We know that furries were definitely making lots of weird porn in the early 2000s. VCL and other furry archives as well as the stories of those who were in the fandom at the time confirm it. But I think something more has happened that has eliminated the "innocent" furry art and given even innocuous drawings an edge of sex:
>General loss of innocence
>Reification of furry characters
General loss of innocence
is obvious to anyone who lived through earlier eras. In the 1990s and early 2000s you could find porn a-plenty if you looked, but it was tucked away and site operators tried to make an effort to warn minors away with splash pages. The idea of keeping a secret porn stash folder is a quaint idea that doesn't really have relevance today, when you can load up Pornhub-style sites with reams of HQ porn for any fetish imaginable, extensively-tagged boorus, etc., and terabytes more porn is produced every week.
The general culture is also much more pornified, without any pretense of modesty or chastity. You could see the beginnings of this in the 1990s and early 2000s but it was still small and the mainstream culture still attempted to hold down modesty (especially since it was still reeling from the HIV and other VD epidemics of the 1980s). Now dominant tastemakers actively shame any questioning of open sexuality. Everything is lewder.
This extends to characters of all kinds of well. Lewd character fanart of all stripes is produced, shared openly, celebrated, and very accessible. Where once porn with characters was subversive, it's downright routine today.
Now add to this the reification of furries
. Reification is the calcification of something's meaning, like how three particular trombone notes now absolutely denote stupidity and it feels weird to see them in another context.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, anthro characters were still regarded by the mainstream neutrally - they could be used as cute mascots, or animated characters, or some other use that took advantage of their animal-like features. If anything, they were partially reified as being "for kids" because of their strong associations with Disney and cartoons. But you could draw a cute anthro character and have it be just that: An anthro character, or a "funny animal" as they used to be called.
Thanks to two decades of semi-open furry fandom, greater Web/Internet access, all combined with a general loss of innocence mentioned above, anthro characters have reified among post-GenX people to denote "a furry" with all the connotations of the furry fandom's porniness. It's in the culture, the signposts are there, furries aren't a secret. If you draw an anthro character now, it's called a "furry" and the relationship between it and furry fandom has calcified. Anyone learning to draw anthro characters won't be learning from Warner Brothers cels, Disney stills, or mascots - they'll be learning directly from the furry fandom's considerable body of work. That in turn will influence their developing style, baking less innocent elements into their final works.
To illustrate, consider how people would react if an upcoming non-early-childhood brand today commissioned an anthro mascot - everyone's first reaction would be "why the fuck are they using a furry?"
What I think this all means is that those who might otherwise draw the kind of "innocent" anthro that >>1197
remembers... won't. Draw an innocent furry character and everyone'll assume you fap to fuckin' foxes anyway, and if you produce a good enough character design eventually someone else will draw them with their bits out.
Put the general loss of innocence together with the reification of furries, and you have the present situation. Everything is pornier now, and furries are especially pornier because they filter out those who might kick back and try to re-innocentise them.
>And don't get me started on the endless political imagery/symbolism.
Yeah, that's the culture war. We're entering rough times, and during rough times everything is a weapon. Sucks, but there you go.