Dominic Rodriguez is the director of a fascinating new documentary about the furry subculture called Fursonas, which hits VOD platforms today. It’s a lurid look at at the furries’ demagoguish leader (did you know they had that?! me neither!) that raises a ton of relevant questions about what acceptance means and what you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Which is why I wrote a full review of the film and a write-up of my talk with Rodriguez posted here.
Another thing you should know about Rodriguez is that he is himself a furry. As such, I was dying to know what he thought of Zootopia (my review). Aside from being a big, big movie, that passed both Batman V Superman and Deadpool in worldwide box office this year (it’s number one), rumor has it, furries love it. To the point that Disney was rumored to be actively marketing it to the furry community. I figured if anyone would have some insight into this, it would be a furry who has spent the last two years documenting the furry community. I also didn’t want to bury it at the end of a story with more important fish to fry, so I give it to you here as a kind of an outtake:
Did you like Zootopia? Was that a big movie in furry community?
Dominic Rodriguez: Of course. Oh yeah. I liked it, yeah. There was an article that a furry wrote that had the headline “Fursonas beats Zootopia as most important furry movie.” Everybody was like “Nothing is more important than Zootopia! What are you talking about?” Yeah, definitely that’s something that furries hold very dear. That’s a modern classic as far as we’re concerned.
I read a few things where it was trying to say that Disney had actively marketed it towards furries. Did you see any evidence of that or were you aware that there was anything specifically directed at that community?
I thought it was. Even when I saw the trailer, I felt like they were using kind of buzzwords like “anthropomorphic” and it just has that aesthetic that furry art has. I guess you could say that’s something that’s in a lot of Disney movies, but I thought so, and then I’ve talked to many other people that thought so. Actually when I was in Park City, this was more of a rumor I guess, but there was a furry that was at my premiere and he was in town and he was talking to people, and he said that somebody who worked on Zootopia had confirmed that, yes, they exactly knew what they were doing.
There’s a lot of hearsay in there, obviously, but it’s just as important to point out that furries liking Zootopia and Disney marketing Zootopia to furries are kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. Furries might not exist without the influence of classic anthropomorphic Disney movies. Rodriguez brought up The Lion King, Robin Hood, and The Fox and the Hound. And as the furries’ self-appointed leader, Uncle Kage, says in the film, most furries are outcasts who’ve retreated into the world of cartoons, which shapes their adult fascination with anthropomorphism.
It’s so intertwined, and there’s such a heavy nostalgia component to furrydom, that it’s hard to know where furries borrowing from Disney stops and Disney borrowing from furries begins. Of course furries liked Zootopia. Was Disney speaking furries’ language? Maybe, or maybe they were just speaking a language they all but invented.
Don’t look at me like that, you know you’re glad you know this now.
Vince Mancini is a writer, comedian, and podcaster. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.