Mer- community Reflection time ! disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions here are my own based on my own research. They in no way speak for Thom.
Why is Thom Shouse called “The Tail Man”, why is he called The father of the mermaid community? Is it because he contributed to one of the most iconic tails known: the Splash Tail? Or is it because he took his experience helping to make this tail and started his own tail making company? I say neither- it’s that and so much more, and I’ll tell you why
There seems to be a bit of “contro-mer-sy” in the community around Thom, through really, no fault of his own. The information gets juggled between parties- many who weren’t even born when the movie Splash came out. People seem to think Thom gets too much credit, but in reality, Thom was not given a specific name credit through the movie credits, or IMBD etc. Those name credits went to others involved. The only credit Thom receives is what he keeps and advertises in his portfolio. Does that mean Thom should not be given any credit for his hard work? Of course not! It’s not some silly contest between tail makers. Thom is a tail maker because he is the only one of the groups of spfx/visual fx artists that were involved, who actually went on to make tails-while the other continued in the spfx/visual fx field. There are loads of behind the scenes photos you can see of Thom working personally on the Splash Tail, along with several article credits, and Thom even still has some of the original molds used to cast the tail! Some of the actors and people involved with Splash, still comment on fan sites and speak fondly of Thom as well. So that’s proof enough for me that he was an important part.
So why all the drama? Why the sudden need to thrust the other artist(s) over his head? Splash has been around for 30 years this year. That’s a long time for someone to go and now all of a sudden they want credit (which they already have) in the eyes of the community, and it’s odd to me that person is sending others to speak on their behalf instead of speaking directly. But hey, that’s just me! Thom never says he was the only person to make the Splash tail. His very portfolio shows him and all his colleagues working away together.
Want to know exactly why I think Thom Shouse is the Father of the Mer-community? There’s a few reasons:
1. Thom started the first commercial tail making company. No, he was not the first person to make tails. I published an article recently on Annette Kellerman who was the first documented over 100 years ago- and let’s be honest, there were likely more before her. But Thom went out with his Splash experience and started to cater to the market.
2. Thom went on to make tails for a variety of movie, TV, commercials, print, and publications. He did more work with Disney, worked with many celebs, and models. He was the first to really do this. Paving the way for tail makers of today!
3. Thom started mentoring other tail makers and other mermaids very early on. He enabled many people to start their own companies, freely gave away information and advice, and donated lots of his own time and materials to up and coming tail makers. He created the standard of tails for which all others based their craft on. He did the leg work.
4. Thom donates to charity constantly, and doesn’t wave it around like a piece of P.R. Many people are shocked to find out how much Thom actually does for the make a wish foundation and other organizations, and just how long he’s been doing it.
5. Like me, Thom has overcome serious illness, and manages to keep doing what he loves. A true testament to the mermaid spirit.
6. And finally Thom to me, is “The Tail Man” is the “Father of the Mermaid Community” because he gives unending to the community. He shows it love and respect. He treats you like family. He acts like a dad!
It saddens me to see people attacking a man in his early 60s because a well-known person insinuates that they should. Insinuates that his role in creating an iconic tail is somehow lessened because he doesn’t get a credit (when that very person has rarely credited the people who have helped them make tails along the way too) but then in the same breath argues we credit him too much! Don’t kid yourself if you don’t believe there is a planned systematic attack on Thom. There’s an awful lot of multiple accounts floating around, emails being sent, and PMs being sent to try and convince people he’s not who he says he is behind the scenes.
Why get yourself all up in that? When this first started happening over a week ago, I encouraged people to post their stories about Thom rather than argue with the person who started it all. All people did was post their positive experiences in meeting him. I mean, you can’t really argue with that. People sharing their stories. But, someone did anyway. And lots of people got nasty comments/arguments for simply sharing their stories of meeting this man. That’s sad.
I don’t encourage people to pick a side in this made up drama/fight of Thom VS everyone else who made the Splash tail. Because Thom isn’t trying to fight his old colleagues. He’s being dragged into it by someone who wants to fight, and doing his best to just keep being awesome and ignore… but of course he’s human and gets angry like you would if someone stuck a target on your back for a project you worked on 30 years ago. What I do encourage people to do: is keep sharing your experiences with Thom. It validates that he really is the Mer-Poppa he tries to be. It validates that he really has been working with tails for 30 years and making dreams come true and making people happy. And you know what? An angry guy on facebook can’t take that away from him.
Here’s Thom being introduced to the little mermaid who adopted me during NCmerfest 2014. Afterwards Thom came to tell me how touched he was at the experience and he gave a speech during the fest. His words were: “My heart is made of water, and when you touch it, it leaks.”
Thom, like everyone else, isn’t perfect. He’s no mer-community idol. He’s just our poppa. The guy who paved the way so we could live our dreams. The guy still being kind and building others up. He doesn’t *need* to mislead others into thinking he’s done things he hasn’t (like others do), and he doesn’t claim to either The people fighting and trying to cause drama in the community keep on going on about credit and give credit where credit is due. Well, maybe they don’t value what Thom did as much as I do. And while I value the work of all artists. Other artists didn’t go out and single handily create a mermaid culture, or create a community That I get to enjoy. Thom did. And for me, that always gets credit. I think most of the mercommunity feels the same, and perhaps the real reason why certain parties are so mad.
Love and peace to you all, don’t get dragged into hate because someone has a podium. I hope everyone will take a long hard look at the motives and timing behind things like this when they happen.