So how important is canon, then?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Trekkie27, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. Trekkie27

    Trekkie27 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Everyone,

    I posted a thread on the consistency of canon in the two franchises, and I still say that, since Lucasfilm has a story group, it would have a more consistent canon than ST. In any case, over time, the stories will eventually contradict each other and hence violate canon, which is inevitable.

    So how important is canon, then? I think canon is part of the enjoyment of the story, and many fans seem to agree with me, but how important is it for the story-tellers/corporations to ensure that each and every story is consistent with canon?
     
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  2. Captain Kris Kringle Pike

    Captain Kris Kringle Pike Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  3. 1001001

    1001001 Workin' Them Angels Moderator

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  4. LAFR

    LAFR Commander Red Shirt

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    They make a fine camera; I, however, prefer nikon.
     
  5. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I dunno. What's one of your favorite shows? Now let's, after reading up to an extent on the arcs and characters, add in something that takes place during, after, or before the previous events you're using as a stepping stone. Now does it matter if it has to be good? How do you define good? Does it matter that it follows a certain tone or go in a new direction? If so, how far either way do you take it?

    Look at Star Wars, a franchise that started out as a one-off, then grafted on "Episode IV", with episode 6 being a rehash of 4, ep 7 is a far bigger rehash of ep 1... Eps 1-3 fill in some backstory after the fact but there are enough plot holes to arguably to not buy into the WHOLE of the story.

    Or look at a "tech manual" covering an automobile. You get to page 57 but now all of a sudden the names of the automobile parts are changed and half of the parts are for a motorcycle or motorboat.

    That's not to say rehashes and throwing in something far out of left field works - look at ST2 TWOK. It's a huge tonal change from TOS and using the same characters. What made it work but yet every time to copy and paste from it (e.g. NEMESIS) failed?

    Back to SW, making Han do what he did helps further the lore (despite another death star) as a new character is created. Is it a rock solid development? Some say yes, some say no, some say partially... ditto for Luke. Ditto for Kirk in GENERATIONS.
     
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  6. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Canon is important, but it is not the same thing as continuity. Some ideas that producers and writers have are duds. If they want to shift direction to make a series better, they should (providing the reasons for makes it more palatable, of course).

    Overall, I think that it is better to treat each series as loosely associated with the others. I prefer that Discovery, for instance, has a stronger internal consistency with itself, but should be allowed to contradict some things that happened in other series. I don't think we really needed an explanation for the disappearance of the 'shroom drive in the previous series.
     
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  7. Finngle Bells

    Finngle Bells Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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    It’s not
     
  8. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Captain Captain

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    Agreed. As I've had preached at me :lol:, canon is anything that appears on screen. Since the material that appears onscreen is self-contradictory, it cannot have continuity.

    This is largely the conclusion I've come to. In some instances, seasons or episodes are also loosely associated with the parent series. I can make a pretty strong case for TWOK, TSFS, and TVH being closely associated :)
     
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Canon" is simply a nickname for a core body of work. It's generally used to mean the body of works from the original creators/owners of a franchise as distinct from its imitations from other creators, such as licensed tie-ins, literary pastiches, or fan fiction. But it has an older, broader usage to mean simply a comprehensive, definitive set of creative works, even those that don't share a continuity -- e.g. the Shakespeare canon is all the works accepted as being authored by Shakespeare, or the canon of Western literature is the body of works that scholars and educators consider essential for any well-read person to experience.

    So it's never really about continuity. Continuity is a conceit that fictional series generally attempt to employ, but it's never immutable. Canons rewrite and contradict themselves all the time, because creativity is a process of trial, error, and revision, and so any ongoing creation will evolve as it goes. The canon is the whole, not the individual parts. It's the entire body of stories that pretend to represent a consistent reality, with the inevitable inconsistencies being glossed over through the illusion of consistency and the audience's willingness to play along with that illusion. Or it's just the entire body of stories that are essential to having a complete experience of a series, whether it has internal continuity or not -- for instance, the Japanese Godzilla film canon is up to nine distinct continuities at this point, the first seven of which incorporate the 1954 original.

    So is canon "important?" No, not particularly. It's merely a description. It means "the stuff that isn't optional if you want a complete experience." So it's important if you want to know what's essential to read or watch or listen to, and what's optional and extra. Otherwise, it's not that much of an issue. If you want to enjoy the optional stuff too, or if you don't feel a compelling need to be a completist, then it doesn't matter at all.

    Is continuity important? In some ways, yes; in others, not so much. Marvel Comics has pretended to have a single continuity stretching back to 1938, but everything from 1961 onward has been periodically bumped forward in time in the retellings so that the characters have aged no more than a decade in 60 years despite always existing in the present day. Is that a strong continuity or a weak continuity? Yes. It's a strong continuity where important stuff like storylines, key concepts and events, and character evolution are concerned, but a weak continuity where tangential stuff like calendar dates, period clothing and slang, technological and political progress, etc. are concerned. It can be both at once because it's imaginary.

    On the other hand, there are some fictional series that maintain a more scrupulous continuity and advance in real time. And there are series that have very little continuity from installment to installment, shows like Kolchak the Night Stalker or Mission: Impossible or Law & Order that are basically anthologies with recurring characters. It's up to the individual creators how much or how little continuity they want to have, or whether they care more about the continuity of characters and storylines than facts and dates and details.
     
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  10. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings Premium Member

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    Canon needs to be shot out of a cannon into the Sun.
     
  11. Unionized Elf

    Unionized Elf Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    These posts sum the matter up perfectly.
    /THREAD
     
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  12. Damian

    Damian Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Really the only ones that need to even worry about canon for Star Trek are tie-in authors. Each franchise is different, in some the tie-ins might carry more weight. But in the world of Star Trek, the tie-in writers have to stay consistent with what's on screen (which in Star Trek is considered 'canon' these days). Now it does seem the current show runners are more interested in keeping a tighter continuity among the novels/comics then has been done in the past. But even if say the Picard show runners decided they wanted to keep the show fully consistent with the novel "The Last, Best Hope" that doesn't make that novel canon.

    The show-runners/writers can do what they want pretty much. However, you'll find in Star Trek the show runners, from a general sense, try to be consistent with the prior canon, but that's more a continuity issue anyway. They don't HAVE to worry about prior canon, but usually they seem to anyway. Even the Abrams movies did that by creating an alternate universe instead of just replacing the existing one. The old universe still exists in the Abrams universe, in a parallel timeline.

    So however imperfect the continuity is, all of the Star Trek canon (again, that is what's on screen) is part of the same Star Trek family. Discovery is in the same universe as Enterprise, the original series, the movies, TNG, etc. To date, no Star Trek show/movie has come out that says it is not tied to what came before. The show runners made a decision to be mindful and somewhat consistent with prior canon, but that's a choice, not a requirement for them like it is for tie-ins.

    I make the mistake myself sometimes of equating canon to continuity. They are not the same thing. Canon is simply the body of on screen work in Star Trek....continuity is the story itself. I've taken to including the large relaunch novels from the spin-offs as part of the continuity I follow--but that's not canon.

    As fans we worry far too much about canon. Esp. if you read the novels....or the comics. Then canon is even less important to us.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Rather, canon is the original creation as distinct from its imitations. In the case of a franchise like Star Trek that began onscreen, the original stuff is onscreen and anything offscreen is a tie-in -- just as in the case of a franchise like The Expanse that began in books, the canon is the books and the films are adaptations. Sometimes a canon can exist in more than one medium -- for instance, the canon of Harry Potter is in books, but the Fantastic Beasts films are original works by Rowling and thus are canon in themselves. And some canons are multimedia, like Babylon 5, Buffy/Angel, Firefly, Star Wars (theoretically), and Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra.

    What makes something a canon is not its medium, but its authorship. The common thread among canonical tie-ins is that they're written by or supervised by the creators of the original work and thus are of a piece with those creators' vision. This is why the Babylon 5 novels and Buffy comics that came out during their respective series were not canonical while the ones that came out after the series ended were canonical -- because only in the latter case did the creator of the series have time to supervise the tie-ins and make sure they were truly consistent. Also, a series in progress is a moving target, its ideas constantly changing, so even the most informed attempt to keep pace with it can end up getting contradicted. To have a consistent canon, you usually have to have only a single thread of it developing at a time. (Star Wars is trying to have multiple parallel canonical threads, but the movies and TV shows have already contradicted some of the supposedly canonical books and comics in some ways.)

    A lot of people misunderstand "The canon is what's onscreen" to mean "every last onscreen image, word, and detail is immutable fact," but that's nonsense. Canon is the whole, not the parts, and it's not about granular-scale "reality," just about the pretense of telling a continuing story, even if the details sometimes get tweaked along the way.



    You're confusing two different directions of influence. It's routinely the job of tie-ins in every franchise to stay consistent with the series they're adapting. That's the whole point of the exercise, to create something that feels like it's part of the series. But that almost never implies that the reverse is the case.

    And I wouldn't call it "worrying" about canon. Again, "canon" is just a nickname for the original work as a whole. We don't "worry" about being consistent with it, it's just the definition of the job we're trying to do. Fandom has this delusional idea that "canon" is some kind of official seal of approval that has to be earned through some kind of purity test. It's really just a descriptive term for one thing as distinct from another thing. You don't have to "worry" about it any more than you have to worry about whether something is land or water. It just is. (Well, I guess you would have to worry about that if you were, say, running out of gas while flying over the ocean. So it's an imperfect analogy.)
     
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  14. thribs

    thribs Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Very. That’s how you make a interesting universe. Without canon it’s just Anarchy
     
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  15. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings Premium Member

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    Anarchy is far more entertaining. :p
     
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  16. thribs

    thribs Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well it lead to Discovery and that wasn’t that entertaining. Besides Lorca of course.
     
  17. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings Premium Member

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    I’m talking more about Gold Key comics, Kirk commanding the Excelsior in DC Comics, novels like Federation and Strangers from the Sky.

    Canon and continuity put a choke hold on creativity.

    Discovery’s tagline should’ve been “Remember’X’? So do we!!!”
     
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  18. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wonder if it would be more useful to make a list of what events should be universally recognized across all series. Wouldn't canon need to recognize that the Borg twice tried to conquer the Federation? Conversely, do we care if the hijacking of a vessel by Borg in the 22nd century is not acknowledged?
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    These are stories, not history tests. It's not about whether the facts line up, it's about whether interesting and emotionally affecting things happen to the characters. And sometimes making those things happen requires being flexible with the facts. That's okay because it's fiction. Even its "facts" are just pretend, so if necessary, you can just pretend they were different facts all along. It's preferable to maintain the illusion of consistency as much as possible, sure, but it's misunderstanding the entire nature of fiction to have a zero-tolerance policy for justifiable inconsistencies and other forms of dramatic license.
     
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  20. Captain Kris Kringle Pike

    Captain Kris Kringle Pike Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Honestly, the main thing about canon and fandom is the fact that fans have infinitely more time than production teams to go over every single detail! Take Bjo Trimble's concordance as a great example. On paper it looks and sounds very congruent. In reality it was a lot of by the seat of their pants flying to make the shows work.

    Fans are more obsessive about this than production teams can afford to be.
     
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