In particular, questions about a character’s sexuality, gender identity or race often fall into this category

In particular, questions about a character’s sexuality, gender identity or race often fall into this category

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A statement regarding some ambiguous or undefined aspect of a work, the Word of God comes from someone considered to be the ultimate authority, such as the creator, director or producer. Such edicts can even go against events as were broadcast, due to someone making a mistake.

Word of God

Fans may look for the Word of God to settle Fanon disputes, but the Authority may have moved on and doesn’t care to respond. In many cases the authority does not feel the need to respond; further pressure simply leads to suggestions that the fandom is misaimed. In point of fact, there are good reasons many creators don’t respond to requests for this: they want the fans to make their own interpretations. Especially in an ongoing series where the creator knows facts the fans don’t, they might very well know for a fact that both fan theories have truth in them and thus not wish to take sides. Alternatively, the author might view both readings of the story as equally acceptible, and thus not want to comment.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because someone wrote a character or setting, doesn’t mean they decided on a correct answer to every question that could possibly be asked about that character or setting. It is not at all uncommon for fans to ask questions which they believe to be obvious, but which the creator has never considered. Everyone’s creative process is different. Not all writers make highly detailed character charts, or decide on details of a character’s identity that aren’t directly plot-relevant. The fandom might consider those details important because the work happens to speak to people who have a particular identity: but that doesn’t mean the author considered that fact important enough to spend time thinking about. Culture can play a role here as well, since what might be considered an essential fact about a person in one culture could be viewed as extraneous in another. Japanese creators, for example, will often BlackCrush decide what a character’s blood type is: but may not pay any mind to their sexuality. Western fans can find this very strange and frustrating.

The other reason creators often refuse to answer questions about character identity is of course, politics. This is particularly likely to be true when the creator is in a different country from the fandom. In the heat of internet discourse, it can be difficult to remember that what is a pedestrian factoid in your country can be a hot-button political issue in a different one. Creators may have good reason to fear social or even legal repercussions if they answer questions like this: something which fandoms are often not as sensitive to as they should be. Creators whose primary motivation is profit may additionally not want to alienate parts of the fandom: refusing to resolve Fanon disputes, especially if they are politically tinged, can be an effective strategy for doing that.

A number of people reject the notion of Word of God being equal to canon, considering something to be canon only if it appeared in the original source material. If the creator had wanted a certain fact to be canon, the thinking goes, they should have included it in the work to begin with. Other audience members go even further, considering the uncertainty and ambiguity of canon to be a good thing and decrying the Word of God as shackling the imagination and interpretations of the fans. These attitudes have found some acknowledgement in literary criticism: Wimsatt and Beardsley’s „The Intentional Fallacy” and Barthes’ Death of the Author essay both argue that the interpretation of a work cannot be limited to attempts to discern the „author’s intentions.”

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