So how important is canon, then?

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

  1. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The other way around from what I've observed. It's not important... until suddenly it's VERY important!

    "Oh my God! This thing I never previously thought about for two seconds in my life now matters all the world to me because it appeared in a Kurtzman Production! AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! The TOS Enterprise on Picard has STD Pylons!!! This Picard isn't my Picard!"

    I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but I'm not.
     
  2. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That’s a fair point. Hard to argue….
     
  3. Bork359

    Bork359 Lieutenant Newbie

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    Canon is about respect and internal consistency. When you tell stories in an established fantasy world, it must function within the previously defined rules of that world and any new rules must not conflict with established ones. Otherwise, you're not being respectful to the IP, you're just using it as a way to cloak your story in an already popular IP as a cheap and easy way to get people to consume it. This is especially important when new creators take on old stuff written by others decades ago, like Star Trek. If you can't follow that basic rule, you should create your own world instead.
     
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  4. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But which is the correct interpretation of a universe which has already been imagined a dozen incompatible ways? Does Voyager suck because crossing the galaxy now takes a lifetime in Starfleet's fastest ship, even though TOS could have made the journey in a month?
     
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  5. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not that I agree with Gene Roddenberry, but this was his stance back in 1990, in regards to TNG:

    "Several years later, at a STAR TREK convention in Los Angeles, about a year before his death, Gene Roddenberry spoke to the gathered fans about the future of STAR TREK. He had seen his creation span generations of viewers, he had heard the fans of both The Original Series and the new debate the pros and cons of both, and though there had been no formal talks of a third series at this time, he spoke of how he perceived STAR TREK's future, after he was gone.

    With a charm and sincerity that clearly came from a person who was used to studying human behavior from the perspective of one who looked into the future, Roddenberry said that he expected -- indeed, he hoped -- that in the years to come, new generations of fans would look at the new forms of STAR TREK being produced and say, "This is real STAR TREK. Those other people back there at the beginning, they didn't do it half as well." "

    - Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Star Trek book authors, 1994 - The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, p. 49

    link

    BTW, I have a copy of that book and I did in fact read that Gene Roddenberry quote in there.
     
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  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is typical of how creators approach their work. Audiences see the finished product and think of the work as a singular thing, so they get attached to the form they know and resist change. But creators know that what they create is the end result of a long process of trial, error, revision, and refinement, that it started out as a mess and it took a lengthy process of change and improvement before it was ready to be seen, and that the form that got released was not perfect but was just what they had to settle for when they ran out of time. ("Art is never finished, only abandoned.") And beyond any single work, they're constantly learning and growing and (hopefully) improving as creators, so that their later work is better than their earlier work.

    So the idea that "respect" for a work means condemning any change or inconsistency is alien to creators. To us, respect for a work means respect for its potential, for the ideal we aspired to but never actually reached. Respect means being willing to repair its flaws and make it better, or to let it grow and change with the times and leave behind its outdated elements. Creators are tinkerers; what we value is not any single version of a work, but the process by which we designed and built it from the ground up, always trying to improve it and bring out more of its potential.
     
  7. Bork359

    Bork359 Lieutenant Newbie

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    Be sure not to mistake respecting an IP's potential with its potential to be exploited for a quick buck.

    Within the idea of respecting cannon , there is a world of difference between modifying something like the speed of a warp drive that was never really clearly defined previously, and changing the entire tone of the show, or changing how a major organization like the Federation behaves.

    An IP is never yours to tinker with as you see fit, unless you take some sick pleasure in to tricking its already established fan base in to consuming your less polished, less creative, inconsistent, inferior product.

    Now, if you take a beloved IP and improve in it in the right ways, like TNG did for TOS, than you'll be hailed. Just don't pull a Discovery and turn a series based on optimism, human potential, peace, and scientific exploration into a violent depressing hell slog.
     
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  8. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Captain Captain

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    And I'll add, many don't have a clue about the right and wrong ways of improving to maintain the quality of the storytelling along with the consistency of the overall universe. For many of the people working with the "franchise" today, I'm reminded of Ed Wood. They think they're brilliant, yeah...
     
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  9. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    So Roddenberry should have left the Enterprise as a UESPA ship?
     
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  10. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @Bork359 ^Your talking about consistency, not canon. Two different things. You cannot violate canon but Consistency Violations happen all the time.
    Usually on purpose to fix some aspect of the story that has become dated or foolish. Sometimes accidentally. Huge franchise, easy to overlook something. Stop listening to the hater channels. They only care about clicks. Owners say what is or isn't canon.

    The Summer Of Borg! I was there. I remember being crammed into that auditorium with standing room only as, at a table perched above the crowd, Gene Roddenberry introduced Rick Berman as his successor.

    Retroactive-continuity. The latter is considered correct, until it isn't. :lol:
     
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  11. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Captain Captain

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    Kind of, kind of not. One of the things that frustrates most people about verbiage is that the words can be used in different ways, often differing based on context. Where canon is concerned, until very recently the more common usage came closest to:
    3[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard]
    a: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture
    b: the authentic works of a writer - the Chaucer canon
    c: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works - the canon of great literature​
    With the advent of a highly connected media fandom, that meaning has sometimes changed to something like "what the producers put out." I've never researched this, but my gut feeling is that that usage became common for less sprawling franchises in which the producers were actively trying to maintain consistency instead of sprawling franchises produced by many who couldn't care less about consistency and more than a few who were actively ignoring it. With that former group, canon and consistency are somewhat the same thing; they want to maintain consistency, so whatever they put out is (largely) consistent canon.

    But that original sense of canon still exists, is still used (probably daily) and can still be applied. The producers would have you believe that if they make an episode it's original-sense-canon, when in reality, they're sometimes new-sense-canon at best.
     
  12. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's been stated before, but... The "canon" is simply the body of work. Whether everything within that canon is consistent with everything else is a whole 'nother matter, entirely. And then we have different versions of episodes or movies; original, remastered, Director's Cut, whatever. Which versions of those are canon? All of them, of course.

    It's kind of a joke to be using a lofty word like "canon" with ephemeral pop culture in the first place. Within any particular canon (literary, musical, religious, whatever), not everything necessarily lines up perfectly, and there are often multiple versions of the same work. Religious writings that give differing descriptions of the same story are still considered part of the same canon. It falls upon the scholars to explain any apparent discrepancies.

    Kor
     
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  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not that recent. It goes back to things like Sherlock Holmes -- the canon is the sixty prose works by Conan Doyle, and everything else like plays and movies and pastiches by other authors is outside the canon. Although it does get more complicated when it's the work of multiple creators, like a TV or comics series.


    You always want to maintain the illusion of consistency, but ultimately it is all illusion. What a lot of fans today don't seem to understand is that the surface details like continuity are not the exclusive purpose of the exercise, but are a means to the end of telling a story about characters and ideas and conflicts and emotions and experiences. The surface details and the illusion of consistency are useful tools in telling that story, but they're the means, not the end, and if the needs of the story require bending continuity here and there, then you do so, while trying to do it in a way that preserves the illusion of a consistent reality, at least for the duration of the immediate experience.


    The producers usually don't have to think about canon, because what they create is the canon automatically. A fish doesn't have to think about water, except when it's removed from it. Canon is really only a question that comes up in connection to the supplementary material like tie-in novels and comics, and that's usually outside the creators' purview. It's more a preoccupation of the fans.
     
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  14. Bork359

    Bork359 Lieutenant Newbie

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    If Jeff Bezos bought the rights to Lord of the Rings and wrote a 5th Age novel about Legolas starting a rock band, he could call it cannon. Would it actually be cannon in the minds of Tolkien fans? Hell no.

    We can't reduce what is and isn't cannon to a simple legal term of ownership. It's really more of a democratic process in the minds of the established fanbase. Ownership of the IP is necessary but not sufficient for creating a new canonical work. The following must also be respected:

    -Consistency with the setting, theme, and tone of previous canonical works.
    -Consistency in character behavior with previously established characters. The more important the character in previous cannon, the more you'd damn well better follow this rule (looking at you Luke Skywalker.)
    -Following previously established rules of how the science or magic of the world works.

    Like I said before it's really a matter of respect to the spirit of the work you're expanding on. You may get away with mutilating a beloved franchise and calling it cannon in the courtroom, but you'll get dragged in the court of public opinion if you stray too far from these parameters.
     
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  15. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    No the rules of canon are very straight forward and clear about all things. This is why all religions agree abou the contents and meanings of their sacred texts, as well as what new editions should be added. Thankfully this has always worked and never wound up in schisms, conflicts, violence.
    :eek:
     
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  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed, and it continues on with nebulous terms around "respect" of a fictional work, when even in Star Trek the original author decided that some of his original work was not in line with his current point of view. So he updated it and gave a whole new generation of Trek shows. And so it will continue on, without an ounce of care for respect.
     
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  17. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nope.

    This one right here is the only one that matters. The OWNERS are the sanctioning body, not fans. They, (the owners) have decreed: Filmed episodes of Star Trek are canon, unless they (owners) specify otherwise. Written Star Trek's are not canon, unless they (owners) specify otherwise. Any thing else is hand waving distraction.

    Please don't make it more difficult than it needs to be. It is so simple; Discrepancies in Star Trek are Consistency Violations. ;)
     
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  18. Bork359

    Bork359 Lieutenant Newbie

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    That's an extremely narrow, capitalist interpretation of cannon. So narrow as to be basically meaningless in this discussion. That point of view allows for inexcusable actions such as Disney decannonising the entire Star Wars extended universe when they bought the IP from Lucasfilm. In my mind, the EU is still cannon and nothing Disney put out so far is, except perhaps the Mandalorian, since they've violated the rules I've laid out. Episodes 7-9 were complete trash sci-fi movies, wearing a grotesque star wars skin suit.
     
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  19. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It is not "cannon", it is canon. Talk about meaningless, you don't even know what it is you are defending! Capitalist interpretation? Wtf. We are not talking about Star Wars, how they define canon or not is irrelevant!

    Ok kids, you have fun, and stay out of the street.
     
  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. Fans are a passionate group and that passion generates a close affinity that feels very much like ownership of the property but it is not. The creator, or film company, get to say what is and is not canon. How fans decide to interact with it will always be different but we, the fans, don't get to make canon.

    Otherwise, TOS is the only canon for my money ;)
     
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