Genre
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Genre. Thinking about the meaning of differences. Genre. Categories of media. Understood variously in terms of Agenda of Film Industry Artistic Practice and Aesthetic Conventions Discursive or Critical Reception (Audience Preferences and Critical Interpretation)

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Genre

Genre

Thinking about the meaning of differences.


Genre1

Genre

Categories of media. Understood variously in terms of

  • Agenda of Film Industry

  • Artistic Practice and Aesthetic Conventions

  • Discursive or Critical Reception (Audience Preferences and Critical Interpretation)

    Studying genre is perhaps most useful in understanding the interplay among these arenas.


Musical

MUSICAL

Singin In the Rain (1952) by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen

  • Romantic couple in society

  • Diagetic music alternates with sober dialog

  • Acting: rhythmic movement and realism

  • Alternating male and female groups; merging in end

  • Stylistic

  • Happy Ending


Genre as industry template

Genre as Industry Template

  • As studio systems grew in Hollywood and elsewhere, they began to recognize the possibility of developing formulas for commercially successful films.

  • Studio systems began to conceive of audiences in terms of groups with fidelity to types of film. (Marketing)


Familiar genres in cinema

Familiar Genres in Cinema

As viewers we can quickly locate films or TV within genres that are part of our media culture.

  • Musical

  • Western

  • Gangster

  • Sci Fi

  • Bio-pic

  • Film Noir

  • Horror


Genres are vague and unfixed

Genres are vague and unfixed

  • There are many arguments about what are valid genres. There are no clear rules.

  • Genres change historically, genres overlap, and new genres are created

  • Films may cross genres or only adhere partially to a genre within a section of a film.


More genres

More Genres

  • Art film

  • Queer Cinema

  • Blackspoitation

  • Martial Arts


Basis of genre categories

Basis of Genre Categories

  • Location or setting (Western, Gangster, War, Sports)

  • Mood or Themes (Action, Horror, Romance)

  • Format (Documentary, Experimental, Animation, Soap Opera)

    However, what makes a work fit within a genre is always more than the title of the category suggests. It combines of semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic attributes.


Genre

  • Semantic: what the film represents (characters, settings, themes)

  • Syntactic: the structure and relationship of formal elements in the film.

  • Pragmatic: How the film is taken up by viewers and critics.


What constitutes a genre

What constitutes a Genre?

  • Kind of events portrayed

  • Social class of the characters

  • Ethical qualities of the plot/characters

  • Narrative structure

  • Audience effects


Genre and imagined community

Genre and Imagined Community

  • As Ella Shohat and Robert Stam point out, the movie audience is a "provisional 'nation' forged by spectatorship", and genre audiences form what Rick Altman describes as "constellated" communities—groups of individuals who "cohere only through repeated acts of imagination"—in the context of cinema, an imagined connection among geographically dispersed viewers who share similar spectatorial pleasures and generic knowledge.


Genres as fictional worlds

Genres as Fictional Worlds

Christine Gledhill(Film Scholar):

  • Genres provide fictional worlds as sites for symbolic actions.

  • Interplay of realism (cultural verisimilitude) and “non-real”. Fluidity of fictional and social imaginaries (conflicts presented, and resolved).

  • The metaphor of society talking to itself.


Genres and community

Genres and Community

  • Just as communities are not homogenous, we should keep in mind that audiences of a particular genre are diverse. Genres, thus mediate differently positioned spectators.


Western

WESTERN

  • The Hero

  • The Antagonist

  • The Land

  • Community vs. lawless individual(s)

  • The Struggle between civilization & primitivism/nature

  • The Drama in a ritualized form--gunfight, cattle drive

    Example: Red River (1948) by Howard Hawks


Gangster

1. Kind of events portrayed

2. Social class of characters

3. Ethical qualities of the characters

4. Narrative structure

5. Audience effects

Examples: The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola, 1972, Goodfellas Scorsese 1990, Little Caesar 1931, LaRoy

Gangster


Horror

HORROR

  • Audience effect is key


Theoretical questions and challenges

Theoretical Questions and Challenges

  • Is there a minimum taxonomy or are genres limitless? What are useful categories for study?

  • Are genres out there in the world or are they constructed by film theorists, industry, audiences?

  • How do genres relate to contemporary values and ideas?

  • How are genres descriptive and proscriptive?

  • Are genres timeless or time-bound?

  • How are genres understood and transformed across cultures?

  • How do audiences negotiate preferred interpretations suggested by genres?


Theoretical approaches to genre

Theoretical Approaches to Genre

  • Semiotics: study of how is meaning created.

  • Industry: History / social and economic analysis

  • Audience Reception

  • Spectatorship


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