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December 29 2007

Canon versus Fanon versus Authorial Intent. "Canon is what happened...Personal canon is 'What happened as far as I'm concerned'..Fanon is any personal canon held in common by two or more people....Author intent is the personal canon of the person (or people) who wrote the source...Author intent is not canon." An interesting look at the subject with mentions of Joss' shows.

Oh our fandom will never agree on these issues. I don't think our fandom has ever agreed about anything. Well apart from trying to save Angel from cancellation. That was a nice unifying moment but apart from that, well never the twain shall meet. If we could take away the dreadful earnestness that plagues fandom and the "I AM RIGHT AND EVERYONE ELSE IS SO WRONG" capslock angst as well then we would have a calmer, slightly boringer (yes it is a word) fandom.

As for canon, fanon etc. Well you can't lead a horse to water. So why force your views down other fans' throats. You're never going to change people's minds. Agree to disagree.
Interesting. But calling it "personal canon" is legitimizing it too much, I think. Someone could theoretically say that Frasier Crane got a sex change operation the day after the Cheers finale, then died in a tragic ball-bearing factory fire, therefore the entire run of the show Frasier never happened. Is that "personal canon" or just being a weirdo?
The pull-quote here is a little misleading, because the article isn't saying that the author has nothing to do with what is canon. What they're saying is that things the author intended to put into a given work but didn't get the chance to (for example), aren't canon, because they're defining canon as being the actual produced or published work of the creator(s) in question.
I enjoyed that article. I pretty much agreed until...

Author intent is not canon.


Couldn't agree with that less. What the author says IS canon, as it is their universe and their story. If Joss were to come out and say that, in "Chosen," Spike and Buffy DID (or did not, for that matter) have sex after that fade-out scene, then that would be canon. Season Eight is only canon because he says it is. The author's word being canon is an even bigger deal in the Harry Potter fandom, as JKR has done many interviews post-Harry Potter that changed the story as we know it. "Dumbledore is gay," for instance. That's canon. It was never (explictly) established in the 'source material,' but now it *has* to be accepted as canon.

Bad choice of words, because canon isn't about acceptance. It simply *is*. People can ignore it, but they don't have to accept it and they can't *reject* it, because canon--for me anyway--is the source material as well as the author's intent and anything they might have to add to the source material.

dingoes8, I agree about the "personal canon" thing. That's a whopper of a name to give fanon.
What they're saying is that things the author intended to put into a given work but didn't get the chance to (for example), aren't canon, because they're defining canon as being the actual produced or published work of the creator(s) in question.


So according to this author, Dumbledore isn't gay?

ETA: Whoops, didn't notice that I'd been beaten to that issue.

[ edited by jclemens on 2007-12-29 20:05 ]
Is that "personal canon" or just being a weirdo?


I think there's a fine line between "I really hated it that Joss killed off Wesley" and "I'm rejecting Wesley's death. He was really there with them in the alley at the end of NFA."

I can enjoy discussions with the first sort of people. The second create a two pronged reaction in me: 1) "What gives you the right to overrule the author?" and 2) "You do know it's just fiction, right?" The second sort of people, in any fandom--not just here--tend to be the ones who put off the uninitiated with their zealotry. I've seen such folks steer conversations about shows *with non-viewers* into their pet issue. Never had that done to me with any Joss shows, but the 'rabid' fandom put me off of B5 for quite a while.
It is true that Wesley's death is hard to argue about, but I know people online who will insist to this day that Spike never intended to get his soul back (I'm not sure if they resented being 'fooled' by the bait & switch story telling, or they just can't believe that Spike could seek his soul). Obviously (oh God, I hope it is obvious) I'm not trying to reopen THAT debate here, but just saying that something can be in the produced shows that many viewers missed or refuse to see. Personally I thought that it was wicked obvious (in the final book)that Dumbledor was Gay.
I think I agree with that article almost completely...
I can see the difficulty in deeming that every word out of the author's mouth is "canon," as the writer articulates, when the author subsequently changes her mind. Nevertheless, I think certain strong statements - Dumbledore is the obvious example - have to be accepted, to avoid dissonance (for want of a better term).

Additionally, the conflict between the book canon and the movie canon is problematic - as a traditionalist, I maintain that Glorfindel helped Frodo at the Ford, and that no elves showed up at Helms Deep, but the movies now say otherwise. Unlike in the law, we don't have an obvious rule to tell us which version prevails.

A carefully written and interesting piece (that could itself be described as "personal canon," if we want to be mean. ;-)) "Simon says agree to disagree."
I agree with with the author intent not being canon to an extent. It seems to me, if it's published, like it with Tolkien's appendix then it becomes canon. There are however exceptions, like with Dumbledore. I think there's no true clear cut answer.
Dumbledore is gay," for instance. That's canon. It was never (explictly) established in the 'source material,' but now it *has* to be accepted as canon.

I have to agree with the author of this article: It wasn't stated in the books, so it is not canon. What the author says is not canon unless it is stated in the source material.

[Sidenote: Because Dumbledore's sexuality isn't addressed in the books, is doesn't mean the character isn't gay, or, for that matter, isn't straight/bi/etc. It means it doesn't matter.]

However, if there's something that can be interpreted in several ways, or something that wasn't fully revealed in the source material (e.g., what the letter Buffy left for Spike said in "Touched"), then that can be considered to be a "canonical interpretation," which still isn't the same thing as canon.

The big question with canon is always "What comprises the source material?" For the Buffy: Season 8 comic book series, we have Joss's word that it's canon, which most people seem to accept (and rightfully so). But things can be more tricky. Take the last few years of Doctor Who, for instance. The regular television episodes are obviously canon, and the books obviously are not. But what about the Attack of the Graske interactive mini-episode? The TARDISodes? The Inifinite Quest animated serialized story?
Can't believe i'm getting into this one again ... OK, having met me, I kind of can ;).

What the author says IS canon, as it is their universe and their story. If Joss were to come out and say that, in "Chosen," Spike and Buffy DID (or did not, for that matter) have sex after that fade-out scene, then that would be canon.

It's a fine line but to me, what the author shows is canon, not what they say about what they show if you see what I mean. If Joss wrote a flashback issue of the comic that showed Buffy and Spike having sex then that's now canon, if he just says it (e.g. at a convention or whatever) then it's not. If he shows it and then says "Because Buffy felt sorry for him" (and there's no other evidence - e.g. dialogue, gestures etc. - to support that) then I think it's still just as valid to believe that it's e.g. because she loved him (even if that's not my own opinion).

In 'The Gift' Buffy makes a noble sacrifice (which is canon, it definitely happened), some people see that as partly her fulfilling the previously mentioned subconscious Slayer death wish but Joss (apparently) says it was purely altruistic. Well, why she did it is "only" his opinion I reckon, not necessarily definitive, what we're shown is consistent with both viewpoints (likewise Spike and the soul thing).

Dumbledore being gay is a tough one but I still think a reader is free to read it as him not being gay and not be being unreasonable. Personally i'll go with Jo Rowling since I think it's consistent with the text, adds an interesting dimension to his character (e.g. his, as it turned out, love affair with Grindelwald) and might be a positive role model (but I really wish she'd been more explicit about it within the books themselves).

Canon, basically, is the set of events depicted, everything else is personal opinion and interpretation (and doesn't, IMO, need any made up words - because we already made some up earlier ;).
Wait a minute.... Spike intended to get his soul back?

;o)
One More Term...
As readers of whedonverse fanfic, my friends and I have coined our own term, which we jokingly apply to any fanfic concept that is so contrary to canon, we wish we'd never come across it. We call it "Banon".
Nevertheless, I think certain strong statements - Dumbledore is the obvious example - have to be accepted, to avoid dissonance (for want of a better term).

Authorial intent is to canon as Ben is to Glory?
There is the absolute truth and then there is interpretation.

I'm sorry for those so stubborn that they can't accept story decisions they don't like, but the author's word is final. It is their story. Emotional investment alone does not mean you, as a fan, have ownership of a story in any way, shape or form. The author wrote it. They wrote it to convey a message of their own shaping and of their own intention. Personal interpretation is one thing, but to discount the author's intentions is to discount the story itself. Personal interpretation may not discount its impact, mind you, but it does discount the intended meaning of the author.

It is the author's story, not yours. That they make it for you to enjoy is to your benefit, but that does not make it yours.

The absolute truth is whatever they say it is. Some authors wisely leave everything up to interpretation, and still others will say "here's how it is, but enjoy it how you like." I like that as much as the next fan, but the author's word is final nonetheless. It doesn't matter how much you love soulless Spike or how much you hate Wesley dying, it is not your story. You didn't write it. You have no say. You have only an interpretation that may please you, but may also be inaccurate. As Joss once said (paraphrase):

"I don't want to make a show people want to see, I want to make a show people need to see."
The phrase "personal canon" gives me hives. And that's all I'll say on that. Unless I think of something else to say.
Oh Lord. Not this again. I agree with Simon. It's better to agree to disagree (especially when I'm right and you're all so wrong). :)

And wow, there's wank? And LJ scandel?

Color me shocked.
The important feature here is time. The longer we sit with a concept, the more it becomes a part of us - we come into possession of it. For the author, he/she comes into possession of it through the act of hashing-out/writing the piece. Fans feel that same affinity for a body of work. It speaks to them as if it were their own. Affinity overshoots appreciation into ownership. Great writing speaks to people on this level... hence the zealousness. The longer we sit with a story-thread the less likely we are to be accepting of new additions and alterations to the plot.

I think it's important to remember that we are all here because we support and believe in the work of one guy. This same guy stuck his neck out and put something really special out there. If we divide ourselves into camps and place restrictions on what Joss is or is not permitted to do with the story-lines, we are not being faithful to the spirit in which these works were originally created. It is a journey and yes we are all a part of it, but I name Joss the leader. Who's with me?
Emotional investment alone does not mean you, as a fan, have ownership of a story in any way, shape or form.

I think this might be straying too far into different territory. The power of a work doesn't exist in a vacuum, it exists in that space between artist and audience. That space is created, in ways, by both parties.

(I mean, I do actually get your point, and it's a fair one. It just, I think, runs the risk of being viewed too broadly.)
I'm sorry for those so stubborn that they can't accept story decisions they don't like, but the author's word is final.


Well, I think we're really talking about the things left unsaid, the play in the joints, rather than disagreements with things said.

Saje, your take has the benefit of a clear line. It also has the benefit of supporting my own interpretation of Buffy's sacrifice in The Gift . . . what interests me about Dumbledore is whether Michael Gambon will choose in the final 2 movies to play the role subtly differently given what JKR has said or, more dramatically, whether the final 2 screenplays will incorporate Dumbledore's gayness in some fashion, thus making it movie canon.

I can't even begin to address b!x's comment and keep a straight face. Oh, and Banon is bloody brilliant, if you want my opinion. :-)
I agree that "authorial intent" should be canon. The hurdle is that, as the article writer said, authors change their minds. If it hasn't appeared in the medium/media itself/themselves anything can happen in the next interview.

"Personal canon" is a bit silly as a general rule, except for fans who write AU fics and maintain an internal continuity, and who realize that's only their version. (stops typing to pat himself on the back with both hands since he does two universes) The other plausible meaning for it is "missing scene" stuff; none of us know for sure, and Joss hasn't said, whether Willow and Tara went all the way the first time before "New Moon Rising," at the end when the flame goes out, or possibly just before Tara runs into Oz in the hallway. Or where Harmony's maternal grandmother grew up. "Personal canon" = "my version of unspecifed backstory" is not particularly insane or arrogant, I'd say. But as kinda-sorta specified in the article, as someone who denies what was on screen, I agree is freaky.
Unless the long established meaning of the word "canon" is to be totally disregarded, it involves designation by an accepted authority. You can argue all you want about who that authority is, but what the author/ultimate decider releases to the public seems the logical choice, usually, for "canon" to me. Sometimes figuring out who that is is complex or impossible, sometimes not.

Doesn't mean you have to like it. But if folks need to have a "personal canon" which has any significance to anyone other than themselves, seems like they should go create something. Or give some sort of reason why their particular authority should be accepted. Otherwise, "personal canon" just means "I like this, and not that." Explaining why they like it, even very, very well, doesn't do the trick, because it's not about why they are authorities on the topic.

Oh why does this always get me?

[ edited by toast on 2007-12-29 22:02 ]
I saw Daniel Radcliffe on 'Parkinson' SNT and he said that after Rowling's comments Gambon was camping it up on the set something terrible ;). Presumably off camera, as a joke but it'll be interesting to see if his choices change at all (or if, as you say, Rowling or the scriptwriter decide to make it clearer about e.g. Grindelwald).

I'm sorry for those so stubborn that they can't accept story decisions they don't like, but the author's word is final.

Yeah but here's the thing: if it doesn't appear in the story then it's not part of the story. If everything that does appear in the story is consistent with more than one viewpoint then those viewpoints are equally valid.

Art's a dialogue not a monologue, it's about creating something and then seeing what people make of it and interpretation is part of that process, part of the "creation" of art. Or in other words, if someone says something funny then it's funny, it doesn't matter if they intended it to be funny, they can't wave an "unfunny" wand and change reality.
What Simon said in the very first post. It's a fool's game and even here in the black there have been folks who made my blood pressure start to shoot through the roof because they thought their fanon was all that mattered.

The author's intent not being canon quote irked me too patxshand. Equally irksome was, Fans of comics have my sympathies. Oh ~~ sigh ~~ whatever. Silver-haired, in my rocking chair, someday in the distant future, I will still have lovely memories of how Joss' stories continued, thrived, and enriched my life, and the genre in which they did that won't matter a damn to me, and doesn't right now.
I agree 100% with Saje. (It would be great to have a "funny" wand, though, instead of an "unfunny" wand. TV would be so much better.)
But I can't believe I clicked on a thread with "canon" in the title. Jan. 1st is coming--I will be stronger in 2008, I will...

"I'm sorry for those so stubborn that they can't accept story decisions they don't like, but the author's word is final. It is their story. Emotional investment alone does not mean you, as a fan, have ownership of a story in any way, shape or form. The author wrote it. They wrote it to convey a message of their own shaping and of their own intention. Personal interpretation is one thing, but to discount the author's intentions is to discount the story itself. Personal interpretation may not discount its impact, mind you, but it does discount the intended meaning of the author.

It is the author's story, not yours. That they make it for you to enjoy is to your benefit, but that does not make it yours."



Oh, please. I can read the story any way I want, and the author can do nothing at all about it. I am so tired of the "author is artiste" argument. Just because they meant it to mean something does not mean I have to agree in my reading. That would imply only a single meaning to the entire Buffy arc; there would be no reason at all to discuss anything about the show because the only meaning the show could possible have is the meaning given to it by the various authors of the episodes- if they even have a specific meaning they are giving to it. Literary criticism as an academic discipline would not exist, because we could only read exactly what the author meant. There would only ever be ONE interpretation, end of the story. In fact, end of all stories. Deconstruction as a means of literary analysis would cease to exist, because there would no possible way to tease out binaries from the text, because those binaries were never intended by the author.

It is not that simple. I tend to agree with the blogger here. Canon is what we know from teh existing text. Authorial intent is what we glean from the author about that text. This would imply that Faith's last name is derived from authorial intent, because Lehane does not appear in the series. And really, who cares in this case. But in the case, say, of Tara's death, what Joss might have meant and how people interpreted it differ radically, and if we follow the argument above, we would have to tell everyone who felt that this was an invocation of the dead lesbian cliche that they are simply wrong- even though the evidence is there in front of their eyes, in that one lesbian died and the other went evil. Even though I do not believe Joss meant to invoke it, I cannot deny others the right to read the text in that way.

Well, this will get the focus off the "Emma Caulfield" thread in a big way! :-)
That would imply only a single meaning to the entire Buffy arc; there would be no reason at all to discuss anything about the show because the only meaning the show could possible have is the meaning given to it by the various authors of the episodes- if they even have a specific meaning they are giving to it. Literary criticism as an academic discipline would not exist, because we could only read exactly what the author meant. There would only ever be ONE interpretation, end of the story. In fact, end of all stories. Deconstruction as a means of literary analysis would cease to exist, because there would no possible way to tease out binaries from the text, because those binaries were never intended by the author.


That couldn't be less true. The point was that IF the author were to come out and say "this means ____" then THAT is canon. However, most authors leave a lot of their work open to interpretation. There is where discussion, debate, and literary analysis comes in. There will always be room for all of that because no author will take a work and say "this is what this means" for every single scene. However, when an author speaks on a certain aspect of their work to clear up or add to the meaning ("Spike MEANT to get his soul, end of story" / "Dumbledore is gay"), then that is--of course--canon. I don't see how any of that would put an end to analysis or debate.
CorrolaryPlus we can't rule out the possibiltiy Joss could have fumbled into something he didn't mean.
I'm not sure if Lehane has appeared in the S-8 comics, or just in the RPG. (Regardless; I psoted a story before he announced that where I called her "Wyrofski" so by my own rules I'm stuck with it.)
That would imply only a single meaning to the entire Buffy arc; there would be no reason at all to discuss anything about the show because the only meaning the show could possible have is the meaning given to it by the various authors of the episodes

I don't think we're talking about meaning. We're talking about (to use yet another awkward term) fictional fact. "Tara died" is fact. What that death means might be a discussion, but it's not my impression that this is what is at issue here.
Oh Dear. What a ....mess. :)

1) I really think you have to differentiate between Authorial
Intent and Canon. If you change something Canonical on screen,
in print, etc., you either generate a retcon or a flat out
contradiction. Not so with Authorial Intent. If that changes
there are no real consequences to canon (at least imnsho).
Call authorial intent a lesser canon if you will but it is
undeniably different.

2) I have no problem with a "personal canon" that does not
contradict things but seeks to add backstory, answer the "why"
questions" and so forth. So,imo, there needs to a different name
for cases of canon denial. And maybe a derogatory term; how
about apostate canon denier?

3) "The author's intent is final." Do you all who hold to this
mean that the author can't violate his or her own canon ? See
#1 above. Violating canon should always generate consequences,
bad ones!
Do you all who hold to this mean that the author can't violate his or her own canon ? See #1 above. Violating canon should always generate consequences, bad ones!


Well the author is only human. We should give them some leeway.
I'm not sure if Lehane has appeared in the S-8 comics ...

I can't remember DaddyCatALSO but Lyonne, the pseudonym she uses in 'No Future for You' is just a posher, slightly enFrenchened version of Lehane (so it's nearly canon in my sense ;).

However, most authors leave a lot of their work open to interpretation. There is where discussion, debate, and literary analysis comes in.

True but the point is, it's all purely talking for the sake of talking if there's a single version that's "just true" out there (even if it's hard to get at in practice). It's like writing learned speculations about the digits of Pi.

What that death means might be a discussion, but it's not my impression that this is what is at issue here.

Nah bix, as patxshand said "The point was that IF the author were to come out and say "this means ____" then THAT is canon." so in other words the author's opinion about interpretation of events is also definitive (in his opinion).

Another thing to ponder, do all the writers know every previous writer's intent for every scene when they write scripts following on in the show's run ? Or do they merely write based on their own interpretation of those scenes ? And if so, what does that say about the (rightly) lauded character development in Buffy and Angel ? That it's built on lies and misreadings of "reality" ?
Tonya J said:

Equally irksome was, Fans of comics have my sympathies. Oh ~~ sigh ~~ whatever. Silver-haired, in my rocking chair, someday in the distant future, I will still have lovely memories of how Joss' stories continued, thrived, and enriched my life, and the genre in which they did that won't matter a damn to me, and doesn't right now.


Tonya, I think you are misreading what the author said. I don't think she was saying that comics don't matter. She was simply pointing out how much harder it is for comic fans to decide on canon. Superman has been around for a very long time, and even if we ignore movies and tv shows and focus only on comics, I'm sure there are many stories that contradict each other. So fans of Superman comics aren't going to be coming to a canon consensus anytime soon. In comparison, Buffy fans have it easy. And we still can't agree.
patxshand- that is not what Ryan-RB said that I quoted. Here is the key statement that was made: "The author wrote it. They wrote it to convey a message of their own shaping and of their own intention. Personal interpretation is one thing, but to discount the author's intentions is to discount the story itself."

The authors's "message" IS the interpretation, as I read what Ryan said. And I cannot disagree more. How we interpret, say, Moby Dick 150 years removed from the time it was written is going to radically differ from whatever message Melville might have intended. That is, after all, the entire point of reader-response theory, and we all know where I stand on that issue. :-) To me, authorial intent only goes so far. There is no text without a reader.

And bix, you know, Joss said that he killed Tara to create the Dark Willow character. He said that if Willow had been with Oz, it would have been Oz who died, but she was with Tara, so it was Tara. So, by his own admission, he went into this story arc- in advance!- intending to kill one lesbian to drive the other one evil. Which is, by definition, the evil-dead lesbian cliche, even though he says he never intended to invoke it- which simply seems contradictory, since that is specifically what the trope is and what it does. Neither he nor Marti Noxon should have been surprised by the outcry, since they basically admitted they planned it, even if not intended.
I have no problem with this article. And anyone who reads comics understands "personal canon." Recent Spider-Man comics? Loved the "Aunt May finds out" sequence, hated the "Gwen and Norman Osbourne had secret kids" storyline, kinda liked him revealing his identity, flatly despise the upcoming "change reality so Pete and MJ never met" storyline. All by the same author, although apparently this last bit was under duress because Joe Quesada hates the married Peter Parker.

I like Spider-Man. I don't pretend that parts of his history never happened, or aren't canon. I just flatly ignore them, because in my personal opinion they lessen the total story. I treasure the high points, and try to forget that the clone of Gwen Stacy is still walking around. I don't force that opinion on anyone else or think that me version is any way official. Personal canon is just that. Personal.
Wait Dana5140, you just admitted that Joss always intended to have Willow go evil, even when she was with Oz. Therefore he never intended to invoke anything regarding lesbians, he only intended the story line to affect Willow: sure she was a lesbian by that time, but you could just as easily say he was evoking the stereotype of all redheads have crazy short fuses and bad tempers.

And did I miss something? There is an Emma Caulfield thread?
She was simply pointing out how much harder it is for comic fans to decide on canon.

Actually, in some ways comics canon is simpler - it just changes all the time. See ? Simple ;). Up until 1986 for instance, Superman could move frikkin' planets, John Byrne changed that. From 2003-2007 Clark Kent knew Lex Luthor in Smallville when they were young (as per 'Birthright') and also performed superheroic feats (largely abroad and anonymously) as himself, before he puts on the cape and tights. Since 'Infinite Crisis' that's all up in the air and (AFAIK) we currently don't really know much about Supes origins or early life (canonically) because they haven't written the new version yet.

Personally, i'm surprised it's taken film-makers so long to start "rebooting" film "franchises" (blerghhh, hate that word) because comics have been doing it for decades (it might be significant that it's mostly happened with movies adapted from comics though).

Anyway, all this is beating around the really important question on everyone's mind - is Deckard a replicant ?

*runs ;)*
I am with the "author's word is law" thing unless they say otherwise (again their word – retcon or not) ala "Angelus sired Spike" oh no "it was Drusilla", Angelus just sired him the mental way. Before this was established I was a solid member of Angelus Sire Spike Club (it had a better name, I'm sure of it!) *flashes her Spangel button* but that didn't ruin it much for us fans when Dru bit William… so much room for interpretation after that happened, I don't need to brandish the fanfics to prove it.

Season three of Gargoyles is not canon. Because Greg – the creator – says so… and makes sense seeing as they booted him and ran their own storyline (which sucked mud boots!) Only two guys had me reading Comics: Joss Whedon and Greg Weisman with their captivating storytelling and unique developing characters. Whedon is lucky to get the good artists… Weisman is slowly catching up.

Also, about Gargoyles, even before the comics came out, Greg was answering fan questions online. The questions he deemed okay to answer were taken as canon – and he hadn't put them to paper yet. So unless Lexington marries a female gargoyles in the following issues, canon via Greg's Mouth states that the little one is gay. *shrug* It's really not hard. I for one always suspected Dumbledore long ago… I do wish there was money involved in that bet I had with my brother *pout*

IMO, if something is stated plainly then that's it. If it's left for interpretation (I mean, did Jayne's parents really expect a boy? Did they run out of manly names? *g*) then I would be the first person to "analyze this"! (speaking of things unsaid, what really happened to Willy the Snitch? He should make an appearance…) again, that's my –little moi- opinion.

But hey, when fans disagree with the creators/writers, or feel there is something unsaid, that's where fan fiction comes in! ;) Besides, we all know when something provokes heated discussion then it's worth discussing which leads to the fact that it's really interesting and thought provoking. If I were an author, I would be giddy to see people this invested in something I've created – even if they wanted to negate me regarding it.

*is out of breath* Man, typing takes a toll... I've been out of practice.
Is Deckard a replicant?

::Glares balefully at the stinking kettle of fish:: ... Didn't Ridley Scott just recently ... No, I will not stir. However, I've read compelling arguments on both sides of that fish kettle.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-29 23:52 ]
My point, embers, and I have one, is that no matter what Joss intended, it was read differently by a whole lot of people, and in that reading Joss admits to exactly what they claim, despite the fact that this was not how he wanted them to read it. It was still there, just waiting to be read by those who read it in that fashion- and Joss basically says that it was indeed there. Put another way, it does not matter what he intended; it was, quite obviously, read very different from what he intended. And that reading cannot simply be dismissed. "Hey, you readers, that pain you feel? Well, Joss didn't mean it!" Not gonna fly.

And yes, the Emma thread is about 150 posts long now, over the past day or so. Go read and get het up. :-)
If there's a conflict between the "text" (oh noes, I'm using litcrit words, someone stop me) and authorial intent, I go with the text. If the author meant to do something, but it didn't make it to the text, then that's in some way a shortcoming. "I meant to use some more cheerful colors but I seem to be all out of yellow. Trust me, the painting is cheerful." Once that text is made, you've lost control of it. Which is sad, but it's also one of those things that made Big Bill so great - so many ways to read those plays. Sometimes the revelation of authorial intent can bring new meaning or enlighten mysteries, but I draw the line at actual conflicts.

And I've always had one argument against Deckard being a replicant - he was kind of a creampuff compared to all of the other replicants. Roy Batty, sure, designed to be tough. But even the basic pleasure model would have wiped the walls with him had he been disarmed and she hadn't been in a mood to show off. Were Deckard really a replicant designed to think he's just a cop who "retires skinjobs," I'd expect him to be at least as durable as Roy. Instead, he is nearly dead by the end of the film. And had Roy not reached his expiration date, Deckard would have been toast. That's a spot where the revealed authorial intent bothers me - I can't make it jibe with what would be a reasonable thing to do, make a replicant-hunting replicant strong enough to do the job. Enough scrapes and scuffs so that it wouldn't suspect what it really was, but certainly not anything as fragile as a human.
Mirage, well, in my just-this-instant-created fanon, Jayne's parents were big John Wayne fans (the old movies now exist as holograms) and couldn't decide between John or Wayne, thought middle names were for fancy folks, and decided to name him both: J(ohn-W)ayne! :)

I stand open to being corrected by anybody who worked on "Firefly," including office temps :)
Well, let me say this. That's quite an excellent argument, Ocular, and similar to one of my friend's against the Deckard as Replicant thesis. It just seems extremely odd that now, or whenever it was I read it recently, that Ridley comes out what, 25 years after the fact, saying "that's what I always meant him to be." ? Sorry, it just doesn't hold water with me. I don't mind surmising, arguing, theorizing over things, comparing notes, but when the name-calling starts ("Oh! It should be so obvious he was a replicant [implied message: you idiot]), that like Saje, I just want to "run" and also hide and never encounter any fandom, anywhere, ever again. It starts to kill the pleasure that I had in a particular piece of art.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-30 00:35 ]
Tonya- does your argument also apply to Roqwling letting everyone know she saw Dumbledore as gay, after the book series was already complete?
Honestly? I must not have read the last book the way other people did and I consider myself to be pretty intuitive. While I found the Harry Potter series delightful, I got no sense of the teachers as being particularly sexual beings at all, the stories there more to serve Harry's journey. The parents and relatives seemed to open up in the last few books to include the fact that Harry and his friends were fast growing up, but I guess Dumbledore simply remained Harry's father figure and I read no more into his backstory than one of dedicated teacher to children because of what he'd done himself in the past, mistakes he'd made. Does it bother me? Not really. Do I consider it canon? If she says so. But I'm not invested that much in HP, not like a film that means as much to me as Blade Runner does.

It's pretty jarring to have that fact come out so much later in BR's history. That puts me in the position of being a hypocrite, which I don't like, because I do believe in authorial intent (in BR's case though, it doesn't make narrative sense. I think even Mr. Spock would agree it's illogical). But I think someone upstream said creators can change their minds. And maybe they just do it for effect, as well. I don't know.

ETA: Here's the Wired interview with Ridley Scott if anyone wants to read it: Q & A

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-30 01:26 ]
"Tonya- does your argument also apply to Rowling letting everyone know she saw Dumbledore as gay, after the book series was already complete?"

In this case, I'd say that a) I think Dumbledore's sexuality is not canon, but b) that doesn't mean he's straight in the books or movies, either. It was never established either way, and wasn't relevant to the events. It may be relevant to your perception of his motivations, but that's not canon, either.
In this case I'd say that authorial intent carries the weight of canon and I'll think of him as gay forever more, but if it ain't in the text it ain't canon to me. I'd also say I don't worry about it too much, and worries about canon don't affect my enjoyment of material.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2007-12-30 01:45 ]
Well, if it helps anyone's mind to rest easier, no one agrees about what's officially included, or authorial intent of Canon in the big C meaning of the word either.
Okay, this is starting to crack me up! When did we ever misunderstood one another? Yeah, another issue tossed in the mix. Just another issue.
THe whole canon in comics issue is what stops me from reading some of the bigger titles. With Angel,Buffy and Firefly...we have canon. We have there on screen and now in print exactly what happened. No alternate canon ways that Liam got vamped into Angelus. No alternate canon ways that Faith and Buffy met. No alternate canon ways that Mal and Zoe were there at the Battle of Serenity.

I honestly don't know how comic readers do it. How many alternate origin stories *are* there now for Batman,Superman,Spiderman etc. When does it just become a joke in that regard?I prefer a story that has a clear Beginning - Middle and End. No:
"oh crap Peter Parker would be 59 now if we keep telling stories....what can we do...hmmm...lets go back and tell *another* version of how he became Spiderman."

Yawn.

I dearly dearly hope that never happens to Angel or Buffy.
I'd never thought that Ridley Scott had read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. After reading the linked interview - thanks, TonyaJ - I don't think he read the first 32 pages, either. Maybe he read some coverage. I love Blade Runner, but it's not the same story at all. Scott's, IMO, ret-conning of the movie story makes me wonder about a lot of things.

If we're going to discuss movie canon v. comics or prose fiction canon, should the director necessarily be considered the author of the movie?
The true author of BR was Philip K Dick who wrote the story "Do
Androids Dream of Electric Sleep". Ridley Scott wasn't even the
Screenwriter of the movie and he's canon ? ::Snort::
I am firmly in the 'author's intent is the word of law' camp. I used to get 'Jossed' all the time when tiny nuances of the story were later revealed as 'canon'. That didn't make fanfic versions of the story real, not even those I'd written myself. (And yes, my writing probably COULD be described as 'Banon'!)

Sage asked
...
do all the writers know every previous writer's intent for every scene when they write scripts following on in the show's run ?

That would be impossible! But I think that the story breaking process for Buffy/Angel was pretty comprehensive, and since Joss had final script approval for his shows he would often tweak lines as needed.
I doubt this is the case on a lot of other shows, though. Hence the glaring plot holes and character inconsistencies that, thankfully, were very few and far between in the Jossverse.

And just for you all to ponder- if someone with no net, no TV and no knowledge of any JK Rowling interviews picks up a copy of a 'Harry Potter' book, is Dumbledore still gay to them?
Buffy didn't jump no shark. And if a shark was leapt, then it was promptly leapt back again. I'm not even sure I understand what that term means, even after visiting the reference point for all truth: Wikipedia.

I wouldn't have thought "canon" upset anyone until hinted at by some in this thread. I guess this is my first instance of rubbing up against it in a conscious kind of way.

I think pieces of art are open to interpretation by audience and creator. But such a statement is ill. It seems to me "canon" is, as noted earlier, that facts of the fiction. Interpretation by author or audience is not fact. And I'm glad its not. I quite enjoy a good debate - why would it cause strife?

Will I accept Scott's interpretation of Deckard if he pushes for a rigid solution to whether Deckard's a replicant? I won't. It doesn't match what I saw. He can make a new film if he likes and that film will be canon unto itself. It will be a different artistic creation. He has license to do that. It won't be one of my favorite films but that's okay.

I mean, I wrote off "Highlander Two: Whateveritwascalled" because it attempted to destroy a piece of artwork I rather liked. The canon of the sequel is canon unto itself. It can't be viral and retrofit the canon of the first one, unless I accept that it does. But I won't because in this arbitrary land (of canonizing) I can draw the line in the sand where it best suits me. It suits me to draw it thus and so I do. Highlander and Highlander2 are different pieces of art and I can clearly point to it and say "that's a different piece of art." So I'm free to enjoy one canon and not another.

I seem to say "thanks" a lot but I'm not going to stop. Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts.
The canon of the sequel is canon unto itself. It can't be viral and retrofit the canon of the first one, unless I accept that it does.


I think that's venturing into the category this blogger referred to as "personal canon." As far as actual Canon, viewer/reader acceptance is irrelevant. Canon is canon is canon. It is, as you said, the fact of the universe. For instance, one can say that "Serenity" is a separate canon from "Firefly" and that Wash is, "in real life" still kickin' and hanging around with Mal. But it doesn't change the fact that Serenity IS canon in the Firefly universe and that Wash is dead.

Someone can choose to ignore a work, but to say "I don't consider this canon because I don't like it" goes against what canon IS.
JDL, good point about Scott. I think it's because he presents himself as the authority on that particular project. And this opens up yet another doorway into canonical thinking: When a studio buys (edit) book rights and then a resulting screenplay, doesn't the director then fashion the film from their own vision of what it ultimately will be? Meaning they can use or not use what pieces of the screenplay they wish or give it what meaning they wish to fit their directorial vision? Like RhaegarTargaryen points out, "it doesn't match what I saw."

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-30 04:17 ]

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-30 04:21 ]
Someone can choose to ignore a work, but to say "I don't consider this canon because I don't like it" goes against what canon IS.


Well said, Patxshand. I don't claim to be able to tell Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, or Roger Zelazny what to do with their works, which would be especially hard with two of them dead, but I DO tell people "X is an excellent work, but I wished I would have never read Y (the sequel)" where X { Ender's Game, Dune, Nine Princes in Amber } and Y { Xenocide, God Emperor of Dune, Trumps of Doom }

Just because a work of fiction is a follow-on to something else I've experienced and enjoyed, doesn't mean it adds to the enjoyment.
CA Bridges, you say: "In this case, I'd say that a) I think Dumbledore's sexuality is not canon." Therefore, I assume you must agree that it is not canon that Faith's last name is Lehane. Because it ain't in the text.

Tonya, you say: "Do I consider it canon? If she says so. But I'm not invested that much in HP." Which is to the issue at hand. In your case, it does not matter; you did not read him that way when you read the book and/or saw the movie- but hey, there was authorial intent about his sexuality that was later revealed. It's there, despite the fact that you pay no attention to it.

I am not savvy on Blade Runner. But what comes to mind to me is the revisionist movie version of The Scarlet Letter, the one that starred Demi Moore. The one which showed Hester Prynne masturbating in the bath. That is not in the book, of course, and it is not authorial intent, since Hawthorne has no such scene in the book. It is a directorial decision by the modern filmmaker. So I see this as a corollary to the arguments people are debating about Ridley Scott's comment about whether Dekker was a replicant, and what we can draw from Dick's novel.
missb, I can only repeat that when I read the last book I thought it was very clear that Dumbledor was Gay, and when I was finished reading I went online to find a friend in Greece joking about how Dumbledor loved Grimwald. We were only surprised that JKR came out with a public announcement, not at all surprised by what she said.

But obviously not everyone reads the book (or any views any source material) the same way. Dumbledor's infatuation and single minded devotion would have made him suspect to anyone who knew him at the time (IMO), but then there were people watching Willow and Tara fall in love in BtVS S4 who didn't want to believe that Willow was Gay either.
Dana, it's a sticky wicket in many ways, I admit. I have long railed against film versions that dramatically alter a novel's "canon." But I have also had to come to see that they are two different entities. And in fairness to Philip Dick, I don't remember whether Deckard was a replicant in the book; not alluded to, spelled out as part of the narrative. That would be very different than Scott in the interview I linked, pointing out all the details now, that support the assertion he says he always had that many of us did not read the film as being about.
This canon talk is so post-modern, it's annoying.
Author intent is canon, but then again it's not because everything is up to the viewer/reader to interpret anyway they want. This is true up to a point, but then this crap just seems to go around in circles.
I suppose it is subjective, but to me I consider canon as being something Joss admits as being so... otherwise the stories wouldn't loose their shinyness. Plus we'd have a lot of crap Buffy books and other comics I'd cringe at, (well some of them anyway).
Oi and the shark jumping crap is just another subjective thing. :p Sometimes I think the best ever Buffy moment was in Becoming, but it changes a lot... Buffy is always 'becoming' something else.
At the end of the day, it's all make-believe. Nothing in fiction actually happens. But when you allow yourself to be entertained by a story, you accept this fictional world. If you're reading a novel and want to stop halfway through, then the story is over for you and you never have to re-enter the world. No one will stop you. But that doesn't change the fact that the rest of the story of that world exists, as the author wrote it, and is in that book. The novel didn't end when you stopped reading it... you just didn't finish it.

So if someone wanted to stop following the story of Buffy after season 5, that's totally within their rights. But that doesn't change the fact that, in this fictional world, Buffy comes back to life, Spike gets his soul, Tara dies, slayers get empowered, etc. That stuff happened in the fictional world, so it is canon. If a person didn't like it and doesn't want to ever watch those seasons again, I'm not going to make them. But for them to say "That stuff never happened" doesn't make any sense, and it doesn't create a personal canon or anything. It's just wrong, because it did happen. I don't understand why they can't leave it at "I don't like those seasons and don't want to watch them again".

I hated the movie Sideways, but I'm not going to be like, "That movie Sideways? Yeah, it never happened."
Surely it is only the text that can be canon. Intent cannot be fully known, even by the author. If there is something unstated and open to interpretation, there is always room for discussion. Of course, the author may have a lot of light to shed on that discussion, if s/he chooses to discuss it.

But where there is one clear authority on what comprises the text, then we can say what the canon is. That is the authorized text, and what happened in it. Not what some character in it said happened, but what the viewer can observe. Cause characters can, of course, lie or be self-deceived.

Luckily, for the most part in the Whedonverses, we have one obvious person to tell us comprises the canonical text. So we can get right down to our business of appreciating, interpreting and evaluating all that great stuff.
Gwen and Norman Osborne had secret kids?

I'm a Doctor Who fan. Canon is a timey whimey stuff kinda thing to me.

I do think that different media have their own canon. In Buffy for example, there's the movie canon that is similar but different from the TV show canon. I think there's a separate canon in the comics, which I just don't accept as part of the series canon, cause it ain't TV. I do accept the official 'season eight' and 'season five' as the comic book canon (as opposed to the old Darkhorse comics).

Authorial intent becomes a little wobblier when you aren't talking about a book, because the author's vision isn't the only one on screen. There's also the director's interpretion and the actors' interpretations, all of which go to creating the finished product.

But we're talking about fiction here, anyway, not the history of Julius Caesar. Discussing canon is fun (and apparently somewhat devisive) but it isn't exactly 'real'. It's a little easier to discuss the concept in a series with an auteur showrunner (like Joss, or Chris Carter). Doctor Who had a myriad of showrunners, and writers, and contradictions. Fans of The Doctor still get their knickers in a twist over canon. Perhaps that's one thing that makes us fans, and not just viewers.
I should add that whether something is canon or not doesn't matter that much to me. I do get annoyed when an author makes a choice (or worse, flatly contradicts something previously stated) that, to me, lessens the story, but I wouldn't say it's not canon. I can't; I'm not the authority.

I can, however, make the choice to continue reading/watching/whatever, or what to personally accept. So I skip big chunks of Spider-Man. So I forget the fact that the Star Wars prequels ever happened or that Han ever shot second. So I try to accept that Simon rescued river personally, even though it seemed pretty clear to me in the series that he did not. I understand why Joss made that choice and it was right for the movie, for the drama, but his rescue -- and his new knowledge of her psychic abilities -- makes many of his actions in the show seem odd or criminally stupid. Still canon, wouldn't argue that it isn't. But it's one reason I watch the shows over and over and only occasionally watch the movie.

That's where the personal canon fits in.

(Faith's last name? No clue. Haven't followed the controversy, don't much care.)
There are obviously numerous gray areas here, but IMO to say that that "author intent is not canon" is insane troll logic. I agree to a certain extent with Saje that Art's a dialog, not a monologue ... but only to an extent. There has to be a base line of "author's intent" beyond which you can't mess with a story without subverting the author's creation beyond any degree of reasonable recognition.

For instance: if fans of Shakespeare decide they don't like the ending of Romeo and Juliet, they can't just say "oh, they didn't really die, the effects of the poison wore off soon enough to save the day" and give that point of view some sort of validity beyond "fan wank". A term that seems really weird when applied to Shakespeare, but it makes my point. You can discuss endlessly the circumstances that led to the tragedy, the social climate of the time and place, whether or not it still has relevance in the modern western world, etc. But you cannot arbitrarily state that they didn't die, simply because you didn't want them to. The author's intent was that they died. Therefore their deaths are canon, therefore canon = author's intent.

I agree with dingoes8 that the very term "personal canon, is legitimizing it too much". Personal interpretation, certainly, in areas that are open to interpretation. But not in areas where the author has clearly stared his/her intent.
For example, once Joss stated that Spike's intention was getting his soul back, that became canon. Even though there was a huge "mislead" in the episodes leading up to that happening, it is clearly stated as the author's intent. This doesn't mean that we can't endlessly discuss Spike's motivation. Was it only the obvious, the hope of wining Buffy's love? (or breaking down the barriers she'd put up because of her fear of her true feelings, even that is open to interpretation).
Or did Spike have ulterior motives (a desire to be as 'special' as Angel?, a more general desire to become something more than evil, as he'd acquired a taste for fighting in the side of good?),and so on. My point being, accepting authors intent as canon does not mean shutting down discussion of interpretation.
My two cents, for the moment :)
But what I really wanna know is... are Nina's boobs canon now or not?

(oh I'm going straight to hell I know, but I couldn't help it... sorry.)

In all seriousness though, I agree 150% with just about every word Saje said above. Ta.
Han Solo shot first in the original movie. Authorial intent and canon.
In the special edition, Han shoots second. The author made the change, clearly authorial intent. But fans refused to accept it as canon, even though the obvious authority stated it as such, because it changed the character (and the coolness of the scene).
In the last version, Han shoots at the same time as his opponent. Again, changed by the author in response to the fan outcry. This one is accepted by some fans, not accepted by others. Lucas prefers the second one.

So which one is canon? The third one, since later versions supercede the previous ones, but it's not perfectly satisfying to the fans or the author. So we have canon )he shot at the same time), authorial intent (he shot last) and personal canon (he shot first). And everyone is vaguely unsatisified.
And in fairness to Philip Dick, I don't remember whether Deckard was a replicant in the book; not alluded to,

In fairness, you allow the novel to exist. Sorry if I sound a little pissy. But the novel is a much greater work. If you can't remember if Deckard was a replicant or not, you didn't read the book.
Another point: I believe that when you're talking about a film adaptation of a book, it's a whole different discussion. It's an obvious fact that if you've read a book and loved it, they make a film of it and you go to see that film, you'd better go with an open mind, or you're going to cut yourself off from any possibility of enjoying the film.
You may love or hate the changes that are made, or see the changes as interesting enough that you can enjoy either version. But changes there will be, that's just a fact.

So in these cases, the "canon = author's intent" argument acquires a whole separate dimension. Because when an author sells the rights to a book to film makers, they accept the fact that there will be changes to their work, in the film version. If the author has enough clout, they may be able to have the contract drawn up in such a way that limits what changes can be made. Or as in the case of Phillip K. Dick, they may be too dead to have a say.
So then it becomes a matter of, do you accept the "author's intent as canon" argument as relevant only to the book, but give another definition of canon to the film version, which would be (in the case of Blade Runner), Ridley Scott's canon? Not saying that in all film adaptations, it's the director who calls these shots. But in this specific case, I think it's pretty clear that the guy calling the shots ;) was without a doubt Ridley Scott.
OK, any brains exploding yet? We on this marvelous board are what I think if as "stimulus junkies", which is why I love it so much.
There is a misunderstanding of what it means to be canon and what authorial intent is in both shey's post above, and alexa's a few posts above; They conflate canon with intent, and I think it is generally agreed that canon is the facts that can be seen in the reading- for example, that Tara was shot by Warren- and authorial intent is what the author reveals to us about what facts we see- that Faith, for example, has a last name and it is Lehane. It is incorrect to say that Shakespeare's authorial iontent was that Romoe and Juliet die; in fact, we know that this is canon, because it happened- but we do not know WHY WS wrote the play that way, what he intended by their deaths. And I amke this obvious point because I think we have to be clear on our definitions, which is where this thread started, in that the blogger actually made this distinction, and rather nicely said.

Shey says" "For example, once Joss stated that Spike's intention was getting his soul back, that became canon." Well, no. It is canon THAT Spike got his soul back, but it is not clear from the text that he meant to get his soul back. That is what remains open to our discussions. That Joss later says yes, he meant for Spike to get his soul back indicates his authorial intent. My reader-response to that is to say, I agree. But I could have equally said, I do not. Canon is the facts, ma'am, nothing but the facts.

But what happens when canon collides? I think specifically of Warren appearing in Buffy S8 comic, that Amy saved him just before he would have died; thus, it would be impossible for The First Evil to portray him back in S7. I know that Joss has admitted this as a mistake. But it still bothers me nonetheless, because it is canon and cannot be canon. What if Joss had not admitted the mistake? How could we possibly interpret what is impossible according to actual canon? What then?
I read Dick's novel many, many, many years ago as a teenager. Until the movie came out I'd totally forgotten it, and the movie is my main reference point. And yes, it is a pissy way to react to an innocent statement on my part.
[This comment has SPOILERS for all of BTVS and ATS and the Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor."]

Dana5140 said,

And bix, you know, Joss said that he killed Tara to create the Dark Willow character. He said that if Willow had been with Oz, it would have been Oz who died, but she was with Tara, so it was Tara. So, by his own admission, he went into this story arc- in advance!- intending to kill one lesbian to drive the other one evil. Which is, by definition, the evil-dead lesbian cliche, even though he says he never intended to invoke it- which simply seems contradictory, since that is specifically what the trope is and what it does. Neither he nor Marti Noxon should have been surprised by the outcry, since they basically admitted they planned it, even if not intended.


I have to disagree. And fwiw I'm a lesbian. Joss regularly rips our hearts out; sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. I think Wesley's death was as traumatic and heartbreaking as Tara's, and we've seen other characters turn evil as a result of a romantic or sexual encounter--most notably Angel (who, IMO, is bi). I think Joss treated Willow and Tara's relationship marvelously throughout the series. He didn't make a big deal about them being lesbians. Willow's friends were unsurprisingly surprised at first, but then Willow and Tara were simply another couple among the group. I thought he created a really interesting chosen family with Buffy, her sister, her best friend and said best friend's lesbian lover living in the same house.

When Joss had Xander back out of his wedding in order to have Anya return to demonhood, what cliché was he evoking there? The evil heterosexual male and Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? What stereotype was he evoking when he killed Fred to give us Illyria? And it was heartbreaking again when he dies and we see how much Illyria is in love w/ him but can't express it unless she "lies" to him--takes on Fred's appearance, demeanor, and personality.

I think the evil lesbian cliché is much more evident in the recent Battlestar Galactica movie, "Razor." And Ron Moore talks about it in his commentary, and how he definitely was concerned about it and aware of it, but he thought it was necessary to help develop Cain's character and explain why, as we'd already seen on the series, her hatred of Gina is so intense and she ordered her rape and torture by her guards and interrogators. And it struck me as soon as I watched the movie that I wished he has at least included a positive portrayal of homosexuality. I understood why it was necessary for Cain's character, but isolated like that, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I wish he had balanced it.

Joss, OTOH, is constantly wrenching our hearts around and putting a character in an extreme situation to bring out some aspect of character development he wants to explore. Often that involves sex--like the effects of Buffy and Riley's unstoppable sexual energy in "Where the Wild Things Are."

In the Buffyverse relationships, love, and sex often lead to destructive effects whether the characters are straight or queer. Just b/c the evil, dead, f*cked up lesbian cliché exists, does that mean there can never be an evil, dead, and/or f*cked up lesbian in a movie or TV show while there are plenty of evil, dead, and/or f*cked up heterosexuals? Homosexuality is no guarantee of pureness. Some lesbians act in as cruel and callous ways as some straights when dumping a lover, for instance. Can we never show that happening in a movie or on TV b/c we're afraid of evoking the stereotypes about queers? Or can we just treat our characters as complex human beings regardless of sexual orientation? And sometimes you need a a really heavy-duty catalyst to bring out an aspect of a character. I cried when Tara died, just as I cried when Wes was dying and Illyria asks "Do you want me to lie to you now?" and declares her love for him in Fred's form. That's Joss. I see nothing wrong w/ how he handled Tara's death and Willow's over-the-top freak-out. We already saw how willing she was to use dark magick to bring Buffy back, and how much she pressured her friends when they expressed doubts, and how much info she w/held from them about the nature of the spell. If anything, the catalyst for Willow turning evil was Buffy's death. Tara's death just sent her completely over the edge that she had been approaching anyway.

[ edited by astarte59 on 2007-12-30 05:31 ]
Astarte59, nice post. I like your point about the initial catalyst for Willow turning evil being Buffy's death. It's certainly what pushes her strongly into dark magic. We'd already seen her willingness to approach that edge with helping Dawn along in bringing back Joyce after *her* death. Sure a lot of death in BtVS.

So, all, is it canon that Angel saw Buffy for the first time in the pilot ("I thought you'd be bigger" or whatever exactly it was that he said to her implied he'd never seen her before) or that he saw her at the point when she was called still at her old high school, holding her heart in her hands?

Is it canon that Simon hired the best people possible to rescue River, or that he went in himself like Zorro and spirited her away?
So many posts over this topic! Wow. I still don't get it.
Fire bad. Tree pretty.
Dana5140 said,

There is a misunderstanding of what it means to be canon and what authorial intent is in both shey's post above, and alexa's a few posts above; They conflate canon with intent, and I think it is generally agreed that canon is the facts that can be seen in the reading- for example, that Tara was shot by Warren- and authorial intent is what the author reveals to us about what facts we see- that Faith, for example, has a last name and it is Lehane. It is incorrect to say that Shakespeare's authorial iontent was that Romoe and Juliet die; in fact, we know that this is canon, because it happened- but we do not know WHY WS wrote the play that way, what he intended by their deaths. And I amke this obvious point because I think we have to be clear on our definitions, which is where this thread started, in that the blogger actually made this distinction, and rather nicely said.

Shey says" "For example, once Joss stated that Spike's intention was getting his soul back, that became canon." Well, no. It is canon THAT Spike got his soul back, but it is not clear from the text that he meant to get his soul back. That is what remains open to our discussions. That Joss later says yes, he meant for Spike to get his soul back indicates his authorial intent. My reader-response to that is to say, I agree. But I could have equally said, I do not. Canon is the facts, ma'am, nothing but the facts.


I agree absolutely, and this is really well-put. In the case of Dumbledore, one could make the argument that she's clarifying something that was a very strong subtext in HP7. But, still, it was a subtext and open to interpretation regardless of what she said. For political reasons, I'm glad she said it, and in the public way she said it, but it ain't canon.

Sometimes I've read things authors have said about their own works that make no sense at all based on the words in the text itself. I think a lot of unconscious stuff goes on when someone is writing. I've had people point out things to me in my fanfic that I'd done, and I think, "Cool! I'm smarter than I thought I was." :-) Or I'll write a story w/ one main theme in mind and realize a few years later I was writing about something else altogether--sometimes working out an issue of my own w/out realizing it. Other times I deliberately write something to work out issues of my own. But that's really beside the point. Canon is the text and not what anyone says about it; that's interpretation, and authors can interpret or misinterpret their own work.

Now w/ TV and movies, intent becomes a really complicated issue b/c they're collaborative media. You have the writer, and the director, and the actors, and they may all have different subtexts, different canons in their heads. I once interviewed John de Lancie ("Q" on Star Trek: TNG, DS9, and VOY), and he said that the writers usually gave him crap (or something like that; he's pretty Q-like :-) ), and then he would "bend" it into his own reading of his character whom he was always trying to make more malevolent. FWIW given my Battlestar Galactica comment in my last post, JdL said that Ron Moore was the only writer who really understood Q's character, and he did write what I think was the best Q episode, "Tapestry." I was also lucky enough to be able to interview Moore, and he told me that all the writers "assumed that Q was in love with Picard and wanted him to become a Q," but never made that explicit in an episode. I think there was a very strong subtext of Q's attraction to Picard, and the actors' chemistry helped bring it out. Or having a direction in a script saying that Q will be sitting on Picard's bed, and the actors decide to play it w/ Q lying in bed w/ Picard. I would actually argue that Q's feelings about Picard are sooooooooo close to maintext canon in some episodes, it's a matter of just reading the lines literally, not interpreting them. In "Qpid," Q is in Picard's bedroom, and Picard is wearing the skimpiest, most open little shorty pj's. :-) Q is talking to him about his (Picard's) girlfriend Vash and says, "She's found a vulnerability in you, a vulnerability I've been looking for for years. If I'd known better, I would have appeared as a woman." So what Moore said was a subtextual assumption for the writers came out pretty explicitly in that episode; I don't know if that line was in the script, got rewritten during shooting, or was improvised by JdL. But now it's canon.

I remember the outcry about the infamous "Gabdrag" in the "Bitter Suite" episode of Xena Warrior Princess. Many, many fans argued that it was out of character for Xena. Still it's canon. The good thing about fanfic is that if you don't like where canon goes, you can write an alternate timeline or universe in which things you found "wrong" never happened. For me, fanfic is a form of interpretation of canon, but most readers of my stories would doubt that since my characters are almost always kinky and much darker than we see onscreen most of the time. But my own reading of what I see onscreen, like Giles' occasional Ripper eruptions, tell me that a possible reading of the character is very dark. He can be caring and paternal and tweedy and awkward, but I see an underlying streak of violence, cruelty, and ruthless competence.

My reading of Picard was that he was both kinky and a sub and that he would have had gay experiences in his wild college days (when I was teaching and came out to my students the first day of each term, I was always surprised at how many straight male students I got to know who eventually confessed that they had had gay experiences in the past). I was sure Picard would be a sub b/c he's a control freak, he has an unbelievable load of responsibility, he has to be "on" and in control whenever he's around his crew, and as a result he would find it hugely liberating to surrender control in the bedroom, but not to any of his crew, but to Q. That's interpretation, taking canon and extrapolating from it just as I'd interpret a poem. Other interpretations are equally valid and can make really interesting fic, and it's cool to think, "Oh, yeah, it does work to see the character that way."

In real life, there's a whole lot the people you work with have no clue about in your private life. There are things you do that many of your friends don't know about. Or some friends, but not others. Canon gives us a ton of material to work with, but we can play with it in our own interpretations and say well, this is how I see him when he gets home from the office.

And all that is groovy as long as we don't make the mistake of assuming or insisting that our particular reading is the "right" one. Even an author's extra-textual reading isn't necessarily the "right" one. It can be justified by canon, like when Joss said in the commentary of one of the ATS DVD's that of course Angel and Spike would have had sex in their past. To me that's a "Duh" comment; I assume the same. But another viewer could look at the same episodes, same transcripts, same direction, same performances and see something different. And I would disagree, but I wouldn't say that person was "wrong."
I read Dick's novel many, many, many years ago as a teenager. Until the movie came out I'd totally forgotten it, and the movie is my main reference point. And yes, it is a pissy way to react to an innocent statement on my part.

I'm sorry for that. When you get (even) older, you may find that the art works that have stuck with you through the stages of your life become even more meaningful when you've made fun of them. And then gone back and seen more meaning.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-12-30 07:13 ]
Of course if you WANT to believe in the creator's canon then you make excuses (or I do). I always figured that in Simon's presentation of the rescue of River he was being modest about his involvement, and he considered that the guys he hired get the credit for creating the plan and helping him to get in and out. Of course I also thought that Warren had actually died for a heartbeat (enough to allow the First to take his form) while Amy was able to grab him before he was totally brain dead (allowing her to keep him alive albeit skinless). Just because Joss admits to making a mistake is no reason for me to concede that he did (or is his saying he made a mistake canon now? He only said it in the letters to the editor section).

Willow going dark had been so beautifully foreshadowed in her resentment of Faith 'sharing her people', and her coming close to cursing Oz for cheating on her, that I expected her to lose it when she lost her true love. I really felt that this had been established as her individual personality, it had been earned over many seasons, and wasn't just some cheap way of turning her into the Big Bad for season six.
My outcry to my husband in the kitchen as I have been reading this thread: "Oh, no, they are bringing the evil-dead lesbian cliché into the Canon/Fanon debate."

My Husband: "What does Bruce Campbell have to do with it?"

;)
Just as all dimensions will collapse into one with the Key, so do all Whedonesque debates eventually fold into one. In addition to the two that Zannadoo references, we've also had Spike's soul, Ben and Glory, Han shooting first, and the dastardly jumping of the shark.

Just so long as it all remains copacetic.
As long as River is made of chocolate . . .
My take on canon has always been mercenary, which is to say: I only consider the distinction when I'm being paid to. And in every such case, the definition has been slightly different, usually informed by slightly different intent on the part of the rightsholder (and, when it comes down to brass tacks, the rightsholder has that right, among others ...)

I think the author of this particular article (which was very thought-provoking and readable, btw) has chosen his own "personal canon of what canon means," but that's about all there can ever be.
I think it's important to distinguish between the two kinds of authorial intent: what facts the author intended to place into the story which he never did (Faith's last name is Lehane) and what meaning the author intended there to be within the story (Buffy killed herself for purely noble reasons). If a distinction is to be made between the former and canon, it is only because the author can change his mind about such facts since he did not already write them within the story. As for the latter kind of authorial intent, my opinion is that it is in no way the same thing as canon. For a piece of work to have any artistic value, it cannot be defined by the singular intentions of the person who created it.
Wait a minute... they killed Willow for being an evil lesbian???
Wait a minute ... they killed Willow ? Those bastards !

(I knew that they deliberately killed Spike when they found out he didn't intend to get his soul back but doing that to Willow is just crossing the line)

And I've always had one argument against Deckard being a replicant - he was kind of a creampuff compared to all of the other replicants.

Exactly Ocular. Apart from being a stayer and having plenty of guts, Deckard is rubbish and breaks much too easily. Unless they've found a way to engineer "flukey bastards" artificially then he's completely unfit for purpose. That's a good fact-based argument BTW but for me the key is the emotional impact of the film being really reduced if he's not human (there's circumstantial evidence too like "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe ..." etc.).

'Bladerunner' makes clear the added conundrum where films/TV are concerned that you don't have where there's only one creator. In the book, he's human. Harrison Ford has said he always played him as human yet Ridley Scott says he's a replicant and that's supposedly that (i'd love to know what the screenwriters intended).

The problem is, only Scott has the power to actually change things so that he definitely is a replicant in later versions (got 'The Final Cut' but not seen it yet - from what I gather, it's even more explicit in this version than he made it in the Director's Cut). Likewise with Lucas. Which raises the point about "special" editions and whether they're any more canonical than original cuts. I'd say not necessarily - because special editions are basically "authorial intent" writ large, where the "author" is usually solely the director.

And well said Dana5140 about the seeming crossed wires. People are claiming that interpretation is just as clear-cut a question as which events are shown (and therefore are "facts" of the fictional world). The second is canon, the first is what makes it worth experiencing that canon.
So many posts over this topic! Wow. I still don't get it.


There hasn't been a Joss show on the telly for ages so the fandom is left twiddling their thumbs. Don't get me wrong, I adore the new Buffy and Angel comic books but that's only about 40 odd pages of new material a month. Which really isn't enough to stimulate the fandom en masse. So when a weighty subject like canon comes along we go all out and debate like mad.

It'll be a different kettle of fish when Dollhouse airs. New debates, new arguments, new challenges.
I totaly agree with that article.
Good point, vampire dan. Simon, there will surely be new arguments, but this one will be back; it is always back. I still haven't figured out why I get in a twist over it.
Simon, right on! I know I am sort of an obsessive over certain issues, so I am waiting for dollhouse to have new contexts and topics to debate. Until then, though... :-)

Anyway, astarte, first thank you for the second of your two contiguous posts. As to the first (well, thanks for that as well), I think you miss my point. I was not looking to debate the entire Tara death issue all over again- everyone knows where I stand there. Rather, I was making the point that what Joss meant, and how it was read, turned out to be very different- and in fact, even though Joss and marti both said that they had no intention of invoking the cliche, they in fact actually did. This has nothing to do with any other trope that might be applied to any other character (ie, the "groom gets cold feet" trope of Xander). It has only to do with the death of Tara. And my recollection is that later, when the outcry moved toward its peak, I think it was either Marti, or maybe it was Jane AEspenson, who said they could see how people could think that the cliche was invoked. This is why I am such a fan of reader-response. In fact, my personal belief is that Joss and Marti were so involved in their writing that they could only see what they intended- a sort of hubris, I think- that they missed how it might be read. Would they have done different if they did understand? I don't know, and given this is whedonesque, I think most people here would give them the benefit of the doubt and say they would have changed nothing. But this also begs the question of why Joss later tried to bring Amber Benson back- my won thought son this are that Joss is a man who knows, at times, years in advance where he wishes to take his story. If he had meant to bring Tara back in S7, why didn't he offer a contract to Amber much earlier? Why only later, when she already had found other work? I feel that was a response to the outcry- and Joss did admit to planning to bring her back with the "get out of jail" card. Anyway, that would be authorial intent, writ large, and unfortunately, not canon. :-)

I have to look at Blade Runner again. My only thought is that how could Dekker be a replicant, since he was pretty much a regular human when it came to having strength and speed, and if you were designing a replicant to catpure replicants, wouldn't you want to design one really competent at doing the job? But then, remember, it's been a while since I've seen the film- though I think I will have to go buy it today, since there seems to be fertile areas for debate. And then, I think, I will have to start watching Battlestar Galactica. :-)

Happy new year!
One thing I have always wondered, are deleted scenes from movies and books canon?

For instance, there was that scene from "Lies My Parents Told Me" where Giles told Buffy that he killed Ben. That was cut for length and cause no one would have been interested (according to David Fury). So my question is, is it canon that Buffy knows Giles killed Ben even though it was never seen on screen.
Shey, you choose an interesting example: For instance: if fans of Shakespeare decide they don't like the ending of Romeo and Juliet, they can't just say "oh, they didn't really die, the effects of the poison wore off soon enough to save the day" and give that point of view some sort of validity beyond "fan wank". A term that seems really weird when applied to Shakespeare, but it makes my point. You can discuss endlessly the circumstances that led to the tragedy, the social climate of the time and place, whether or not it still has relevance in the modern western world, etc. But you cannot arbitrarily state that they didn't die, simply because you didn't want them to. - because for well over a century virtually every stage production of R&J did have Juliet waking up just in time – so for theatregoers as opposed to readers that was canon. The difference between comics and screen versions is not new!

I really like your consideration of the multiplicity of possible motives for Spike’s resouling – it’s arguable that neither Joss nor Spike was aware of all of them at any given time but could, on consideration, have accepted any or all of them as extra underlying motives. If Spike was, like, real, that is. Anyway, it’s canon that Spike said he got his soul on purpose, while Angelus was cursed with his. Doesn’t that count?

You are also so right about adaptations of books. Darcy never had a wet shirt according to Austen, but the world might well be a poorer place for many fangurls without that scene in the TV series!

And then there are things which can be supported by canon but really aren’t – not just whether Spike and Buffy had sex that last night, but also whether Cecily is Halfrek, and if so, when did she become a demon? One of the things I love about the Jossverse is the multilayering which allows interpretation – you try analysing Charmed in this way!

And wow for the length of this thread and the super-intelligent thoughtful comments above this (mundane, not s-i) comment!
For instance: if fans of Shakespeare decide they don't like the ending of Romeo and Juliet, they can't just say "oh, they didn't really die, the effects of the poison wore off soon enough to save the day" and give that point of view some sort of validity beyond "fan wank". A term that seems really weird when applied to Shakespeare, but it makes my point.


Actually, they used to do exactly that. My education is failing me on the who and when, but at some point in English literary history, in the days before tv, they rewrote famous stories so they would have happy endings and to a generation (long gone) of play goers/readers, happy ending Romeo and Juliet is cannon, for that is all they knew.
Simon-I don't think that the shooting scripts and/or deleted scenes counts as canon. As authorial intent perhaps but not canon.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2007-12-30 16:48 ]
GMTA, theclynn! It was mostly in the eighteenth century, but reworked Shakespeare carried on well into the nineteenth century too - it's quite possible that Drusilla as a child was taken to see Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending. (There's a hilarious version of that in the RSC production of Nicholas Nicleby, set during Dru's girlhood.) Young William, in the 1870s might even have seen King Lear with a happy ending - Nahum Tate's version was a crowd-puller for a very long time, and it would definitely have suited William's ideas of "beauty" in art, compared to the nasty sordid ending Shakespeare actually wrote.

Everything can be brought back to the Buffyverse with only a little effort.
So my question is, is it canon that Buffy knows Giles killed Ben even though it was never seen on screen.

Considering the end of the Faith run recently, that is a very interesting question. Is Giles still protecting Buffy from knowledge like this, or is he merely not making it so obvious that she feels she has to stop it.
I've always felt that he never did tell her. And practically speaking, the fact that that scene was deleted means that the writers could take the line that it did not happen.
David Fury stated in the commentary to LMPTM that he wanted to put in a speech where Giles talked about killing Ben because he thought it was very important. He said he was convinced by others that nobody would care about that. I've always been keen to know who those others were, so that I could strangle them. But yeah, it is an interesting question whether Buffy knows now. Hoping that the answer to that comes on Wednesday or Thursday.
Exactly Ocular. Apart from being a stayer and having plenty of guts, Deckard is rubbish and breaks much too easily. Unless they've found a way to engineer "flukey bastards" artificially then he's completely unfit for purpose. That's a good fact-based argument BTW but for me the key is the emotional impact of the film being really reduced if he's not human (there's circumstantial evidence too like "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe ..." etc.).

Scott can bend the details (like what the unicorn means, implanted memories) to fit his thesis any way he wants, but this is where my brain starts to get bogged down in his minutiae (not to mention that it's a cheat). At the best, here being the best and most reasoned talk anywhere on the web about such matters, I got a more clear-cut understanding of canon and authorial intent. So I will take the first version of the film as I found it in 1982, what was presented to me, Deckard = human. Scott's director's cut, with his little slanted tweaks, will be his other interpretation, and that will be canon for that version.
I'm with you, shambleau. I would like to know who out there thinks that Giles -mentor and watcher and father figure of one Buffy Summers - slowly killing a man would not interest rabid viewers that sometimes go far as to debate the meaning that clothes worn in a certain episode might hold. I for one would be the first in line to buy a DVD composing all those "extra unneeded footage and waste of air time" sacrilege! *pictures air-heads execs brandishing silver scissors and literally cutting out minutes upon minutes of precious viewing material for crummy commercial time*

It still hurts even after all this time!
I'm hitting on your mojo, Tonya J, the old art doesn't become new art, they are separate pieces of art. It's not like I took the one Mona Lisa, before there were copies, and painted a big bushy mustache on her. That would have changed the old art and what was canon and actually turned it into the new art and created a new canon; thus, the old is obliterated. Not so with Blade Runner for I still have the old art. I got it. It's right here.

Of course, I can't outright deny that a newer version isn't canon, it is, unto itself. I'm not seeing a convincing argument for why new art has to be accepted as canon over old art.

A thought regarding the excellent "Deckard is too much of a physical pansy to be a replicant"... What if it was discovered in a previous model of replicant hunter that they develop a conscious about it and won't perform the task...so they develop a new replicant with frail, physical human weaknesses to conceal from it that it is a replicant?

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2007-12-30 19:39 ]
Yeah, that's one of the counter-arguments RhaegarTargaryen, that bladerunners need to think in a certain way to be good at their job (and also that Deckard may well not want to hunt replicants if he found out he was one) and so it's essential that he doesn't know but as has been said, he's not even that great as a human i.e. you could still make him stronger, tougher, faster etc. but just not so much that it'd be obvious.

Another theory is that he's a replicant without an expiration date and so if he knew what he was and told someone else, it'd require some real splainin' on the part of the Tyrell Corporation.

My problem is that I like the Director's Cut except for the parts that basically force us into seeing Deckard as a replicant (the ending's better for one thing) so I can't even just take one version, I have to somehow fan-wank different version together in my head. Dissonance-tastic ;).
I think I can enjoy the Director's cut, no matter what it's trying to force us to see. BR is a visionary work of art and I think it's Scott's best. Look, Saje made a new word: dissonance-tastic. I love it. Only at big W.

so they develop a new replicant with frail, physical human weaknesses to conceal from it that it is a replicant?

Possible in the sense you can definitely read things in about what might have been, RT, but how could Deckard have risen in the department to become the best Blade Runner they ever had (at least partly why Gaff hates him and keeps leaving the origami as insults) if he was so inferior physically? The answer is the replicants he was used to retiring were a slower, different breed than Nexus 6, Batty's group, who were superior in every way to man and had the same level of intelligence as the engineers who designed them. And Deckard's boss knew he was the only one who even had a snowball's chance in Hell of catching and killing them. Edit - he was totally outmatched by them. Except for a twist of fate, I think it was Ocular who said above, or Saje, can't remember, he would have been toast at their hands. I love to interpret, but I'm also a stickler for the facts.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-30 22:01 ]
I saw the director's cut of BR recently (not the newest one) and still did not see him as anything but human...

(Hmmmm. I'm not sure I want to know what I missed.)

On another question, I think if a scene is deleted, it is not part of the story and therefore cannot be canon. It may not even be author's intent, since it may have been cut because the author changed his/her mind or was convinced/overruled by another author...in our case...Joss, for instance. Although I would love to see some of the scenes filmed but cut for time, (Spike and Wood in the kitchen during Lies My Parents Told Me) many things are cut for other reasons. If it is in a 1st draft of a book, but does not make the published version, it is not canon, why should it not be the same for TV?

As far as author's intent stated after the fact affecting the piece, I really think that has to be up to the individual. A piece of art sits on its own. Assuming we are not talking about Dumbledore's sexual preferences being plastered all over the place, the viewer only knows anything about that art by studying it or deciding to do more research about it. Only at that point might they find out about a stated intent of the author. So should that intent change the perception of the person experiencing the art? I'm not sure. It is a question I have been thinking about in regards to Spike and his soul, actually. NO, REALLY! (ducks head under arms and runs for cover)

Don't worry, I'm not going to explain...but it's all Saje's fault.
Gill says: "Everything can be brought back to the Buffyverse with only a little effort."

Well, everything except Tara.

New question: Which version of Close Encounters is canon? There are now 3 such versions, and for me, I still prefer the first, without the "When you Wish Upon a Star" epilogue with Neery staring up at the inside of the mothership. But which is the canon version?
embers said:

but then there were people watching Willow and Tara fall in love in BtVS S4 who didn't want to believe that Willow was Gay either.


There were people still insisting after the series Xena Warrior Princess ended that Xena and Gabrielle were "just friends." Frankly, I think Joss handled Tara and Willow's r'ship in a much better way by simply making it explicit once we got past the "doing spells together" metaphor/euphemism.

TamaraC said:

So many posts over this topic! Wow. I still don't get it.


Well, it's been an issue in literary criticism forever b/c, say, a poet says something about what he/she meant in a poem. So does that fix the meaning of the poem in stone? I hope not b/c they often say things about their work that make no sense--just literally looking at the words. Or a novelist puts out several editions of a novel--now which one do we use when we teach or analyze it: the first edition b/c it's the first and purest expression of what the author wrote, or the last edition that came out b/4 the author died b/c it shows his/her final intent?

Wrt the movie "High Plains Drifter," Clint Eastwood said the "Stranger" is not the ghost of the dead marshall, but rather someone who knew him or a family member come to take revenge on the marshall's murderers. Well, I strongly disagree with Eastwood's interpretation of his own text; there's so much evidence in the film (canon) that the Stranger is the ghost of the dead marshall. Eastwood's statement is confusing to me and to many scholars of the film, and it's not canon. Since he threw it out there, if I'm writing a scholarly piece about the film, I probably have to take it into account and present my reasons for disagreeing, and my reasons will be based on canon--the movie itself.

The issue of canon vs. authorial intent has become a really big one, I think, among fans since the advent of slash fanfic. Fans start looking for a gay subtext in the texts: the episodes. Then some series started deliberately playing with subtext (like both Xena and Hercules). Slash fans grabbed every bit of evidence that the characters were really gay, and dismissed the maintextual straight relationships they had. So if anyone associated w/ the series, from an actor to the series' creator, said anything to back up the notion that there was a same-sex relationship or at least attraction b/t the characters, the slash fans used that as a "See, I told you so!" argument against the anti-slashers. In Star Trek (all the series) fanfic groups on Usenet around 10-12 years ago, there were virulent arguments about slash, w/ fans saying that slash was WRONG, and slash fans looking to prove they were RIGHT, and can't we all just agree to disagree? The same thing happened with Xena, and somehow XWP fanfic that had a romantic or sexual r'ship b/t Xena and Gabrielle was labeled "Alt" (as in alternative) by the people who ran those fanfic sites. That always bugged me.

I mean Xena X/G fans still want evidence. I heard an interview with Lucy Lawless (Xena) this year in which a fan asked "Were Gabrielle and Xena f*cking?" and Lucy answered "Ah, yeah I think so." But that's not canon. It doesn't prove anything. We know they described each other as soulmates and said "I love you," and had the occasional kiss on the lips--that's canon b/c it's in episodes and you can interpret that by bringing in other evidence from episodes, but as long as you have evidence to support your position, you're neither right nor wrong, but you're presenting a valid argument.

I was an English professor and I gave A's to papers I completely disagreed with on many occasions b/c the student presented a well-thought out and logical argument that was well-supported with quotations and references to the texts. What "canon" is is a pretty strictly limited thing, but interpretations can go all over the place.

I'm going to try to avoid breaking a Whedonesque rule by not giving the URL or title, but I wrote an article many many moons ago about Picard/Q subtext on the series and how it got turned into the main theme of slashfic. The journal got this long and crazed and just over-the-top email about how this person wasn't homophobic but there was no way, nowhere, nohow that Picard was gay and that people who wrote kinky slash fic about Picard ought to be flogged. Well, some of us did want to be flogged, but not by the writer of that letter. :-)

So intent became a big deal b/c it was a way for slash fans to "win" the argument w/ the anti-slashers. But, to be honest, what any of the folks associated w/ a series (including the series creator) say outside of school can be taken into account in developing an interpretation, but it's not canon. Canon is the text that's thrown out there. Now maybe a director's cut and the theatrical release are both canon since they're being "published" publicly, but then I think one has to state which version you're talking about or maybe you want to analyze the differences b/t the two versions.

Anyway, I think anything regarding the possible gayness of a character becomes a big deal for gay fans and for slash writers b/c we're still a marginalized group, and we want to see ourselves in our favorite books, TV shows, and movies. Rowling saying that Dumbledore was gay was a big deal b/c she's increasing our visibility in a positive way: Dumbledore is incredibly talented, he's a great teacher and headmaster and a kind person, he admits his mistakes, and he doesn't molest his students. OTOH, his one gay r'ship that we hear of his a really negative one. We just have to go back to the text itself and make up our own minds based on our interpretation of the canonical evidence.
SugarFalls said:

Fire bad. Tree pretty.


Beer foamy.

[ edited by astarte59 on 2007-12-30 23:19 ]
astarte59, feel free to link to your own stuff in the comments. Since this appears to be a common misapprehension, here are the relevant site rules:

"Do not post links to your own stuff. It is considered bad etiquette to link to your own site, a site you are associated with, something you've written or designed, or something that's been written about you or your projects. This is not a place to advertise yourself or your homepage. Persistent self-linkers will lose their posting rights. Self-links will be deleted.

Linking to your own stuff in the comments is acceptable, if relevant to the discussion."
astarte59, I was being facetious. I have a degree in English Lit so I do get the concept. I wasn't the biggest fan of this exercise in college either. It seemed a bit too circular and messy to me. I am just always amazed and a bit chagrined at the level of minutiae fandom is able to obsess over. I know that some love this stuff and I'm not judging. I just don't get the appeal of the discussion. Obviously, YMMV. :)
astarte59, I hope you will link the piece on Picard and Q because I would find it very interesting, and thank you SoddingNancyTribe for clarifying that point about self linkage.

There was an on-going discussion/debate/argument at fireflyfans about the fan fiction put up there, and whether the slash should be tolerated. It always annoyed me because I felt that Joss always went out of his way to leave room for slash. He may not be wanting to come out and say a character has had Gay relationships and/or experiences, but he carefully never says that they didn't or never would.
My 2 cents on film adaptation of a book. Unless it is the same creator perpetuating the same mythos in a different media, those are two totally different beasts which don't influence each other and exist as two separate canons.
In case of Joss we have a creator who is an absolute driving force behind all of his universes, and he can change medias from a show to a movie to a comic to a book - whatever it takes, if he says it's a single canon, it's a single canon. It's the creator telling the same story by different means.

In case of Tolkien and Peter Jackson I can't even comprehend the same question coming up. There are the books, and there is a movie the connection of which with the book was specifically renounced by Tolkien society, Chris Tolkien etc., i.e. by entities in charge of continuation of the book canon. There was not even a question of Jackson in any way continuing Tolkien's works. He was creating an independent interpretation, and independent work of art, he bought a license to use motives, worlds and heroes from the books in any way he wants - but not to continue the original mythos.
Those two stay separate: there's the movie canon, and there's the book canon. Movies are great in their own right. But they don't negate or influence the books in any way. As here we have a different author who has no connection with the previous author, and no desire for such a connection. And I'm sure it would be vice versa.

And back to Joss and canon: he can be quite careless with it, and some of it is quite contradictory. I'm, like C.A.Bridges, find it very hard to accept the Simon rescuing River retcon and so I rewatch the show a lot but movie - almost never. Still, if it happened, and Joss stated that the movie and the show are parts of the same canon - it's canon.
As for Spike's soul - I don't really care what Joss says in the interviews, but I do care that Spike states it many times in Buffy-7 and then on Angel-5. So the fact which desided the matter for me is not that Joss said that Spike went for his soul, but that Spike said so, in a state which implied him being truthful (like in BY).
Nata- not completely, as related to Joss. Just one example. He was going to write Wonder Woman. And no doubt he would have brought all his talent to the job, but he would have to set much of it in the already established canon of the comic. He could not simply recreate it wholesale. And in interview he addressed this, related to the lariat and to the wrist bracelets and the invisible jet. I know you are referring solely to the Buffyverse (and Firefly), which he himself created, but remember that JW has worked in other arenas as well. And those have their own canon.
Adding my 2 cents on the Simon rescuing River retcon: I watched Serenity before I saw the first episode of Firefly, so I more or less saw everything Simon said in the series about River as simply being very cautious for safety's sake because he did not know the crew of Serenity.
Thank you, astarte59, informative post. You should link that, I'd like to read it.
menomegirl- and there you have reader-response theory in action! :-)
I think people are conflating canon, a body of work regarded as authoritative, with content, that which is in the canon. Content within a canon can be completely contradictory and obscure. For instance, the Book of Genesis, is considered canonical by all the major Judeo-Christian religions, even though it contains two, completely contradictory and mutually exclusive descriptions of how God created the world and all that lives within it. (Sort of the way Serenifly contains two contradictory stories of how River got rescued.) How the different religions reconcile these contradictory stories is interpretation.
Well once again, I've learned something new here at whedonesque.

Gill wrote: For well over a century, virtually every stage production of Romeo and Juliet did have Juliet waking up just in time. So for theater goers as opposed to readers, that was canon." A fact also mentioned by others in subsequent posts.

Blame it on my American education, I had no idea. But I don't think it changes my point, except to maybe make it stronger. The theater goers who had never read the play, were basing their interpretation on an adaptation by a string of stage producers who took a shocking liberty with the Bard's obvious intent, therefore subverting the canon. I don't buy the argument that just because it became a temporarily standard manner of presenting the play, no matter it was for more than a century, it became canon. Since it clearly subverted the author's intent.
And BTW, I'm shocked that this could have happened in the U.K. ;-)

The most fun thing about this thread for me has been that I find myself agreeing with one post and disagreeing with another, only to find that they were written by the same person. But that's what happens when you indulge is such obsessive hairsplitting. You end up splitting your own hairs :)

And, finally having someone mention Roger Zelazny (jclemens) my favorite ever Scifi author, along with Dan Simmons .... and specifically The Chronicles of Amber. I have a dream, and it is having Joss adapt this series into a TV mimi-series (premium cable).

I'm probably talking to myself at this point, since my time zone is the only one where it's still only Dec. 30th. But I hope all you hung-over posters come back to this after the New Years Holiday, since this is my first foray into this particular discussion. (Yes, whedonesque is 82% more literate than any other forum.:)
He should do 'Lord of Light' first I reckon Shey (just for 'And that was when the fit hit the Shan', one of the most shamelessly manufactured - and hilarious - puns/Spoonerisms in all of science-fiction ;). I like 'This Immortal' too (which might be thematically more up Joss' alley) but I haven't read 'The Chronicles of Amber' (yet).

For instance, the Book of Genesis, is considered canonical ...

Yeah barboo, somebody should really "fix" that thing ;-).

I think the difference is that events in a fictional universe designed from the ground up are seen to accurately represent the state of that world - if it's self-contradictory then that jars people and makes it harder to suspend disbelief (because we know that the real world isn't self-contradictory) - it's another reminder that the fictional 'verse isn't True (deliberate big 'T' ;).

Apart from people that choose to believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that's not an issue with the Judeo-Christian canon (because even the canon itself is an interpretation of events that are real to a varying degree).

Wrt the movie "High Plains Drifter," Clint Eastwood said the "Stranger" is not the ghost of the dead marshall, but rather someone who knew him or a family member come to take revenge on the marshall's murderers.

Actually, the reverse is true astarte59. In interview Eastwood has said that earlier drafts explicitly stated that the "ghost" was the dead marshall's brother - he changed it because he wanted it to be a bit more ambiguous and supernatural (and the direction - by Eastwood - also lends itself to that, as when he "disappears" at the end for instance and the way the flashbacks are cut to appear to be the protagonist's memories).

Maybe he personally prefers to see it as a relative because he's seemingly quite matter-of-fact (i'm trying to think of a single other film of his with a supernatural element and drawing a blank) but it's pretty clear he deliberately made it ambiguous (rather than forcing his own interpretation on the audience - still looking at you Ridley ;).
Saje
i'm trying to think of a single other film of his with a supernatural element and drawing a blank

Pale Rider. The stranger appears when Megan wishes for justice; the bullet wounds on his back are in a pattern that it's not likely any human would survive; when he's described to the marshal, the marshal says that the man he's reminded of is dead, and he recognizes Preacher at the end; several times during the show, a voice is heard calling "Preacher" from out in the snow. There's nothing explicit (and several things in the film inconsistent with reading Preacher as anything other than human - like, why would his guns be in a safety-deposit box in that case?) but it's fairly clear that the setup is to equate the "Pale Rider" of the title with the pale rider of Death as an avenging spirit.
The theater goers who had never read the play, were basing their interpretation on an adaptation by a string of stage producers who took a shocking liberty with the Bard's obvious intent, therefore subverting the canon.


Shey, wouldn't this adaptation of the play be mucking with the Bard's canon; which surely has the "intent" wrapped up in it, as well. The usage of "authorial intent," as I've gleaned here, would be that land just beyond Canon, you know, where the Hittites and NotQuiteRights dwell.

These producers who molested the Bard took liberties with the canon rather than the authorial intent. In fact...Question! Is it possible to make a production of a Shakespearian play (any medium?) and follow canon but at the same time make a change to authorial intent?

...pervading, tight-lipped Schrute smile overcoming my squinted, laterally deviated, ocular visage...
And BTW, I'm shocked that this could have happened in the U.K. ;-)

I'm sure it will not shock you to find out that it was common to give Romeo and Juliet a happy ending in the US too. ;-) My memory says it was in the later 1800's here, but I've never been good with dates, so I may be mistaken.

Question! Is it possible to make a production of a Shakespearian play (any medium?) and follow canon but at the same time make a change to authorial intent?

Once the author is dead and records concerning intent are lost, the only understanding of his/her intent is what is on the page. Therefore you could contend that the fact that every actor and director brings his/her own interpretation to what they see on the page, is almost certainly changing the author's intent in some way. The actors and director add the why behind the actions. They fill in all the blanks. In two different productions, a character can be played radically differently to the point of hardly recognizing them while saying the same lines. Since we do not know what the author's intent was for those things, and people have been filling them in differently for the last few hundred years, I'd say definitely, the author's intent can be changed while not changing the play as written.
Is it possible to make a production of a Shakespearian play (any medium?) and follow canon but at the same time make a change to authorial intent?

Well sure, as newcj says, we don't know precisely what Shakespeare's intent was for each and every scene so it probably happens all the time (different interpretations of Hamlet at various points along the sanity spectrum spring to mind as one example).

... but it's fairly clear that the setup is to equate the "Pale Rider" of the title with the pale rider of Death as an avenging spirit.

Ah yep, true Rowan Hawthorn good call though I personally always thought that was meant to be only figurative (IIRC the daughter's even quoting from Revelation when he arrives - the passage about the "... pale horse and he that sat upon him was Death, and Hell followed with him". Interestingly BTW - or maybe anyway ;) - the New Revised Standard Version I have says a "pale green horse" which would have made for a different film, trippier for a start ;)
No, no, no- the changes to Shakepeare were changes to the canon, not the intent. We don't really know WS at all, so we do not know what his intent was; we only know what he decided, not why he decided it.
Just to be clear, I am talking about productions that do not change the script when I am talking about changes in authorial intent.
I was curious about the name Lehane, so in the brief time I have right now I found, sort of, its origins:

"Eden Studios, who make the Buffy roleplaying games, wondered what fans have for a long time now - what is Faith's last name? Fox requested that Joss and Mutant Enemy help Eden Studios out, and had them create last names for Faith and Kendra. These names will be used in all Buffyverse related comics, games, novels, etc."

Then I found something that said it was created for a Watcher's Sourcebook book. I'm more curious about how Joss came up with that last name than care whether it's canon or not for a new genre, because name homages from other source material are interesting to me (think Harry Truman in Twin Peaks).

In this case, I'm thinking the mystery writer Lehane, whose subjects are often relationships torn with complication and strife, and very, very dark. Like Faith. So if so, very smart man, that Joss.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-12-31 16:58 ]
Joss hisownself mentioned why on this very blog Tonya J (said he wanted something "southie", which is referring to an area of Boston, right ? Think I heard it in 'The Departed' ;). Whether he had Denis Lehane in mind or maybe looked around his house for inspiration and had one of his books lying about only Joss can answer. Some sources have it as meaning "grey" BTW - which, if only coincidence, is an extremely happy one in Faith's case, her being one of the least black and white characters in Buffy (other's say "lance or spear" which also kind of fits).

And as I mentioned a while back on a comics thread, the Lehane family motto is "Pro rege et patria" or "For King and Country" which, if you substitute a female monarch and bearing in mind the "Queen" that Lady Savidge was trying to, err, depose in the "S8" comics ...

No, no, no- the changes to Shakepeare were changes to the canon, not the intent. We don't really know WS at all, so we do not know what his intent was; we only know what he decided, not why he decided it.

Dana5140 we were responding to "Is it possible to make a production of a Shakespearian play (any medium?) and follow canon but at the same time make a change to authorial intent? " as asked by RhaegarTargaryen. And since, as we all agree, we don't know Big Bill's intentions (are there even any annotations extant from the man himself ?) many productions of his plays very likely do just that.

I guess it's possible somebody, somewhere got it exactly right with one of his plays but the odds against must be astronomical (and obviously, we'd never know anyway).
Saje, thanks for the linkie, and you are keerect on "southie." And Lehane is from Boston and writes about these characters a lot.
I've heard about deleted scenes from Buffy, I'm wondering if they really exist, since it's weird why they weren't included in the DVDs. I really wish they do exist and there will be a DVD released with all the deleted scenes.

I'll consider any deleted scene canon in a heartbeat.
On the specific question of how Deckard can be a replicant if he can be so easily beaten up by replicants -- Rachael is *definitely* a replicant, and she seems like she could lose a fight with a non-replicant hamster (just saying, those are tough and underestimated little rodents).

As to the overall argument, back to childhood when I was a "Wizard of Oz" fan, I have always considered book canon different than movie canon. It's not canon in the "Harry Potter" *books* that Ron Weasley towers over Harry and Hermione, but it's certainly canon in the later films. At this point in life, I no more expect a film to conform to the canon of the book it has taken some or many ideas/characters from than I'd expect "Terminator" to conform to the precepts of robotics put forth in Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot." When a story is continued within the same medium, however, like years of a television series and/or film continuations of television series, there I do expect internal consistency and grow mighty wroth when it is lacking. That's just me. I bridged what Simon told Mal and the crew about River's rescue with the rescue we see in "Serenity" by figuring it was true he'd had to pay off a bunch of people to get into position to rescue River and wasn't going to tell this dubious bunch of people he'd done anything requiring physical prowess, in case they took it into their heads that anybody who could rescue someone from an Alliance facility would be somebody who'd be just great to dragoon into participating in a heist. As for the renewed tension between Simon and Mal, I figured they simply got on each other's last nerve between the end of "Firefly" and the beginning of "Serenity." As to Simon not knowing exactly what River did -- I can buy that he probably didn't know until she did it, just that there was something in her that required a safe word. Having no idea about the Fruity Oaty Bar commercial, he probably didn't expect it to ever be triggered. I don't know if these specific notions are Joss Whedon's authorial intent, but they don't contradict the text.
Re: River and Simon. Yes, we might say that Simon hid this fact from the crew, and that maybe he wasn't listening to what the Dr. in the lab was telling him about River. As he spent the entire series trying to find out what's wrong with River (even when no one was watching them), and that's after it was spelled out for him in that lab!
But the scene I can't reconcile with it just happens to be my favorite scene in the entire show (and the movie too): the "birth" of River in the pilot. No way Simon was acting up then: it was an emotion of someone who haven't seen his beloved sister for a long time, and not of someone who a few days ago made naked River to go into that box (and how creepy is that?)
So for me the choice is easy: "birth" of River takes precedence over the movie. And as we weren't told specifically how to reconcile those two canons, I just assumed River dreamed up the rescue sequence. And while Simon could participate in the rescue, he didn't see his sister in the process. Still keeps both things in canon. :)
I can't resist this: (rather than forcing his own interpretation on the audience - still looking at you Ridley ;).

That's right, we're not looking at you in a good-natured, flirty way a la Hawkeye to Cora: "I'm looking at you, miss."
Nata said:
Yes, we might say that Simon hid this fact from the crew, and that maybe he wasn't listening to what the Dr. in the lab was telling him about River. As he spent the entire series trying to find out what's wrong with River (even when no one was watching them), and that's after it was spelled out for him in that lab!

All that Simon was told in the movie was that "the neural stripping gives them heightened cognitive reception." But in fact the words 'neural stripping' are very vague and could mean a lot of different things. Without going to Ariel and using the scanning device Simon could not know exactly what was done to her, and in fact he as surprised that it was such radical alterations to a healthy brain. I don't think he had ever dreamed they were doing such extensive surgery on the healthy children of important/wealthy people who are part of the Alliance.

And personally I just took Simon's concern, when Mal so abruptly opened the kryo box, was because she wasn't due to come out for several more days and he thought the shock would worsen her condition. There was nothing in that scene to indicate that he hadn't seen her in a long time.

Just repeating my opinion that any seeming conflicts in canon can be explained away if the fan wants to do that.

[ edited by embers on 2008-01-01 01:29 ]
Just repeating my opinion that any seeming conflicts in canon can be explained away if the fan wants to do that.

Exactly. Individual perception.

Put 20 people in one room, let them watch something and you will get 20 different viewpoints.
I probably shouldn't even be posting, due to being so pissed off (and medicated) because I'm stuck at home on New Years Eve, thanks to an emergency root canal three days ago leaving me with a still swollen, throbbing jaw. On the other hand, it's probably more interesting here than where I'd planned to be ;-)

RhaegarTargaryen said:
Question! Is it possible to make a production of a Shakespearian play (any medium) and follow canon but at the same time, make a change to authorial intent?"

newcj said:

Once the author is dead and records concerning intent are lost, the only understanding of his/her intent is what is on the page. Therefore you could contend that the fact that every actor and director brings his/her own interpretation to what they see on the page, is almost certainly changing the author's intent in some way. The actors and director add the why behind the actions. They fill in all the blanks. In two different productions, a character can be played radically differently to the point of hardly recognizing them while saying the same lines. Since we do not know what the author's intent was for those things, and people have been filling them in differently for the last few hundred years, I'd say definitely, the author's intent can be changed while not changing the play as written.


I don't get the "once the author is dead and records concerning intent are lost" argument, when you apply it to Romeo and Juliet. The play is written in Shakespeare's hand. What more proof can there be of authorial intent? And what more valid reason to consider it canon? So in such a case, I still maintain that the two are one and the same.
It's true that "every actor and director his/her own interpretation to what they see on the page ....",but that is interpretation, an artistic animal of a very different stripe from either canon or authorial intent.

On the other hand, Saje said:
we don't know precisely what Shakespeare's intent was for each and every scene so it probably happens all the time (different interpretations of Hamlet at various points along the sanity spectrum spring to mind as one example).

Which is IMO a very different situation. Someone more knowledgeable correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know, there is no credible record of Shakespeare stating definitely, if his intent was that Hamlet was insane. Therefore in this case, authorial intent is in question. Therefore, "canon" can be defined as whichever production you choose to believe best reflects authorial intent.
So my conclusion is that in some cases (Romeo and Juliet)the two are indisputably one and the same, while in other cases, (Hamlet), "canon" becomes basically the same thing as interpretation.

Which brings me around to a point I've yet to see addressed. Look in your dictionary at the definition of "canon". It deals almost exclusively with religion and related belief systems. We who are fascinated by contemporary media, are to an extent co-opting the word for our own purposes. In the strictist definition of the word, it was never meant to apply to works of fiction, be it Shakespeare or a TV series.
I'm not saying this is a bad thing. This is how language evolves, its an awesome process :) What I'm saying is, we may actually be in the process of inventing a new aspect of the definition of the word "canon", an aspect that has not traditionally been applied to works of literary fiction, much less contemporary media such as TV & movies.

OK, I warned you, I'm medicated. So Happy New Year to all, and it damned well better be easier than 2007.

Edited to say: I've done everything I can to correct the "everything in bold" problem, hope this works, and in my next post too.

[ edited by Shey on 2008-01-01 05:50 ]

[ edited by Shey on 2008-01-01 05:57 ]
Saje!, .... Roger Zelazny!! Lord of Light!!! You've just redeemed yourself for your lack of Torchwood love ;-) I can't count the times I've had to explain that I was using "demon" metaphors in my poetry before I ever discovered the jossverse.
I can certainly see Joss doing a movie of Lord of Light. Avowed atheist's always make the most interesting statements about spirituality and spiritual belief systems (thinking also of JMS/B5).

But The Chronicles of Amber and the subsequent Books of Merlin (I think that's the name of the follow-ip series) are sprawling arcs of a delicious mythology of Zelazny's creation. My reason for wishing to see these particular works in the hands of Joss and no other, is that I see a similarity in Zelazny and Joss, in the eccentric use of language as well as shameless punning and the absolute best use of metaphor and subtext in the known universe.
You really must read these. The oldest of The Chronicles of Amber have one irritating tic, the casual sexism of the time period. Not Heinlein extreme, but definitely dated.
But Zelazny, all deities rest his soul, later became aware of this and commented on it, in an interview. As well as doing a brilliant, hilarious mea culpa in one of the Merlin books.
Try dealing with Zelazny re. "authorial intent", if you really want your brain to explode. (See, not completely OT :_)
Shey, other than your stated medicated condition, ;-) I'm not sure why you see the need for interpretation of Hamlet, but don't for Romeo and Juliet. Admittedly, R& J can be viewed in simpler terms, but it can still be complex. The interpretation of scenes and the point of the play can be radically different in different productions.

It has been a long time since I thought about it, but off the top of my head, one production can play it as a simple tragic romance, another might chose to emphasize it much more as a play about youthful innocence being crushed under the established expectations of society, while another might concentrate on the abrogation of responsibilities of all the ineffective adults in the play inevitably resulting in the death of the children, yet another might emphasize the anti-violence message about mindless hatred between feuding rival groups.

Within each scene each character has choices as to what is behind the lines in every play. What does the character want? Is the nurse a romantic who gets carried away with the fairy tale of what is going on, is she a weak woman who just can't say no to authority, does she represent the lower classes and takes the opportunity to undermine the heads of the household when she gets the chance?

Juliet is usually played very sweet, but how strong-willed is she? An argument could be made that she controls much of what goes on and should be played as a strong girl who goes after what she wants rather than some shrinking violet as I have often seen her played.

And so it goes for every actor and every director in every play. Meanwhile, we have no specific information about what Shakespeare's intent was in regards to pretty much anything so most of those interpretations are going to be different from his original intent in some way or another.

Oh...Happy New Year!
newcj I actually agree. I was referring specifically to the fact that both Romeo and Juliet did in fact, die, in the play as written in Shakespeare's hand. Other than that fact, which is IMO very clearly "authorial intent", I agree that the rest of the play can be approached with emphasis on a number of different aspects of the story.
The degree of nuance and sub-text in most all of Shakespeare's plays are part of what makes them such a fertile field for discussion.

And I just have to weigh in on the Deckerd/replicant issue. I haven't yet seen the "final' director's cut & probably wont for a while, but I much preferred the original directors cut to the film as it was first released. It doesn't bother me one way or another that you're being nudged more in the "Deckerd's a replicant" direction, my mind will just nudge back, if it's so inclined. I prefer that version because they dumped the constant voice-over, which I thought of as only a minor flaw when I first saw the movie.
I've always liked the ambiguity, I'm not really emotionally attached to one interpretation over the other. I might feel differently after seeing the final version, but I'm inclined to give Ridley Scott a pass on most anything, because he's just such a spectacular talent.
I've had a fascinated time reading this debate, and I gotta say that it's gone to places that I never could have foreseen. Maybe because the concept of "canon" is itself such a trigger word, and yet so poorly defined in fannish terms. Maybe it's my own educational background, but for me canon is not so incredibly important. In lit classes, we don't use the term "canon" because a.) so cheesy sounding and b.) it's impossible to call anything the definitive canon. I'm reading a Henry James novel, in a Modern Library edition of his work, and the intro notes the textual difficulties in presenting his work. The first version of the novel appeared serialized in a magazine, the second in a first printing of the novel, the third version was re-edited and tinkered with by James, much like modern directors w/ their new edits of classic movies. Textual difficulties like that haunt even modern-era writers like James; they are a hundred times more complicated when it comes to the work of a writer like Shakespeare. Read the notes in any edition of his work, and you'll see how difficult it is for modern editors to produce a "definitive" version of any of his plays. They survive in quartos and folios with mistakes and differing texts. Ex: the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet exists in subtly different versions.

What does this mean, canon-wise? It means that the terms "definitive canon" is sometimes a practical impossibility when talking about certain works of art--which is OK. So scholars and fans refer to different texts when they talk of anything that exists in multiple, equally-valid copies. Because otherwise it's insanity and frankly it leads to arguing that serves no valuable purpose.

shey: I was referring specifically to the fact that both Romeo and Juliet did in fact, die, in the play as written in Shakespeare's hand. Other than that fact, which is IMO very clearly "authorial intent", I agree that the rest of the play can be approached with emphasis on a number of different aspects of the story.

See, I don't think this argument is very convincing because Shakespeare killing off R&J in the play is not authorial intent--it's a part of the text. The words are there, in probably ever version of the play extant. Romeo and Juliet expire is not authorial intent, it's textual fact.

Ex:

Had J.K. Rowling writing in the last HP book the specific line: "Dumbledore truthfully admitted, 'I'm gay, Harry.'" -- that would not be authorial intent, it'd be textual reality. Rowling transformed her intent into words on the page. Every word she wrote in her books is infused and driven by her authorial intent, but the words themselves are a part of the canon--the text.

I googled "intent" and came up w/ this definition: "purpose: an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions". Authorial intent drives the creation of the text, but that does not make it in absolute terms the same thing as the text. Intent is the purpose, while the words--or images, sounds, whatever--are the canon, or text.

Again, must say that I've found this a fascinating discussion. And very interesting too! I've heard that Deckard-is-supposed-to-be-a-replicant theory before, but not being very invested in the movie, I had no idea some of the shenanigans that'd been going on. Scott has read the book it's based on? Whoa. Kinda mind-blowing. And I'm definitely on the side of the group who see the defined difference between authorial intent and the text. I also generally value the authorial intent of the creator--only I value it in some cases more than in others, which is one of the important reasons why authorial intent =/= text.
You've just redeemed yourself for your lack of Torchwood love ;-)

Phew, and just in time for the New Year too ;). 'The Chronicles of Amber' is on my "list", might bump it up a bit (impulse buying is a whole lot easier - and consequently more expensive - in the PA era. Post Amazon that is ;).

(and another way Zelazny and Joss are similar IMO is the way they meld/bend/cross genres - to great effect in both cases)

Every word she wrote in her books is infused and driven by her authorial intent, but the words themselves are a part of the canon--the text.

Yep, exactly dottikin. People are mixing the two because obviously the author intended to write the words, the difference is, we have the words, we don't have their intentions (and even when we do, canon only refers to the text itself - as I see it anyway).
I'm a huge fan of Zelazny's Amber series, but I'd never made that connection to Joss' work. Thanks, Shey.
You're quite welcome Caroline .... yay, another Zelazny fan ;)

Saje good call, the melding/blending cross genres thingy is definitely another similarity. What I wouldn't give to see Joss bring something of Zelazny's to the screen, in some form.
[SPOILERS FOR BATTLESTAR GALACTICA "RAZOR"]

Dana5140 said:

Anyway, astarte, first thank you for the second of your two contiguous posts. As to the first (well, thanks for that as well), I think you miss my point. I was not looking to debate the entire Tara death issue all over again- everyone knows where I stand there.


First of all, sorry for taking so loooooooong to respond. I have MS, the primary symptom of which is extreme fatigue, and I get involved in something, and then I have too many other things I have to do or want to do and can't keep up and end up appearing rude, when I'm actually just sleeping.

And, actually, I don't know where you stand w/ Tara's death b/c I'm new here (Xmas holiday new member), so I have to treat every post I read as canon w/out knowing the prior works or biographical history of the author. :-) (And, yes, I'm being silly.)

Rather, I was making the point that what Joss meant, and how it was read, turned out to be very different- and in fact, even though Joss and marti both said that they had no intention of invoking the cliche, they in fact actually did. This has nothing to do with any other trope that might be applied to any other character (ie, the "groom gets cold feet" trope of Xander). It has only to do with the death of Tara. And my recollection is that later, when the outcry moved toward its peak, I think it was either Marti, or maybe it was Jane AEspenson, who said they could see how people could think that the cliche was invoked. This is why I am such a fan of reader-response. In fact, my personal belief is that Joss and Marti were so involved in their writing that they could only see what they intended- a sort of hubris, I think- that they missed how it might be read. Would they have done different if they did understand? I don't know, and given this is whedonesque, I think most people here would give them the benefit of the doubt and say they would have changed nothing.


Gotcha. I'd like to think they would have changed nothing too. It's like Ron Moore knowing in advance that in "Razor" he was making the crazy ruthless civilian-murdering admiral and an enemy Cylon lesbians and knew he was evoking negative queer images, but he made the creative decision that it was necessary to develop Cain's character. Interestingly, I noticed it right away in "Razor," and the issue w/ Tara's death/Willow evil never entered my mind despite being queer myself and having had a career where I read a fair amount of queer criticism, among other forms of litcrit. It was only afterward when the outcry began that it even occurred to me that it was an issue. So while Moore was definitely aware of and concerned about invoking a stereotype, I have to say I while I now get your original point, I don't see it as hubris on Joss and Marti's part to miss how that what they were writing might be read. I myself was surprised that so many people read it that way; it would have never entered my mind otherwise.

The reason I brought up the nonqueer examples is that Joss does have a habit of doing something horrible to one character to provoke an extreme reaction in another, but some members of marginalized groups will see cases of dominant-culture-deliberately-stereotyping every single time a character from that group is portrayed negatively or according to a common stereotype.

OK, I'm going to have to interject w/ what I hope will be an infrequent MS-Sucks comment b/c I woke up not long before I came back to this thread and saw your post and began responding, but I literally cannot concentrate hard for more than 15-30 minutes. I've practically stopped writing fanfic as a result b/c as fun as it is, it's also mental work, and my brain is (I hope) capable of the same level of thought as before, it's only capable of sustained thought in very short bursts. And then my eyes start literally closing as they are right now. So I'm going to shut up as I feel my concentration dribbling away and come back to this later. Unless maybe I said all I meant to??? MS Sucks.
You're quite welcome Caroline .... yay, another Zelazny fan ;)


Roger Z fans, unite! :)
newcj wrote:

As far as author's intent stated after the fact affecting the piece, I really think that has to be up to the individual. A piece of art sits on its own. Assuming we are not talking about Dumbledore's sexual preferences being plastered all over the place, the viewer only knows anything about that art by studying it or deciding to do more research about it. Only at that point might they find out about a stated intent of the author. So should that intent change the perception of the person experiencing the art? I'm not sure. It is a question I have been thinking about in regards to Spike and his soul, actually. NO, REALLY! (ducks head under arms and runs for cover)


Exactly. And I can take Rowling's statement about Dumbledore into account and go back to the text and see that there were very strong subtextual suggestions in his relationship w/ the dude whose name I can never remember. And even if I think Dumbledore is gay, that doesn't mean I'm sure he ever slept with this guy. He could be be gay and a a virgin; all I know is that when I look at the text and see the emotional intensity in the relationship, I can conclude that Dumbledore is attracted to men. I don't know if he's bi or gay or straight and curious. I know Willow's gay b/c she said so and it was obvious from the nature of her rel. w/ Tara in the text. But if they'd done nothing but spells together (and I knew that Xander sometimes likes to do spells by himself :-) ), I'd still assume they were in love, but another reader would be entitled to say, "No, I read them as just close friends." Once they specifically define their relationship in the text then it's canonical.

I think Joss is brilliant, and I'm sure a lot of deliberate conscious thought goes into his writing; I can't imagine that he could write that brilliant series of five rhyming lines in Spike's song in OMWF (it begins "I know I should go / But I follow you like a man possessed" and then there are four more lines that rhyme w/ possessed) w/out having to work at it. Not all writing is inspiration; yes, the author has intention and has to use conscious thinking and problem solving sometimes to get from here to there. So on one level I'm admiring Joss's brilliance. But the intention that goes into his writing process has absolutely nothing to do w/ any possible interpretation I might make about the text itself, which is the only canon.

On a practical level we have to assume an author has something he/she wants to say, and that goes into the work. Joss, I would venture to say, wants us to explore human emotions in a new way, from a different perspective, and having characters who were non-human, for instance, is one way of doing that. One of my favorite moments in an episode, b/c it really shakes you up in terms of how we don't talk about death, but may think it, is Anya's speech in "The Body," after Willow has yelled at her "We don't say these things!" (Memory, so quote may not be exact), and Anya starts talking about all the things she doesn't understand, like why Joyce won't drink fruit punch ever again or brush her hair or simply climb back into her body. Besides the author's conscious intention, there's all sorts of unconscious stuff that shows up in art. A writer I know, Tim Powers, talks about how someone once pointed out to him that his books almost always end w/ the characters leaving in a boat. He didn't believe it until he looked at his books, and he said something like "damned if they didn't always leave in a boat." And then he was stuck w/ this dilemma--now if he has his characters leave in a boat at the end, it will be deliberate, and then is he doing it b/c he knows it's a thing of his or is it in the best interest of the story?

But once the work leaves the creator(s)' hands, it belongs to him/her only as much as it belongs to all the readers, who each bring their own conscious and unconscious stuff to their reading and can well interpret the exact same line in very different ways. My partner's from a different part of the country than I am, had a different upbringing, and we're very different people. She doesn't have much of an accent, so that's not the problem. But we can be talking, using the exact same words and mean entirely different things by them. And we communicate a lot better if we stop to translate, esp. if one person is having a reaction to what the speaker said, and it's obvious to the speaker that her partner's reaction is totally not-even-in-the-same-ballpark as what she expected, and it becomes clear that the listener didn't understand what the speaker meant until she translates, and the listener doublechecks the translation with something like "OK, so you meant this" (using her own vocabulary), and then everything is much clearer and we've learned more about each other. But it can be frustrating to be sure you know what the other person is saying, that it's obvious to you, and then you start to realize that she meant something else entirely, and you need to call "Time Out!" to the discussion, argument, whatever for translation time.

With a whole work of art, say even something as short as a sonnet (as I used to remind my students, the poet has 140 syllables to work with and a predesignated meter and rhyme scheme), and whether he/she is alive or dead, nothing he/she says outside those 14 lines has any bearing on the poem. It's out there, out of the author's hands, and the reader will make of it what he/she can. In the one academic book I wrote, I wrote a pretty large section on The Sandman, and I know that, say, Byron probably can't come back and say that I'm dead wrong, but a living author can. It turned out that Gaiman read the whole book at liked it and said a very complimentary thing about it in his blog, giving me one of the two great fangirl moments of my life. :-) But even if he had said I was dead wrong, that doesn't mean he's right and I'm not. And if an author says something outside the text like Clint Eastwood's comment about the main character in "High Plains Drifter" that I mentioned in an earlier post, I should mention it and take it into account in what I write and then explain why I think my own reading of the character makes a million times more sense, and if I use evidence from the film itself, then I'm writing about the source material, which is the whole point. What the author says is another interpretation, like the many interpretations I read by other scholars, but I didn't have to agree w/ any of them, and the author doesn't own the text any more. And no particular reader owns it either, but the work has become public intellectual property and can be subject to a wide variety of interpretations.

When I was taking my first exams in grad school (the weeding out exams), one exam had an Emily Dickinson poem on it for us to explicate, and none of us had seen it before. My first reaction was to write "Oh shit!" on my rough draft paper. :-) The first line is something like "The clock stopped, not the mantel's," and I saw this as a metaphor for death, like with the heart stopping, and the language, images, metaphors, etc. in the rest of the poem seemed to work w/ that reading. Four of us took that exam, we all wrote entirely different interpretations of the poem, and we all passed. Hell, you can have different or even contradictory interpretations of a work in your head, which to me makes the experience richer--and I just live w/ the ambiguity. When I was a sophomore English major I wanted to know what each text MEANT, and I would have trusted the author's statements completely. Fortunately as a professor, I knew better by then and encouraged my students to suggest different interpretations and see that there isn't one meaning, even if the author says there is; there are as many "meanings" as there are readers.
SoddingNancyTribe told me to

feel free to link to your own stuff in the comments.


Thanks for clarifying that. Well I have two relevant links so here goes.

"Minding One's P's and Q's: Homoeroticism in Star Trek: The Next Generation is the article about Picard and Q that I mentioned (it also got me tenure :-) ).

And in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I'll mention that I've written a book called The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction, and Television, and the conclusion is primarily about Angel the series and how Joss can get us to identify w/ Angel's brooding and angst, but will make fun of him at the same time, something I think Byron did as well--he didn't take his heroes entirely seriously. The book's on Amazon if you want to see the cool cover, but given the fact that it's expensive, I fortunately have a kind of thumbnail version of it online: "Immortals and Vampires and Ghosts, Oh My!: Byronic Heroes in Popular Culture". Given the discussion of Angel, it's more relevant here than the Star Trek thing, so I thought I'd mention it. It's also, mercifully, much shorter than the Star Trek article. :-)
TamaraC,
Hi! I guess I just wanted to emphasize that it's such a big issue in fandom at least partly b/c of the endless arguments b/t pro- and anti-slash fans, and in a situation where the attraction b/t whatever same-sex characters we're talking about is subtextual, the pro-slash fans want to be able to say, "See! TPTB say they're gay!" But, while I was never a fan of theory in and of itself, I do enjoy seeing these types of discussions in fandom b/c while I know that so many of us rabid fandom geeks are smart and thoughtful, it lets me say to those who don't get fandom at all, "See! A lot of rabid fandom geeks are smart and thoughtful rabid geeks!" :-)

And when an author of children's books announces in such a public way that one of her principal characters, a headmaster of a school and much-loved character, is gay, it's going to shake a lot of things up b/c and it's worthwhile reminding ourselves about the intentional fallacy.

For me, since I was forced to retire from teaching about 20 years before I planned to b/c of MS, I'm afraid I fall into "teaching mode" when a subject like this comes up b/c I miss teaching so much. And for me, that tends to involve discussing details and minutiae b/c I find theory that's w/out a specific context to be generally pointless and impenetrable.

Probably another reason why these discussions have such appeal and then go on for ages is in fandoms w/ no more new material that is canonical, then we grab onto anything remotely controversial to debate. :-) At least we haven't reached Godwin's Law . . . :-)
Dana5140 said:

But this also begs the question of why Joss later tried to bring Amber Benson back- my won thought son this are that Joss is a man who knows, at times, years in advance where he wishes to take his story. If he had meant to bring Tara back in S7, why didn't he offer a contract to Amber much earlier? Why only later, when she already had found other work? I feel that was a response to the outcry- and Joss did admit to planning to bring her back with the "get out of jail" card. Anyway, that would be authorial intent, writ large, and unfortunately, not canon. :-)


There is so much I don't get about Amber's status on the series. Like why she was never in the credits until her last day. And if Joss intended to bring her back in S7, was it on a long-term basis? As an incarnation of the First or herself? B/c of course we've been told that natural deaths can't be reversed. I dunno; this would have started to become like HTLJ where Iolaus came back from the dead like four times. But the whole thing about Amber and the credits and whether she was going to come back or not, and are we going to see Tara in the comic books and color me confused. Any enlightenment would be most welcome.
And now for something completely different . . .

My ability to keep up w/ any net group or discussion is so bloody sporadic. Can someone fill me in on "Dollhouse" or give me a link that tells me a little bit about what it is (or will be)? I'd be most appreciative.
Thanks embers and RhaegarTargaryen for your interest in the Picard/Q article. I posted the link a few posts above as well as a link to an article that's actually about Angel

That damn P/Q article was such a struggle. It got sent back for rewriting like three times, and at least once the readers' comments contradicted earlier readers' comments, making me have to change stuff I'd already changed in response to the journal. And, as always, they wanted more queer theory!!! The stuff I read was actually really good and this is shifting into

Dana5140's interest in reader-response, I think it was D. A. Miller in "Anal 'Rope'" (that sounds worse than it is; he's referring to "Rope," the title of a Hitchcock movie), saying essentially, if I want to go back to a classic text, and I see a queer subtext, then I'm entitled to read it that way. (I read this many years ago, my memory sucks, and I'm oversimplifying.) But as a critic, one does tend to see everything through a particular lens. Or as a slasher for that matter. What TV series w/ two male leads hasn't been slashed? And I'll see subtext in some--like the original "Starsky and Hutch" (I mostly remember the hurt/comfort eppy where the bad guys get Hutch addicted to heroin and Starsky nurses him back through withdrawal. I didn't see it as slashy back when I first watched it--I was a kid--but looking back, what w/ all those red-shirted dead girlfriends!, it was pure slash material)--just scream slash, and others I think "I wish the best to the fans who are enjoying reading and writing the fic, but I'm not seeing a glimmer of m/m chemistry."

So D.A. Miller is basically arguing that he's going to see queer elements in most things he watches and that his readings are valid. And it's surprising, actually, how often a text does subvert itself. So I see Byronic heroes everywhere (House for one) and slashy r'ships almost everywhere (House/Wilson of course). I have this whole reading of the scene in LOTR 3 when Legolas steps aside for Arwen as Aragorn is walking down the pathway as Peter Jackson kind of saying to the slash fans, "OK, I gave you guys your Legolas/Aragorn subtext, but now we have to officially move away from subtext to a heterosexual maintext cuz really it's a pretty big thing in the book that we can't ignore." I mentioned this on a group somewhere, and someone told me that she was sure that Aragorn actually whispered to Legolas, "And I'll see YOU in your room at 9 p.m." :-)

But I dunno. I have these Goth dolls by Bleeding Edge, and I have the Mattel Legolas, and my theory is that after Aragorn left him for that [insert epithet here--i can't stand Liv Tyler] Arwen, he ran off with a Goth chick with purple hair. It's' kind of fun posing five Goth dolls with . . . Legolas.

My book was a bitch too b/c as y'all have probably noticed, conciseness isn't my idiom, and academic presses always lose money anyway, so they needed it to be shorter, and I had to cut a LOT, and at one point wrote to my editor and said that I'd already cut away all the non essential flesh and was now hacking away at major organs with an increasingly dull scalpel. I was sure all the reviews would say, "Stein should have talked about such and such," and it would be a section I had had to cut.
[SPOILERS FOR BLADE RUNNER (Director's cut) and DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?]

Dana5140 said:

I have to look at Blade Runner again. My only thought is that how could Dekker be a replicant, since he was pretty much a regular human when it came to having strength and speed, and if you were designing a replicant to catpure replicants, wouldn't you want to design one really competent at doing the job? But then, remember, it's been a while since I've seen the film- though I think I will have to go buy it today, since there seems to be fertile areas for debate. And then, I think, I will have to start watching Battlestar Galactica. :-)


Yeah, you do have to watch Battlestar Galactica, but you need to start at the beginning. Otherwise, it will make no sense.

Deckard in the Director's Cut was a replicant. (I haven't seen the Final Cut. I showed the film so many times in class I'm just not ready to listen to Vangelis' score again w/out screaming.) We're shown that in his dream about the unicorn and the origami unicorn that Edward James Olmos' character, Gaff, makes toward the end, when Deckard and Rachel are making their escape. And he yells "It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?" The unicorn thing suggests to me that Deckard is definitely a replicant, and he does successfully kill two of the others (or three?), despite his lesser speed and strength. It's only Batty who really outmatches him. Yes, he's armed, but maybe good aim was the skill w/ which he was programmed so he doesn't think he's a replicant. Gaff yelling, "But then again, who does?" seems a hint to me that Deckard doesn't have that long a lifespan either.

In the book, it's contradictory. Yes, he's an android, no he isn't. PKD is the master of the the mindfuck; he'll give you two completely mutually exclusive pieces of "canon" in the same text, and you just have to live w/ them both being true. An even better example of this than Androids is The Man in the High Castle. And in Androids, he makes it as ambiguous as possible who's an android and who isn't. There's also the leader of the empathy cult (I'm blanking on his name) who's proven to be a fraud, except that he's also real and the experience he provides is real. But it isn't. (This stuff doesn't appear in the movie at all.) You just have to accept the contradictions and mutually exclusive realities and that, as Deckard says, "Everything is true . . . Everything that anyone has ever thought." He also finds a toad in the desert and he takes it home, and when his wife discovers it's electric, he kind of concludes it doesn't matter and says "These electric things have their lives too. Paltry as those lives are."

You really can't talk about the film and the book as having much relationship to each other. They're both works of art, both influential, and very very different. BR had a big influence on cyberpunk with its vision of a multicultural, multilingual polluted city in which corporations seem to have more power than the gov't. There's a sensory assault of advertising everywhere. Then you start reading William Gibson and other cyberpunk authors and obviously BR's vision of the near future influenced them. But it's a different entity altogether from the novel.

Oh, remembered the name of the cult leader: Mercer. And the cult is called Mercerism.

[ edited by astarte59 on 2008-01-09 05:23 ]
Saje

Wrt to High Plains Drifter, do you have a place where I can read the whole interview? I read parts of it as quoted in a scholarly text, and those parts were pretty insistent w/ the idea that the Stranger wasn't a ghost. But I am curious about the rest of what he said.

And, yeah, Pale Rider--he's definitely a dead dude.

It's interesting how much those two films are products of their times, but I've blathered more than enough today, except to say I think "Unforgiven" is a brilliant deconstruction of his gunslinger character. And as Eastwood's gotten older, he's gotten, IMO, a lot more attractive. In "In the Line of Fire," when he's watching Rene Russo's character walk away and saying to himself, "if she turns around she's interested" (vague memory--quote could well be inaccurate) and he's got the most charming smile. I'd never have thought of him as having the potential to be sexy when watching High Plains Drifter. :-)

And in "In the Line of Fire," did anyone notice how much John Malkovich's character looks like Michael Stipe?
Almost missed this but lo, the thread lives ! Return of the Son of the Bride of Canon vs Fanon ;).

Sorry astarte59, I can't find a transcript but I think it was on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' that I saw him mention it (could be wrong about that though) but either way it's worth watching out for a repeat - some of the interviewees go a bit "luvvie" and get pretentious about their "process" and so on but Eastwood was refreshingly down-to-Earth. Found this realaudio clip where he talks about it briefly though (link) - for all I know this could actually even be from ItAS.

(do you happen to remember where the quotes were extracted from BTW ? I'm curious now to see if he's genuinely changed his mind over the years - as people obviously do - or perhaps been misquoted ?)

And I agree, it's very hard to read the Director's Cut of 'Bladerunner' as saying anything other than Deckard is a replicant - though without the Unicorn dream Gaff's comment(s) can be read two ways (much as Deckard's photos can) i.e. as saying that replicants and humans are actually very similar. On the flip side, Batty's "I've seen things you people ..." can also be read the other way i.e. as saying that he's mistaken Deckard for a human when in fact he's a replicant, again because there's very little between them. But the dream and origami mean you have to really bend over backwards to believe he's human (i.e. kid yourself ;).

Pity really, I much prefer the ambiguity of the previous cuts (but, as mentioned, the ending of the Director's ;). Ah well, so it goes.
Saje

You asked,
(do you happen to remember where the quotes were extracted from BTW ? I'm curious now to see if he's genuinely changed his mind over the years - as people obviously do - or perhaps been misquoted ?)


Fortunately, I'm obsessive about attributing quotes, seeing as, as a professor, I came down like an Avenging Angel on plagiarists. :-)

I read it in an article by Henry Sheehan, "Scraps of Hope: Clint Eastwood and the Western," _Film Comment_ Vol. 28, #5 (1992), pages 17-27. All I have is a quote from Sheehan that Eastwood said "the Stranger is just a relative of the late sheriff Jim Duncan," and right after that he has in parentheses (longtime stunt coordinator and sometime director Buddy Van Horn). Does this say that Van Horn was the source of Eastwood's statement, which is paraphrased, not quoted? It's a mystery to me. Anyway, Sheehan comments, "It's been widely assumed (by yours truly too) that he was literally an avenging angel" (24).

Hope this helps! Of course anything Eastwood says outside the film itself isn't canon. :-) But a statement like that needed to be taken into account if only to refute it.

Man, there is no f*cking way my brain could do scholarship any more. I'm glad I finished the book while I could still concentrate for long periods of time. But I knew there was a good reason I kept my copies of articles and book chapters I used; I just didn't know when and how and why I'd have to refer to the originals. :-)

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