“Canon is only important to certain people because they have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae.”
I have not seen the new Star Trek movie, yet, but you don’t have to have watched it to have heard about the big controversy it’s apparently causing among diehard fans.
It’s all about something called canon.
Canon is basically decisions made in the present as a story is being told that will one day be viewed as an unshakable past that is supposed to forever guide the future.
To put it less philosophically, it’s about how the characters and events of the Star Trek universe got to where they are. The backstory, so to speak, that keeps evolving as time goes on and stories keep being told. It’s a sort of storytelling continuity.
After all, you wouldn’t have wanted Spock’s father to be a respected Vulcan ambassador in Season 1 and then suddenly a poor bricklayer in Season 2. Some parts of canon aren’t as important as others. Some parts, however, would get you blasted with a phaser if you attempted to mess with them.
The Andy Griffith Show had little slip-ups along the way. Don Knotts’s character of Barney the bumbling deputy was identified in one episode as Barnard P. Fife, but in another episode, his middle name was Oliver. In still another, it was listed as Milton. The Taylors’ home was said to be at 24 Elm Street on one episode, but at 14 Maple on another and 332 Maple on another. These are nitpicky things, I realize, but there was another episode of the show when Opie decided to burn his father a new house number with his new wood-burning set. He was burning a giant 3 into the house. So if the address had been 24 Elm or 14 Maple, where would the 3 have come from?
You’d never believe it, but even shows like The Price is Right have a sort of canon in terms of the way things are done, at least as some fans see them.
Since taking over hosting duties of the show from Bob Barker, Drew Carey has annoyed some fans in a variety of ways. One of them, for some people, has been in reference to the qualifying bidding round that precedes each pricing game where four players in Contestants Row attempt to bid on an object and get as close as they can to its actual retail price without going over. For years, Barker refered to what they were bidding on as the “item up for bids.” Carey calls it a “prize up for bids.”
And yes, people are actually arguing about this. Some fans have spent entirely too much time deciding that item is more correct because an item is what is bid upon in an auction, and that this one-bid segment is, essentially, an auction. Other fans have countered this argument by saying that since the contestants aren’t using their own money, and are basically attempting to win the object by guessing its price as accurately as possible, they’re literally playing for a prize and there’s therefore nothing wrong with calling it a prize up for bids.
I tend to be in the apparent minority of diehard fans who feel that there are far more important things to worry about.
There are even certain pieces of music used on that show that have come to be associated with certain pricing games. When the music director uses a different cut of music at a specific point, some fans attempt to argue that the guy used the “wrong” piece of music. It’s not wrong…it’s their show. They can play whatever music they like, and fans will have to deal with it.
Life’s tough sometimes.
The problem this new Star Trek movie is causing, apparently, is in changing some of the known history that has been slowly established over the last 43 years since Star Trek came onto the American scene. I don’t know specifics, and I wouldn’t spoil them if I did, but at least now you get a sense of what I’m talking about.
But Star Trek is 43 years old and its popularity has been fading for some time. Paramount had the choice of either pulling the last of the plugs on the show and letting it drift away into oblivion, or attempt to spark an interest in a new generation of viewers who either were too young to have seen the original and later series, or who look at them now and find them so hopelessly dated that they can’t enjoy the show.
Thus, a reboot was deemed necessary. Or at least deemed necessary. Some things, apparenty, that we’ll see in this movie sort of contradict what we thougth we knew about the history of the characters as we came to know them since the show’s 1966 premiere. That, naturally, is going to set a lot of people off.
Sometimes, though, a reboot is exactly what we need. If only life were as easy to reboot as a television franchise.
You know how it goes: years and years ago, you set out on a path of financial irresponsibility, at least to some degree, and that paved a way for a very specific future. You can fight, scrape and struggle to get bills paid off, but you can’t erase the mistakes of your past, and you can’t make back the money you lost by not having been more frugal from the beginning.
Maybe it’s that first drink oh-so-many years ago that got you on the path that led to many years of struggling with alcohol. Or stumbling across an adult magazine at an overly-impressionable age that put you in the perfect position to deal with that kind of addiction.
We don’t get to rewrite our canon, as nice as it would be if we could. We’re stuck with what we’ve done and have to be left with the hope that we‘ll overcome our problems and just not go back to them.
If we’re lucky, the next chapters of our lives at least take our canon in a different direction. Yes, that original path is still part of us. But it doesn’t have to be forever.
If we’re just willing, once in a while, to reboot ourselves.