“I can’t interfere… it’s a #CanonEvent.”

It’s the hashtag that has people (us included!) scratching their heads. What is a #CanonEvent? Why is it so huge? And how do we get in on the action?
A pair of hands holds a phone displaying a TikTok profile screen.

Written by Marie-Anne Leonard

Writer & Editor – Canon VIEW

Imagine our surprise (and, we have to admit, slight consternation), when #CanonEvent started blowing up on TikTok. Firstly, it must be explained that we hold a lot of excellent events for our colleagues, customers and partners, but it became immediately clear that – devastatingly – this time it wasn’t us being complimented on our superb technology, or even our generous hospitality. (However, we have to give a special shout out to @loveability who definitely took us off track for a moment).

So, it goes without saying that when a trend with the Canon name in it has over 600 million views, we definitely want to know what it’s all about. So, we did a little research (read: plunged headfirst into the murky waters of the internet) and, if we’re honest, it wasn’t exactly a chore. Several hours and a world of terrible haircuts, first break-ups, ill-advised piercings, a bedroom painted teal and one devastating miss at a bowling alley later and we reckon we have this whole canon event thing nailed. So, here’s what you need to know:

Explaining the definition is hard

While people inherently understand the meme, they really have a difficult time putting it into words, which is why there are so many TikToks attempting to explain what a canon event actually is. So, here’s our hot take: A Canon Event is an exciting happening where people come together to swoon over Canon’s latest products.

Okay, sorry. We couldn’t resist.

Seriously though, a canon event is an unavoidable moment that, while a person may not realise it at the time, completely shapes their life. And the TikTokkers who are sharing them (often to deeply ominous-sounding music *shudder*) are basically observers, just kicking back and watching as a situation plays out for someone else. Hence, “I can’t do anything, it’s a canon event…” As such, prepare yourself for a world of “ooof”, “noooooooo!”, “LOL”, “cringe”, much speed swiping and a fair amount of general bafflement.

Two young women stand in a street, in the sunshine, looking at a phone. Both have a look of surprise on their faces.

TikTokkers are sharing the times when they’ve helplessly witnessed unavoidable events in other people’s lives.

Right now, it's a Spidey thing

Of course, the concept of the ‘canon event’ is nothing new, and it gets a lot of use in the context of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books. And this is entirely where the current spate of popularity comes from. The big hit movie of the summer is, of course, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and central to the plot is that Miles Morales AKA Spider-Man visits a universe full of other Spider-People who, like him, each have their own canon event. But if anyone interferes with these incidents, which are actually interconnected, it could trigger the destruction of the entire multiverse. Tense stuff, huh?

But it’s actually a really really old expression

Without wanting to fall down a linguistic rabbit hole, in this context, the term ‘canon’ derives from the Greek word ‘kanon’, which means ‘rule’ or ‘measuring rod’. So far, so tenuous. But the Greeks used it to talk about religious texts and scriptures, things that they considered in line with their beliefs, hence expressions like ‘biblical canon’. Language, of course, changes over time and the idea of ‘canon’ became less about religious rules and more about collections of work that fit into particular times, genres or cultures. Still rules-based, but a wider interpretation.

‘Canon’ was eventually adopted as a term in the world of fictional universes simply because the fandoms are so huge and the stories so complicated, it became almost impossible to differentiate between what were official, recognised events and stories and what were not. And so, ‘canon events’ help everyone to keep a firm grip on storylines and the key events within them. It makes the whole idea of the Spider-Verse feel kind of meta, doesn’t it?

"There’s no level of technical expertise required, and it is entirely unnecessary to pour anything over your head. Unless you feel so inclined, of course."

Should I get involved?

According to TikTok, 84% of those posting #canonevents are between the age of 18 and 24, predominantly in the US, Australia, Canada and Singapore. But if you’re up for some meme-crashing, it doesn’t take a lot to jump into the canon event hashtag – just a funny idea and a TikTok account. There’s no level of technical expertise required, and it is entirely unnecessary to pour anything over your head. Unless you feel so inclined, of course. There is also a new ‘canon event filter’, that tells you what yours is, and there are also plenty of people making TikToks which are nothing short of surrealist takes on the expression (we couldn’t help but be impressed with ‘can in a vent’). Be warned, however, now you know what a canon event is, you cannot ‘un-know’. So, you will find yourself idly wondering what yours are. And other people’s. Especially if you have teenaged children.

Finally, has there ever been a Canon canon event?

Hmmmm… not really, actually. You see, canon events aren’t planned. The whole point is that they are entirely out of your control. The very nature of what we do is steeped in care, attention and planning for every eventuality which, while it doesn’t make for much in the way of drama, is excellent for our millions of happy customers, many of whom are very much in the thick of some of the world’s most extraordinary canon events. However, if it’s comic book tropes you’re looking for, we certainly have a great many secret research labs, send our technologies into space, spend a lotof time hanging out with photons and know how to make robot ‘eyes’. With all this in real life, who needs a multiverse?

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