G235: Critical Perspectives in Media Theoretical Evaluation of Production - Question 1(b) Overview. Aims/Objectives To introduce the concept of genre theory and key genre theorists. To have a basic understanding of how to evaluate your coursework against genre theory. What Is Genre?
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Theoretical Evaluation of Production - Question 1(b)
• ‘Genre’ is a critical tool that helps us study
texts and audience responses to texts by
dividing them into categories based on
• Daniel Chandler (2001) - the word genre comes from the French (and originally Latin) word for ‘type'.
The term is widely used in literary theory, media theory to refer to a distinctive type of ‘text’.
In film theory, genre refers to the method of film categorization based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. As with genre in literary context, there is a great deal of debate over how to define or categorize genre. Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary, film genres can be categorized in several ways.
Fictional films are usually categorized according to their setting, theme topic mood, or format. The setting is the milieu or the environment where the story and action takes place. The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around. The mood is the emotional tone of the film. Format refers to the way the film was shot, eg widescreen or the manner of presentation eg 35mm 16mm or 8mm. An additional way of categorizing film genres is by the target audience. Some film theorists argue that neither format nor target audience are film genres. Film genres often branch out in subgenres, as in the case of the courtroom and trial focused subgenre of drama known as legal drama. They can be combined to form hybrid genres, such as the melding of horror and science fiction in the Aliens films.
• Genre is a type, but these types can be divided and sub divided into specific categories that allow audiences to identify allow the audience to recognised the, specifically by
their familiar and what become
•Steve Neale (1995) stresses that
“genres are not systems they are
processes” – they are dynamic and evolve over time.
Generic Characteristics across all texts share similar elements and can be identified by these elements. These elements can be referred to as paradigms meaning patters, and audience have certain expectations, what they expect to see. As Neale (1980) suggests “Genre is a set of expectations”.
Think about it from an institutions context why is it certain genres get made more than others, why are certain actors association with certain genres? Think about the success of Twilight, or the bond franchise?
1. Typical Mise-en-scène/Visual style
(iconography, props, set design, lighting,
temporal and geographic location, costume,
shot types, camera angles, special effects).
2. Typical types of Narrative (plots, historical
setting, set pieces).
(For section B of the exam notice although genre is a concept it is also linked to narrative)
3. Generic Types, i.e. typical characters (do
typical male/female roles exist, archetypes?).
4. Typical Personnel (directors, producers,
actors, stars, auteurs etc.).
5. Typical Sound Design (sound design,
dialogue, music, sound effects).
6. Typical Editing Style.
How does this apply to your film trailer’s genre, how have you created it based on these elements in this paradigm?
Jason Mittell (2001) argues that genres are
cultural categories that surpass the boundaries of media texts and operate within industry, audience, and cultural practices as well.
In short, industries use genre to sell products to audiences. Media producers use familiar codes and conventions that often make cultural references to their audience’s knowledge of society + other texts.
Genre allows audiences to make choices
about what products they want to consume
through acceptance in order to fulfil a particular
• Rick Altman (1999) argues that genre offers audiences ‘a set of pleasures’.
Emotional Pleasures: The emotional pleasures offered to
audiences of genre films are particularly 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 or
the ‘whodunit’ offer the pleasure in trying to unravel a mystery
or a puzzle. Pleasure is derived from deciphering the plot and
forecasting the end or the being surprised by the unexpected.
The main strength of genre theory is that
everybody uses it and understands it – media experts use it to study media texts, the media industry uses it to develop and market texts and audiences use it to decide what texts to consume.
The potential for the same concept to be
understood by producers, audiences and
scholars makes genre a useful critical tool. Its
accessibility as a concept also means that it
can be applied across a wide range of texts.
Does it have specific conventions?
What separates teaser trailers from trailers?
They can be very often anti-narrative/
They can be ambiguous, open meaning
(Eco, 1981) and experimental.
A teaser trailer, or teaser is a short trailer used to advertise an upcoming movie, game or television series.
Teasers, unlike typical theatrical (main) trailers, are usually very short in length (between 30–60 seconds) and usually contain little, if any, actual footage from the film. Sometimes, it is merely a truncated version of a theatrical trailer. They are usually released long in advance of the film they advertise. One of the reasons for the name "teaser" is because they are shown usually a long time (one or one and a half years) before the movie comes out, so as to "tease" the audience.
Teasers are also commonly used in advertising. The so-called teaser ad/campaign consists typically in (a series of) small, cryptic, challenging, advertisements which anticipate a large(r), full-blown campaign for a product launch or otherwise important event.
Teaser trailers are usually only made for big-budget and popularly themed movies. Their purpose is less to tell the audience about a movie's content than simply to let them know that the movie is coming up in the near future, and to add to the hype of the upcoming release.
Teaser trailers are often made while the film is still in production or being edited and as a result they may feature scenes or alternate versions of scenes that are not in the finished film. Other ones (notably Pixar films) have scenes made for use in the trailer only. Teaser trailers today are increasingly focused on internet downloading and the convention circuit.
Teaser trailers are a genre intended to appeal directly to a specific audience.
The generic conventions stay the same but the style (the look of something) changes
They are used to promote awareness at an early stage in the marketing of a new film or a film that is part of a franchise
They don’t have to be literal representations
This is a medium known for being experimental and controversial
Nicholas Abercrombie styles? (1996) suggests that 'the boundaries between genres are shifting and becoming more permeable'
Abercrombie is concerned with modern television, which he suggests seems to be engaged in 'a steady dismantling of genre’
David Buckingham (1993) argues that 'genre is not... Simply "given" by the culture: rather, it is in a constant process of negotiation and change’.
As postmodern theorist Jacques Derrida reminds us – ‘the law of the law of genre is a principle of contamination, a law of impurity’.
• How we define a genre depends on our
purposes (Chandler, 2001).
• What was your purpose and the medium?
• Your audience and the industry sector you
were working within will have defined what
you understood as the genre and sub-genre
of the texts you created.
“Media texts rely on audience knowledge of generic codes and conventions in order for them to create meaning”.
Explain how you used or subverted generic conventions in one of your production pieces.
Remember Explanation, Analysis, Argument, Examples and terminology. Use Quotes and a structure format on the following pages:
Genre: Theorists: time.
para 1 Intro: which of your projects are you going to write about? briefly describe itpara 2: what are some of the key features of the concept you are being asked to apply? maybe outline two of the theories/ideas of particular writers brieflypara 3; start to apply the concept (genre), making close reference to your production to show how the concept is evident in itpara 4: try to show ways in which ideas work in relation to your production and also ways in which those ideas might not apply/could be challengedpara 5; conclusionAgain remember you only have 30 minutes and that you really need to analyse the finished production, rather than tell the marker how you made it