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GENRE THEORY

Introduction
Media products can be classified into categories
or genre.
The word 'genre' comes from the French word
meaning 'type' or 'class'.
Media genres appear within a medium (film,
television, magazines, video games) such as
the "horror" film or the television "situation
comedy, lifestyle magazine or RPG video
game...

The Genre Cycle


1. To the producers of films, genre is a template for what they
make.
2. To the distributor/promoter, genre provides assumptions
about who the audience is and how to market the films for
that specific audience.
3. To the audience, it is a label that identifies a liked or
disliked formula and provides certain rules of engagement
for the spectator in terms of anticipation of pleasure.
4. When genres become classic, they can exert tremendous
influence: production can be come quicker and more
confident because film-makers are following tested
formulae and have a ready shorthand to work with, and
actors can be filtered into genres.

The Genre Cycle


5. In turn, viewers become generic spectators and
can be said to develop generic memory which
helps the in the anticipation of events, even
though the films themselves might play on certain
styles rather than follow closely a clichd formula.
We do not consume films as individual entities,
but in an intertextual way. Film is a post-modern
medium in this way, because movies make sense
in relation to other films, not to reality.
6. It is the way genre films deviate from the clichd
formulae that leads to a more interesting
experience for the viewer, but fore this to work
properly, the audience must be familiar with
generic conventions and style.

Daniel Chandler
Genre is too restricting.
Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they
constitute particular conventions of content (such as themes or settings) and/or
form (including structure and style) which are shared by the texts which are
regarded as belonging to them.

Negative thing?
On one hand, conforming to generic
conventions and giving the audience what they
want, can actually lead to the "they're all the
same" judgement
This is what happened to the traditional
Hollywood Western and Musical because some
films were success, other studios started to
churn out lots and lots of them, the audience
got bored and stopped watching.
It is now only when a new Musical that
challenges the typical generic conventions
(Sweeney Todd for example) comes out, that
audiences are willing to watch.

Positive thing?
On the other hand, genre provides
structure which can allow a great deal of
creativity, especially when a genuine
reworking of generic conventions comes
along
Genre provides key elements for an
audience to recognise, so that they may
enjoy the film and be fully involved
Genre allows for expectations to be met,
resulting in a more fulfilled audience.

Steve Neale
Pleasure is derived from 'genre requiring
repetition and difference'; there would
be no pleasure without difference.
We may derive pleasure from observing
how the conventions of the genre are
manipulated.
We may also enjoy the stretching of a
genre in new directions and the
consequent shifting of our expectations.
to the producers of films, genre is a
template for what they make
to the distributor/promoter, genre
provides assumptions about who the
audience is and how the market films
for that specific audience
to the audience it is a label that identifies
a liked or disliked formula and provides
rules of engagement for the spectator in
terms of anticipation of pleasure.

Jason Mittell
Key arguments
Genre analysis should account for the particular attributes
of the medium
Genre should negotiate between the specificity and
generality
Genre histories should be written using discursive
genealogies
Genre should be understood in cultural practice
Genres should be situated within the larger systems of
cultural hierarchies and power relations
Industry uses genre commercially
Genre is used to sell products to audiences
Producers use familiar codes and conventions.

Rick Altman

Genre offers audience a set of pleasures

Emotional Pleasures - The emotional pleasures offered to audiences


of genre films are particulary significant when they generate a
strong audience response.
Visceral Pleasures - Visceral pleasures are 'gut' responses and are
defined by how the film's stylistic construction elicits a physical
effect upon its audience. This can be a feeling of revulsion, kinetic
speed or a 'roller coaster ride'.
Intellectual Puzzles - Certain film genres such as the thriller offer
the pleasure in trying to unravel a mystery or a puzzle. Pleasure is
derived from deciphering the plot and forecasting the end or being
surprised by the unexpected.

John Fiske
defines genres as attempts to
structure some order into the wide
range of texts and meanings that
circulate in our culture for the
convenience of both producers and
audiences.

From the perspective of


the Producers
Market and publicise films according to genre
because they know they will reach genre fans
Will see what genres have done well at the
cinema and try to repeat that success by
making films of the same genre
Will have a ideal reader in mind when they
construct a text and they will embed within
the texts assumptions about the 'ideal
reader', including their attitudes towards the
subject matter and often their class, age,
gender and ethnicity.

1.

To the producers of films, genre is a template for what they make.

2.

To the distributor/promoter, genre provides assumptions about who the audience is and how to
market the films for that specific audience.

3.

To the audience, it is a label that identifies a liked or disliked formula and provides certain
rules of engagement for the spectator in terms of anticipation of pleasure e.g. the anticipation
of what will happen in the attic scene of The Exorcist.

4.

When genres become classic, they can exert tremendous influence: production can be come
quicker and more confident because film-makers are following tested formulae and have a
ready shorthand to work with, and actors can be filtered into genres and can be seen to have
assumed star quality when their mannerisms, physical attributes, way of speaking and acting
fit a certain style of genre.

5.

In turn, viewers become generic spectators and can be said to develop generic
memory which helps the in the anticipation of events, even though the films
themselves might play on certain styles rather than follow closely a clichd
formula. E.g. the attic scene from The Exorcist we expect something to jump
out on the woman because all the generic conventions are in place, but in the
end, the director deflates the tension. We do not consume films as individual
entities, but in an intertextual way. Film is a post-modern medium in this way,
because movies make sense in relation to other films, not to reality.

6.

It is the way genre films deviate from the clichd formulae that leads to a more
interesting experience for the viewer, but fore this to work properly, the audience
must be familiar with generic conventions and style.

David Bordwell notes, 'any theme may appear in any genre' (Bordwell 1989)
One could... argue that no set of necessary and sufficient conditions can mark off
genres from other sorts of groupings in ways that all experts or ordinary filmgoers would find acceptable'

PROBLEMSWITHGENRECLASSIFICATION
Theorist and Critic Rick Altman (1999) came up with a list of points he found problematic
with genre classicfication .
a)

Genre is a useful category, because it bridges multiple concerns.

b)

Genres are defined by the film industry and recognised by the mass audience.

c)

Genres have clear, stable identities and borders.

d)

Individual films belong wholly and permanently to a single genre.

e)

Genres are transhistorical.

f)

Genres undergo predictable development.

g)

Genres are located in particular topic, structure and corpus.

h)

Genre films share certain fundamental characteristic.

i)

Genres have either a ritual or ideological function.

j)

Genre critics are distanced from the practice of genre.