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February 12 2007

What Is Canon? Though mostly about Doctor Who, this entry in writer Paul Cornell's blog mentions how the Buffy fandom is able to accept comics as canon, when there is debate over what is and isn't canon in off-screen Doctor Who.

I agree with the bit about Buffy. If Joss said it happened, then it's canon. Even when he's retconned himself, as in the case of Buffy/Immortal, ahem.
It’s enough for Buffy fans, for instance, who seem to unanimously agree with Joss Whedon’s declaration that the new comic continuation of the series is canonical.


Personally I think that there is a sizeable minority who don't see the series as canon (for whatever reason). So I would suspect that our fandom is closer to the Doctor Who fandom than the writer might think.
Yep, you're right there Simon. For example I'm one those who's in two minds whether to accept these comics as cannon or not, even though Joss has penned them, weird as that may seem, and judging by a few on lj I'm not the only one.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2007-02-12 17:28 ]
When I told friends and family about Buffy being continued in a comicbook format, the superfans were thrilled that there would be more stories from the man himself. The casual fans of the show said it sounded interesting but that they probably will read my copy if I lend it to them.

This leads me to believe that if you know who Joss is, you can accept this as cannon. If you dont know who he is, you probably can't imagine how a comic can compare to a show with favorite actors.

I assume most folks that have found this board know who Joss is and what it means for him to say what is and isn't cannon.
Even when he's retconned himself, as in the case of Buffy/Immortal, ahem.

In fairness to Joss, he actually posted about that very issue here a month or two back. In his opinion (I think), that one isn't retcon. Unless I'm, you know, wrong.

My view on this one is quite simple: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's world, which we party in occasionally.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-02-12 17:50 ]
It's strange to me. I don't really understand how the original creator's decision as to whether the comics are canon isn't enough for some folk. Presumably their issue is with the characters not being portrayed by the actors but what happens if Joss gets the chance to make some direct to DVD films which rely on plots and ideas originated in the comics ? Will the 'non-canon section' of the fandom judge those films to be non-canon too (because surely anything derived from non-canonical works must also be non-canon whether the actors are involved or not) ? Or will the comics suddenly become retroactively canonical when the films exist to 'validate' them ?

To be brutally honest I do wonder if this isn't just a case of our old friend anti-comics snobbery raising its head in some instances (though certainly not all).
I'm kinda confused about the retcon charge towards the Immortal/Buffy hookup. In the episode, we (along with Angel and Spike) heard information from Andrew and saw a blonde girl dancing from behind. That's it. The new information fits that exactly; there was no proof that must be explained away or scenes from Buffy's point of view that must be ignored.

And, since that relationship always bugged the heck out of me anyway, I read the new version with barely controlled glee...

Joss wrote it. I believe it. That settles it.
It's canon to me since Joss said it is. For better or worse. So far it's for the better (Buffy/Immortal) but things can happen to my favorite characters that I wouldn't like and I'll accept it since it's canon.

But there are definitely fans out there that aren't open to the comics being canon (which is sort of understandable), and for some, if they don't like the direction the story takes they wouldn't consider it canon. There's all different views out there. Personally, the creator's say so means it's canon and a format change to comics doesn't affect my view of story's canon-ness.

[ edited by maje on 2007-02-12 18:04 ]
At this point I really don't think the comic book will ever really compare to the series, just because of the obvious limitations. But just because that's true doesn't mean the comics aren't canon. It's Joss' world and it doesn't really matter whether you like the comic situation (or what is happening in it) or not. If Joss says they are canon, they are. End of story. I don't even see this as something to be debated.
I'm not particularly fond of comics, but if the creator of the story says its part of the big story then there you go.
To back up C.A. Bridges, not just a blonde girl, but a blonde girl that we knew perfectly well was not Buffy (well, not SMG). So yeah, no retcon. Just cleverness.
Trouble is (and I know I haven't read an issue yet, I may love it for all I know) but to be honest most of the info and artworks that have been leaked so far I've positively disliked and to my mind seem far removed from what Buffy the TV series was actually about.

Some of us old fuddy duddy's may not like this new world full of armed up to the teeth 'baby slayers' and the story that they may bring with them. But we'll see, as I said it may be great.

And yes, in all fairness it is 'canon, as it was Joss's creation, but we as fans don't have to go along with this new view of the show if we don't want to. Fanfic is evidence of that fact.

Also, at the end of the day, those who either hate comics (which strangely enough as a long time comic collector I don't) won't buy them, whilst others may not even bee aware of them in the first place and so won't know anything of these new stories.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2007-02-12 19:12 ]
Our fandom has only spoken with one voice in the last few years and that was in regards to the campaign to get a sixth season for Angel. I love my Buffyverse fandom dearly but it is fractured and trying to get a consensus on anything is a sodding miracle. So I just accept it as it is. It's full of diverse opinions and groupings.

If some people see the comics as canon then that's great. Joss says it's canon and I go along with what the creator says. If others don't, well that's their decision and I got to respect it (even though I disagree with it). As long as we don't resort to nasty words and fisticuffs before dawn, I think we should be fine.
Words and fisticuffs before Dawn
might just lead to getting stepped on.
Poor old Dawn.....:) *runs off before Simon can belt me*
Nah, there's no way i'm getting up that early, especially for fisticuffs.

... but we as fans don't have to go along with this new view of the show if we don't want to. Fanfic is evidence of that fact.

Well, you don't have to like it obviously but, to me at least, there's not a lot of choice about going along with it. Canon is canon. If canonical events conflict with fan-fic then surely the fan-fic is 'wrong' ?

For example, much as I might desperately want Wash to still be alive* (and I do) just thinking 'well, i'm not gonna go along with that bit' isn't going to get me very far. Worse luck ;(.


* in the entirely un-alive made up sense ;)
Oh lord, all sorts of fandoms run with the original source material and end up adapting it to fit their own views and needs. They then in turn protect those ideas and won't step away from them, whatever the creator says or does. That's how fandom works out there on the web.

But as I said it's easy to ignore the comics by just not reading them if someone so wishes.

At the end of the day the comic is just a comic, which most people out there who aren't 'hard core' fans won't know a jot about. They will have only heard about TV series, and that's about it.

After saying all this, I will of course be buying them! :)

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2007-02-12 19:36 ]
As Paul Cornell notes, the question of "canon" is all about authority. There is no canon without an authority to say what's in it, and what's not. If there is a canon, there's really no one but Joss to say what it's composed of.
I you want to decide what to include in your own "Buffy" universe, no one will stop you. But that universe isn't "canon", unless there's some authority I don't know about.
Generally speaking, I see canon this way: There's canon, community canon, and personal canon.

(I get that technically this doesn't make sense, because really canon shuold be an "official" concept, but breaking it down this way helps discussing the question, I think.)

As an example, when Joss made Simon the personal rescuer of River in the movie, it contradicted what Simon told the crew in the series. Many fans adopted a sort of community canon that said Simon wasn't telling the crew the fully-true story because he had just met them. Later, Joss said he had adopted the same "fanwank", thereby making it official canon, not merely community canon.

Ultimately, people will pick and choose what branch of the storytelling makes personal or collective sense for them. That part I get.

The only part I have never gotten is when people try to argue that something is or isn't OFFICIAL canon, when it's usually pretty easy to determine that one.
Y'know, I have always had trouble with the use of words such as "creator" when discussing Joss or other show nabobs, because the word has overtones suggesting that one cannot question a creator, or The Creator. This is my own thing, though. BUt when we refer to Joss as the creator, it makes it harder for anyone to question what he does. Just saying.

And having said that, when we speak of the comic as canon, I think what we are really saying is that the comic is supposed to be set in the same world as the series and will operate using the agreed upon history that we watched over 7 seasons. By calling it canon, we give it more power, when all it is is a code to let people know it is set in the world we are already familiar with and the characters are designed to be as we remember them. And then, of course, we are free to accept or not accept this new "canon." Entire worlds exist to serve the needs of the fans, from sites such as the Kittenboard, to Soulful Spike, Shadows and Light, Buffy Lives, etc. Yes, the fans on each have appropriated the characters for their own needs, but I see nothing wrong with that, nor do I see anything wrong with agreeing that the comic is canon or not agreeing that it is. It will be what it will be to each reader, and will serve different needs in each. For me, it will be a way to see how Joss envisioned these characters post-Chosen, and for that I am interested, as much as I am to see whether or not characters I love, such as Tara Maclay, may appear- even as we believe that canon says she cannot (or at least as the book series has made clear).

Whatever it is, it will be an interesting ride. :-)
Joss Whedon is to Buffy/Angel/Firefly as George Lucas is to Star Wars as Gene Roddenberry is to Star Trek. When all is said and done what they (or their estate) say goes. As much as I might like some Star Wars games or books or what-have you George Lucas says it's not cannon so it's not. I don't like the "new" Star Wars movies but he says they are cannon so they are.

This has happened before in the other direction kind of. Bendis writes Ultimate Spider-Man. He also wrote the Ultimate Spider-Man game which is considered to be cannon, so I have to take it into account.

With Dr Who there is no one single creator I can think of which complicates the matter. Some places refuse to think of the 1996 TV movie Doctor as cannon and think the current Doctor is therefor #9 not #10.
Does the word "canon" have any meaning outside of "official canon"? That's, you know, what the word means, no? If you start making any other kinds of rules about what's in and out, it's sort of like an attempt to limit peoples' imaginative use of the created world, isn't it?
IMNSHO - You can question the creator all you want, but he's still the creator and if he says its canon its canon. You can certainly choose to believe things that aren't canon or choose to ignore things that are. Regardless, they are still (or still aren't) canon and in either case you are free to believe as you want, unshackled by what that bastard Joe Sweden (kidding, big purple) decides. And lets be clear, its not that the word creator that has overtones of no-questioning, that's a subtext that you bring or don't bring based on your pov. Or at least I don't view it as having those overtones, which is proof enough to me :)
I think the canon issue is really split.I've seen all types of opinions.Everything from it's not canon since the actors aren't playing the roles to it's only canon if things happen in it that I like or agree with.I know some felt that if Angel and Spike don't have a big role or if they didn't appear at all,it can't be canon.I'm sure some feel that the IDW Angel line should be canon and are going to consider that canon.

Because it's a comic and not actually on-screen,people can create for themselves some more wiggle room on accepting what Joss does here and denying what they don't like.On-screen makes it seem more real.My opinion is pretty much what maje feels.Joss says this is canon so for better or worse,whatever happens here is canon to me.Thankfully so far,it's been for the better starting with Buffy/The Immortal.Just like with the shows though,if a plotline goes in a direction I don't like,I will still consider it canon.

As for The Immortal and Andrew stuff,I go back to the interview that Scott Allie did recently in the official Buffy magazine.

Angel still had one more TV season after Buffy,and throughout that year,the scripts made reference to what Buffy and her team were doing in the meantime.Fans have already asked Scott how those canon references will play into this new season."The answer is that Joss will address it,but probably not in a way that fans are expecting it."he offers,cryptically.I don't think what was said about Buffy in that final season of Angel,that Joss has to follow that to the letter.He won't contradict anything,but you will be surprised."


In this case,he's not really contradicting things but adding a new wrinkle to what we knew or rather what we thought we knew.Andrew still told Angel and Spike what he did in Damage and TGIQ.Angel and Spike still saw what they saw in TGIQ.It's just now we have this new piece of information from the BTVS side of the things.This new wrinkle.Andrew still told Angel and Spike what he did in Damage and TGIQ,BUT it wasn't 100% truthful.Angel and Spike still saw what they saw in TGIQ,BUT it wasn't really Buffy that they saw with The Immortal.It was a double.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2007-02-12 20:23 ]
What I'm looking forward to, is when, years down the line, people who became fans of the comic book start arguing that the TV series aren't canon.
To elaborate:

Also, the "what the creator says goes" argument falls into holes. I know we all want to disregard Star Trek V, but it got made, and Gene Roddenberry's calling it apocryphal doesn't convince me otherwise. Besides, Roddenberry stopped being the sole voice for Star Trek a long time before his death; it's not like Lucas or Whedon for Trek. If Roddenberry's estate suddenly declared that "Enterprise" is awful and so wasn't canon, well, too bad. The studio owns it now. It's not pretty, but monetary ownership may be the only way to determine canonity in an "official" manner.

I am going with the "creator" argument for "Buffy" because he has always been clearly *the* primary creative voice behind it, which falls aart in the "Trek" case, and I think it applies; it's still sort of a judgment call. Anyway, interpreting something as canon doesn't mean you have to like it, or accept it into your "personal canon," an even MORE fluid concept.

Discussion question: is Scarlett, the 1991 sequel to Gone With the Wind, which was "authorized" (I'm not sure by whom, but Wikipedia *says*...), canon, even though it came out more than 40 years after Margaret Mitchell died? And what are the differences between this and (again) "Enterprise," if any, that allow us to differentiate them?

I'd like responses also filled out in triplicate.


And also: (I can't shut up today) Joss' changing Buffy's story counts as a retcon, just as (as he himself said) making Spike be in love with Buffy from the start. Both are legitimate as far as I'm concerned in terms of canonity; they both make clear what the "real" story is. Of course, that doesn't address whether they're dramatically sound. Spike being in love with Buffy from the start fits so well with what has been previously established that it is. Buffy not being with the Immortal feels like a cheap way of getting out of the implications of her being with him. I don't mind all that much, and it's certainly not on the level of "It's okay that Superman destroyed the world, because it wasn't him!"

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2007-02-12 20:31 ]

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2007-02-12 20:33 ]
Re: Retcon...it's my understanding Joss initially meant for Buffy to be with the Immortal, then changed his mind. And he twisted it in a creative way so that it works. Therefore...retroactive continuity. Nothing bad about it, I happen to prefer the 'new' version.

From Wikipedia, the source of infinite knowledge: Retroactive continuity or retcon is the adding of new information to "historical" material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction.

I say that Joss' stuff fits the 'adding of new information to historical material'. Happens in comics all the time, from what I understand. "Oh, even though Jean Grey died, it wasn't the *real* Jean Grey, so it's all good."

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2007-02-12 20:32 ]
This main issue I have with canon is that most fans seem to accept statements made by characters as canon, whereas I do not. For example, in Firefly, is it canon that there is a planet where the principle form of entertainment is juggling geese? or is it only canon that Wash claims there is such a planet? If a character says it, and it isn't contradicted, is it gospel, or is it only gospel that they said it?

I take the narrower view, recognising that in real life you cannot generally accept what people say at face value. And I am frankly flabbergasted that this outlook is in the minority.

Hence, I don't see any retcon or fanwank in Simon's rescue of River. And to give an other example, in the Matrix I have no problem with Morpheus giving Neo the highly implausible explanation about people being used as batteries, as Morpheus could have been misinformed or concealing the truth.

I just don't understand why fans are so gosh-darn trusting - especially in a Joss-verse, where nothing is what it seems.
zg, I guess my point, which apparently did not come across well, is that even if Joss says it is canon, it only is if you want it to be. I'm not trying to state the obvious here, only trying to wrap my arms around the idea that this fictional universe is "real," a point brought up in the article we are commenting on. What makes it real? I guess this is why I like the idea of community canon versus authorial canon- yes, I do agree, if Joss says it's canon, well, by golly there is no one better to state that. But I also think that simply because he does, one is not obligated to accept that, whatever that non-acceptance means. To the kittens, for example, there is no Buffy after S5- whatever that means. I bring them up only as an extreme example, for they have no problem with the canon up to S6. At S6, they reject Joss's canon and substitute their own. But I can't really get my arms around this idea, about what it means and whether it is important. I just want good story telling personally. :-)

As to my comment about "creator," what I meant is that words have meaning and then they can have meta-meaning, and politicians, for example, use this all the time. We can change the terms of the debate simply by choosing the words we use. I meant no more than that and was mainly trying to raise a broader issue, not one specifically directed at this debate.

As to Buffy and The Immortal, I don't see that as a retcon, because we never really saw her in the scene and thus it might not be what it immediately seemed to be, as we are in process of finding out.
I think if something is still actively going the what's on screen is canon, comics and books are nice, and if they fit in that's all nice and dandy, but it doesn't add anything to the show and is just a little extra for fans.

Of course some pieces just say "bugger that" and focus instead on writing a good story, regardless of continuity eg. Spike & Dru, if Spike had killed another slayer, we would have heard about it. Again I remember being puzzled about 7/8 years ago when I read a Star Trek novel, think it was "Federation" and it goes on about this noble, visionary Zephram Cochrane, before my Dad explained that at least in the Star Trek universe, TV/Movies = canon, books = not canon, and that's pretty much where I continue to stand on most things, unless we've been told otherwise.

It always impresses me how the Star Wars novels, despite all being written by various authors, have managed to build up this huge continuity that they all work within, but it seems that when the day comes that Lucas is desperate for a bit more cash and decides to do Episodes VII - IX, that'll all be thrown away, as he's apparently said he doesn't consider them canon.

When somethings been off the air or out of production for a while (like Star Wars, Buffy, Doctor Who) and then starts up again it becomes difficult, as they know full well that not everyone will have read all the other various bits that have been produced in the mean time, and it's much simpler for the sake of the majority of the audience to just carry on from where they last left off. It becomes more difficult the longer the show is off the air, as more and more officially licensed, yet possibly not officially canon material is published, the characters grow and develop through many more adventures, and yet when the show returns they're supposed to forget all of that, and go back to where they last left the characters on the TV. Though I do believe that should Joss ever get to produce more live action Buffy it'd probably be set after the upcoming comics, but I don't think this would be the same for other shows.

Still amazes me that even the canon of some of the stuff on the TV is contested, like how Spike went to Africa to get his soul, which has been confirmed by the actor, writers, creator, cameraman, and yet people still insist he went for a chipectomy, even so far as to that being included as the reason for his visit in the official episode guide.

Sorry for the long and ramblyness, but I think there's a point (or possibly points!) in there somewhere.

war_machine said:
"Some places refuse to think of the 1996 TV movie Doctor as cannon and think the current Doctor is therefor #9 not #10."


Despte the fact that this is one of the places where it's canonocity has been cleared up, as both the BBC and Russel T. Davies have said that the new episodes of Doctor Who carry on from the original 26 seasons and the TV movie.

It's the half human thing that does it I think, but as long as it's never mentioned again we can just assume it was specific to that regeneration, or that it's just something that is, and we don't need to go on about it, he considers himself more Time Lord than human.
Not got a problem with questioning Joss as creator (nor with calling him 'creator', that's a label I apply to people who, err, create things ;). But then i'm into questioning creators in general ;-).

By calling it canon, we give it more power, when all it is is a code to let people know it is set in the world we are already familiar with and the characters are designed to be as we remember them.

True, but for me 'canon' is also about what could happen afterwards. If the comics are canon then what that's really saying to me is that anything after the comics (in whichever medium) will have to continue as if the events as shown in the comics occurred (which is why although it's true the comics are 'just comics' it's also true that they're an official continuation of the story so that missing them is the same as missing part of a season as far as any future projects are concerned. It's up to the individual what they watch or read but they can't then say "Yeah, but that doesn't make sense" if the events make perfect sense given that you've read the comics).

That said, I reckon I find myself in a slightly inconsistent position since i've argued in the past that the creator's opinion isn't definitive regarding the interpretation of their work. Does deciding what's canon and what's not count as interpretation ? Or does the creator get definitive choice over which events can be said to have occurred in their work but not over how those events can be interpreted ?

(and yeah, AlanD, to me, if a character says it it's still just hearsay, otherwise we couldn't have nifty stuff like unreliable narrators but if we're actually shown an event directly - i.e. not as it's being related by a character - then it has actually happened and would need a true 'retcon' to undo. Or in other words, juggling geese, not certain. Crappy town where Jayne's a hero - no-matter how weird that may seem ;) - certain)
I'd say what is or isn't canon is up to the creator. Which really applies well to stories that have a single (main) creator. Then again, as a reader you can always choose for yourself what to ignore and what to accept. Just don't start claiming that your opinion is a true one that others should adhere to. For instance, I fully accept that 'Hannibal Rising' is technically canon, but personally I choose to complete ignore any aspect of it as having anything to do with 'Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal. But I know Thomas Harris wouldn't agree.

As for retcon, since when is it an ugly word? And why do people continue to make up new definitions for such terms? (I still can't believe what some people make of tems like 'deus ex machina' or 'jumping the shark') If this Immortal/Buffy thing isn't a retcon, then nothing ever is a retcon!

If a character dies and you bring them back to life, it's not a retcon. If a character dies and you write it so they never really died, then it's a retcon. (Like Joss retconned the crap out of Colossus' death on the X-Men. And since I never liked how Peter's death was handled, I was happy he did it!)

How good an idea a retcon is, and if people will like it are entirely separate issues. People were pissed at Marvel because the resurrection of Jean lessened the classic tragic ending of The Dark Phoenix Saga. But it was technically a 'good' retcon in that it retroactively fit continuity. (But clearly not the idea at the time of the original story!)

If Joss suddenly started writing that Dawn is really Buffy's sister and that she was never the Key, that wouldn't be a retcon, it would simply be a crude and illogical disonnect from continuity. (At Marvel and DC they're masters at this by now)

If Joss had intended at the time that the TGiQ Buffy wasn't really her, and clearly showed that to the viewer somehow, this wouldn't be a retcon, because this was always the idea.

But it WASN'T the idea at the time. He changed his mind recently, and it's technically a good fit with what was seen, (re: it doesn't counter it, it just re-exaplins it to be something different than we thought) so it's the perfect example of a retcon. And what's wrong with that? A retcon by itself is neither good nor bad. That depends entirely on what is done and how. This is well done, and most fans will enjoy it to boot.

[ edited by EdDantes on 2007-02-12 21:05 ]
OH, it's that quite simple but also quite complex subject of canonity again.

I hate to discuss canonity. Some canonity discussions can get even dirtier that shipping subjects, with some scary passionate fans around it.

I'll always stick with my take that there's always multiple takes on canonity. There's one that the general rule, most people (I said most, not all) accept as the canon. This "official" canon is what will appear in any basic handbook, though it got enough flaws and holes that is always open for discussion. And there's your personal canon, from whatever sources you'd like to take in. That personal take is the one that you're most satisfied with, that you even take in information that you might not agree with, give your own spin into it. It might even be sorta close to the "official" canon, but there's always a personal take into things.

After all, at the end of the day being a fan of something like Buffy, Angel, Star Trek, etc. is a very personal experience. It's so personal, that we take upon ourselves a certain amount ownership over the product, the story and characters, that we can be so passionate to say "be not" to something that the main creator of it said "be". That becomes even more complicated when you face multiple authorship like in Dr. Who's case delved in the blog post from this thread.

The change of medium do cause a lot of stress into this matter, because for some fans it is not only important who's telling the story, but also how this story is being told. And definetely live action to live action is a lot easier to accept than just printed paper, a lot of because the print, although in some ways, ambiguous, make it less real, less palpable.

Joss has been talking very clearly that this is going to be different, the Buffy we'll see in seaon 8 is and isn't the same we knew before, and the change of medium is a huge part of it. And as a result, part of tbe fandom will feel frustated, is not like everybody thinks the same way.
Re: Personal canon... I agree that pretty much every single fan in any fandom will have a slightly different view of the "truth" of the events in any series of work. I've always been a strong believer in Reader-response theory. Authorial intent can only go so far when your work is being read by someone who brings an entirely different perspective/set of beliefs and life experiences to the table. In fact, as long as it doesn't degenerate into shipping wars and canon firing, I've always loved seeing/participating in debates about different perspectives of a creative work.

But at the same time, it DOES annoy me when people get so wrapped up in their own view of a fictional world that they'll disregard something that is blatantly official canon, just because they don't agree with it. I think it's fine to disagree with the direction a creator chooses to steer their creation (see Star Wars prequels) but if your solution is to close your eyes, plug your ears, and hum the Sesame Street theme in an attempt to pretend it doesn't exist, you're delving a bit too close to delusion, IMO.

As much as these fictional worlds can mean to us, if we can't accept the fact that they have flaws and love them in spite (or even because) of them, or that some stories work best when they are fluid rather than set in stone for all of history, we're doing them and their creators a disservice.

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-02-12 21:42 ]
True, but for me 'canon' is also about what could happen afterwards. If the comics are canon then what that's really saying to me is that anything after the comics (in whichever medium) will have to continue as if the events as shown in the comics occurred

Thank you Saje. This crystalized nicely my thoughts on canon.
And coming from a Catholic background, the thought of choosing whether to accept something as canon, when the creater says it is, boggles my mind a little. Even if I'm lapsed now.
For me, it's simple. canon is whatever Joss says it is. The Buffyverse is his creation and what happens within it is up to him. Be that on television, in movies or in comic form. If Joss says that this is how the story actually goes then I'm not going to question.

I think sometimes the viewer gets such an emotional connection to a story or character that they start to blur the line of what their role in the storytelling process is. It's up to Joss to decide what is canon and what is not, as well as in what format the story should be told. All we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy.

Now, we are free to stop watching (or reading, as the case may be). Nobody is forcing any of us to read these new stories. If we so choose we can let the story of Buffy end at the point the show went off the air. By the same logic, if you want to, you can also decide that you will only ever watch Buffy up to season five and pretend that the final two years and the Angel spinoff never happened. It's totally up to the individual viewer what part of the story they choose to enjoy.

So you can absolutely decide what part of the canon you will observe. What you can't do, as a fan, is decide what actually is canon. That is entirely in the hands of Joss. ;)
Hence, I don't see any retcon or fanwank in Simon's rescue of River.

Except that Joss himself stated, originally, that he simply contradicted the series when he wrote the opening of the movie. Only later did he decide the fanwank (a word he used) made it all work together after all.

So, if canon is what the authority says it is, then originally Joss outright said it was a contradiction, and then came to decide it didn't have to be.

So, in reality, there was a retcon/fanwank here.
Wow this page got deep fast.
Season 8 is canon, as stated by Joss.Other writers from the show are onboard.It is canon.

The issue of canon is very weird, i remember reading an interview about an early stargate episode, that is not considered by the writers as canon, yet introduced a character that "returns" in a later episode.But if it wasn't canon, then surley the return of the character is the first time SG1 actually met said character.

[ edited by feigenbaum7 on 2007-02-12 21:42 ]
"So, in reality, there was a retcon/fanwank here."

So would that be a fancon or a retwank?
I think sometimes the viewer gets such an emotional connection to a story or character that they start to blur the line of what their role in the storytelling process is.

Of course, there's also the fact that there is no set idea of what the reader's/viewer's role in the storytelling process IS. That's been debated in academic and critical circles for years. And everyone knows that those people are even crazier than fandoms.

EDIT: I really can't type today...

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-02-12 21:51 ]
Roxtar, you and I reached essentially the same conclusion even though we ended up disagreeing with each other. :-) I am not sure it matters, given your argument, if we call it canon or not, if we are free to disregard it. If it is totally up to us to decide what to watch or not, that is, in essence, our canon. AS it is for the kittens up to S5 and then after, right? Who cares how we name that, canon or not? Man, I hope I am making sense here, because I know what I am trying to say but am not sure it is coming across well.

"I think sometimes the viewer gets such an emotional connection to a story or character that they start to blur the line of what their role in the storytelling process is." Um, what IS my role in the storytelling process? Is it to be a passive participant and interpret the story only in the way the writer intended? Or, linking to reader response theory, a la Lady Brick, do my own experiences, expectations, and interpretations mean nothing? If Joss says Buffy S7 was not a comment on the Bush adnministration and I read it that way, am I wrong? And what has this to do with canon anyway? :-)

Actually, I think there is a comment above that gets to the heart of this. It is canon vs. continuity. Are we really talking about canon, or are we really referring to the show having continuity? It makes more pragmatic sense to look at this as a continuity issue- the characters and the storylines are harmonius with their original tellings. Canon is just a word that we have given power to mean something, though I am not sure we know exactly what we mean when we use it. Canon is, apparently by definition, whatever Joss says it is- but what does Joss say it is, actually? Maybe if we can figure that out, we'll know better, because right now, all canon is, is the tale Joss tells minus our interpretation of it. Boy, my mind is getting warped with this discussion; someone, help me! :-)
"So would that be a fancon or a retwank?"


Or perhaps a retfanwankcon?

[ edited by feigenbaum7 on 2007-02-12 21:55 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-02-12 22:10 ]
Lady Brick, in a way, I see your point, but in this specific debate I think the viewer's role is very much an open and shut case.

We are watching the story. Joss is writing and creating the story. In my mind that leaves absolutely no doubt as to which party is allowed to decide how the story should go.

Again, we can choose what part of the canon story we want to enjoy, and ignore any part of it we don't especially enjoy. Only Joss can truly decide what the canon story is in the first place. Our choice is only in what we observe personally, not what is canon.
zg, I guess my point, which apparently did not come across well, is that even if Joss says it is canon, it only is if you want it to be.


If Joss says its canon, its canon. Certainly there is also community canon or personal canon, but lets not muddy the waters too much. They are different beasts than canon itself. Canon (with no other words modifying it) is any story in any form that falls into official continuity, and that is whatever Joss says it is and only what Joss says it is. Personal and/or community canon are separate concepts. You can't argue with whether something is canon or not - you can choose not to accept it, which is different. In any case I think we actually agree for the most part and I wish I had more time to dive into a discussion on metatextuality and all manner of fun semantic-ness :) Always enjoy batting words about with you!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-02-12 22:13 ]
I'd say canon supersedes continuity (continuity in the comic book sense), since events in canon can alter continuity and different characters can have personal continuities. For example, in the first season of Angel, the events of "I Will Remember You" were erased from history, though Angel retained his memories of them. So they'd be part of Angel's continuity but not Buffy's, since for her they never happened.

(Of course, my interpretation of the word continuity might be off.)

ETA: Roxtar, I meant the role of the reader as interpreting what the events mean rather than what events actually happened... stuff like the "half-human" bit in the Doctor Who TV movie that was definitely said but was never explained and has thus been interpreted different ways.

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-02-12 22:16 ]
Ed Dantes, I'm very confused. If Joss decides Dawn was never the Key that's not a retcon, but deciding the girl in TGIQ wasn't Buffy is? Wouldn't making Dawn not the Key be changing original intent as well?

And Saje, I think we can differentiate between what's canon and interpretation. I think until we see the planet of the geese jugglers we can't be sure there is one. Why? Because Wash said so and Wash is (was--damn you, Whedon!) a smart-ass. It makes perfect sense to interpret it as Wash being funny. It also makes sense to interpret it as an example of how absurd the 'verse is. It's just a matter of how it strikes the individual. But it's canon that Wash said it.
Ed Dantes, I'm very confused. If Joss decides Dawn was never the Key that's not a retcon, but deciding the girl in TGIQ wasn't Buffy is? Wouldn't making Dawn not the Key be changing original intent as well?

I think, and Ed is free to correct me as he often does, that he meant if Joss started writing Dawn as though she was never the key, with no further explanation of the past, that would not be a retcon, it would be bad continuity. Like if he started writing Spike as a human, and writing as if he had been human the entire show. Not a retcon, just poor (atrocious, awful,etc) continuity.
Hey, is Dawn canon, retcon or continuity? :-) Have fun! LOL.

ZG, indeed, I enjoy the discussion immensely; I only wish I had the language to describe my thoughts, but I'm in clinical research, not critical theory, more's the pity. I want to be one of those really dense academics areguing about hegemony, binaries, liminality, The Other, opppositions, deconstruction and whatnot. :-)

Anyway, a question. You say "You can't argue with whether something is canon or not - you can choose not to accept it, which is different." But if I don't accept it as canon, how is it still canon? If we cannot agree on a defintion of canon? (And listen, I'm a chiropractor, and we have this problem with this thing called subluxation- it is at the root of what we do, and we can't agree on a definition for it!).

Now, it might still be canon to you and to anyone who thinks that what Joss writes is canon, but if I say it is not canon, who is right? And, does this question make any sense at all? But maybe, you can describe what that difference you mention in the statement I quote above is.

Lady Brick, I've never been able to get my mind around the Oracles changing the world and taking back that day. If the day never happened, how could Angel have a memory of it? It never happened! I'm not sure this is a continuity issue, unless at some later point Buffy remembers it when she should nor be able to, etc...
A reader saying "I don't think _____ is canon" is like a person saying "Pluto really IS a planet." They can say it all they want. The can even believe it. But they aren't the authority that has been established to make such decisions.

As for continuity after timeline alterations, there seems to be a difference between actual changes in the timeline (the Oracles erasing a day, Anyanka creating the Wishverse, Illyria slaughtering Team Angel in her time jumps) versus perceived changes due to altered memories and such (the monks creating Dawn, Cyvus Vail changing Conner's history.)

The first case seems to result in altered continuity where events cease to exist or are relegated to an alternate universe, though some characters (especially Angel) sometimes remember that they did in fact occur at one point. The second has an odd doubling effect where the original continuity is known and understood by the characters once the truth is revealed, yet the existence of the "false" continuity still has an effect on events (Dawn knowing Angel even though she was actually created after he left town, Conner's thankfully permanent personality change.)

EDIT: I really do know who the characters on these shows are...

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-02-12 23:19 ]
Bingo, Lady Brick. It is so much more interesting (and to the point) to discuss these issues than it is to debate whether something is "canon" or not. Canon is what it is, and everything about that canon is entirely open to discussion.
But but but, Lady Brick! Pluto is not a planet only by definition, not as a result of some set of facts per se. I mean, it was a planet, and then someone changed the definition and now it is not. But a lot of people still feel it is a planet, one being ascendant at present, so who's right? There are TWO competing authorities here, you know? So, maybe bad analogy, though I take your point. I am back to wondering who decides it is canon.

And again, if the Oracles changed things so that his day with Buffy never happened, it, uh, never happened. Never. No one should have any memory because it never occurred. Oh boy, I feel like I have fallen into a chronosynclastic infundibulum!
When it comes to canon we should just be glad we're not Battlestar Galactica fandom!
Dana-The very definition of canon includes it having been selected by an "authority". If there is a canon, the only conceivable authority to select it in this instance, is Joss.
If you don't want to accept his authority on this issue, then there just isn't a canon. Fine, no problem. But there's not some other thing that's a "canon" out there. You are, of course, free to pick and chose what you like, and criticize what you don't, or ignore it or whatever.
Lady Brick - "ETA: Roxtar, I meant the role of the reader as interpreting what the events mean rather than what events actually happened... stuff like the "half-human" bit in the Doctor Who TV movie that was definitely said but was never explained and has thus been interpreted different ways."

I can't speak to the specifics of the example you gave because my knowledge of Doctor Who is pretty much limited to the fact he travels in time, lives in the TARDIS and that Billie Piper is hot. Beyond that, not a clue. Generally speaking however, I think you are talking more about interpretation of facts and assumptions of unknowns, rather than questioning what is canon or not.

To try and use your example to demonstrate my point, if the issue of whether or not the Doctor is half-human has been raised but left a mystery beyond that, then a fan is free to come up with his or her own theory as to what the truth is. They can agree or disagree with fellow fans, each with theories of their own, but all they are truly doing is creating their own ideas. They are not creating canon as they are not the ones who are in control of the destiny of the true Doctor Who storyline.

Now, if this half-human issue is ever clarified and the writers of the show clearly state what the facts are then that, and only that, will be canon. No matter how much a fan might like their own theories or storylines or how well they may fit the show continuity, that is all their ideas can be. Personal theory.

And Dana5140, Dawn is a canon retcon retroactively placed into continuity. ;)
This canon guy sure is raisin' a ruckus. C.A. Bridges said it best and with the fewest possible words.

"Joss wrote it. I believe it. That settles it. "

Can I get that on a bumper sticker?
I am sorry but I didn't read this whole discussion. I think if Joss says Buffy season 8 is canon than it is. I do have a question about something else:

Are the comic book Tales Of The Vampires and Tales Of The Slayers considered canon?

I know in most of the stories there it doesn't matter to us if they are canon, but some do, especially one that has Dracula and Xander in it.
To be brutally honest I do wonder if this isn't just a case of our old friend anti-comics snobbery raising its head in some instances (though certainly not all).

That probably is the case for some people, but I've been a huge comics fan all my life, and I won't consider the Season 8 comics canon. I may still enjoy them, the way I enjoy, say, the Doctor Who Big Finish audios (which I also don't consider canon, but for other reasons), but a big part of what I loved about Buffy was the cast, so I think something important is lost when you no longer have the actors' contribution to the finished product. Not to mention the music people, set designers, etc.

To use a different example, I don't have a problem accepting Greg Rucka's Queen and Country novels as part of Q&C canon, since the Q&C creative team is made up of Rucka and whatever artist is working on the comic at a given moment. But while Joss was the mastermind of Buffy, the show was the result of a huge collaborative process, and moving from a performing art to a medium without performers is a pretty major shift.
Dana5140: The International Astronomical Union is the official authority that decided that Pluto did not fit the specifications of a planet. If you don't agree with them, you aren't a "competing authority", you're just stubborn.

As for the Oracle thing, I've always looked at it this way. There is a universal timeline and a personal timeline. The universal timeline is a single set of linear events that is generally shown to be self-repairing (conflicting events erased or considered an "alternate universe") with the occasional instance of circular causality (as in the first Terminator movie.) A personal timeline is also a series of linear events as seen from the perspective of any particular person.

In the real world (and in most fiction), the universal and personal timelines are identical. When you get into stories involving time travel and alternate dimensions and such, the two timelines differ. The events the Oracles erased are no longer a part of the universal timeline or Buffy's timeline, but they are still a part of Angel's. To much of the universe, Angel may appear to be a certain age, but that doesn't take into account the time he spent in that hell dimension, his day with Buffy, his minutes or hours timejumping with Illyria, etc. In this case, his personal timeline from his birth to the present is quite a bit longer than the universe's for that same period of time.

Hope that makes sense!
"That probably is the case for some people, but I've been a huge comics fan all my life, and I won't consider the Season 8 comics canon."

Again though, areacode212, and with all due respect, that isn't your call to make.

Joss has stated that this comic continues the story of the television show. He has made this comic canon. You can choose to ignore the comic, thereby ignoring this part of the canon story, but you can't decide whether or not it actually is canon.

It's like me suddenly deciding that black is white. I can tell myself all day that this is a fact and maybe eventually delude myself into truly believing it to be a fact, but it isn't a the truth and never will be. Telling yourself that the Buffy comics are not canon is the same deal, regardless of the fact that the change from television to comic format is an issue for you. It's simply not true.
I am firmly in the anything Joss says is canon is canon camp. If someone does not like Joss's story or chooses to ignore it than that is simply what they are doing. Finding similar examples from other shows or franchises are going to be difficult unless the creator of it is still alive and pretty much in control of it. (Did SG1 really air an episode of the regular series they say they don't consider canon? How very strange.)

"And again, if the Oracles changed things so that his day with Buffy never happened, it, uh, never happened. Never. No one should have any memory because it never occurred. Oh boy, I feel like I have fallen into a chronosynclastic infundibulum! "

My take is, if a bunch of monks can give 14 (?)years worth of memories about someone to everyone she would have ever come in contact with, those Oracles should be able to give Angel memories of one measly day that didn't happen. ;-)

"And Dana5140, Dawn is a canon retcon retroactively placed into continuity. ;)"

Hey! No she's not! ;-)
Wow, you guys are arguing 'original intent' like members of the Supreme Court discussing Congressional amendments to the Constitution (and BTW Congress usually intentionally leaves those vague in order to 1. get the bill passed 2. allow room for interpretation in the future). I'm not sure we can assume we know anyone's original intent. Okay, sure, Joss told us that he tried to write the comic (which hasn't even been published yet) so that Buffy had been dating the Immortal, but it wasn't working so he decided it would all work better with a retcon. But personally, from my POV, the weakest part of Angel's "The Girl in Question" was believing that that was Buffy, the girl who was dancing looked and moved nothing like Buffy. We only accepted that it was because Angel and Spike believed it. But they had lost their heads!
Oh, woe, now I'm doing it: arguing points that have been argued ad nauseum. Let me just say this: obviously saying 'canon', by definition, is recognition of an authority, and that authority is Joss. You can become a heretic and create your own canon but it is unlikely that anyone outside of your own sect will listen to you and follow you.
I'm with Areacode. Buffy was a tv show, as such I regard the whole run as 'canon'. It's now going to be a comic and Joss himself has said that requires a different brand of storytelling. I personally don't much care for comics. I am therefore not planning to follow Buffy into that particular format. I suspect that the majority of viewers from the show will also not go the comic route. So when I consider what happened in the show I base it upon what I saw, not on things writers have said in interviews aimed to clarify what they meant to show and similarly not in comics. I shall continue to discuss the show I'm sure and I shall do that without following any of the comics and will regard any retcons with the same weight I did Joss interviews - interesting as far as intent goes - but they're not going to change my mind as to what I saw. My hope is that Joss will not feel the need to meddle with what already is out there so there aren't going to be a whole host of conflicts raised when people who have or haven't followed the comics try and discuss the show.

Question. When George Lucas re-edited some of the Star Wars films did everyone just accept the new version and pretend the previous one hadn't ever existed or did they see it for what it was, a change after the fact in the story because that was now the story the creator wanted to tell?
Regarding the Stargate thing, newcj, I'm assuming that the episode in question is the season six episode The Other Guys, which was told partly from the perspective of a secondary character who may or may not have given an accurate account of the details.

It is canon in the sense that the episodes events happened within the show continuity, the only debate is how much of what we saw was entirely true and not just the character's (Jay Felger) warped view of his own importance, if you get what I mean.

Think of it in the same way as the X-Files vampire episode Bad Blood. where we saw the episode's events told from the differing perspectives of both Mulder and Scully and how the details were biased in their own favour. Similar kind of idea as that.
In my opinion, original intent can and sometimes should go out the window when writers are expanding or continuing projects/universes. Times change, people change, stories change. Personally, I prefer retcons and reimaginings to gaping plot holes, stilted stories trapped within the borders of previous continuity, or dated worlds that aren't really relevant or interesting to readers anymore. In the end, it should be about creating the best current project you can rather than preserving every tiny detail of the previous status quo, which may or may not actually work anymore.
Areacode212, I understand your thought on this. The actors mostly certainly brought something vital to the story.
But what if, in some world not ours, the success of the comics brought about a movie, with the original actors, that took place after the events of the comics and referred to those events?
Would the comics become canon in your mind? If belief in the movie events depended upon accepting that such and such happened, then how would you deal with it?
I've never seen the new versions of the Star Wars movies (I didn't like the old ones so a few extra added scenes and effects aren't going to change much for me) but I was under the impression that the change was superficial and the story itself was unchanged. Just with some extra details added in. To me that is no different than one of the current Lost writers creating a new flashback scene for one of the characters. If it fits into the established story then nothing has changed. Just more history told.

I believe all Lucas did was improve on what was already canon, rather than directly change any established fact. To the best of my knowledge that is all Joss intends to do as well. A retcon is not an issue for me as long as it fits into what is already there. If it was then entire storytelling method used on Lost would be a major problem for me. ;)

EDIT: Excellent point, Lioness.

[ edited by Roxtar on 2007-02-13 00:42 ]
"I believe all Lucas did was improve on what was already canon, rather than directly change any established fact. "

I daresay you'd get some disagreement on that one. Beware of people screaming "Han shot first." ;-)
Modern technologies blur the definition of canon. In movies, is director's cut canon? In Blade Runner, is Harrison Ford a human (regular version) or an android (director's cut)?
I love the Pluto analogy.

The reason Pluto isn't a planet is because, essentially, any sensible definition of planet either excludes Pluto, or includes other planetoids that have not previously been planets. So they picked the definition whereby none of them were. Pluto isn't a planet. Boom.

The only reasons I can see for people wanting Pluto to remain a planet are an irrational attachment to the idea of Pluto as a planet (I mean, I learned it was a planet when I was a kid and it's hard not to feel affection for the little guy, all cold and lonely out there), or an unwillingness, or reticence to accept new information as being *as valid* as the status quo. The latter makes sense, because if the scientific consensus on "What's out there" indicates that they were once wrong, how can we know that they aren't wrong now? And that they won't change their mind again? How can we be sure that they are right about Pluto?

Ultimately, well, we can't. I'm in engineering physics, I do experiments, I have courses in general relativity and quantum theory. I admit that what I actually "know" is very little; you sort of have to defer to authority on everything. If not an external authority (the scientific community, uh, Joss), then you have to defer to your own brain to ensure that your own senses are correct. Here’s an example: how much do you weigh? (No lying.) If you measure your weight, you better gosh darned trust that the scale is operating properly. If you try calibrating it yourself, you still have to assume that what ever you're using to calibrate it is the weight it says it is. And so on. And assuming that somehow, you go back to the standard used of all weights and measures and calibrate the device perfectly and eliminate every possible problem with the measurement, and you read off “150 lb,” can you absolutely trust that you're not hallucinating it?

So we can't really know anything with certainty. Pluto's planet status is based on deference to authority, or canon; which means we depend on the authority of, first of all, ourselves on accurately remembering this information about Pluto, and on the scientific community and literature on the subject.

Similarly, Joss can make mistakes. He does, in fact, and he sometimes contradicts himself. Maybe he'll make this comic series and then decide that none of it happened, and then we'll have debates about whether or not his decanonization is valid. Maybe Joss will be displaced as the primary authority on the Buffyverse. Maybe he never was. In that idea-realm where the actual Buffy universe exists, we essentially have to trust that the cameras or art panels or whatever it is that relays information to us about what "actually" happens there, just like we have to trust that the scientific community is right about Pluto. Or, maybe we don't, but that's in defiance of canon, as in what the primary authority on the subject tells us.

So let’s take an example. While I adore “Normal Again,” I cannot accept that Buffy was in a mental hospital before coming to Sunnydale. Or, at the very least, from where I’m sitting, the argument I saw in “Becoming, Part 2” between Buffy and Joyce does not fit with the idea of Buffy being in the hospital before. If Joyce had hitherto known about Buffy being in the hospital, the entire argument would have taken a different course, or at least had a mention of her being in the hospital. This is based on my understanding of human interactions. So it doesn’t make sense to me at all. So either “Becoming, Part 2” is wrong, or “Normal Again” is wrong, or my interpretation is wrong. Joss is behind the first two, directly or indirectly, but he is not infallible. Also, I am not infallible, and I can’t really “know” how people would react in this situation. I am not them, nor do I know everything about these characters. So what do I trust? Well, I could reject that part of “Normal Again” as false, but that’s me. What about canon?

Well, canon states that both episodes are true. But how can we really define that truth? Seriously here. In this idea-universe, there are cameras or something beaming down information to our television screens. “Becoming, Part 2” is pretty literal; all evidence suggests that what happens on screen “actually” happened. But “Normal Again” shifts between Buffy’s fantasy (we have a camera in her brain now too) and reality. So we know that the camera doesn’t necessarily reflect the physical reality of the Buffyverse idea reality, but can also reflect the idea reality of Buffy, who is contained within the idea reality. So we have to take it on faith that every scene we see that isn’t clearly a dream sequence is “actually” (i.e. physically) happening within the Buffyverse. But of course, if Joss later says “Oh, yeah, that episode was a dream,” does that become canon?

It comes back, too, to what someone else said about trusting what characters say. Putting aside the dream question, and assuming that all the “real-life” scenes in the Buffyverse “really happened” (i.e. within that Buffyverse reality), then all we know is that Joyce and Buffy had an argument about her slayerness where the hospital didn’t come up, and that later Buffy told Willow that she was in a mental hospital. Here’s where the fanwanking comes in. This is what we saw, but we’re only getting part of the story. Maybe Buffy is lying. (To what end? Dunno.) Maybe Buffy is hallucinating the memory of the hospital, because she’s on frakking drugs. Maybe Buffy did go to the hospital, but then Joyce and Buffy forgot about it before their argument in “Becoming, Part 2,” which is why it didn’t come up. (Maybe there was a forgetting spell?) Or maybe it’s the monks’ fault; maybe there is some reason why inserting Dawn into Buffy’s memory necessitated having Buffy go to a mental hospital for a week, so that it never really happened but Buffy remembers it. Or, you know, maybe Joyce repressed it like she repressed everything else. And of course we come back to my original point about me: that my judgment of whether or not this would come up isn’t necessarily correct. I could be coming to a wrong conclusion about what Buffy and Joyce are like, or what humans are like, from only seeing bits and pieces of the story.

Another quick one. Did Spike go to Africa to get his soul or his chip? Ignoring, for the sake of the argument, interviews, well, really, we don’t know. What we know is only what Spike said, and what the demon said, etc. So let’s have an even broader argument: how, pray tell, do we know that he got his soul anyway? We can’t “see” his soul, and we can’t rely, really, on what anyone “says,” nor can we rely on qualitative descriptions of how they act, absolutely. Or, more broadly, how do we even know that vampires are soulless, or that humans have souls? Because, uh, we’ve been told, and because they “act” like they have souls or don’t. But it comes down to how much we believe the characters, and how we interpret their actions. To my mind, there is nothing on screen, even (once again) ignoring the possibility that some of it could be a dream or a hallucination, to “prove” anything about vampires soullessness. Except maybe Joss saying so, if you’re willing to count that. Or is Joss really just another unreliable narrator?

P.S. I think the comics are *as canon* as canon can be. I also wasn't trying to start an argument about whether Spike went desiring a chip or a soul, mostly because it's been done before to death.
newcj, the episode from Stargate is "Hathor" from season 1.
Oh man, Han totally shoots first ! ;-)

(the point stands though that Lucas actually altered facts that had previously been the case in the Star Wars universe. Kind of like Spielberg changing the guns in ET to walkie-talkies. TGiQ retcon only alters the perception of facts since we never know categorically that it's Buffy dancing and, coincidentally, since it wasn't actually SMG and didn't look much like her, the old appearance of the facts fits very nicely with the retcon)

To play Devil's advocate for a second Roxtar, I think Dana5140, areacode212 and others are saying that canon doesn't have any reality outside of people's acceptance of it (it is kind of circular in that Joss defines canon, which is whatever Joss defines ;).

It seems that the reason folk can get so worked up about this issue is that, daft as it sounds, it actually goes to the heart of people's fundamental attitude towards the world. Some see subjective experience as trumping objective, some see it the other way around. Broadly, if you see some (or all) concepts as having a reality outside of our perception of them, that there is an objective metric against which everything can (and should) be judged then you're gonna agree with the 'Joss defines canon' POV (canon is a real idea, with meaning, whether one 'believes' in it or not). If you think that some (or all) concepts only have the meaning we ascribe them then you're gonna be in the 'No-one gets to define canon for me, not even Joss, because why should his subjective experience be elevated above mine ?' camp.

To some, asking "But if I don't accept it as canon, how is it still canon ?" is a bit like asking "But if I don't accept it as a table, how is it still a table ?", to others there's a fundamental difference between things like tables and 'things' like the idea of canon.

It's kind of meaning of life stuff ;).

(I suspect, BTW, that the SG1 ep in question is 'Hathor' since some of the creators have said in interview they don't consider it to be canonical. Not sure exactly what it conflicts with later on - though I don't think hathor uses her pink 'men are putty in my hands' mist again, at least partly because it's a storytelling quagmire - and I sort of wonder if by 'non-canon' they just mean "We're embarrassed by how bad it was" ;)
Hmm. I think accepting canon is probably a leap of faith, faith in the writer/creator, as I think Gossi said above, and their world. While it's great to see so many good writers sparring with each, I think faith is getting lost in intellectual discussion. I can find no fault in Joss' world other than at times, okay, many times, he has upset my emotional applecart to the point I wanted to hunt him down and have some words. But ... I keep the faith. I'm not even a comics person, yet I will travel down the road that Joss sets out for me and I'll willingly call it canon. I trust him.

I haven't thought much about other shows, because what Joss has set forth in his world is so clear. It's certainly hard(er) to accept in other shows when new characters arrive that skew events and reality as you've come to know them or the actor who plays the lead changes. I certainly stopped accepting The X-Files plots as canon when Doggett and Reyes came on board, because that world just became absurd.
Roxtar- Re Dawn, canon, retcon and continuity: the simplest answer is always best. :-) Occams' razor and all that. with regard to authorial canon, who decided that there is a Western canon? What "authority" made the decision and who decided they were the authority? Now, I am just arguing the issue here, for in fact I am looking forward to the comic to see how "canon Joss" takes the tale, but I am hung up on the word- we sort have this agreement here that what Joss says is canon is canon, but you can disagree with it, eat it, play with it, or do whatever you want with it. So I keep getting hung up on what it means to be canon if we can do what we want with it. Seems a tautology in a way. Someone help me! :-)

Are Tales of the Vamps canon, and Tales of the Slayer? Well, by defintion here, only if Joss says they are. Now, what would be cool if Joss would stop writing Goners/Buffy/Runaways long enough to weight in on this... coughhintcough. Outside of the actual TV series, what is canon for Buffy?

LB, I know the IAU has redefined Pluto's status, but there are now dissident groups arguing the reverse. I guess if you have power, you can make the change in definition, for Pluto is the same as it ever was, to quote the Talking Heads. And time we redefine something we have to study its implication. I just taught a unit on the definition of death, which as you might imagine can be rather a significant defincition, and there are actually 4 definitons- heart/lung death, sould death, braind death, and neocortical death- and you can be dead in some of these definitions and not in others. So what is my point? Damned if I know! No, I think that we are trying to define canon here and because we lack consensus we are having this most interesting argument. And there comes the wife home and me to dinner. Back later.
"You can't argue with whether something is canon or not - you can choose not to accept it, which is different." But if I don't accept it as canon, how is it still canon?


Because canon is not subjective, while personal or community canon are. Canon is objective and exists outside of how you choose to perceive it. The filters you put on canon are your personal canon, but canon itself is not changed. An object is not changed by the way you describe it, only the perception of that object is changed. Uh oh, I'm getting too far out there :) Canon does not depend on your thoughts/feelings to be canon. To put it another way:

"If there's no such thing as objective reality, why can't we quit our jobs and just imagine we won't have to pay the rent?"
WilliamTheB
So either “Becoming, Part 2” is wrong, or “Normal Again” is wrong, or my interpretation is wrong. Joss is behind the first two, directly or indirectly, but he is not infallible.


Just for the argument's sake: since Becoming, all the character's memories had been altered by monks who created Dawn. The new sets of memories include Buffy's being in mental hospital before.
Zeitgeist

Because canon is not subjective, while personal or community canon are. Canon is objective and exists outside of how you choose to perceive it. The filters you put on canon are your personal canon, but canon itself is not changed. An object is not changed by the way you describe it, only the perception of that object is changed. Uh oh, I'm getting too far out there :) Canon does not depend on your thoughts/feelings to be canon.


Still, in BtVS case canon is relative. BtVS has a mythical quality and all myths get tested by different interpretations.

We never read Homer's version of Iliad - we only know the text what had been put down on paper.

Imagine 100 years into the future after some global catastrophe all the modern technologies are gone and the only piece of Buffyverse that has survived is a printed copy of some fic (because it's on paper) describing BuffyWillowFaith threesome.
Then we'd never know the actual Buffy canon. The point is though there would still be one (albeit one lost to time). It isn't relative, it is in fact exactly what Joss said it was (IMO ;). Note i'm not particularly talking about the interpretation of events in the Buffyverse (I don't think that's a necessary part of the Buffy canon) i'm only talking about the events themselves.

It's like saying "We can never truly know what happened during historical events". That may be the case but it doesn't mean there actually isn't a definitive version of those events, what happened did happen after all. It just means it's hard (or even impossible) to discover.

(also, only Buffy/Faith/Willow fan-fic survives ? Could be worse ;)
And if Joss changes his mind?
Then Pluto will be a planet again.
And if Joss changes his mind?


Eurasia has always been the enemy.
I sidestep the issue by having "levels of canon." I put the show first, then then comics (if they were written by show writers), then the novels, etc. Things move up and down if I saw them on screen, or it was simply a character saying something. For example, in BtVS:S1E7, Angel says, "... I haven't fed on a living human being since that day." But, in other episodes, like Angel:S5E13, we see that Angel has not only fed on living human beings, he even made a new vampire. Well, people (living or undead) are metaphorical, they lie outright, they misremember. That's something to consider when pondering canon. I also tend to place less emphasis on what the author says about the work - the work speaks for itself.

And, yeah, somehow not hearing Hannigan's adorable nasal pout or Brendon's comedic timing will make the comics a lot less "real" to me. Anthony Head, subtly straightening up as he's about to deliver a rebuttal, watching Gellar set her face to "stony" when Buffy is about to take on a challenge, that's as much the show to me as the plot points and the dialogue.

[ edited by Ocular on 2007-02-13 02:04 ]
Eurasia is on Pluto?

Saje
Then we'd never know the actual Buffy canon.


Then we don't know the actual Iliad canon neither. Still we enjoy it. True mythology is created by people actively participating in the process.


It's like saying "We can never truly know what happened during historical events". That may be the case but it doesn't mean there actually isn't a definitive version of those events, what happened did happen after all.


Not exactly. Historical events are real. A comic, a TV show or a novel describe fictitious events. It's Joss vision vs somebody else's vision.

Maybe I have a different opinion on canon because the borders are more blurred in Russia. For decades Russian writers published censored versions of their novels. Then, after their deaths, the communist regime was over. New versions of the old novels emerged and were officially published. The authors can't approve or disprove them. Should we accept them as canon?
So much resistence to accepting the somewhat narrow actual meaning of the word "canon" is strange. "Canon" doesn't mean "that which is meaningful to the individual" or "that which has greatest artistic merit," or "that which comports with continuity."
It just means what the recognized authority (when there is one) designates as the content. Sometimes the question of whether there is an authority is tricky, Not here.
That doesn't make any of this other stuff unimportant. But it sure confuses all these issues when they are framed as "What is the canon?"
I go away for an hour an come back to a load of really excellent posts and comments. Where to begin?

Regarding the Star Wars issue, as I previously said, I'm really not a fan and so I've got no idea what the whole "Han shot first" deal is about. However, obviously I was mistaken in believing that Lucas hadn't changed any actual details from the original movies and stand corrected. Why he would do that is beyond me. Why contradict anything from a movie that is so well loved in it's original form. Improve, maybe, but change? I wouldn't have done so.

My solution? Don't watch either version. Farscape is way better.

Regarding the Stargate thing. I'd never heard that about the Hathor episode. I've heard endless theories about how true The Other Guys actually is (which is why I'd assumed that was what was being discussed) but Hathor never occured to me.

I'm going to have to assume that the writers are talking with tongue firmly in cheek about this. The episode clearly is part of canon continuity but, as Saje says above, is really terrible. Probably the worst episode before the direness that was early season three, which ironically began with the final appearance of Hathor. ;)

Finally, back to the topic at hand...

Saje - "To play Devil's advocate for a second Roxtar, I think Dana5140, areacode212 and others are saying that canon doesn't have any reality outside of people's acceptance of it (it is kind of circular in that Joss defines canon, which is whatever Joss defines ;)."

I do see where they are coming from, Saje but, as I tried to point out earlier, nothing in existence has any reality outside of people's acceptance of it. If you don't accept that a cat is a cat then to you it's not a cat. To the rest of the world though, it's still purring. ;)

I have to absolutely agree with zeitgeist. True canon is not subjective. Personal or community canon are just fancy ways of saying "I'll believe whatever the hell I want to believe, regardless of the fact the guy who wrote it told me otherwise".
I am beginning to think that the real problem comes down to people who refuse to read a comic book, and I am really wondering why. I can easily accept that they would prefer a TV show (Joss himself said in an interview that he misses having the involvement of the actors et al) but why is it such a hardship to enjoy the pretty comic book? Was it some aversion instilled by one's parents (kind of like how I can't really enjoy chewing gum?)?
Heck, there are folks who prefer to believe everything post The Gift is non-canon, 'cos they don't like the direction it took. For me, if Joss says it, it is. However inconvenient for fic writers and shippers!
Well, I guess the comic books are canon, but considering a lot of people aren't going to read them, I don't really put it at the same level as the TV show. I sort of view it in the same way that Buffy the movie is canon.

Because even though the creator says "this is what happens," if it's not in the same format as the original fandom, I'm not sure if that counts. I don't know, though. I just know I wasn't particularly planning to read the comic books unless I find them somewhere offline, so it doesn't really matter to me.
This is, at the end of the day, an old argument, which is authorial intent vs. Viewer interpretation. I tend to fall on the viewer side of the euqation, but then I have this thing about authority to begin with; I don't like being told what I have to believe or think (in general terms, not here, mind you!). And I think that our interpretation fo what we see is as important as the thought the creator puts into it. If all that meant anything was what the creator meant, we would have no need to have debates like this; there would only be one interpretation, that being teh one Joss wanted us to have.

But let me muddy the waters for a moment. Consider canon in Buffy. Okay, what is it? Now, consider canon in Lost. What is that? Much harder ot figure out, because interpretation is everything in Lost. We have the actual scenes, which I guess comprise canon, and then we have the interpretation of what those scenes mean. For Buffy, canon, in this definition, is simply the show as it was presented, minus our interpretation of what those scenes mean. I don't really hold to the atomistic, reductionistic view that Williamthe B presented- this is moving more toward a philosophical interpretation of what cconstitutes reality, and I think that moves too far away from the ideas we are exploring here- worthy of debate, but perhaps a bit outside this issue, as it delves into metaphysics. But WilliamtheB also brings that issue of "show reality" back up, which the fellow on the blog also discussed with regard to Dr. Who (which I have never seen but I agree that the female lead is really hot).
Dana5140: But now you're talking about interpretation, not canon. Two different things.
Dana5140, forgive me if I'm misunderstanding your point but I'm not entirely sure what you are getting at when you compare Buffy canon to Lost canon. To me, in both cases it comes down to whatever the writers say is canon therefore is canon.

The only difference between Buffy and Lost is in how the story is being presented. Buffy was a straight forward story (for the most part) whereas Lost is being told as a mystery. That leaves Lost open to a lot more speculation and fan theory until the answers are given by the writers but ultimately it still boils down to the only true canon elements being what the writers have stipulated as being true. All the fan discussion and theorizing in the world will never be canon, just speculation.
And now I see that Lady Brick beat me to my point. :)
I am beginning to think that the real problem comes down to people who refuse to read a comic book, and I am really wondering why.

Because I don't enjoy reading comics? I read classic Marvel comics as a child but only when there was nothing else about. Same way as I rarely watch cartoons, I just don't find the form particularly appealing. I accept that others find much to enjoy in them, and I don't for a minute want to imply that they are a 'lesser' art form in any way. I just don't find them a satisfying form myself. However, this isn't primarily to do with the fact that the continuation is in comic form but more that the continuation is not in televised form so I'd feel the same if this was a planned book.

As I see it the comics will be official canon, and the fans who read them can try and explain to the rest of us what plot points become clarified within the comics. However, if most fans don't read them there being canonical is almost irrelevant as the majority of people who followed Buffy will be completely ignorant of them.
I think people are confusing canon and continuity in some posts.

Every episode of the TV series Buffy is canon. Within the canon there are retcons and also things that just don't make sense. This doesn't effect whether or not the 144 episodes are part of CANON - it just means the continuity isn't strictly adhered to.
Helcat wrote:
"However, if most fans don't read them there being canonical is almost irrelevant as the majority of people who followed Buffy will be completely ignorant of them."
That seems like quite an assumption, that since you don't enjoy reading them you are assuming that most Buffy fans won't enjoy reading them? It seems to me that the response of people here at Whedonesque shows that most of us have followed Joss to Astonishing X-men, are preparing follow him to Runaways, and wouldn't consider skipping a single issue of Buffy's Season 8! In fact I expect the fame of Buffy to grown among young people who will start reading the comic books and get into the series via DVD (and by older people who will say to themselves "Jeph Loeb is writing an issue of this series?!". Personally I expect the comics to make Buffy more famous than she has ever been before.
This is how entire religions begin. *g* Which, if I'm not mistaken, is actually the origin of the word and concept in question. I must agree with those who have said that canon is what an accepted authority has decreed canon to be. I realize I'm probably treading on thin ice here, but hear me out. Much like any typical religion, or non-religion, an authority establishes what is and is not canon. Non-acceptance in a certain canon, does not mean that it isn't canon for that belief system. It means that you have a differing belief system that you have accepted.

And lets face it, what is being debated here isn't the definition of canon, but whether one can or can not accept what an authority has established as canon. That may seem like a very fine line, but a line none-the-less.
I accept that the comic book is canon. I agree with Saje about something being canon being different from how fans interpret that canon. I'm sure there will be just as many arguments about what we see in the comics as there was over what we saw on the screen.

Despite the fact Joss has publicly stated Spike intentionally sought out his soul and wasn't tricked by Lurky, some fans still insist that's not what they saw on screen and they have Joss's persmission to trust the story, not the storyteller, and bring their own subtext to their interpretation.
That seems like quite an assumption, that since you don't enjoy reading them you are assuming that most Buffy fans won't enjoy reading them?

No, I'm assuming that the comics won't sell in anything like the numbers that even the less popular seasons of Buffy were viewed by. My understanding is that comics these days don't really sell in the millions that's all. I agree some fans will start with the comics and that will be their inroad to the Buffyverse which is great.

Personally for me the show is the show and the show's canon is a distinct entity which includes all 7 seasons of Buffy and all 5 seasons of Angel and stops there. A book, a comic, a radio play, whatever else is in itself something else. Joss says that the stories for comics have to be different because the form demands it, that to me indicates a clear line of differentiation.

Ultimately time will tell whether the comics are embraced by fandom en masse as canon. For now I'm happy to ignore them as best as I can and with that will bow out of this debate.
Whedonesque is not indicative of the entire fandom, Embers. I think Simon's statistics have X-Men selling 120,000 copies per issue and is one of Marvel's top sellers. That's nowhere near the number of viewers that Buffy/Angel had so I think Helcat is correct. I will accept Season 8 as being canon for the comics but it will be a separate 'verse from the television series.
"Personally I think that there is a sizeable minority who don't see the series as canon (for whatever reason). So I would suspect that our fandom is closer to the Doctor Who fandom than the writer might think."

I agree. All one has to do is look at TWOP and there is a sizable portion of people who dont consider this canon, and whom maintain that if a movie ever happened Joss would say the same thing (in other words--if a movie became possible, the comics would be thrown out). I dont know, I tend to think the comics are canon, even if I dont like them because if that was the measuring stick, seasons 6 and 7 werent canon either.

"I must agree with those who have said that canon is what an accepted authority has decreed canon to be."

Honestly, I think the bigger problem is that some dont recognize Joss' authority or simply dont trust him anymore. I see that problem all over the place, its a problem of credibility and authority, and in that sense, I dont think its so much about medium or story. Its about the authority itself, its about whether the authority has the authority to claim canon and be truthful about it. You are right Embers, it is like religion, and whats interesting is that the same can be said of religion. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet as was Moses, and so the Bible isnt strictly canon concerning God, and the reason is that the authority figure who puts it forward isnt as credible in their eyes as other prophets. Same goes with the Buffy comics im afraid...

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2007-02-13 04:35 ]
Wow, this is a huge facinating thread.

I loved the article-thingy, it cleared a lot of things up for this casual Doctor Who watcher.

It also made me think about fandom in a way I never quite have before. It IS all about authority. How strange. False Gods, writers, actors, empires, forum wars, fans. Fangirls. It makes my head ache in a pleasant thinking-too-much way.

It brought all the insanity into perspective and made me very very grateful to be a Whedonite, where there is one final voice on the whole silly matter and the fans as a majority are cool to just go with it.

Is it March 7 yet?
Canon is not relative, canon is not some unknowable and shifty thing. Canon is what was presented as an official and Joss-approved part of the universe/story/whatevah. How we interpret that is individual but it doesn't change the eventsimageswords that make up what is canon. You can interpret what you see all you want, but what was onscreen is still what was onscreen (or in the comic or book or interpretative dance or expressive knit jumper...), regardless of how you feel about it. Canon is interpretation agnostic - it is what is/was presented, not how it is interpreted or how you feel about it. There is no question that people will interpret as they chose and that is fine and encouraged, but that is something separate from canon.
ZG makes my point, even though we are disagreeing. :-) I continually say that canon is apparently only the images projected on teh screen. Everything else is interpretation. So, from ZG's definition, I agree. Canon is simply what is placed by Joss in each scene- the eventsimageswords. All else is interpretation, but then I have to ask, what is the entire point of this debate, if that is the case? We haven't decided anything beyond agreeing that canon is the actual show sans interpretation. It is the interpretation that gives the show any meaning. And we all interpret it differently, which is why we are having this debate.

See, I brought up Lost because I was trying to make this point. We see each show, and that is what we derive our meaning from. Lost is complex, it has multiple interpretations based upon the scenes it depicts. So, canon is that a plane crashed. Period. WHY the plane crashed is open to debate. But this seems banal.

ZG, help me out here. I am disagreeing with you even though I agree with everything you just said! :-)
zeitgeist, I hear what you're saying, but do you mean canon is basically just the dialogue and descriptions of the sets? What if the eventsimagewords are intentionally ambiguous? Is the only canon in this case a transcript of the dialogue? What if Joss never clears up a point and what we see on the screen isn't clear and it spawns many different opinions?

In terms of Christian canon, Jesus used parables to make moral points. His followers had to decide what his meaning was. Joss employed many metaphors in his shows, forcing the viewer to think about what he/she was seeing.

And to be honest, I'm not sure I know what the canon re Willow's sexuality. I believe she's bisexual and could fall in love with a man as well as a woman. If Joss says tomorrow Willow is strictly a lesbian I would accept it as canon and even fanwank her feelings for Xander and Oz as just confusion about friendship and romantic love.

I accept that there is canon but I just think what exactly is and isn't canon is very fluid and changes from time to time. Jossverse is a very gray place and I'm not sure black and white canon fits in too well.

[ edited by Reddygirl on 2007-02-13 05:37 ]
...insert witty comment to break tension here...
"We haven't decided anything beyond agreeing that canon is the actual show sans interpretation."

But we haven't decided that. Consensus seems to be that canon is whatever Joss says it is. He's the authority, he calls it. You may choose whether to accept it or not, but you are not creating a different canon. You're rejecting the official one. Doesn't matter if it's only read by Joss's bridge club, doesn't matter if it's a play or radio show or epic poem, doesn't even matter if it contradicts itself (although that's a dangerous thing for a creator to do, as it risks pissing off his audience).

Two questions that have arisen from these posts:

1) Firefly fans, do you consider the comic book miniseries "Those Left Behind" canon?

2) The original Buffy movie was mentioned. Does Joss consider that canon? I have no clue, I was just curious.
There are bits a pieces in the first season of Buffy, that sort of supercede the events in the film.I'm not sure even Joss considers the film canon, as it was taken out of his hands by Hollywood and turned into something that he had not envisioned.

I consider Those Left Behind canon.

[ edited by feigenbaum7 on 2007-02-13 06:26 ]
Whedonesque is not indicative of the entire fandom, Embers. I think Simon's statistics have X-Men selling 120,000 copies per issue and is one of Marvel's top sellers. That's nowhere near the number of viewers that Buffy/Angel had so I think Helcat is correct. I will accept Season 8 as being canon for the comics but it will be a separate 'verse from the television series.

Yeah, considering that the top-selling comics sell in the range of 300,000 copies, at the most, I don't see the comic series somehow reaching more people than the TV show, which was broadcast to millions, for free.
It's like me suddenly deciding that black is white. I can tell myself all day that this is a fact and maybe eventually delude myself into truly believing it to be a fact, but it isn't a the truth and never will be. Telling yourself that the Buffy comics are not canon is the same deal, regardless of the fact that the change from television to comic format is an issue for you. It's simply not true.

LOL. Tell me you didn't just passive-aggressively call me "deluded". I hope you recognize the irony inherent in writing that in the same post as "it's like me suddenly deciding that black is white...telling yourself that the Buffy comics are not canon is the same deal". You do realize that the relatively vague concept of a fixed "canon" in a fictional universe doesn't quite meet the same standard of "fact" as whether or not something is black, right?

Yes, there can be an "official canon", but I've always considered that to be more of a fluid rough guide to the works that I should pay attention to (e.g., the Star Trek shows and movies, but not the countless novels), as opposed to some kind of absolute universal truth, considering we're talking about, well, fictional events. I think that the disagreements boil down to two issues: 1) whether or not one considers Season 8 to be a separate work from the TV show, and 2) whether or not one accepts Joss as the Sole Authority of all that is Buffy.

The very fact that there have been similar fan arguments raging for years in other fandoms tells me that the whole idea is subjective, a view which, FWIW, the Wikipedia entry for "canon" supports.

But what if, in some world not ours, the success of the comics brought about a movie, with the original actors, that took place after the events of the comics and referred to those events?
Would the comics become canon in your mind?

Eh, they might. I'm a proponent of the "if it didn't happen onscreen, it didn't necessarily happen" school. Ask me again when this movie comes out.
What if the eventsimagewords are intentionally ambiguous? Is the only canon in this case a transcript of the dialogue? What if Joss never clears up a point and what we see on the screen isn't clear and it spawns many different opinions?


It's great that it provokes discussion, but it doesn't matter. What is canon is what we see. How we interpret it has nothing to do with whether it is canon or not. Vaguery can be part of canon, uncertainty can be part of canon, intentioal ambiguity can bepart of canon. Things characters say may not necessarily be true, things they believe may or may not be true.

You do realize that the relatively vague concept of a fixed "canon" in a fictional universe doesn't quite meet the same standard of "fact" as whether or not something is black, right?


Ah, the fallacy on which much of this thread is predicated rears its head. If Joss says the comics are canon and you say "No." then you are wrong, just like if you say black is white you are wrong. Whether you choose to accept them/read them/love them and call them Charlie matters not. They are canon and you can like it or not, you can accept or reject it, but what you think about it doesn't change the FACT that it is so.
Well said.

It has taken an awful lot of posts to arrive at a conclusion, even if some people wont accept it is a conclusion.
Hi ho, seminary grad here. We in the religious world have been using the term 'canon' for a lot longer than Joss has been alive, so here's a couple of thoughts:

1) In the classical sense, canon isn't settled until pretty much everyone agrees that everything which could remotely be included has been written, circulated, and been reviewable by anyone who cared for, oh, a few centuries. The notion of an 'evolving' canon is really a very, very different critter from what we have in this case.

2) The existence of a canon doesn't preclude individuals from failing to recognize parts of it. Calling it a 'personal canon' is kind of an oxymoron. Even influential people (e.g. Martin Luther) can't effectively alter canon after the fact without Crossing A Line.

3) In the case of literature, reading a subset of an author's works in a certain setting is the only sensible way to enjoy any of it. Brian Herbert and Christopher Tolkein can take a flying leap for all I care. In fact, many authors have extended their own series in ways that offend me as a reader--and not just in a "The Silmarillion is boring" way, either: Herbert himself, Orson Scott Card, Jack Chalker, and my personal favorite, Roger Zelazny. I love the five books of Amber as much as I despise the five he wrote later. I don't pretend to exert authority over any one else in my slicing and dicing what I do or do not like about an author's works, and I certainly don't call my decisions and preferences canon.

I reread Dune and the Chronicles of Amber pretty much once a year, each. I read the books I like, ignore the rest, and I'm happy. Fact is, reading is a personal experience and the concept of canon is only relevant in a community (e.g., religion or fandom), and enforced by the community for the purpose of delineating the community.

PS, this is the longest thread I've seen that didn't involve a current event or a Joss post. Looks like many folks care much about this topic. :-)
So now that we've sorta sorted who's bestest and rightest *fingers crossed* ...how about shooting Gonzo out of a cannon?

*grin*
Ah, the fallacy on which much of this thread is predicated rears its head. If Joss says the comics are canon and you say "No." then you are wrong, just like if you say black is white you are wrong. Whether you choose to accept them/read them/love them and call them Charlie matters not. They are canon and you can like it or not, you can accept or reject it, but what you think about it doesn't change the FACT that it is so.

You're absolutely right, Zeitgeist. Some things are what they are. If we start saying that what is canon and not can just be redefined by everyone, then 'canon' in its actual meaning no longer exists. The whole POINT of the term canon is to signify the difference between the actual, original true continuity and everything else that everyone else makes up.

Not liking what we see in canon doesn't make it not canon because canon is not dependent on what individual fans like. By all means let's all decide what we like or not like but don't expect an individual opinion to be held by others as the canon-measuring point.

If Joss writes tomorrow that Buffy IS in fact a crazy girl in an asylum with delusional dreams about being a slayer then I won't like it one bit, but I would still accept it's canon because that's what it would be.
All kidding aside though, Joss seemed to kind of reveal his thoughts on the matter in the TV Guide interview where he said that he is not reading the Battlestar Galactica comics because Ron Moore and David Eick are not involved in its production.

This does not explicitly address the argument du jour (the dreaded c word), but it does speak somewhat to his ideas about authority...

or perhaps it is just subtle posturing to defend the decision to continue the story in comic book format in a TV Guide interview.

I say whatev...bring it!
Yay, Gonzo! Anyone who's read the BSG comics can probably vouch for the fact that J-Man made the right call :) *cough* Rob Liefeld *cough* Nice to see you around again EdDantes :)

Some great points by jclemens just above as well. Anyway, why am I still awake? Blech, on call this week. I should be sleeping. Mmmm, sleeping...

p.s. - I started to reiterate one or two things, but I think I may have beaten them to death already. Bad horse, stay down! :) Thanks for a lot of thought provoking chatter, people!
"1) Firefly fans, do you consider the comic book miniseries "Those Left Behind" canon?"

Sure, it works. At the very least, I need it to be canon to explain what happened with the Blue Hand Men. Man that would've been a nail-biting conclusion to their arc, almost getting into the ship like that. I imagine "Those Left Behind" would've been a lot more exciting as an episode or two though, whereas I can't honestly say the same for many of the better Buffy or Buffy spin-off (Fray) comics. Some were excellent comics. It's just that I found "Those Left Behind" mediocre, for the most part, unfortunately. But I love that we got a proper bridge between series and film, I appreciated it on that level, and for some of the little moments, and the last issue was pretty satisfying. I know it was only titled this way to promote the film, but though the comic was titled Serenity, it felt much closer to the TV incarnation Firefly in spirit/tone.

I was kinda iffy on it right off the bat with the first issue though, I'll admit. The script was definitely not entirely Joss', and if I'm remembering right, he even admitted that the plot was pretty much his outline, but the rest was Brett's.

"2) The original Buffy movie was mentioned. Does Joss consider that canon? I have no clue, I was just curious."

No, not the film. I believe he considers the 3-issue mini-series comic book "The Origin" canon (based off his original movie script and probably altered a bit to fit with the TV series). I liked it, it works. The only explanation you'll ever get for what happened to Merrick at least.

The only thing that really really doesn't work with "The Origin" is Dark Horse's bizarre decision to go with more bat-like transforming vampires and they feature heavily "The Origin" (especially when it comes to the Big Bad). They were used for a good long while in the ongoing (and completely non-canon) Buffy comic book series as well, if not the entire 50-something issue run, though I know that vamp design wasn't used in the original Angel comic (or the short-lived Angel Volume 2 at Dark Horse), nor in most (all?) of the Buffy one-shots and mini-series.

[ edited by Kris on 2007-02-13 09:44 ]
Eurasia is on Pluto?


It was 23 years ago.

I think Simon's statistics have X-Men selling 120,000 copies per issue and is one of Marvel's top sellers. That's nowhere near the number of viewers that Buffy/Angel had so I think Helcat is correct


Yep. I'll hazard a guess and say Buffy #1 will sell around 50-60000 copies. If it topped 100,000 I would be very pleased.

Honestly, I think the bigger problem is that some dont recognize Joss' authority or simply dont trust him anymore.


The elephant in the corner. That is the case in some places. But the comics will never win the hearts and minds of all the fans. Some people will never accept the comics as canon.
*cough* Rob Liefeld *?? Liefeld is doing BSG comics??? Who....why....what....how is that man still working?? Didn't everyone wake up from that nightmare that was the second half of the 90's??

Ahem...anyhoosie, yeah I think Joss' view on those type of comics was very clear. It kind of mirrors my opinion of most of the Buffy Dark Horse comics earlier: official fanfic.

Yawn....you got the right idea Zeitgeist, going to bed now myself.
OK, here's an example I came up with in the last 5 seconds. Suppose Axl Rose published a book of poems, titled Appetite for Destruction II, and that his poems were structured like song lyrics. Then he declares on his website that Appetite for Destruction II is OFFICIALLY the fourth Guns N' Roses album (not counting EPs, etc). Technically, he has every right to--he owns the GN'R name, he wrote most of the lyrics throughout the band's history, he's the frontman, etc. But would that make it so? They could be great poems, but I'd expect that regardless of what Axl said, only the most ardent fan of his would accept "Poem #4" on the same level as "Sweet Child O' Mine".
I agree that what Joss says is canon, is canon, but I'm not really sure how to establish this unequivocally. Why is Joss the only authority on this? What about the Kuzuis, other writers, actors, etc.? Joss seems the best qualified but I don't see that it's as simple as "It is canon, and all other interpretations are wrong." I subscribe to the view that they are, but I don't see it as solid as zg suggests.

Anyway, I think that "Those Left Behind" is canon (Joss co-wrote the story) but try my best not to think about it as I'm pretty unhappy with Dobson's surviving the bullet wound. I don't think that "The Origin" is canon; Joss said he approves of it with caveats, but the impression I got from him, in that interview, is more that it's closer to being canon than the film is, not that it actually *is* canon.

My canon includes Buffy and Angel, the season 8 Buffy comics soon to come out, and Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires, and Fray, and the new comics coming out. And maybe The Origin. I consider, say, Espenson or Petrie-penned Buffy comics (not necessarily directly approved by Joss) some weird form of semi-canon. My Serenifly canon consists of Firefly, Serenity, Those Left Behind and the River Tam Sessions (which Joss directed, so...). But a lot of these decisions are fairly arbitrary, and rely on the fact that everything Joss does, even fairly unofficially (i.e. The River Tam Sessions) "counts." And I still discount interviews, because that sort of moves into interpretation pretty easily.

The comment about Willow's lesbianism is a good examle. Willow's being with Tara and Kennedy is canon. Willow identifying herself primarily as a lesbian is canon. Willow actually being a lesbian, as opposed to bisexual, is not necessarily canon, because Willow's saying it doesn't make it so. I think that if Joss said "Willow is definitely a lesbian," I'd think that's more an interpretation than a statement of canonity. (Is one's sexuality actually something anyone can know, or is it just an interpretation? Tangent, stopping myself this time.) On the other hand, if Joss says, "Willow will never again have a straight romantic relationship" and there's nothing else to contradict it, I guess it is canon because it's about what Willow does, not just who she is.

I write too much.
jclemens says it all. Folks have just got the matter of "what is the canon?", mixed up with "what do I value?" Of course there were a lot of other creative people involved in the tv Buffy, and there will be with the comics, too. But this is a much stronger case for one authority than, say, Dr. Who. I'd be surprised if all of those creative Buffy people did not agree that it is Joss' ultimate vision that controlled what was done, and acknowledge his authority to designate Buffy canon.

That doesn't mean they, or you, have to like it, or think all his decisions are good. It just means he says what is canon. Definitionally.

[ edited by toast on 2007-02-13 12:37 ]

[ edited by toast on 2007-02-13 12:38 ]
areacode212 - "LOL. Tell me you didn't just passive-aggressively call me "deluded". I hope you recognize the irony inherent in writing that in the same post as "it's like me suddenly deciding that black is white...telling yourself that the Buffy comics are not canon is the same deal". You do realize that the relatively vague concept of a fixed "canon" in a fictional universe doesn't quite meet the same standard of "fact" as whether or not something is black, right?"

Okay, I didn't just passive-aggressively call you "deluded". And at the point where others start to see imagined and/or unintentional insults in my responses, I choose to walk away. Especially in a debate that ultimately should just be a bit of fun. I tend to think that the problem is a fundamental difference of opinion on what we are even discussing here. Certainly in some cases.

Just to clarify though, again, I'm absolutely agreeing with zeitgeist. There is absolutely nothing vague, relatively or otherwise, about the term "canon" as we are discussing it.

It refers to the official storyline as dictated by the people in charge, in this case Joss, and applies to any part of the story regardless of format or medium. Anything else, no matter how much a fan might want it to be, is not canon. That is just as much a fact as black not being white.

As for the G'n'R thing, I think the comparison is a little bit flawed. Axl Rose, regardless of whatever godlike notions he may actually have, couldn't change the world's perception of the truth. A book of poems isn't an album, it's a book. He could ask fans to enjoy the work on the same level as his recorded material, but that is all. He can create his work in whatever form he chooses but he can't then decide that it's an album, just as Joss can't claim that the Buffy comics are a DVD boxset.

Joss is not claiming that the comics really are a television series. He is stating that they continue the canon storyline of the television series, just in comic form. Totally different thing to your Axl Rose example. As I've said before (in this very post actually), canon is about the content of story, not the medium.

[ edited by Roxtar on 2007-02-13 12:43 ]
You know this war with Eurasia and/or Pluto ? Are we winning ? Cos I hate those guys.

And if Joss changes his mind?

Then the canon changes.

Then we don't know the actual Iliad canon neither. Still we enjoy it. True mythology is created by people actively participating in the process.

The thing is, it doesn't matter if we know the Buffy canon because its reality doesn't depend on us knowing anything (nor does it depend on whether we enjoy it). It depends, by definition, on what Joss chooses to call canon.

Take 'The Gift'. The fact that Buffy jumped off the tower ? Canon. It happened (within the fictional world of Buffy), there's no room for debate (well, OK, unless you go with 'Normal Again' being true and Buffy actually being in an asylum ;). The reason Buffy jumped off the tower ? Interpretation. Despite Joss saying it was pure sacrifice I can understand some people holding the view that it was also partly Buffy's death wish expressing itself. Their view is equally valid IMO, it fits the canonical events we've seen portrayed. If someone were to claim Buffy didn't jump off the tower then that person's opinion is not equally valid.

It's the difference between what happened and how we feel about what happened.

The funny thing is, despite protestations to the contrary, I think everyone here knows which Buffyverse is the 'true' Buffyverse, the reason being things like, for instance, Dana5140 much as he hates the fact, 'knows' that Tara is dead. Whatever fan-fic exists to say she's not (and i'd bet there must be some), in the 'true', canonical Buffyverse she is. If we all really had our own version of the Bverse then we could never have debates about the various events and their effects and never have emotional responses to episodes since any one of us could simply 'personally canonize' them out of existence whenever we felt like it. Common points of reference are essential to communication.

(the GNR example is interesting. To me Axl couldn't say it's the next album - poems aren't the same as records, just like comics aren't the same as TV shows - but he could say it's an 'official GNR release', as mentioned he owns the name so what he says is a Guns n Roses product is a Guns n Roses product. How much value a fan then attaches to that name is up to them)
"And if Joss changes his mind?

Then the canon changes."--Saje

This is from the TWOP FAQ:

Q: So did Spike really go to Africa to get a soul? I thought he went to get the chip out.

A: Oh, really? Why ever would you think that? After all, the writers/producers have clearly said in interviews that he went to get a soul. Oh, you didn't read the interviews? Well, shame on you for not realizing that's now the preferred way for a show to disperse information about plot points, rather than actually utilizing the hour of airtime they have each week. Anyway, if you thought Spike wanted the chip out, basically you fell for their trick. And we must have some dumb recappers, because we all fell for it too.

Exactly how did they pull this "trick" on the audience off? By not informing the actor playing Spike of the character's intentions. James Marsters has confirmed this, saying he played the scene like he wanted the chip out. By keeping the dialogue misleading, and ensuring that the acting choices made supported the "trick," they made sure we thought he intended to get the chip out. Good one! Except not. Because then Joss revealed the misdirection almost immediately after the end of Season Six, rather than waiting until "Beneath You" for us to find out with Buffy. How stupid we were for believing the actor's performance rather than post-season interviews. To us, it seems like they indulged in a classic example of "don't show, tell" that has been a consistent problem for the series recently. If you believe that Joss saying something in an interview makes it canon, there's no problem here. But if you think this is just another sloppy retcon, you're not alone.--TWOP recappers

Im not saying that they are right or wrong, but then again, they make good points.
Personally, I see that as a 'Deckard is a replicant' issue. Whether Spike specifically went for his soul is a matter of interpretation and so I don't defer to Joss on it even if that's the interpretation he intended (him not having gone for it but, in some sense, being tricked into being re-ensouled is consistent with - even, IMO, implied by - canonical events as portrayed). The fact he went to Africa and underwent various trials is canon though.
So in a nutshell when a character said something, it's canon he said that, but what he said isn't canon. That is, he might not be speaking the truth.

The scripts are like the 10 Commandments, direct words from God. Any thing we think those words are actually saying is our own interpretation.
I guess my real point Saje, and admittedly I did a horrible job expressing it, was that when the authority muddles the field so badly, like in the case of Spike, the season 8 comics, or facts that come out in interviews instead of on the screen as the TWOP recappers tried to say, it puts a very hard spin on what is and isnt canon. If Joss says that season 8 is canon but then tries to pull a trick again, say like the ones he did with Spike or Giles in season 7 or even with TGIQ, the real question then becomes whether the authority, in this case Joss, has any real trust left. In other words, at what point does canon simply become sloppy retcons meant to throw off the audience or trick them?
Take 'The Gift'. The fact that Buffy jumped off the tower ? Canon. It happened (within the fictional world of Buffy), there's no room for debate. The reason Buffy jumped off the tower ? Interpretation. Despite Joss saying it was pure sacrifice I can understand some people holding the view that it was also partly Buffy's death wish expressing itself. Their view is equally valid IMO, it fits the canonical events we've seen portrayed. If someone were to claim Buffy didn't jump off the tower then that person's opinion is not equally valid.

Actually I disagree with this. Although I firmly believe that Buffy jumped partially due to a deathwish, I accept as canon that it was pure sacrifice because Joss said so. He alone can look into the minds of his creations and say what is in there. Normally, we don't know but in this case, Joss told us why Buffy jumped. I don't like it, I don't think it fits with what I saw leading up to that moment or how SMG played Buffy, but I accept it.
Excellent all around, and I only wish we were all in a pub downing ale while we had this discussion. And if it gets heated, remember, it is all in good fun.

But let me return to something that has been commented about, the idea that black is black and white is white, and if you believe that black is white then you are sort of deluded. I think there are two issues here. One is that what we call "black" is called black by definition; that is, we assign a value to something called blackness. And then it is always and only black, by definition. But you know, in a court of law, for example, the jury can find that black is white, or that, say, OJ is innocent. And it is true by definition, or by fiat, no matter what the actual reality is. And for the color blind, red may not be red (staying away from the black analogy here for a moment) because that person does not have the sensory apparatus to perceive what others call red.

If canon is nothing more than the scenes on the screen, there is no reason for this now 128 post discussion. Those scenes don't really have meaning without a receiver to see them and to then interpret them. Is the meaning canon, or is it just the scenes. ZG seems to fall on the scenes side of the argument, but I have trouble with that because it seems so obvious. I am tied up in finding meaning in those scenes. Xander says something- that's canon. I find it funny, you do not. I think it means "x," and you think "y." Willow is lesbian (to me) or bisexual (to you). Using the canon example, did Willow and Tara ever have sex? Well, no- it was never shown on screen. That's canon; our interpretation that they did is just our interpretation. But then what are we arguing about?

I find the comment by "Hi ho seminary grad" jclemens very helpful: "Fact is, reading is a personal experience and the concept of canon is only relevant in a community (e.g., religion or fandom), and enforced by the community for the purpose of delineating the community." I think this is an important concept but not one that we have debated over the course of our posts. For the nonfan who is a casual watcher, this argument is probably incomprehensible. But for those of us who have studied the show, invested time and effort into discussing it, and who really are fans in the root sense of the word, doesn't it seem that what we are doing here is in part signalling our perceptions of the show and our feelings toward Joss? It's about us being part of this community and trying to see what our shared values are, and where we might disagree, given our personal reading of the show. INteresting thoughts!

Changing gears, I think that as of S7 Joss and Marti Noxon decided that Willow was most definitely gay, that they wanted one person to end in a loving relation, and that sending Willow back to boytown would be too hard on those who loved her with Tara. I recall the interview. Given that, it is canon that Willow is gay. But if you want to read her as bi, you sure can. :-) Though, I don't. And yes, I know Tara is dead in canon; well, so far. In fanfic she lives on (go jetwolf!).
when the authority muddles the field so badly... it puts a very hard spin on what is and isnt canon. If Joss says that season 8 is canon but then tries to pull a trick again... the real question then becomes whether the authority, in this case Joss, has any real trust left... at what point does canon simply become sloppy retcons meant to throw off the audience or trick them?


It actually doesn't matter at all. Whether we trust him, whether he retcons everything, whatever - if he says Season 8 comics depict what happened after Season Seven, then they are. Even if they "suck" or we don't like what he does within those pages, they are the continuation of the Buffy narrative.

But you know, in a court of law, for example, the jury can find that black is white, or that, say, OJ is innocent... And for the color blind, red may not be red (staying away from the black analogy here for a moment) because that person does not have the sensory apparatus to perceive what others call red.


First line is a line of the day contender, there, Dana5140! :) Second part, whether someone can perceive red or not doesn't change the fact that it absorbs certain parts of the visible spectrum and reflects others. As far as the rest - canon is interpretation agnostic. That doesn't mean that we can't dissect and discuss and debate and take joy in it. It doesn't suck the air out of the room, it just says "here is the narrative, do with it what you may".

As far as community canon, delineation, what have you... that just tells you whether a community by and large accepts a part of canon or rejects it, it doesn't make something not canon. The only interpretation implied or inherent in any way in canon is that of the creator(s) and the characters (and those can be kinda fluid at times, which is a tangent to this). Eek, running late :) That's okay, work called me at 3:30 am, they can wait! I'd buy the next round :D
Ah, there we part ways Lioness ;). If there are two interpretations which are both entirely consistent with the set of events we've been presented with then I don't see any reason to favour one over the other just because it belongs to the creator.

(i've read authors - possibly even Joss - say that one of the things they like about interacting with fans is discovering their take on the author's work, often a perspective the author hadn't even considered but which is there. Well, to me they can't have it both ways, either fans can come up with valid interpretations the author hadn't intended or the author's interpretation is final and definitive)

And yep, Reddygirl, that's a fair summation (though, to be pedantic, i'd say the Joss approved cut of the actual shows are the 'commandments' since scripts can and very often do differ from the final product).

I think I get what you mean jerry but as mentioned, I don't see the Spike issue as a canonical one and though TGiQ is a retcon it doesn't technically change the events as they're portrayed i.e. Joss isn't saying "Oh and BTW, Spike and Angel didn't go to that bar" he's saying "Oh and BTW, Spike and Angel were wrong about what they thought they saw in that bar". IIRC even we as members of the audience aren't categorically told (or shown) that it's Buffy dancing (though at the time that was clearly the strong implication). And, as zeitgeist mentions, it doesn't really matter if it's a muddle or just plain rubbish, it's still, by definition, canon.

If canon is nothing more than the scenes on the screen, there is no reason for this now 128 post discussion.

Apart from fun ;). To be honest I think it's just a case of some of us hewing to a definition (if I may say so a fairly widely accepted one) and others not. If it wasn't as obviously daft we could have the same conversation (i'm sure many of us did at high-school) about whether a table is still a table if you call it a moose ;).

(I was mulling the colour blind idea myself, BTW, Dana5140 and it's a pretty good example to cut to the chase. You say a colour blind person may not see red as red and that's absolutely right. But i'm saying - among others - that light of a wavelength around 700nm still falls on the colour blind person's eye, however they perceive it. Just as, however you see it, canon is the 'official' take on which set of events should be considered authoritative)

ETAL Hells bells, i'd swear zeitgeist's post grew when I wasn't looking. It's alive, I tell you, alive ! But, yeah, bits of what he said ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2007-02-13 15:51 ]
I'm not sure why examples like Spike's intentions regarding his soul or Giles in season seven are even being used as examples here. They are nothing to do with this argument. What is being discussed is a method of storytelling that leaves the audience guessing, rather than Joss not making canon clear.

Sometimes a story works best when we are purposely left to guess specifics for ourselves. The example of Spike getting his soul back is one such case. We were led to believe that Spike wanted the chip out so that when the reveal came about his soul we would be properly surprised (spoilers aside). Joss then clarifies in the season seven episode Beneath You that Spike had always meant to get his soul back. It wasn't just something he stated in an interview. It was in the script and the words were spoken by Spike to Buffy.

Now, just because Joss left the fans guessing all summer between seasons doesn't make the facts any less... well... factual. Any fan who refuses to accept that Spike intentionally got his soul back is wrong. No two ways about it.

None of that is about canon though. It's all about speculation on unknowns and if something is unknown then it's not canon in the first place. If Joss never clarified the Spike/soul issue then it would remain a mystery and fans could theorise all they wanted to but nothing they assumed would be considered canon. It only becomes that when Joss gives it the nod.

We, the fans, have absolutely no authority to call anything canon. No matter what we like or don't like, Joss makes the call.

And, again agreeing with zeitgeist and Saje, with all due respect to the colour blind community, just because they can't see a colour doesn't change what it truly is. Totally blind people can't see any colours at all, but they all still exist anyway.

Perception is perception but fact is fact and canon is all about the facts, as stated by those in charge of the story. They can change or add to the facts if they so choose. We cannot.

Joss is not claiming that the comics really are a television series. He is stating that they continue the canon storyline of the television series, just in comic form. Totally different thing to your Axl Rose example. As I've said before (in this very post actually), canon is about the content of story, not the medium.

But my point is that the "content of story" in BtVS (the show) consisted of more than just the writers' scripts, just as a GN'R song is more than just Axl's lyrics and vocal melodies. It's the result of a group effort. Yeah, if you look at the scripts, the plot points and dialogue are pretty much unchanged from page to screen. But for me, everything that we saw/heard onscreen contributed to "the story" to some degree: the acting, scoring, wardrobe, fight choreography, etc.

When all those things are removed, and we're left with Joss (or BKV/Loeb/etc) and an artist, I consider it to be such a fundamental change to the storytelling process, that I don't see it as the same "story" (and thus, not the same canon), any more than I would consider Axl Rose's lyrics by themselves (without the sound of his voice, the guitars, bass, etc) to be a Guns N' Roses product, regardless of what Axl himself might say.
Sorry, areacode212, but this is where you are getting your personal feelings for what makes a continuation of Buffy mixed up with what is canon.

You are not personally happy with the way the story is continuing, which is your opinion and that is fine. I'm sure many will miss the contribution of the actors and other onscreen elements. You won't be the only one that doesn't consider the comics to be an acceptable medium for Buffy. But, with all due respect, that is not anything to do with the concept of canon. It's about what makes you happy.

What you think or feel makes no difference, and I mean no disrespect when I say that. It is the same story and it is the same canon. The comic book format is totally beside the point. Whatever is lost in the transition from the screen to the page is a shame and clearly for you it's too much of a shift but that doesn't change the fact that it's still canon. It's just a part of the canon that you won't observe.

And is anyone else tired of typing the word "canon" at this point? :)
Not to the blind, they don't. But is their reality any less than ours, or any less meaningful? They simply have a different reality. We can't privelege ours. And yes, visible light falls into certain wavelengths, but every person's ability to perceive that light differs from the next; in this case, perception is key, but our argument seems to imply that perception is not important when considering canon; only what is "there" is canon. But if we cannot perceive what is "there," or our perceptions of what is "there" differs from someone else's because our sensory apparatus is different, does that make our reality any less "real" than theirs, or any less meaningful? It is our reality. It is not a community consensus, so to say. :-)

As fans, we can do whatever we like with Buffy. Okay, so maybe Joss gets to say what canon is. But so what, if we can do whatever we want with the show? what does it mean, then, for Joss to have the authority to decide that something is canon, if we are free to reject that, alter it, or play baseball with it? It would seem that naming something canon would really be meaningless in that case. There is a program. It was filmed and shown on TV as a series of moving images with sound. It exists external to anyone watching it. That is, apparently, canon. Anything else is what we bring to it. I think we might all be in agreement on this point, even if we are coming at if from 100 different directions. But saying that, I don't know that we have really gained much. We still have to infer meaning in what we see, and here we really do all differ- we bring our won subtext, to quote Joss. And maybe, that is what really matters, not what we name the show as it was presented as wordsimagessounds.

I feel like Little Richard, "Lawd, help me, help me!"
Dana5140, everything in your last comment, from how a blind person might observe the world to how a fan is free to interpret what he or she sees on television, is about personal opinion and perception. And everything you say is absolutely true.

The only problem is that it has nothing really to do with what canon is, which is a decision that is entirely out of our hands. We get to interpret the unknowns and assume the uncertains, we don't get to decide the facts, which is what canon is all about.
But, roxtar, what are the facts? That's what I am asking. Are the facts just the show as it was filmed and shown on TV as a series of moving images with sound, existing external to anyone watching it? If so, then being canon is meaningless. Canon requires no viewers, in such case. In all seriousness, I am not trying to be troublesome; I'm really trying to understand what it would mean to be canon if all canon is is "facts." What are "facts"?

ETA: Let me ask it this way: Is it canon that Willow and Tara slept together and had sex?

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2007-02-13 17:13 ]
Regarding Spike's chip: it was never a retcon, it was simple bait and switch. And it never required either interviews or the following season to 'explain' that, it was already there in front of the viewer. When Spike said 'Give the Slayer what she deserves' it should have been obvious to everyone that he didn't need the chip out to rip Buffy's throat out, his chip was not a factor in his interaction with Buffy. They played it with anger to get the audience to over-look that fact and not let us realize that 'what she deserves' is a man with a soul. The interviews and mention in Season 7 were, IMO, just a response to the fans who stubbornly refused to see it, either because they resented the bait and switch or because they never wanted Spike to have a soul.

The whole business of Giles in Season 7 was even sillier. There again, they were clearly trying to fool the audience because they thought it was fun, and many people resented being jerked around.

The question of why this thread has gotten to be so long is (IMO) because we are all very much involved in the fandom. I would question, refering back to past posts of my own, how many viewers of BtVS are actually involved in the fandom. It is true that the vast majority of people who tuned in to watch the show will never know about the comic books, but frankly I think most of them have never heard of Joss and could care less about canon. Viewers are not necessarily part of a fandom.

If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? How about if you put your fingers in your ears and yell "lalalalalala" really loudly? Obviously, to me Joss is boss.
They simply have a different reality.

No, they don't Dana5140, they just perceive the same reality differently (it's still there though, that damn tree still makes a sound ;). And I don't privilege our perception since no-one alive can perceive every aspect of reality perfectly, any being that could would be a god. But to accept that light is actually falling on a blind person's eyes is not 'privileging our reality' it's stating a simple, verifiable fact about the world. It's basically simply accepting that there is a reality in the first place (if we were all blind from birth there would be no such thing as colour but there would certainly still be light just as there were radio waves before we had the apparatus to receive them). Must confess Dana5140, I find your perspective to be quite an unusual one for a research scientist ;).

what does it mean, then, for Joss to have the authority to decide that something is canon, if we are free to reject that, alter it, or play baseball with it?

Well, I think most of this 'side' in the discussion would say we're not free to reject canon or alter it or play rounders baseball (kidding ;) with it. We can stop watching/reading/whatever (just as someone could stop watching at season 5 if they so chose) but we cannot legitimately then claim "Seasons 6 and 7 never happened" (just as, after the comics, no-one, even those that didn't read them, can legitimately claim "The comics never happened"). This isn't true of non-canonical fan-fic i.e. fan-fic doesn't contribute to the body of facts about the Buffyverse that any subsequent interpretation would have to account for.

Joss then clarifies in the season seven episode Beneath You that Spike had always meant to get his soul back

Ah, at risk of breaking our merry band, i'm not sure I agree with that Roxtar ;). May have to look at a transcript but I don't remember Spike being quite so straight-forward in his statement of intent (and, IIRC, he was still pretty bonkers at that point anyway so not necessarily the most reliable of narrators - leaving aside the fact that even a sane Spike might want to put a more favourable spin on what he originally set out to do).
Coming in late, as usual, to a discussion, but allow me to fatten an already gargantuan thread by adding one observation about "retcon." This is a new word for me. As I understand it, retcon is simply a tool, a device, available to an author of a serialized story. Serials, particularly long-running ones, are rich with retcons, some good--e.g., Conan Doyle's resurrecting Sherlock Holmes years after he killed him at Reichenbach Falls--and some not so good--e.g., the infamous Patrick Duffy shower scene on the TV show Dallas. The difference between a good retcon and a bad one is that a good retcon justifies the apparent discontinuity by maintaining the overall quality of the story, whereas a bad one awkwardly and sometimes jarringly veers off course and stays there. The example of Joss's rewriting the events of TGIQ as an Andrew-inspired hoax seems to me to be a perfectly decent retcon.
"Canon requires no viewers..."

Exactly. In it's purest sense, and certainly when discussing a work of modern fiction such as Buffy, canon actually requires only the creator of the fiction. The nature of true canon has absolutely nothing to do with the fans whatsoever. It's not about what we see, believe or think, it's about what the creator, in this case being Joss, decides. What we can do as fans is speculate on the parts of the story that haven't been established in canon.

For example, a canon fact is that Buffy is a vampire slayer. If you said otherwise then you would obviously be wrong. Now if you were to say that Buffy was the 4053rd slayer, that would be assumption. Never proven or disproven by the facts of the show. However, just because you state that and the show can't prove you wrong, it's not a canon fact. It's just your belief.

Anything in the story that Joss dictates is canon. Anything that we say to contradict what Joss as established, therefore, is wrong. Anything that we might add to what Joss has yet to establish is theory.

As for the Willow/Tara sex thing, there is a big difference between mistaking canon for assumption and ignoring the common sense of what we see onscreen. It's not as if the script didn't make their status very clear, even without the visual confirmation. Just because we never saw them having sex doesn't mean that we didn't see them glowing afterwards in Seeing Red. And that scene in Once More With Feeling leaves very little to doubt. ;)

Saje, I see what you mean about what Spike said in that scene not necessarily being the best source of information. I used that as it was the first point where the truth of his intentions was suggested onscreen. However, there were many occasions later on in both Buffy and Angel where Spike states that he chose to get his soul back.

Now, I do agree that it isn't out of the question to say that Spike was lying about that to make himself look better but if we are going to go down the route of "such and such a character might have been lying when he/she claimed something in a given episode" then this thread might end up the longest in Whedonesque history. :D
Roxtar, on Willow/Tara, but where is "obviously suggested on screen" part of canon? *How* "obvious" does it have to be? Again, it's not black and white but a gradient.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2007-02-13 17:55 ]
WilliamTheB, I think I've answered most of your question in my previous comment.

If we start to assume that everything we see or hear on the show is questionable, such as what Spike said or what sexuality Willow and Tara stated that they were, we may as well just not believe anything we ever see or hear. Ever. Anywhere. :)

If you met two girls in the street who told you that they were a lesbian couple, would you refuse to believe them until they let you watch them together in bed? Sometimes it's just about common sense.
Gotta disagree there, roxtar. We never saw Willow and Tara have sex. We saw them banter, we saw them in bed. But I can offer other interpretations of those scenes: they went skinny dipping outside and came in to warm up and the comments they made were meant to be suggestive, but they never had sex. Or, they both did the Dance of Numfar, got hot and took off their clothes and ended up in bed because they were tired. Now, if common sense is all that is involved, my common sense is different from yours. I picked this question, obviously, because them having sex was never depicted. I certainly believe they did- but I cannot factually confirm that with any scene ever shown on the show; I can only rely on interpreting the scene- which I am told is not how we determine canon. In canon, the wordsimagesscenes, Willow and Tara never had sex. It is only our interpretation that they did.

saje: What is reality without someone to perceive it? Oy! Metaphsics! The blind person lives in a reality where there is no color- in my world, there is color. An atom is both wave and particle. I am so getting lost!
Hilariously Paul Cornell blogs about us blogging about him blogging about canon.

"I feel like I infected them with some terrible virus that causes rows about canonicity."
Boy, you guys move fast.

Dana5140, It almost seems like you agree with what the most conservative interpretation of canon al la zeitgeist and roxtar, as I do, but feel that it is just too simple and want to make something more of it. But canon is the simple, and in some ways the most boring, part of the puzzle. If it is done right, it is the common point where things start so the interpretive fun can begin.

Tara and Willow were shown literally sleeping together often, so there can be no doubt that that is canon. Willow did state that Tara was her girlfriend, and Tara and Willow identified themselves as lesbian lovers to the Watcher's Council. I think that is the closest anyone came to actually stating flat out that Tara and Willow had sex, but it seems pretty difinitive.

Spike went to see a demon in Africa. He said specific things. He did certain things. He later said he went to get his soul back. That is canon. Was he lying? That is interpretation and different people will have different answers. Should the actor have been trusted and told what was going on so he could have given a more nuanced performance? That is a whole other argument that has absolutely nothing to do with canon.

Now I'll press preview and have to catch up on 10 more posts since I started writing this.

Yep.

Hilariously Paul Cornell blogs about us blogging about him blogging about canon.

"I feel like I infected them with some terrible virus that causes rows about canonicity."
Simon | February 13, 18:26 CET


Well he obviously does not know us at all. Hey, Paul, this debate has been going on for a loooooooong time. You should check out some of the rest of our passionate yet some would say pointless discussions. ;-)
Complicated discussion this is. A little too complicated to really get into, so I'll just give some bullet points.

1) My definition of canon is: What's important and/or true in a certain piece of fiction.

2) I almost completely agree with Joss about what's canon in his work, since I tend to almost always agree with Joss about what's true and what's important in his fiction works.

3) But, I don't think my opinion on the Buffy canon, or that of Joss, or anyone else for that matter, is more or less valid than one of somebody else. I absolutely don't believe there's an absolute canon. "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not", is what I believe. I find it hard to believe otherwise, but hey, you guys got Socrates and Plato on your side.
Hilariously Paul Cornell blogs about us blogging about him blogging about canon.

Hah ! Canonicity: The Meme, the Myth, the Legend. We used to be such happy, united fans too *cough* ;).

BTW, among others Paul Cornell wrote a book called 'British Summertime' which i'd recommend to any sci-fi fan. Pretty good time-travel yarn which looks at God and people (especially English / British people) and tries to decide where, if at all, they meet. Introduced me to the word chipshopness so it's worthwhile just for that (one of the characters can 'read' the world to an extent that borders on psychic e.g. she can tell the relative nearness of different shops or types of houses by analysing the surroundings - though to her it's basically intuitive - so a particular location may be high up the dogness gradient but very low in chipshopness. She can read faces, voices, body language etc. so precisely and comprehensively that she can pretty much tell what people are thinking). Full of interesting ideas (as well as a funny but affectionate Dan Dare/Biggles pastiche that actually makes you pine for a bygone era that probably never happened in the first place).

Cat amongst pigeons time but by the definition of canon i've been using, Willow and Tara haven't necessarily had sex (though it's very strongly implied and is probably the only sensible interpretation of the facts as presented).

What is reality without someone to perceive it?

Ah, Dana5140, what indeed ? Reckon i'm gonna go with Philip K Dick on this one: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" ;).
The blind person lives in a reality where there is no color


Not true, they are simply unable to perceive color. That is all. Canon is that Willow and Tara were together, whether they had sex or did the dance of Numfar or got really drunk and did both falls into interpretation (smart money's on "Yeah, baby!"). What a character says is canon, whether they were telling the truth or not may or may not be proven within canon, but its what they said thats canon, not whether its a fact or not. People aren't always honest about their motivations or able to see their own motivations clearly.

And, I'm with Saje on chipshopness and Philip K. Dick quotes :)
So do we not accept that two characters had sex unless we see...penetration?? Did Buffy and Spike have sex on the balcony? Or was it just *really good* dry humping? Or ya know...any other time they seemed to have sex. In Smashed, we just hear zipper, see what seems to be mounting, and then rhythmic sexual movements. But maybe they were just funnin'.

I mean, do we accept that Buffy and Angel had sex, because the act of sex is mentioned afterward and commonly agreed upon by the characters that it was had? Cuz all I saw was a bunch of skin and all I heard was Joss and Marti(?) making moaning and sighing sounds...

All I'm saying is, due to FCC regulations(and maybe someone's idea of taste), I think we have to use our deduction skills to complete Joss' canon. Cuz if he had to spell out or show everything...we'll, they would be really bad shows. I think logical inference can be used in determining canon. Or we can just ask Joss about everything that happened off-screen. Or under covers. Or whathaveyou.

Of course, not talking about the things that happen off-screen purposely so we can decide for ourselves what happened(ie did Spike and Buffy have sex in S7?) For that, we just don't have enough information to make a 'logical inference'.

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2007-02-13 19:15 ]
We can't have it both ways, leaving us to interpret what happened, and then calling it canon even though we did not see it. Boy, see how complicated this is getting. Now, please understand, I am not saying that I don't think Willow and Tara did not have sex; I think they did, and often, I surely hope. :-) But if canon is only what we see, external to what we interpret, then they never did. Which simply means that Willow and Tara having sex is not canon, whatever that means.

saje says: "Tara and Willow were shown literally sleeping together often, so there can be no doubt that that is canon. Willow did state that Tara was her girlfriend, and Tara and Willow identified themselves as lesbian lovers to the Watcher's Council. I think that is the closest anyone came to actually stating flat out that Tara and Willow had sex, but it seems pretty difinitive." Well, it is not definitive. Everything you say there can be read to indicate they had sex, but we still have to interpret the scenes to mean that they did- because we never saw it happen. And I have already offered alternative explanations (getting back to being a scientist once again) that cannot be proven or disproven, though admittedly both are very unlikely. :-)

So, let's shift gears: Did Willow and Tara kiss after Tara blew the candle out in NMR?

Roxtar: if canon requires no more than the creator, what does it mean to be canon without a reader or a viewer?

I LOVE this debate! :-)
So, Dana5140, by your logic, no one had sex on Buffy. Or on any movie/tv show short of porn. Because we never *see* the mechanics that make the act of sex...sex.
Dana5140 - now you're just being an argumentative prat :) KIDDING, I'm enjoying this so much I think I should get the next round as well. Mine's a pint of the black stuff ("You can't drink Bovril!").

what does it mean to be canon without a reader or a viewer?


The same thing it means WITH a reader or viewer.
what does it mean to be canon without a reader or a viewer?

I'd say it's canon about something not published.
This will shock no one, but Tara and Willow had sex. Probably a lot. Where did we get this idea? From the TV show. The writers, the actors, the music -- all in collusion to represent, not directly, I'll acknowledge, a sexual relationship. The signifiers of sex are too obvious to mention. Signifiers are part of the text. The text that Joss and his supervised team of writers created is canon. Therefore, Tara and Willow having sex is canon.
I'm sorry. Can we step back a moment?
It was Joss and possibly Marti doing the sound effects in Smashed?
I'm sorry. Can we step back a moment?
It was Joss and possibly Marti doing the sound effects in Smashed


No, no, they did the Bangel sex sounds.
Therefore, Tara and Willow having sex is canon.

Once upon a time, there was this scene in their bedroom in Once More With Feeling and Tara is singing "You make me complete. You make me--". Whistles innocently.
Can we agree something can be both canon and an event/concept/line of dialogue/retcon one finds violating?

I would also like to posit an absurd hypothetical, if you'll allow me to: Let's say Joss pulls a sheet of loose-leaf paper and with crayon draws some stick figures of Buffy and Willow eating lunch together. And Willow steals a french fry off Buffy's plate. And Buffy gets so mad she stakes Willow through the heart.

And Joss posts this drawing here and says "Okay, Li'l Fungi, Willow's dead and here's how. And it's canon." And he means it.

So Willow's dead.

Over a french fry.

And it was depicted in crayon with stick figures on loose-leaf paper.

But Joss says it's canon.

Is it?

Those of us (yes, including me) in the Joss-wrote-it-I-believe-it-that-settles-it camp would have to say yes, it's canon.

But could we in our Buffyheart of Buffyhearts ACCEPT it as canon? And could we really and truly factor it in when thinking about the whole of the fictional lives of Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg?

I couldn't.

Could we go to a Buffy watcher who wasn't keeping up with post S7 anything and say...

"Hey, Willow's dead."
"Ohmygod, how?!"
"Buffy killed her. Over a french fry."
"What?! Where? When?"
"On a piece of paper Joss posted on Whedonesque"

...with a straight face and expect them to accept it as legitimate?

I couldn't.

So I guess for some people Buffy S8 comics are that theoretical crayon drawn stick figure, posted-on-Whedonesque loose-leaf piece of paper.
I thought Tara was singing "You make me come ... plete" (so we know at least that she had sex). I do think this discussion had degenerated into argument for it's own sake.
Batmarlowe: if Picasso could scribble on a napkin and sell it then Joss can publish a crayon sketch (or that wood cut he kept threatening to do). I'm willing to accept any medium provided it is channelled through Mr. Whedon.
Ah, so the question is really who is this plete person? :)
Based on everything we have seen from Joss these past 10 years, we have no reason to believe he would ever destroy Willow over, um, a french fry, and offer it up as canon for the fans. He is, however, offering up the comics as canon. The comics will be consistent with Joss's vision of the characters, events, and the overall mythology of the TV series, and as such, must be accepted as canon. However, for people who, due to ignorance or indifference, will only ever know Buffy in its TV form, the comics will be irrelevant canon.
My brain is turning into a French fry! Nope, here's my problem: canon, we seem to have agreed, is the wordsimagesscenes that Joss has created. Nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, what is not wordsimagesscenes is not canon. So, in answer to the question of whether or not anyone ever had sex on Buffy, the answer, according to our generally agreed upon definition of canon, is no. It was not imageswordsscenes. It is just our interpretation of the existing imageswordsscenes.

But I have it all figured out! What we have with the Willow/Tara sex question is a CANONICAL INTERPRETATION! We have a community consensus that the imageswordsscenes signify (using the word offered just above) that Willow and Tara had sex. Or that Buffy and Spike had sex on the balcony (though, really, I wish they hadn't).

I have my answer! :-)
The question of why this thread has gotten to be so long is (IMO) because we are all very much involved in the fandom. I would question, refering back to past posts of my own, how many viewers of BtVS are actually involved in the fandom. It is true that the vast majority of people who tuned in to watch the show will never know about the comic books, but frankly I think most of them have never heard of Joss and could care less about canon. Viewers are not necessarily part of a fandom.

I think it's quite possible to be part of Buffy fandom and not have a clue about Joss, that's the wonder of the show, it stands on its own. Some fans have absolutely no interest in the behind the scenes stuff, they saw the show, they enjoyed the show, they still like to talk about the show they just don't feel the need to go further than that. Of course for others love of the show lead them to becoming a fan of Joss while others discover the show because they're a fan of Joss's. I don't know how big Buffy 'fandom' is these days but I would argue that the internet portion is just a part of it and not necessarily the biggest part or a particularly representative part.
Re the lyrics, yes, and it isn't even just that, it's what's going on during that portion of the song, and it doesn't need to be spelled out. I just think the whole did they, didn't they (of any of the characters) is so silly. Willing suspension of disbelief is what allows you to accept an action (edit - sorry, I mean to say, in a dramatic construct), even if it isn't blatantly spelled out for you. Joss has even said the spell Willow and Tara work, we know the one, is one of the hottest sex scenes he ever wrote and he couldn't believe it got by the censors. As the Monkees sang, "I'm a believer."

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-02-13 21:37 ]
Dana5140, I don't think there's much possible interpretation of: and tell me ... you don't love getting away with this... ...right under their noses. allied to the rhythmic movements. It's sex and it's canon. And I find it extremely hot.

And I love this debate too. Only here could it go on so long and still stay so civilised.
So, in answer to the question of whether or not anyone ever had sex on Buffy, the answer, according to our generally agreed upon definition of canon, is no. It was not imageswordsscenes.


I think that things like the above-referenced balcony sexing are so obvious as to say that the imageswordsscenes do fairly blatantly suggest that there is sexing occuring.
Dana5140 - "We can't have it both ways, leaving us to interpret what happened, and then calling it canon even though we did not see it. Boy, see how complicated this is getting."

About as complicated as you choose to make it. ;)

Truthfully, you are still not really talking about canon because yet again you are confusing our freedom to interpret what we don't see with a desire to contradict what we do.

The Willow/Tara thing is, as I said before, purely an issue of common sense. A viewer should not need to see every second of a relationship to be able to know what is going on. To say that Willow and Tara were not a lesbian couple just because you didn't see them have sex is, in my mind, stretching your argument beyond credibility. There was more than enough spoken and visual evidence to prove that they were in a sexual relationship.

What you are arguing for is the right to interpret what we haven't been told or what we haven't specifically seen. A right that I have never disputed we have. Canon, though, does not cover the unknown facts. If it did then they wouldn't be unknown. However, taking this to the extreme of ignoring the common sense of what we have seen and heard makes the debate feel a little empty for me. Like somewhere down the thread we left the concept of canon behind and are now debating just how much visual information we need to believe something to be true.

Bottom line, for me? There is a big difference between needing every detail spelled out to understand what is being shown to me and making up something that may or may not have happened. If I know Willow and Tara are a couple and they make it evident that they are in a sexual relationship in the script then that is just as canon as any visual proof.

Tara: O-o-our relationship?
Willow: We're friends.
Tara: Good friends.
Willow: Girlfriends, actually.
Tara: Yes, we're girlfriends.
Willow: We're in love. We're ... lovers. (puts hand on Tara's knee) We're lesbian, gay-type lovers.


Good enough for me. ;)
Common sense ain't canon, roxtar. It's an intepretation. The question was not whether or not Willow and Tara were a lesbian couple; it was whether they had sex. One is confirmed by them talking about it- imageswordsscenes- and the other is "common sense." But not imageswordsscenes, which is what we've agreed comprises canon. But I like my answer of a canonical interpretation- Joss meant for us to assume they were having sex, and thusly, we do. But it was never shown, and really, I am going to rename myself "Plete." But not tell anyone why.... ;-)
Dana5140, there is a point to the compound imageswordsscenes - each alone is a means of transmitting information. Sometimes the words alone do that, sometimes the images do. We know Spike and Buffy literally slept together the night before the final battle in Chosen because we saw it - we didn't need it to be supported by exposition. We know Willow and Tara had sex because Willow explictyly said We're lesbian, gay-type lovers. and we thus don't need the images to support the words.

Sometimes the whole set of "imageswordsscenes" works together to communicate. Sometimes it's disproportionately one of them, or two. But if it's part of what is being overtly expressed by Joss's chosen means, it's canon.
"The question was not whether or not Willow and Tara were a lesbian couple; it was whether they had sex."

And again...

Willow: We're in love. We're ... lovers. (puts hand on Tara's knee) We're lesbian, gay-type lovers.


That would be the "words" part of "imageswordsscenes", would it not? ;)
Considering Spike and the chip, it's always been my feeling that he tore off in a rage to Africa to get the chip removed and somewhere along the way realized what he really wanted was his soul back. This after all is the same vamp that stormed out with a shotgun intending to blow Buffy's head off in "Fool for Love", and ended up trying to comfort her.
That, barboo, is my favorite scene in the entire series. I think it perfectly encompasses both the emotion and the weirdness/humor that is the Buffyverse :)
And for the record, based on the original meaning of the term, "canon" does not require consistancy. Try reading the Bible sometime.

Lady Brick, it's definitely one of the finest.
Well, roxtar, one meaning is simply that they love each other, ie, they are lesbian gay-type lovers because they love someone of the same sex. This does not mean that they actually had sex, now, does it? It's a legitimate interpretation of that scene, right? :-) Just words, open to interpretation........ :-)

(And yes, I am normally really like this: http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/13/1/9)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2007-02-13 22:37 ]
See? He is just being a prat :) Love it :) I wonder what percentage of decrease in wordcount this thread would have if I removed canon, interpretation... anyway. Fun!
Dana5140, it was me, newcj, rather than Saje who brought up the statement by Willow (and Tara because she was sitting there nodding) that they were lesbian lovers. In this one case Saje is innocent.

...And though all words are open to interpretation, hence the fun, they do have basic meanings. "Lovers" is consistently used to discribe unmarried people who are having sex. (...as I somehow suspect you are aware. ;-) )
Dana5140 - "Well, roxtar, one meaning is simply that they love each other, ie, they are lesbian gay-type lovers because they love someone of the same sex. This does not mean that they actually had sex, now, does it? It's a legitimate interpretation of that scene, right? :-) Just words, open to interpretation........ :-)"

Oooookay. At this point, and with all due respect, this debate is becoming a little, erm, pedantic for my tastes and it's now way past the point where I think we are talking about the actual same topic anymore.

As fans we can, of course, choose to ignore the blindingly obvious and take any statement made by the characters to mean something different to what was clearly intended but at that point the common sense I mentioned before really has left the room. Although I do recognise that much of what you are saying is to purposely take this debate to extremes. ;)

As such, I respectfully take my leave from this fun little back and forth.

That, and Battlestar Galactica starts in ten minutes time... :D
Not to drag us totally off topic, but this weeks BSG didn't really do it for me. I mean it was still BSG and thus way better than most things out there, but... Well, Plete, it seems the topic she is a-winding down :)
I felt it was a so-so filler, Z but as my wise and learned hubby(and you) said, "A BSG filler is still better than most anything on right now."
Some day I'll catch up with BSG. Of course it will probably be at least 9 moths after it goes off the air, but I've had good luck with that system. ;-)
These days, I'd take Heroes filler over BSG filler, if only because BSG has gotten so fracking depressing.
When wasn't BSG depressing? It is my only gripe (zeitgeist I think we need to go off topic, since we have been reduced to beating a dead horse). There is Plete over there, with his fingers in his ears, pretending he can't hear the trees falling (and won't admit that 'lover' means sexual partner).
If Joss was hired to write and direct the next Star Trek movie, then would it be canon?
Give me CSI and Sara Sidle! And you gusy think BSG is depressing? And yes, my wife and I are lovers, or so she tells me. :-)

Hey, I was only partially trying to be a prat. I know what I was meaning to say, which is only that certain scenes are open to interpretation, and there are other interpretations. The Willow and Tara one is easy, because we really do get the idea, though we never see it, that they are having sex. But other scenes in Buffy are less clear and thus more open to debate, ie, the initial scenes where Spike gets his soul back. What was it HE thought he was getting, right then and there? The chip out or the soul back? You can argue either way. And Buffy will not kill humans. Except when they are knights attacking Winnebagos. But I wax on.

Who'd have thought we'd generate nearly 200 posts from this. Damned good thing we were off work today because of snow. :-)
Slainte, and kampai!
Dana5140 - "Damned good thing we were off work today because of snow. :-)"

I don't even have that excuse. I work from home. :)

I actually enjoyed tonight's BSG. It was last week's episode that I found a little disappointing. Although I should point out for anyone who hasn't looked at my profile that I'm talking about the UK run, where we have just seen the Torn/Measure of Salvation two parter.

Still, I have to agree that the poorest BSG episode is still solid entertainment. Like Whedon shows, it just sometimes suffers the comparison of it's own exceptionally high standards.

And, Dana5140, any details that are left open to any interpretation at all are not strictly canon in the first place. They only become so when Joss establishes the facts, at which point there is no more need for interpretation.

And that's my final word on the subject, I promise. I swear today has been a blur of Whedonesque posting. Tomorrow I need to get some work done. :D
IMO, Gossi got it right at the very start of this thread. If Joss said it, it's true. We are playing in his Universe. He gets to decide what's canon. Works for me anyway.
Is there a Tarzan canon?
I agree if Joss says somethings canon, it is so. And I have no problem with his changing canon. Of course, there is really very little canon when you get down to it. It was not canon that Angel was Spike's sire, even though Spike said so. It is only canon that Spike said Angel was his sire.

On the other hand, we did see a flashback where Dru turned Spike. However, perhaps Spike was lying about that to Buffy and the only canon is that Spike did indeed tell Buffy Dru was his sire but it's not necessarily true.

As for me, I believe the retcon of Spike's being sired by Dr is canon. Sometimes you just have to accept something because it makes so much sense to the ongoing story.
Yup, controlled by the ERB people. And there are plenty of arguments over that, too...
And, hey, cheryl- so, if Joss says it's canon and I don't agree then what? :-)

Okay, okay *ducks* !

Is there a CSI canon? Did Grissom and Sara have sex? I mean, there they were, in bed, and Sara coming out of the bathroom wearing a robe after showering, and Grissom musing about dying by cancer so he'd have time to say goodbye to those he loved, and Sara saying she was not ready to say goodbye yet... Oh wait, we just had this discussion (substitute Willow for Grissom and Sara for Tara). But, boy, over on the yourtaxdollarsatwork site, this issue of canon is hot as can be- but the GSR's have canon on their side now- or did, until I post later tonight *mwahaha!!* No, I won't really, 'cause I am as big a GSR shipper as I am a Willow/Tara shipper.

I mint a new word: caninterpretation. It means imageswordsscenes plus community interpretation. And that gives us meaning in stories we all see and somehow differ in how we impute meaning to it. Yes, resolved, to me anyway. Respect my authorita! :-)

Yeah, I have to go to work tomorrow as well and actually accomplish something researchly. Well, we did just get an R01 approved, so lots to plan... L'chaim, y'all! I'm getting punchy or deserved to be punched, or something. :-)
"So I guess for some people Buffy S8 comics are that theoretical crayon drawn stick figure, posted-on-Whedonesque loose-leaf piece of paper."

Yeah, except without the condescension.

But, and here's the thing: we are fans largely because Joss would not do such a thing. We trust him to remain true to his own vision, the vision he pulled us into. And he does in fact kill off characters here and there, but never capriciously (whatever it may feel like at the time) and always with a point in mind.

The comics are canon. "Why are we still talking about this?"
"...so, if Joss says it's canon and I don't agree then what? :-)"

Then you don't agree. It's still canon, you just choose to ignore it. No big.
In this one case Saje is innocent.

Just this one case ? ... Yeah, that sounds about right actually ;-).

Is there a Tarzan canon?

I dunno, is there a Frank Canon ? Oh dear, there goes the tone ;). I'd like to suggest 'canon-do attitude' for the willingness to adhere to and respect canon. But i'm too afraid of the Pun-Demons so I won't.

Good thread all, interesting and entertaining and, that most important quality for any discussion of anything, a distraction from work ;).
Dana...If Joss says it's canon and you don't agree....well, then you are clearly wrong. :) I'm only half joking. We have to take what he tells us as truth because without him there would be nothing. Buffy is inside his head screaming to get out. Yes, she is also in mine but not because she lives there rather because Mr. Whedon put her there.
"I agree if Joss says somethings canon, it is so. And I have no problem with his changing canon. Of course, there is really very little canon when you get down to it. It was not canon that Angel was Spike's sire, even though Spike said so. It is only canon that Spike said Angel was his sire.

On the other hand, we did see a flashback where Dru turned Spike. However, perhaps Spike was lying about that to Buffy and the only canon is that Spike did indeed tell Buffy Dru was his sire but it's not necessarily true."


Interesting example. The first time I saw FFL, I thought "Are the flashbacks indicative of what he is telling Buffy? Because I can't imagine Spike letting her know some of this." Then as I watched it, it seemed clear to me that we were seeing what happened, but we were not usually hearing how Spike was presenting it to Buffy. She may have or IMO was probably getting a slightly more Spike-flattering version. The disconnect was especially noticeable in the lead ins. "I've always been bad." leading into the total opposite reveal of William the bloody awful poet. "I had to find me a gang." leading into Angel tossing him around the mine shaft like a toy. So what he told Buffy gets kind of murky in that particular episode, though I have a tendency to take flashbacks as the truthful representation of what happened, as I do in FFL.
I do, too, newcj.

I'd probably have more trouble with the concept of canon if Joss was really some kind of Old Testment god threatening to smite us if we ever doubted his word.

But, he's incredibly generous in encouraging fans to interpret his work each in their own way. The big fun for me posting at boards is discussing the shows with people who have different opinions than mine.
"The comics are canon."

Not yet... LOL. But the covers are! :-)

In all seriousness, I agree with this last comment by reddygirl. I love coming here because no one, and I mean no one, that I work with or count as a family member (including one wife, a set of 26yo twins, a 21yo son, a 26yo step-son and his wife, and a 29yo step-daughter with a hubby and two kids of her own) is in any as maniac about Buffy, though the step-son and his wife are in process of watching Buffy and have worked up to the end of S6, but refuse to read anything or talk about anything until they complete the series, so I can never discuss anything with them yet. Sigh. I just don't know why people always look at me funny when they visit my office and see my Willow-Tara Hush figurines, my Tara NMR figurine, and my signed Amber Benson photo on my desk. But, they do. Sigh.

And knowing Joss, he might just smite us just to do it. While cracking wise. The bigger point is that Joss canon is not biblical canon, and in Bible canon it is a bit harder to argue that one can do with canon what one wants. I think. :-)
What is does "canon" mean? None of the traditional definitions apply: a bunch of books considered Holy Writ (the Bible canon), a bunch of books written by one person (Shakespeare's canon).

There is only one definition that makes any sense to describe Buffy: a bunch of works assumed by fanfic writers and other fans to include information about a fictional universe. It's a term that makes absolutely no sense outside the context of the fanfiction community, or at least outside the context of people who like to imagine a coherent fictional world (which is basically the same thing, except maybe not written down), to play "How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?" (Admittedly, Joss falls into the category of people who we would want to think of the Buffyverse as a coherent fictional world, and he has every right to have his own opinions of what he thinks is canon or not.)

As such, the question of "what is canon?" using canon in this fanfic sense falls very clearly into the hands of the relevant interpretative community, i.e. fanfic writers and other Buffy fans, to be negotiated among them.
What condescension?
There is only one definition that makes any sense to describe Buffy: a bunch of works assumed by fanfic writers and other fans to include information about a fictional universe.


Canon is the official body of stories that make up a work. So, no, alixtii, fanfic does not fall into that category at all. Certainly when writing fanfic one can try to work within the bounds of established canon or outside it (I'm looking at you, Xander/Giles shippers). In this case it is the works officially sanctioned and/or produced by ME - season seasons of Buffy, and soon to be an "eighth season" told in comic book form. Joss' thoughts on what constitutes canon is fact, not "opinions".
I had not thought that there could be so much theological/political discussion erupting from this fandom regarding Joss's role in Creating Canon.

In this, as in nowhere else, I'll continue to follow My Scribe (bellyfeel) and not join one of the more heretical sects.

My favourite comment of the thread? Simon's "Eurasia has always been the enemy." It was doubleplusgood.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for my daily "Two Minutes Hate."

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.” - George Orwell, 1984
Nobody is probably still reading this thread, but...
You are not personally happy with the way the story is continuing, which is your opinion and that is fine. I'm sure many will miss the contribution of the actors and other onscreen elements. You won't be the only one that doesn't consider the comics to be an acceptable medium for Buffy. But, with all due respect, that is not anything to do with the concept of canon. It's about what makes you happy.

Where did I say that I'm not happy with the way that it's continuing? I just don't consider the comics canon. I may not enjoy them on the same level as the TV show, but as I wrote in my first post that "I may still enjoy them, the way I enjoy, say, the Doctor Who Big Finish audios." I love the DW Big Finish audios. Still doesn't mean that I think they actually "happened" within the continuity of Doctor Who.

And zeitgeist or Roxtar, please cite an authoritative objective source (e.g., a dictionary or encyclopedia) where I can find this definition of "canon" that you keep asserting is true, which states that, in the context of a fictional universe, only the creator of said universe has the authority to declare what is and isn't canon. If this is a "fact", as you claim, prove it. I've checked Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Dictionary, and *gasp* nothing like this appears anywhere.

This is what's on Wikipedia:
"Canonicity is largely a subjective notion, referring to a shared understanding that exists between the published works in a fictional series and the level of acceptance by a vocal but otherwise accepting wide audience."
No, Wikipedia is not authoritative, but it's worked on by the general internet community, and as the above quote has been part of the article for a while, I think I'll stick with what the general consensus of what the term "canon" means, instead of the zeitgeist version.
"The big fun for me posting at boards is discussing the shows with people who have different opinions than mine.
Reddygirl | February 14, 03:14 CET"


So you are saying discussing the shows with me is no fun? Ok. I get it. No problem. I think I've had it with this thread anyway. (Pouts in a corner like a little kid.)
Which is why, areacode, that I offered my new term: canonical interpretation. :-)
Ah, newcj, you know I didn't mean that. Come out of that corner.
"Ah, newcj, you know I didn't mean that. Come out of that corner.
Reddygirl | February 14, 19:53 CET"


OK. I admit it, I did know you didn't mean that. I just couldn't resist the tease. Must admit, though, I was getting cramped in that corner. It is good to get out. Remind me not to paint myself into one of those anytime soon.
I missed the thread!

Canon is a word used to discribe different things imho. However, the use of the word in THIS context is to do with telling a story. The story consists of a world, imagined and created by one Joss Whedon. He then created a team of writers, prop-people, actors etc....to help him tell that story.

What happens in that story - the words used, the intent of the characters, the "truth" of the reality within it can be questioned, debated and disagreed on. However, one can't really argue that it wasn't Joss's created and imagined world in the first place.

Now, if Joss has walked away from the story-telling at any point, then in some ways I would argue whether it was canon to the original idea.

It does come down to authority - who has overall control of the content of something. It could be one person, it could be an equal group of writers, it could be a TV network. Unless you have the original story-teller the concept of the word canon defalts to something else - or it has NO canon.

In the case of Buffy - it was one man's idea, he created the world and then let other people help him write it to an arc. Therefore, it's still his story and therefore anything he writes imho is canon in this particular arguement.

Canon about what happens within the story is something else entirely and should have a separate word.
Like "canonical interpretation," bubblecat? :-)

I think the real question is, to quote Cartman, authority (or, authoritah). I think the general consensus here, which I am in the tiny other minority, is that Joss is the authority; I vest the viewer with that power. The viewer has to construct meaning from the words, images and scenes that Joss and crew broadcast. There is no meaning otherwise, so canon seems empty to me in this case; it means nothing to be canon. And this is the pole around which we are dancing this issue. Glad to have you join the dance. :-)
Well, areacode212, I got the following from the exact same Wikipedia link that you offered...

In the context of a fictional universe, the canon comprises those novels, stories, films, etc. that are considered to be genuine or officially sanctioned, and those events, characters, settings, etc. that are considered to have existence within the fictional universe. In order for a setting to appear cohesive, especially in fictions that contain multiple parts, both creators and audiences sometimes find it useful to define what has and has not "actually happened" in that universe. Items that are considered canon usually come from the original source or author of the fictional universe while non-canon material comes from adaptations, spin-offs or unofficial items, often in different media. Fan fiction is usually an example of non-canonical fiction.


I've highlighted the most relevant information but the paragraph pretty much speaks for itself.

Also, again from the same Wikipedia page (quite conveniently), was this...

The Buffyverse canon consists of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as the comics Fray, Tales of the Vampires, and Tales of the Slayers. All of the tie-in novels and video games, along with most of the comics, are largely considered either non-canon or apocrypha. Some of the comics are written by members of Mutant Enemy writing staff; the canonical status of these materials is still unclear.


Obviously the above hasn't been updated to include the Buffy Season Eight comics but again, it pretty much speaks for itself.

Bubblecat made some very good points above but I tend to think that Dana5140 has hit upon the best solution for all of this.

Canon is the solid, undisputable fact and is totally in the hands of the authority behind the given fiction. In the case of the Buffyverse, Joss decides. The fans, however, have the freedom to take whatever they want from what they see and read into the unknown or unclear parts of the story whatever they so choose. What they then assume as true will never be canon, but at least it will fill in some of the blanks for them until Joss actually gives a concrete answer to the particular unknown.

Canonical interpretation seems as good a term as any. ;)

So much for me being done with this thread.
So, no, alixtii, fanfic does not fall into that category at all.


I never said it did, nor do I think most people would. I just don't see anything intrinsic in the concept of "canon" that priveleges the author.

Something can be part of the "official body of stories that make up a work" without being true in the fictional universe the work describes. The West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael" is canon in your sense--it's part of the official series--but not in my sense, because it's not set within the normal continuity of the show.

Which implies to me that we're just using different definitions of the word canon. I just wonder why anyone would care about the "official body" definition; what I care about is not whether the comics are official but whether they "really" happened in the Buffyverse, and since the Buffyverse is a fictional world, there's no reason why anyone else should be more competent than me to tell me the answer.
Still going ? S'trewth, it's like the little thread that could. Only not little ;).

I just wonder why anyone would care about the "official body" definition; what I care about is not whether the comics are official but whether they "really" happened in the Buffyverse, and since the Buffyverse is a fictional world, there's no reason why anyone else should be more competent than me to tell me the answer.

But "official body" or "canon" in this context means exactly that these events are considered to have "really" happened. The Buffyverse being fictional has nothing to do with whether events as portrayed can be said to have "really" happened (obviously they didn't really happen, we're talking within the context of a fictional universe). Also, if there really is "no reason why anyone else should be more competent than me to tell me the answer" then there is also no "really" happened. Absolutely anything and everything "really" happened since all that's required is for someone, anyone to write a fan-fic in which it happened and voila, it "really" happened. In fact, why privilege written works, why can't just thinking of an event make it "real" according to one's "personal canon" ? In which case what does it even mean to talk about the Buffyverse ?

As with a lot of post-modern thought, it's interesting, worthwhile and even fun to discuss, but in real life (the actual one ;) no-one, no matter how they feel about not 'privileging realities', acts as if gravity is actually just a construct of a patriarchal reductionist scientific consensus. Similarly, whenever we talk about the Buffyverse, we all know we mean the one Joss and the others created i.e. the one they tell us is the Buffyverse. From March that'll include the 'season 8' comics.
What Saje just said.

Alixtii's last comment just proves to me that the real reason this debate has gone on for so long, and I don't just mean in this thread, is that there is a misunderstanding as to what "canon" actually is. Certainly in this context.

The only true canon in this case, is that which is made official by the people who get to make that call. The original creators or, more to the point, the guys who own the property. If you only care about what "really" happens in the Buffyverse, alixtii, then by default you also want the "official" take on the matter. It's the exact same thing.

Your West Wing example (which I don't know the details of as that is another show I don't watch) seems to me to be you arguing for what you consider to be continuity, rather than what you consider to be canon, and those two things are not necessarily the same. Any episode of a television series, whether the events we see are real or imagined by the characters, are canon. Isaac and Ishmael may be set out of continuity (which, again, I'm having to take your word for) but even if it is it still is part of the canon of the show as it happened as part of the "official" material.
No, roxtar, what you are mentioning here is nothing more than intellectual property rights protection, not canon. It's what you call property.

I should note that wikipedia is hardly the definitive answer- anyone can post there, and I swear reading that definition, someone in this argument wrote that. :-) I mean, who decided that TOTS and TOTV were canon?

Anyway, here is one more piece of the puzzle- this is a link to the Lucy Hanover promo piece for Buffy S1- is this canon?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVhU3tfZqQc
First of all, thanks for that link. I knew it existed but had never seen it before. Should have thought about YouTube but it never occured to me to look.

To be honest, this is uncertain as Lucy has only made any major appearances in non-canon books and stories. My answer would be that it would be down to Joss to make this call and I personally don't know his stance on the character and whether he counts the advertisement as part of canon material.

However, if he wrote and/or sanctioned the information then it's canon. If not then it can be left to the individual fan to choose. A canonical interpretation situation. ;)

"No, roxtar, what you are mentioning here is nothing more than intellectual property rights protection, not canon. It's what you call property."

In this situation it's the same thing. The people who own the property are the ones who get to decide the canon. Or, if you want to be more specific, the owners of the property get to choose the people who create the official canon.

However you slice and dice it, the canon material is that which is decided by the people who create it and not by the people who watch.
I think the Wikipedia entry specifically about "Buffyverse canon" is quite accurate, because it suggests that materials closely overseen by Whedon are 'canon'.
I'm still waiting for someone to cite an authoritative, objective source for this "rule" that Roxtar keeps flinging around:
Canon is the solid, undisputable fact and is totally in the hands of the authority behind the given fiction.

If your argument is that something is a "solid, undisputable fact" because...you say it is, then I wouldn't call it a fact. Once a work of fiction (the Dark Horse comics series) is put out there, it's up to the individual to decide how it relates to other works (the show). I'm not disputing that "official canon" exists. I'm saying that it's just one view. It may be the most popular view (and it may not be--see again the "Han shot first" debate), but ultimately not everyone is obliged to hold to it.

[ edited by areacode212 on 2007-02-15 17:10 ]
areacode212 - "If your argument is that something is a "solid, undisputable fact" because...you say it is, then I wouldn't call it a fact."

Erm, I'm not...

I'm saying that something is a solid, undisputable fact because Joss says it is.

As for...

areacode212 - "I'm still waiting for someone to cite an authoritative, objective source for this "rule" that Roxtar keeps flinging around."

You said...

areacode212 - "This is what's on Wikipedia:
"Canonicity is largely a subjective notion, referring to a shared understanding that exists between the published works in a fictional series and the level of acceptance by a vocal but otherwise accepting wide audience."
No, Wikipedia is not authoritative, but it's worked on by the general internet community, and as the above quote has been part of the article for a while, I think I'll stick with what the general consensus of what the term "canon" means, instead of the zeitgeist version."


To which I responded with information from the exact same source that you were choosing to base your own opinions on.

Now, I wouldn't stake my reputation on information I'd found on Wikipedia either but at the same time you can't use it yourself and then ignore it when somebody else does the same.

areacode212 - "I'm not disputing that "official canon" exists. I'm saying that it's just one view."

True enough. But true canon is the official "view". You can certainly have a different "view" to what is classed as canon but then that would just be a "view" rather than canon, which is not yours to be creating, as you aren't an official Buffyverse canon maker. You can hold as many opinions on the legitimacy of the canon as you wish but at the end of the day all it will ever be is personal opinion.

Unless you are secretly Joss Whedon. In which case your personal opinion actually is canon. ;)
LOL. "However you slice and dice it, the canon material is that which is decided by the people who create it and not by the people who watch. "

No, it really isn't. Canon has to have some sort of real meaning, and I think what I am taking from this is that there is no real meaning. A definition that says that Joss says it's canon makes it canon fails to meet the definition that wikipedia, for better or worse, offers up, which is that it is agreed upon by fandom- I am not happy that they seem to carve out a special definition of canon just for Buffy that is more specific than other definitions of canon. Which means likely that a Jossverse person posted that definition. :-) Anyway, canon includes the audience, so it has to include some measure of... interpretation! :-)
As far as I understand it canon - the actual definition of the word originates (well, the part to do with literature) from this:

"A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field: “the durable canon of American short fiction” (William Styron)."

The way it's used relating to the TV format in this sense is a far more recent invention. However, it is still used and it still has a meaning, even if it is a relatively newly invented one and as far as I know it's the wiki one.

Now, I totally understand what Dana5140 is stating - that once a particular piece of fiction is "out there" then it can become whatever it wants to the person watching/reading it. So, in essence is fantasy world depends on an audience to exist outside of itself.

What I'm not sure is how a person watching can decide whether the story they are seeing/reading is actually part of the story being told or not. It's getting a bit chicken and egg in here....or maybe a bit Ben or Glory?
But, Dana5140, again you are bringing interpretation into the equation before it really belongs there and because of that we seem to be going around in circles. How can I illustrate what I mean?

Okay, a couple of examples. First the snow in Amends.

The canon is that it snowed. That's it. That is all the fact that the canon material offers. The viewer then has the opportunity to watch the episode and interpret what they see for themselves. Was it luck? Freak weather? Act of God? Whatever you say, it's right because there is no right answer.

Now, if Joss had later stated within the script that it was the PtB that had caused the snow then that would have been the canon answer and any other interpretation would be wrong.

What happened to Fred at the point of her death is another example. The canon suggests originally that Fred's soul was lost. It was stated in the script at least twice, that I recall. However, enough evidence was given to suggest that some part of Fred survived as part of Illyria. Couple that with the fact that the people who said her soul was gone were the bad guys and you have reasonable doubt.

In that situation the canon is sketchy at best and actually all the canon confirms is that something happened to Fred when Illyria possessed her body and that the bad guys want you to believe that her soul was obliterated. The uncertainty can be used to come up with many different theories about the truth. We can interpret what we see in many ways and none of them are wrong. That is until Joss actually writes the story where he gives us the exact details of what happened to Fred. Then the canon is firmly established.

In fiction, especially fantasy, there is actually very little solid fact given, usually because writers like to leave things a little vague in order to keep people interested in the story, as well as to give them breathing room to change things around. As fans we have all that room for interpretation if we so wish. What we aren't doing though, is creating canon. That stays on the screen or on the page. We just get to choose what we think and believe about it.
I understand what you are saying, roxtar. But look at what you say: "Now, if Joss had later stated within the script that it was the PtB that had caused the snow then that would have been the canon answer and any other interpretation would be wrong." No, the interpretation would not be wrong; the canon is solely that it snowed. Joss can offer his interpretation, but that does not make it canon, for he cannot possible offer us his interpretation of virtually everything we ever see on the show. We are free to interpret what we wish, and Joss can offer his opinions on what it means, but his opinion is no more viable than ours; this would replace canonical interpretation with what amounts to a dictatorship, that there is only one possible way to interpret each scene. And I can't buy that, being the contrary fellow that I am. :-)
Ah, but if he showed that it was the PTB who made it snow through an episode of the show, then it would be canon. Now stop your truculence or I shall have to slap you most fiercely with a sea creature :)
Okay, I'm not totally sure whether you are missing the point because I'm not making myself clear or because you are just choosing to. ;)

Let me rephrase a little. Instead of...

"Now, if Joss had later stated within the script that it was the PtB that had caused the snow then that would have been the canon answer and any other interpretation would be wrong."

let's word it like this...

"Now, if Joss had later stated within the script by having a character within the show state, without shadow of a doubt, that it had been the PtB that had caused the snow then that would have been the canon answer and any other interpretation would be wrong."

See what I'm getting at now? I'm not talking about Joss offering an opinion on who or what he personally believes caused the snow. I'm talking about the question being clarified within the events of the show, leaving no doubt as to why it happened. That becoming the canon answer to why it snowed.

As that never occured we are left only with interpretation (even when it comes to the opinion of Joss) as there is no canon answer to go to.

I'd tend to take what Joss says in interviews as almost-canon, at least until proven otherwise. When he claims that Gunn dies in the final battle of Not Fade Away I look at that as the most likely possibility. Even so, despite it being the opinion of Joss, it's still not true canon. It will only become so when it happens on film, in the comic or in another medium that Joss has stated as being canon.

And now having previewed I see that zeitgeist beat me to my point by way of that old trick of using way less words. :D
http://bdsm.roxt -- oops, wrong text field!
In the cases of the use of the word "canon" used to describe what are the accpeted works of a author after he/she is dead (Shakespeare) or representative of something larger (the Western Canon) third parties are necessary to attempt to reach a consensus.

But in the case of Buffy the author/overseer is around to tell us what he considers to be stuff that happens in the life of the Buffyverse characters.

We maybe trying to apply the word "canon" to broad events (S1-S7) and to specific events always open to interpretation (why did it snow in "Amends"?) and I'm not sure "canon" or any other word can encompass all of that. I think the more an event is open to several viable interpretaions (and I realize what's more open to and what's a viable interpreation is all a matter of opinion) the less useful the word "canon" is.

Seems to me when it comes to the Buffyverse the word "canon" has been used to say whether or not stories in media other than the show (Buffy novels, comics, games, the origianl movie in it's entirety) are things we are supposed to take as being part of the life of these characters or this world. And the answer is "no" to almost all of that. The exceptions are (so far I think) Fray and S8 comics. I honestly don't think Joss has weighed in on TOTS and TOTV (and I wish he would).

I can see why someone would have a hard time accepting the official Buffyverse is being continued in comics form but it is. I have a hard time accepting Seasons 6 and 7 but I do because they count. Why would I be entitled to say otherwise?
Ah, roxtar, yes, your clarification is one I agree with. I was not being truculent, but the use of the word "interpretation" caught me up and led to my comment. And zeitgeist, exactly what kind of sea creature are we talking about? :-)

Yes, if we see it happen, it's canon. How we interpret what we see is where the fun begins, but in the case of there being no question, ie, did Willow and Tara kiss in The Body, I cannot argue there is an alternative explanation to what I see on screen; it happened. WHY they kissed, we can discuss- well, maybe not here, since we probably all agree why they kissed, but say, why it snowed, well, we can discuss.
Roxtar wrote:
To which I responded with information from the exact same source that you were choosing to base your own opinions on. To which I responded with information from the exact same source that you were choosing to base your own opinions on.

Now, I wouldn't stake my reputation on information I'd found on Wikipedia either but at the same time you can't use it yourself and then ignore it when somebody else does the same.


Sigh. I really am trying to stay away from this thread, but, against my better judgment (I'm super busy), I need to respond to this. First of all, I'm not "basing my opinions" (which I've held long before I first stumbled on Wikipedia) on that article. I was using it to support my view that canon, in this context, is a subjective concept.

Secondly, you totally ignored the sections of the article that I cited! Namely, the parts that say that it's a subjective notion, and that even an official statement from the creator doesn't oblige anyone to agree.

So I'll address the parts of the article that you bolded:
In the context of a fictional universe, the canon comprises those novels, stories, films, etc. that are considered to be genuine or officially sanctioned, and those events, characters, settings, etc. that are considered to have existence within the fictional universe.


The Buffyverse canon consists of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as the comics Fray, Tales of the Vampires, and Tales of the Slayers. All of the tie-in novels and video games, along with most of the comics, are largely considered either non-canon or apocrypha. Some of the comics are written by members of Mutant Enemy writing staff; the canonical status of these materials is still unclear.


Yes, the term "canon" here in these two passages implicitly refers to what I call "official canon", or what the author/IP holder declares to be canon. I'm not disputing that the 2 Buffyverse shows and Fray (I'm not 100% sure about the two "Tales of..." miniseries, but I'll assume that the above is true) are what Joss has decided is "the official canon".

But whereas you see "canon" and "official canon" as one and the same, I see a distinction in the sense that the general term "canon" also encompasses the idea of "personal canon", which in my case, believe it or not, almost always matches that of the official version. I consider anything in a drastically different medium from the original to be separate works and Expanded Universe, which in most cases, are "officially" considered non-canon. For me, a Buffy comic = Expanded Universe. Joss's writing credit on it only means that I'm more likely to read Season 8 than the issues of the original BtVS Dark Horse comic.

I do agree with your statements that basically say "whatever is explicitly shown is canon, unless the canon later changes" (e.g., it is canon that it snowed in "Amends"), because those things are canonical within the work itself, just as I'll consider anything that happens in the Season 8 comic to be canonical within the comic. Yes, even though there are things I don't like in the show, I consider them canon, because the show is a complete body of work. But as I said, since I consider the show and the comic to be two separate works, I don't consider the comics canon to be part of the show's canon (though the show IS part of the comics canon, since the comic is derived from the show).

I suppose it's kind of funny that my idea of what constitutes canon is generally pretty conservative (in most cases, only the original source material), though my definition of the term "canon" seems to be pretty liberal, since I leave it up to the individual to decide which work is "canon").

Anyway, I think we're long past the point where we're just repeating ourselves, and since neither of us is going to convince the other, I think I'm going to agree to disagree and leave this as my last word on the subject.

[ edited by areacode212 on 2007-02-16 02:08 ]
areacode212, from your last post it seems to me that we agree on pretty much everything except for the specific use of the word canon itself, which leads to the reason we disagree on what to refer to the Buffy Season Eight comics as. You see them as non-canon, as they are presented in a form different to the television show and I see them as canon regardless of format based on the fact Joss says that they are.

Basically, you like to use the notions of "official canon" and "personal canon" whereas I prefer to see things as simply "canon" and "fan opinion". At the end of the day, if that is all we are disagreeing on then I'd say we probably both have more important things to be doing with our time. ;)

I'm going to make this my final post in this thread too (no, really this time!) so Dana5140, I'm glad that we finally reached some level of like minds on this (took us long enough, hehe) and zeitgeist, quit using up all the bandwidth on my homepage! ;)
Goodbye, then, and thanks for all the fish. :-)

(Except I started this argument over on slayerlit now...) :-)

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