DorkBoy [TM] wrote:
Also, I think people like to ascribe "semi-canonical" status to things where the on-screen creator was involved in some way. (Whether or not said writers said they were "canon.") For example: Jeri Taylor's Voyager books. Those were often declared "canon" by the fans back when they came out, even though, as I recall, they were contradicted by later episodes.
But that illustrates the mutable nature of canon. So long as Taylor was the showrunner for VGR, her books were
effectively canonical, because she chose to treat them as such. But once she wasn't running the show anymore, her successors didn't feel bound by her books, so they lost what canon status they'd had.
I think what people miss is that "canonicity" isn't about some sort of hidden knowledge the creators have about the past, its about the constraints that the writers have to be held to in order to tell a story in the future. So even if something was in Bob Orci's head, or the Voyager series bible, at one point, that doesn't make it canon until it shows up on the screen. Because they might change their minds or have a better idea later on.
Except that the only writers bound by those constraints are tie-in writers, or staffers working for the showrunner. A lot of fans have this impression that canon is some higher law imposed by the studio or God or something that the creators of the show are required to follow. That's getting it backward. The canon is simply the creation itself. Whatever is created or supervised by the work's primary creator is defined as
the canon. It's not a policy or a stricture, it's just a word that means "the stuff created by the primary creator." Conan Doyle's Holmes stories are canon while other writers' are not. The Buffy
comics directly plotted and overseen by Joss Whedon are canon while the earlier comics by other authors are not. And so on. And in the context of series television, the primary creator is the showrunner.
Sure, the creators of an ongoing series have a certain responsibility to be aware of its history and keep it consistent, but that's not because they're "constrained by canon" -- it's because staying true to the continuity of the canon they're creating is generally a good idea if you want to maintain your audience's suspension of disbelief. But in a work or franchise where the responsibility for its creation passes from one hand to another, then the new creator will bring a different vision and interpretation to events and may create new canon that overwrites old canon. Or even a single creator may choose to overwrite their earlier work with new interpretations.