I Don’t Worry So Much About “Canon”

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to be a little more internet savvy. I wanted to see what the kids were up to and at the time, the kids were on Tumblr. So I went on Tumblr and I learned some stuff…

Like what “shipping” means.

Like where to find all the best fan fiction.

Like the difference between canon and non-canon and how very important that is to some people.

But here’s the thing about canon and non-canon: I don’t think it really matters*

Once an artist releases their work into the world, it will be interpreted however the audience wants to interpret it. My two favorite examples of this are Anna Nalick’s Breathe lyrics, “These words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you’ll use them however you want to” and when Peter Bretter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall says of his Dracula puppet show that once he figured out it was a comedy (based on people’s reactions to it), everything fell into place. Both artists are acknowledging that the audience is a part of the creative process, that the end user has some power too.


Showrunners can deny the intention of an interpretation as much as they’d like but if the audience (or a segment of the audience) decides that a character is in love with another character then it’s possible they are. If the audience decides that a character is gay, then it’s possible they are. If the audience decides that alternate dimensions and timelines exist, then maybe they damn well do. And maybe those two characters will never get together on the show, and maybe that gay character will never come out, and maybe we’ll never see alternate versions of storylines but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and WHAT’S MORE (this is the important part here) they could all exist at the same time!


What?! No! Cannon (what the show actually portrays) and Non-Cannon (how the audience interprets) can’t possible both be true, can they?!?!?

Yes, children, yes. Yes, they can. Because our imagination says so. If your imagination says no, then you need to have a chat with it and say, “Listen here, imagination. You are being less imaginary than I need you to be. Open up a little and let the other possibilities live!”

And in that way, Stiles can love both Lydia AND Derek (although I prefer Derek). Dean and Castiel can be desperately, unrequitedly in love. Wash is still alive and flying Serenity every damn day. And The Cursed Child doesn’t actually ruin anything.

I loved The Cursed Child. I thought it was fun and intense and interesting and that it gave some good insight into the original characters. Play format made it a super quick read. And JK Rowling, like every other creator of art, owes the audience nothing. She/they create and we consume and interpret. That’s how art works. All the bitching about cannon/non-canon and book/play and relationships people liked or didn’t like is useless and stupid.

Story consumers, use the story however you want to. Story creators, be aware that your audience had every right to do so.


*Issues of representation notwithstanding. Representation matters and art absolutely should incorporate more and different kinds of people.


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