.
So, how do you reconcile far-right views with the rather socially liberal reputation that furries are known for? First of all, most social issues that furries care about are… well, quite frankly, done. There’s nothing left to do that requires an allegiance to liberalism. So, in the spirit of the phrase “if you’re not liberal when you’re young you have no heart, and if you’re not conservative when you’re older you have no brain”, I am seeing quite a few of my friends in the community starting to draw a line in the sand and say “all right, that’s enough social progress. Now we need a smaller government that will stay out of our business.” With the shooting at Pulse and the self-defense concerns that arise from it, I have a feeling we’re going to start seeing more and more NRA members and people registered with conservative parties within the furry community. Let’s face it—mass immigration of people who would rather see us thrown off a roof is probably not in our best interest.
But it’s not like this is a new phenomenon online. There’s been a bunch of overlap between /k/, /pol/ and /furry/ on 8chan nearly since its inception, for example. Or, if you check out communities like U-18chan or http://lulz.net, it’s unlikely that political correctness will ever be able to invade the former, and on the latter, I have seen many a Happy Merchant posted.
Really, what I think you are seeing here is one of the oldest factions on the internet, the furries, are finally realizing that in this political environment being a so-called “oldfag” (which I’d colloquially describe as someone who’s been on the internet from before the Eternal September) online gives one some power. And, now they’re realizing that Andrew Breitbart was right, that politics ARE downstream of culture, at least to a degree. And that means, if they want a culture that meets the needs of those of us who are right-leaning (or far-right) they need to realize that, as masters of internet culture, they have considerable power to affect change.
As a result, a natural outcome of this will be that, as that part of the community drifts rightward, acceptance will follow. There is no need for them to accept the degenerate parts of the fandom—those should be kept buried deep within communities where no human dares to venture anyway—but only a need for a realization that we have similar goals and motivations, and that we can use that synergy to work together.
Dan Wolfgang: I think it’s less that the right-wing is becoming accepting, and more that we’re realizing that prejudice doesn’t really have any meaningful effect on one’s actions. I figured this out when I saw how popular the well-known YouTuber Teal Deer is, despite the internet supposed hatred for all things Furry. When someone watches his videos, or QuQu’s, the merit of the video itself is what people judge, not the outward appearance of the speaker.
Similarly, whether or not someone likes Milo has nothing to do with him being one of “The Gays” because he doesn’t base his entire identity on his enjoyment of other men. If someone isn’t fond of him, it’s because they have judged the content of his character and concluded it to be poor. And he doesn’t scream words like “Homophobe” as a shield from such criticism, like many in the Social Justice Twitter-sphere do.
Often when someone negatively judges the character of another person who happens to belong to a particular “Minority” group, the SJWs claim that they are acting prejudiced or bigoted. Now that people are waking up to this trickery, we’re beginning to see people coming together and talking with each other again. And our hope is that with time, more and more people will become immunized to these silencing tactics, so that we can go back to fighting the real enemy.
Alex: (TL;DR – I love that guy!) Turning things back to science fiction, the overlap between the Furry community and pulp revolution is something that’s given me some food for thought. At least one of Cirsova’s contributors is openly a Furry (Donald J. Uitvlugt), and we’ve had stories with talking ape men, talking wolf-things, and even a wolverine girl who has a tryst with a time-traveler. Anthros have long been a staple of scifi, but you tend to find them in the older styles and forms where adventure, romance, and the unknown are more the focus rather than “issues”. Is this possibly something that aligns the Furry community, particularly Alt-Furry, with the Pulp Revolution. Am I over-speculating?
Dan Wolfgang: I’d say that the Pulp Revolution is absolutely something which aligns with our interests. It isn’t a coincidence that talking animals in stories went away around the same time as the adventure and sense of wonder did. The big publishers wanted to sell Serious and Important works that pushed nihilistic worldviews as a “realistic” reflection of reality, so the furries went away with everything else that was fun.
While the internet has given a home to talking animal stories for a many years, the popularity of e-reader devices like the Kindle have made it much easier to sell these stories to a large audience. Now Furry fiction can stand next to other types of fiction on the free market, and readers can decide for themselves what stories will go on to greater success. It doesn’t matter what the big publisher in New York think of our stories, as long as Amazon keeps their platform open to any sort of book that one wants to write.
Admittedly, discovering the old Pulp stories has helped me to improve the quality and speed of my own writing. A few months back I wrote a fictional retelling of how QuQu and I started working together—sort of a lore for the pooka race. At the time, I was reading Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, which I discovered thanks to Jeffro Johnson’s posts about Appendix N. The book taught me, among other things, how to better pace my own stories.
The QuQu: I’m glad I have Rayn around to keep track of what’s going on in the world of SFF, and with the pulp revolution. He’s been my reliable consultant and writer when it comes to such topics. I have been subjected to many an attempt to get me back into reading more literature of the fantastic, but I’ve been too busy of a pooka to take him up on that offer as much as I’d like to.
Alex: Not long ago, you teased about a big SFF thing you were researching for an upcoming video; is there anything big you see developing on the horizon?
The QuQu: Oh yes, we noticed that when it comes to the various fronts in the culture war, it takes a serious event to make them coalesce enough to even communicate with each other. This type of synergy is something that is needed to face whatever big event crops up in any community that is under attack. Pundits like me who generally cover gaming will rarely keep our audience up to speed in what happened in the field of SFF. It’s shocking the number of people who participated in GamerGate who had no idea what Race Fail was, for example. We’re always looking at ways to outline what happened in one community to another in an easy to understand summary. Keep your eyes open!
Dan Wolfgang: The research for our next video on the field of SFF was finished recently, and if all goes well, I expect that the video should be out sometime late November or early December. I also have a couple of other ideas in mind for further topics related to Sci Fi, and just books in general. The field doesn’t get as much coverage from YouTubers as other hobbies, so I think that this is a void which we can easily fill.
Alex: Are there any books or writers that you want folks to be on the look-out for? And who should people curious about what the Alt-Furry is up to be following? Lastly, for the benefit of normies out there, what, exactly, is a Pooka?
Dan Wolfgang: Well, I’m writing a book, so look out for that.
No, but seriously. Nisio Isin, who recently received a second chance at the American reading market, is one I’d recommend checking out. He’s the author who made me realize that just because someone writes for the pulp magazine format (called Light Novels in Japan) doesn’t mean they can’t produce top quality fiction. The first volume of his Zaregoto series floored me when I read it a few years back, so I was really happy to learn that his Monogatari stories were coming out in English too (the first of which I recently purchased.)
As for who to follow, besides myself and QuQu, I would suggest following @GWSSDelta, who’s heading the Brony front with AltBrony, and @RealFurredReich who’s leading the charge for bringing traditional values back into the Furry Fandom.
The QuQu: To answer your third question, a Pooka is a creature of Celtic legend, assumed to be one of the fae. The legends give us all sorts of different appearances, from that of a large black horse, small rabbits, and everything in between. The reason behind us appearing in so many different forms is simple: we have innate shapeshifting abilities which allow us to adopt whatever appearance is most well-suited for that particular moment. For me, I default to my bipedal blue-highlighted form when engaging in dealings with others.
Legends vary from region to region, and even pop-culture representations of us vary wildly. Perhaps the most well-known Pookas of modernity are from the video game, Odin Sphere, where the entire race of Pookas was created as the result of a curse. In most other appearances, we are a species all our own, with a reputation for having a penchant for pranks and mischief. After all, if anything went wrong in a small village with no rational explanation, one could ALWAYS blame the pooka.
Alex: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! It’s been a blast. Any parting words for our readers?
The QuQu: Absolutely. While we all have only finite time and effort to continue, our struggles in our subcultures are ever so important. You may notice that the CHORFs, SJWs, Morlocks, or whatever you want to call them… they’re not leaving any cultural domain untouched. We must be the bane of cultural gatekeepers, no matter where they rear their ugly heads. We must craft our own cultural artifacts, and offer our own commentary on the state of culture. And when the time comes, we must be ready to unite to fight off the next intrusion, to beat back the next attempt to bring us all into line with a grand narrative.
Dan Wolfgang: I believe that what we are seeing in the world of Science Fiction right now is the start of something greater than just the rediscovery of classic pulp novels. The forces that lied about the SFF canon and caused it to be forgotten are the same forces that are doing everything in their power to demoralize and subvert our nation. Just simply continuing to tell the sort of stories that we love, stories about people who accomplish amazing feats despite the odds against them, can help to fight back against the process and raise morale among those who read them.
And I have a couple of ideas for how people like QuQu and I can assist those who are fighting back.
The QuQu: Thank you so much for the interview. It’s been our pleasure!
Dan Wolfgang: My thanks as well. This was a great honor!