Who decides what’s canon?
The following is the written script of the video I’m disclosing with FULL AUTHORIZATION of Star Academy.
Jacen Solo or Kylo Ren, Demi-God Luke or Old Man – Kills you in your sleep – Luke, there are tons of Star Wars stories and someone needs to decide what’s real or fan fiction, at least that’s how it all started.
But… who decides what’s canon or not?
What goes and what doesn’t?
What version can we consider Star Wars history and is Star Academy just publishing lore videos on fan-fic characters?
These and more answers coming in this huge video I’m sharing today. You voted, I deliver, I love you all, and don’t forget to send some love back my way by hitting the like button, subscribing to the channel, activating notifications or the bell icon, and… of course… leave me some comments below so we can chat as we always do – I love to talk Star Wars with my community!
So, grab a seat, get your Chewbacca mug and let’s get started on today’s video.
Hello guys, this video came out a little bigger than expected, but this is a really in-depth approach on a complex topic so bear with me.
Also, make sure to watch the video to the end so we can all talk about it down in the comments and my channel’s engagement can go up as it benefits me a ton.
Having said that, let’s talk about the topic at hand and the topic you guys wanted to talk about which is Star Wars canon and how stories are deemed real or simply fanfic.
Well, most fictional universes never hit a size in which canon starts becoming an issue, but we all know Star Wars is one of the most successful IPs in the world and it’s an absolute phenomenon with tons of weight to it and therefore a lot of stories to filter.
Not only that, fans are extremely invested in the brand, and when that happens you seriously need to start considering what’s canon or not.
You see, filtering canon and non-canon stuff is what happens in universes in which fans love the stories so much they want to make sure they all blend in and complement one another.
They also want to ensure there aren’t any plotholes or contradictions as that would be immersion breaking and Star Wars fans want to be truly immersed.
Having said that, you can kinda say Star Wars canon is that one true story sitting at a pedestal for us to enjoy.
It’s safeguarded and certified by authorities.
That’s what it means to have it being gospel or canon – it’s official, it’s certified, it is proven to match the rest of the stories, and so on…~
But this video is all about going in-depth to the core of the issue and this brings us to the origin of the term canon and why people started using it.
Canon means a settled matter that respects rules and norms.
In ancient societies and on religious texts, scholars and authorities have been the ones to decide what knowledge is canon or not, or what documents are canon or not.
Who decides what’s canon?
Now, we’re not talking about curating scientific discoveries for an encyclopedia or choosing manuscripts for the Bible, but about entertainment and cultural franchises – and what of their stories to include in the overarching story of the fictional universe.
The pursuit for Star Wars canon is a pursuit for a heresy-free Galaxy far far away because we Star Wars fans are among the most passionate fans of any IP and we take pride in wanting consistency and lore that fits and complements every single detail on our favorite universe.
Not only that, we as true fans get offended from even the thought of canon contamination and get triggered when someone mistakes a fanfiction story for something to take seriously.
Then, of course, we consider even a greater offense when bogus stupid stuff gets into canon like Luke considering to kill his nephew in his sleep.
Regardless, stories build upon stories, and that’s how you went from having one Star Wars book to a whole Star Wars library (some of you may know what I’m talking about).
I may lose a couple of subs for saying this, but I kinda hate Disney’s sequel trilogy and I see the power of canon when Star Wars canon bible-thumpers harass me saying Rey Skywalker is canon and whatnot… so you can clearly see there’s a devout following of canon material, which is to be expected.
However, I personally consider Jacen Solo, Cade Skywalker, and the likes canon, discarding the new Disney trilogy from my headcanon… is that wrong?
Well, according to the IP owners, what I consider canon is in fact legends, and Disney’s trilogy is canon but is that so simple? Do the IP owners really have the power to grab Darth Caedus and place a giant sticker saying “Fake News” on his face?
This is where it gets complex.
Who decides what’s canon?
When I say that Luke Skywalker in Legends fits the Luke personality way better than old milk-drinking Luke from Disney, Disneywars fans just shut me down stating Luke from Legends isn’t canon. Old Luke is.
Canon is constantly being used to shut down conversation – and while that was comprehensible when Lucas was in charge and the arguments were only between fanfic and official sources, now that it is new canon vs old canon it sounds kind of immortal, and blatantly wrong.
This becomes even worst by the fact the majority of Star Wars fans loved Legends and still to this day consider it canon, so you have a whole side of the community being ostracized by the other side for considering canon what once was canon and was just thrown to the can because Disney wanted to start fresh – which they are now seeing was a mistake as they adopt more and more elements from past stories, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot of old characters coming back.
So, when we talk about canon, we have to understand that Canon should make us love the story and pick the right path for fans to follow, the path that has the values canon defends – story stability, solid grounds for its core arguments, the least amount of plot holes and etc…
What canon shouldn’t be is a form of zealotry to ostracize a good portion of the community or ridicule their own beliefs, shutting down any criticism and solid arguments.
So, who determines what canon encompasses and what it doesn´t?
A simple answer would be The IP owners.
Now that we analyzed the whole topic carefully, we discovered that canon should follow the best path, as it would be twisted for canon to simply represent the story that commercially helps the IP owners.
Canon should always represent the most solid, stable, and plothole-free story.
There are thousands of cases in which IP owners adopted fan-based stories that covered their plotholes and included them into the official canon because of it, and this kind of validates my earlier point.
But this isn’t all, there are a few more things to consider.
Let’s talk about enjoyment to start.
What are your best Star Wars memories?
What are your best Star Wars moments?
What part of the story do you like the most?
Who decides what’s canon?
You’ll see that no matter how you answer this, it is mostly connected to enjoyment.
Perhaps your favorite Sith is Darth Malgus because you loved seeing how badass he was in SWTOR.
Perhaps you just love Revan as you loved the old KOTOR games, or perhaps you simply still have a thing for Darth Maul and his insane dueling skills with the novel double-bladed lightsaber that made movie theaters go “wooooow”.
No matter the answer, the excitement in Star Wars as with any other culturally rich entertainment franchise is on finding out about the story ourselves.
Even for me, the best thing about Star Wars is the hours I spend researching and doing detective work to learn more and more about every obscure little detail I can find.
We must strive to keep the focus on enjoyment and not on the bible-thumping canon into each other.
This leads to another term people like to call head-canon.
As I stated before, I kinda have the Legends version of events in my head-canon, choosing to largely ignore Disney’s movies’ version of events.
I know that Legends isn’t canon, but I prefer to ignore that fact simply because I believe Disney wanted to complete the story but failed, and since I don’t think the movies stand up against criticism the way the Legends version of event stands (the personality of Luke Skywalker being only one of many examples) makes it so that the sequel trilogy is the least stable of both stories.
I’m not saying the Legends version is perfect, God knows it isn’t, but I simply think it is the most stable and criticism-resistant story, and the one that can deliver better immersion and value to its fans – enjoyment, the thing art is meant to provide.
I don’t hate Disney because it’s Disney, and neither do most of you. I remember back when LucasFilm was sold to Disney and the movies were announced that we were mostly very excited!
We were getting more Star Wars movies.
Some of them worried that Jar Jar Binks characters would appear left and right since it was Disney, but we were mostly all excited.
We were also hoping Disney would respect our canon and why shouldn’t they respect our canon?
It would bring them so much to work with, so many great stories to tell, from Admiral Thrawn to Revan, Darth Bane, Zannah, Talon and Krayt… and so on!
So many great stories coming to the big screens, or so we were hoping.
Disney threw everything to the garbage and united all previous content, except the movies, into one big lump they call Legends.
Not only that, Katleen Kennedy also complained live on TV that she had close to no source material to work with, which really made us fans really upset.
Lucas changed canon sometimes, like with the midi-chloreans and whatnot, but they always went to the trouble to keep canon stable, adapting and even retconning when needed, making sure we fans could do that little detective work and study Star Wars lore as we always loved to do.
The story is widely different now.
It used to be that canon was made up of how the story had or didn’t have merit, or originality, or influence, or ingenuity… that’s why Darth Bane and Darth Zannah’s story was canon and why the Holiday Special wasn’t considered to be canon by most even though it was S-Canon.
What is George Lucas’ take on who should determine what’s canon or not?
In an interview, Lucas said:
There’s my world that I made up, there’s the licensing world that’s the books, the comics, all that kind of stuff, the games, which is their world, and then there’s the fans’ world, which is also very rich in imagination, but they don’t always mesh. All I’m in charge of is my world. I can’t be in charge of those other people’s world, because I can’t keep up with it.”
So, Lucas basically says the Star Wars Universe is so big that canon can differ from person to person and from media to media – it depends on the path that provides more stability, immersion, fewer plotholes and which grants people the most enjoyment.
I am fine with having a different story in my head when compared to a fan of Disney’s sequel trilogy.
He or she may find enjoyment by following the story Disney deemed as canon, but I find more enjoyment in the story Lucas deemed as canon, and it is fine – you don’t see me raging on pro-Disney forums like many Lucas canon bible thumpers because I understand this.
Disney decided that their take is canon not because of stability, plot holes, creativity, or even enjoyment, they decided their take is canon because of commercial viability and financial and/or political interests and that is fine for me… I just choose to not include that decision on my, you can call it, “headcanon”, and that’s why you don’t see a video on Rey or Kylo Ren on my channel, but see a video on Darth Caedus, Darth Talon, and others.
By definition, canon is fluid – and that’s why what was once the canon isn’t anymore – so you should take canon or non-canon tags as, well, canon because they can change with time, other stories, or even commercial interest.
What you can do is take every story as if it were told to you by someone else, and decide on how credible and enjoyable you find it – either focusing on enjoyment or on credibility depending on what kind of fan you are.
Sure we have to establish some objective standards and guarantee story integrity.
There’s only one single issue with having headcanon as your canon, and that is when arguing or talking to other fans. This is why it’s also important that you are ready to make a case for your interpretation of the story.
I, for one, am always ready to back up my preference for the Legends sequel stories over Disney’s sequel trilogy with arguments on why it makes much more sense for stuff to happen one way over the other, but what I am always willing to do is compromise or accept other points of view.
I’m a Star Wars fan, I know all of the possible stories, canon and not canon, and I decide what stories count for me – what I don’t do is decide what counts or not for other people.
This is why I also don’t pay much attention to comments that try to censor my own point of view like comments on my Darth Talon video saying she doesn’t exist or comments on my Jacen Solo material claiming he is just poor fanfic and Kylo Ren is the real chad.
Star Wars is a rich universe full to the brim with wondrous stories, but what really matters is how it touches you, your friends, me, and a random fan over on the other side of the world.
Good canon is canon we can stand behind, we shouldn’t stand behind a story just because the IP owner tells us to.
Of course, we cannot consider stories written by unlicensed sources such as fan fiction as canon, but we can consider past canon stories canon or stories written by official or licensed sources as canon.
This is why I don’t have any problem with those who consider Star Wars the Old Republic canon – I myself consider a great part of it canon as well.
It never was canon, but it was made by officially licensed sources, so it should be analyzed and tested – and adopted by your version of canon if you find either enjoyment or continuity in it, again, depending on the kind of fan you are.
Is it relevant? Is it enduring? Does it respect continuity? Is it enjoyable?
Adopt it if you want it! Discard it if you don’t.
In this sense, canon or canonical are just terms to describe the continuity of events in a story, and that’s why we even had different kinds of canon before.
When Disney bought Star Wars, there was such an overwhelming wealth of canon material that it really intimidated the new owners.
Rather than checking all of the material out and getting to know what they bought in-depth, they just threw it all in the trash for one simple reason – money.
Disney wants to rack up those profits so they wanted to produce material ASAP, they didn’t care to learn Star Wars essence, but to milk, the most profitable franchise space ever saw.
Of course, they are now understanding that Star Wars is much more than its name and, truth be told, I think they are now making an effort to really understand the Star Wars universe, but the damage had been done.
Again, this is my opinion, if you love the sequel trilogy you’re in your right and I respect you and accept your version of canon as it is equally valid.
Disney thought respecting the previous canon was too much of a hassle, so they canned what was canon… but this brings another question:
Should the IP owner just DECIDE what’s canon and force everyone to accept it?
If you’ve been listening to what I’ve been saying, then you know I don’t think so.
The IP owner has a lot of power, but not absolute power, and we must understand the full scope of decisions that lead the IP to deem one story canon and the other non-canon.
To me, it is easier to accept that we now have two timelines, but again that’s just my take on it and I am ready to defend it with solid arguments when talking to another fan who is… again… free to have a different opinion.
So now you have Disney Canon and Legends Canon to consider if you’re a Star Wars fan, and I can say I’m a scholar in both myself, I did my fair share of digging.
However, I think canon now forks, like a cryptocurrency, into two different paths you are free to pursue depending on your preferences.
I think it is only a matter of time until Disney recognizes this undeniable fact and decides to legitimize Legends a bit more than the little to no weight it gives it – after all, Disney cares about its target market, and its target market remains heavily invested into the Legends canon.
As you can see, when you’re asking who decides what’s canon or not in the Star Wars universe, the answer isn’t plain and simple: Those who own the IP.
Sure they own the copyrights, but is that what Star Wars is about?
Or is it the stories you choose to believe in?
Don’t fans have a say in this?
Don’t fans control their own enjoyment or respect continuity?
Shouldn’t fans decide on discarding or keeping the canon hierarchy?
Should Kathleen’s story group decide what you choose to keep from the age of Lucas?
Nowadays, there’s just too much money involved for content creators to take these kinds of decisions with the story in mind, they are often conditioned by factors such as pleasing shareholders or trying new marketing stunts.
The shift should gradually be decentralized to the fans, much like other industries are experiencing similar kinds of decentralization.
So, having said that, there is a HUGE, and I mean a HUGE problem with the canon label as of now.
New Star Wars fans are not picking up Legends books, which are AMAZING, since they are thinking these stories don’t count for squat, never happened, and aren’t truly Star Wars.
They are missing out on everything we love about Star Wars and they are doing a huge disservice to themselves.
For a huge majority of my channel’s subscribers, some sort of Legends material has their favorite story of all time, and that is saying a lot as my followers are huge Star Wars fans just like you.
Again, let’s take a look at something Lucas says about canon on the, now Legends, books, and works of art:
“Gospel,’ or canon as we refer to it, includes the screenplays, the films, the radio dramas, and the novelizations. These works spin out of my original stories, the rest are written by other writers. However, between us, we’ve read everything, and much of it is taken into account in the overall continuity. The entire catalog of published works comprises a vast history—with many off-shoots, variations, and tangents—like any other well-developed mythology.”
We should look at Star Wars the same way we look at any great work of literature because it is that and much more.
The saga should be viewed as a Universe of great works blending in with each other, enriching a common story and expanding huge mythology… and no matter how immersed you are in them, they are stories and therefore are pieces of entertainment art that are enjoyed differently according to each beholder.
King Arthur was sometimes a Viking, sometimes a late medieval king, and his story is still enjoyed to this day.
It’s ok to have different timelines in canon, it’s ok to have different versions in canon… canon is just a tool to describe what comes from official sources or not so you can know what content is endorsed by the overall universe – and if it was considered canon once, you just cannot take that privilege away.
Santa Claus started wearing red because of the Coca-Cola ad, but you can’t just say that red Claus is poor fanfic and force everyone to go back to green Santa, you must accommodate for both, and offer arguments to back up your preference if you’re arguing with a zealot of the other side.
So, to wrap it up, who decides what is canon or not?
The answer is a mix of you, the IP, and the fans.
You because you decide what story to believe in, to choose, which path to take and where your imagination and immersion point out value is.
The IP because it decides over the years what’s accepted as official source, with the addendum that future IP owners can’t take the canon status away from something just because, and the fans as you collectively build the universe around you.
I hope that you found value in this video and that I made it clear enough for you to understand.
I never made such a long video so I really want to thank the hardcore fans who stayed until the end and watched it all – and I want to invite those who did to talk about this with me down in the comments section, I always answer every comment I get and I love to chat up some concepts with you.
Finally, I’m inviting you not only to like and subscribe but to also check the video’s description as we have a brand new Discord server I created for the community – and all my most loyal subscribers are there and I hold their opinions close to heart as they are my most loyal pillars.
So, join my discord and get involved.
That’s all for now, thank you for watching, hope you enjoyed it and May the Force Be With You.