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26 May 2013

My Thoughts on Head Canon

I know this is kind of out of left field, especially considering that the hottest thing that just hit the Brony fandom is “Equestria Girls”, but I want to share my thoughts on head canon with all of you, and even a few theories of my own, before this one shot movie and Season 4 arrive to our silver screens. It’s kind of funny how hard it’s getting for me to come up with new ideas to write about, but for the longest time I've been wanting to talk about head canon and share some of my ideas with all you, so without further ado, let’s get to it.

My first experience with head canon was rather odd. I used to know this term as “Fan Theories” which are very elaborate and incredibly well developed explanations that fans of any sort of media (from videogames to novels and comic books) come up with in order to explain plot holes or possible future plotlines. This is not an exclusive thing to the MLP Fandom though. I feel like I have to clarify that right away especially when there’s bronies out there who insist on attributing several memes and idioms to Friendship is Magic. Like that the first time someone used the sentence “Ten seconds flat” was in the pilot episodes. I have seen head canons for almost every type of entertainment, some of them really good, others very pathetic. I don’t have any examples of the bad ones, as I’d rather focus on the good stuff, like for example:

The merchant that we see at the beginning of “Aladdin” is actually the Genie, who is telling the story after he got freed from the lamp at the end of the movie.

James Bond is not a real name, but a code name used by different people through different time periods, which will explain why each Bond has a different back story and personality (despite how there are some evidences that contradict this theory, I personally adore it).

The whole “Indoctrination Theory” that fans of Mass Effect put together to explain the ambiguous ending of Mass Effect 3 is a very clear example of head canon where plot holes and story elements that are never explained come together to form a cohesive explanation.

Or what about the whole dilemma about movies like “Inception” or “Blade Runner”, both of which still puzzle some sci-fi fans on whether Leonardo DiCaprio was a Robot, or if Harrison Ford was in a dream the whole time. Or was it the other way around?

Take it or leave it, every fandom has and will always have head canons, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. There will always be people who can be so over analytic or just so bored out of their skulls that they will come up with the most outlandish ideas to fill in the narrative gaps. I might be making this sound like I hate it but I am not against it. I think head canons are one of the best, most interesting, most insightful and creative things that fans can do with whatever they are fans of. It’s a representation of how inventive and imaginative a fan will get with that thing that he or she loves with so much passion. If anything this shows how much something can inspire somebody, just like art. Good art creates good discussion, and if we count head canons as discussion then Friendship is Magic is, without a doubt, good art. But I will agree that sometimes people go too far and get so over the top crazy with their theories that it gets ridiculous and maybe even dangerous.

Specially if they go off.
Like everything in every fandom head canons have a good side and a bad side.

On the good side we have all the imagination that comes out of them. They can go as detailed and as original as possible, and since this is just a means to explain what the creators didn’t explain then it’s all done in the name of having fun (most of the time). Enjoying something outside of the boundaries it has settled for us is like doing extra-curricular activities; you don’t need to do them, but if you decide to it will enrich your experience. If they are well worded (and in the Brony fandom the theories can turn into fanfics that rival with War and Peace) you are not only enjoying yourself but you are also opening the door to other people who can also enjoy things from this new perspective. You may consider them an expansion for which you don’t need to pay and that will offer you a new perspective about the stories and characters that you love so much. Every healthy fandom has a series of head canons, and not having them is really bizarre.

But then we have the bad side, a very obnoxious, angry, mouth-breathing bad side. It has nothing to do with the content though, as every head canon anyone will come up with will always have something going for it. The worst part of any head canon is how the fandom reacts when it gets shattered into pieces. If you want to see a good example of fandom meltdown due to head canon shattering Google “Mass Effect 3 Ending Official Canon”. Pro-Tip, pour yourself a drink and get some pop-corn. It’s amazing. When a fandom sees their theory crumble before them is like seeing a king falling to his knees as his castle falls apart under the mighty fist of a heartless giant. It’s both heartbreaking and sad, but not sad in the “Oh this is giving me so many feelings” way, but in the “Oh wow this is really pathetic” way. I can understand why people get so upset though. I can see why they would get so mad. They are seeing that to which they have dedicated so much time break down before their very eyes and there is nothing they can do to stop it because they are powerless. I know this feeling, trust me I do. It sucks to see what you theorized to be disproved so mercilessly, so take this into account when I say that people get way too mad over something that doesn’t even matter. And don’t get me started on the people who fight over each other for who has the most solid head canon. I can’t believe there were dozens of threads on image boards discussing whether Vinyl Scratch had red eyes or magenta eyes and why the color was different because of the way the scene was lighted. It can get really ridiculous when people start shooting their head canons to each other, let me tell you.

But in the end, what is the purpose of head canon anyways? Every single thing in the World exists for a reason (even spiders, and I hate spiders with a vengeance), so why does head canon exist?

Head canon is there to fill in the gaps until the official canon does. It’s a place holder, it’s not sacred nor set in stone. You don’t need to put on a helmet, grab your Minecraft sword and go on to defend something that only you and a handful of people care about, especially when the official explanation is saying that you are wrong. What you need to do is calm down, take a deep breath, and make a decision. You can either forget about your own head canon and go on with the official explanation, or you can keep your head canon theory as an alternate way to see things while taking the official as an explanation and just that. I know this is like asking the wind to stop blowing, but you really shouldn't get bent out of shape about things like these. I am not going to disregard the head canons on Friendship is Magic by simply saying that they come from a children’s cartoon and so they shouldn't be taken seriously, I am not that cynical. To me the head canon that Vinyl Scratch has red eyes is as important as the head canon that states that all the movies made by Quentin Tarantino take place within the same universe. All these ideas come from the same place; the creative and rampaging imaginations of passionate fans, and that is something we have to respect. It’s one of the most important artistic appreciations out there, right next to artwork (be it digital, traditional, animated, musical, etc.), fanfic writing or cosplaying. Do fans take it to extremes? Yes, and sometimes it gets really awkward, but it’s always driven by their passion for what they love.

And the only thing we love more than ponies is more ponies.
And do you know what they say about passion? That it’s always stronger than reason.

1 comment:

  1. Now I'm kinda curious to know what your headcanon is. I think the biggest blow my headcanon took was Twilight "ascending" to alicorn, tho I've managed to salvage it hoping alicorns can be born as such, and not only magicked into alicornication. Cadance is the strongest bannerpony of this and I love her for that