2008-09-06

Why Rank and Company Matter

Although I thought this obvious, I was reminded recently of the sort of confusion that people have if they fail to acknowledge proper rank and company information. A conversation on an EU Completist and Star-Trek-hate web board featured a conversation on Trek canon.

The opening post of the thread (titled "Possible canon change for Star Trek?") features old quotes from Harry Lang that the poster had just located. Harry Lang is said to be "Senior Director at Viacom Interactive (part of the company that took over Paramount)". The poster says he's not entirely sure what to make of it, but considers it significant nonetheless.

This isn't quite right. Viacom Interactive didn't take Paramount . . . Viacom Interactive (if that's even the proper company title) was a division of Viacom Consumer Products, which at the time of the quote in 2005 was simply the licensing arm of Viacom. The Interactive group oversaw licensing related to computer game and similar content, in the same way that Paula Block's Licensed Publishing oversaw licensing of printed works.

Put another way, at the time you had Viacom, its Viacom Entertainment Group, its subsidiary Paramount Communications
, and then Paramount Television that actually made Trek on TV around that time or Paramount Pictures for movie-making. That ends up looking like this:

VEG -> PaC -> PaT

But the canon-confusion crowd hears "Viacom" and gets excited, despite the fact that they've ended up on the tail end of another chain altogether:

VEG -> VCP -> VCP (Int.)

Supposing I picked from the air some of the other 900 or so Viacom subsidiaries with Viacom in the name. Let's say I found some senior-titled person in, say, Viacom Outdoor Advertising Limited, which may or may not have had anything to do with Trek posters or film banners or whatever, and this guy made a statement on canon.

Do we care? Not especially, no.

Of course, despite their familiarity with my work, none of the people in that thread chose to check to see if I already had those quotes or the explanation thereon. As such, there were serious posts seriously considering what this meant for the Trek canon policy . . . today! They didn't even seem to know of the Viacom split that changes the whole ballgame.

(They could've been really on the ball by beating me to all the quotes from the Star Trek movie production team on canon that I haven't really messed with. They don't appear to change much that I've seen, but there's a mass of them I have to update the Trek canon pages with.)

A final entertaining note is that my 'biggest fan' on that board who seeks disagreement with me as a matter of principle declares that "
I got sick of all the wrangling over "correct canon policy" a long time ago." Given that in every case where he's made a stand on canon for either Star Trek or Star Wars he's ended up on the wrong side, it's little wonder that he's surrendered the fight.

Trying to mish-mash quotes by producers, janitors, and everyone in-between into a coherent understanding of canon policy is what produces all that "wrangling". All it takes to cut through the confusion is to consider things on the basis of rank, with its subsidiary value of company. Once that's done, you're all set.


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