Do we take "fanon" too literally?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Lance, May 9, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    There is a lot of 'fanon' which is generally accepted by the audience, such as dates and times of events or character back stories, in leiu of any actual on-screen evidence establishing different. I can understand why we do this. Especially in terms of TOS, these kinds of details were never fully established in any linear form. There are gaps in where characters come and go, whether they were aboard all along or only transfered there later (hello Chekov!); the dates and times that these events take place, like where The Motion Picture stands in relation to The Wrath of Khan; and so on. Later spin-off shows were produced at a time when continuity mattered just a bit more, so in those cases a lot of these fine details were actually filled out on-screen. All the same, there are always gaps.

    Fandom has of course decided to fill in these gaps with their own theories. This 'fanon' is naturally often seen as being better than nothing, and in some cases there's a kind of general consensus about certain things where the 'fanon' has transcended its roots and become firmly established as being the 'correct' view. And even though it might never have been established on-screen per se, for the lack of any better explanations a lot of us find ourselves more than happy to accept this kind of 'fanon' as being fact. Even the Star Trek Wiki, Memory Alpha, contains articles which play fast and loose with the distinction between fanon and fact (Memory Beta is of course even looser still).

    IMO even the Okudas, who actually came the closest to canonising a lot of this stuff, really only ever peddled a commerical form of 'fanon'. Their views held more water as a result of them being part of the on-going production team. But what is oft forgotten is that much of what was published in the Encyclopedia and the Chronology was really just higher profile 'fanon', rather than Canon. Even the Okudas themselves admit that a lot of what they wrote was simply conjecture on their part, and some things that they 'established' got debunked in subsequent episodesbut. But again, for a lack of better explanations, many of us are happy to accept what they said as being a general rule of thumb. I suspect this is because we all need to have a common ground on which to talk about events in the Trek universe.

    On another tangent, sometimes when a later Trek series like Voyager or Enterprise broke the conjecture that we fans had already accepted as being 'fact', the producers would be accused of contradicting the established continuity... even though more often than not that continuity had never actually been established on-screen in the first place! Is it possible for the series to contradict something that was only ever the purview of fan conjecture? It would appear that the answer is: sometimes it can.

    My question is therefore: do we as fans sometimes accept this 'fanon' too readily as being firm 'fact'? Should we instead be questioning and debating these so-called 'facts' more strongly? Or is the use of 'fanon' a crucial tool in our understanding of the Trek universe? Do we need to have this kind of firm foundation in order to help us all join the dots together?
     
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I can only speak for myself...

    No, I do not take 'fanon' too literally. I tend not to accept fanon at all.
     
  3. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You mean more strongly than we already do?

    Is that even possible?

    :)
     
  4. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Fanon is sometimes held to more tightly than canon. Witness the claims that latinum is not replicable, something that was never mentioned in any show, but is endlessly repeated.
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Considering Trek's ethos of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination, fans sure like to obsess over insignificant minutae. We can't cope with canon, let alone fanon:p
     
  6. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think we take canon too literally.

    But fanon are just ideas that a number of fans came to a consensus on to fill in the blanks of things not shown (or not shown definitively) onscreen. Fanon itself has always bowed to onscreen material--regardless if some fans liked it or not, and is really just an issue for some people on message boards. Outside, the real world (mainstream audiences) could care less about fanon and perhaps have never even heard of it before.
     
  7. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    The claim shows up in Memory Alpha's article too, but fails to specifcally cite the source for the statement.
     
  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The only part of fanon I pay any attention to is that Andorians have four sexes, the rest I don't pay much attention to.
     
  9. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It is conjectural, but it definitely fits with the way latinum is regarded in DS9 (if latinum could be replicated, then it really wouldn't be worth anything).
     
  10. Marten

    Marten Captain Captain

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    If it is replicable, it's useless as a currency, so it logically shouldn't be. Or perhaps it could be increasingly hard to do it, but in a world with unlimited energy that seems unlikely. Overall, it's a reasonable assumption. But perhaps the assumption part is he problem.
     
  11. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    My recollection is that the "Latinum is not replicable" bit came from Okuda and Sternbach during an interview. But no, it was never AFAIK actually established with dialogue on-screen. It makes sense, but technically it probably is Fanon. Technically.
     
  12. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    It works both ways. There are those who follow a strict adherance that only that which is firmly established on screen should count, which leads to some infamous debate on fandom. Like the issue of Bolians' membership in the Federation, supposedly it has never actually been said they are members, and there are those who insist they can't be because of that. The matter became a joke several years back in the Trek XI forum, stating Spock must have a forked penis because it's never been stated on screen that he doesn't.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  13. bbailey861

    bbailey861 Admiral Premium Member

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    For me, no, I don't take fanon too seriously. I don't get wrapped around the axle, either, if there are canon issues. If it works, great - if it doesn't, oh well. Both fanon and canon are certainly good topics for discussion, but in the end I just want the story to be good.
     
  14. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    :guffaw:

    This will of course be established in the next movie, Star Trek For Spock's Penis, due for release Spring 2016.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    All I care about are entertaining stories, canon and fanon be damned.
     
  16. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    But that is the definition of canon.
     
  17. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not really. Discounting the religious uses of the word, canon simply means 'a standard'. As far as Trek is concerned, canon is fanon. Or fanon is canon. I forget. ;)
     
  18. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Canon in the precise sense of Star Trek. I thought you might have picked up on that, given the context.
     
  19. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    I was trying to think of examples of 'fanon' that were so all encompassing that people accepted them as fact even though they had never been stated as such on screen.

    One which occured to me was the old chestnut about Spock being the first Vulcan in Starfleet. Somebody came up with this one back in the 1970s and it was accepted wholeheartedly by a lot of fans for decades... right up to the point where Enterprise "contradicted" it, and people were in an uproar. Despite, you know, it never having actually been said on screen in the first place. :shrug:
     
  20. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    People who get in an uproar over something like that aren't destined to have a happy journey through the entire oevre of shows, are they?
     

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