What is genre?“A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.”Various film genre’s include Horror, Comedy, Romance, Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi and many more.Genre is important to audiences as they have expectations as to what certain genre’s include. This allows them to take pleasure in particular texts and genres. Audiences identify with these specific elements associated with specific genre’s, so by knowing the genre of a media text, they know whether it is something they may be interested in, and vaguely know what to expect.Genre is important to producers as they market texts in relation to their genre and target audience. Producers standardise production according to genre conventions.
Genre TheoristsTom Ryall (1978) – “Genres may be defined as patterns/forms/styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the film maker, and their reading by an audience.”Ryall proposes a wider-reaching model of generic classification. He contends that some genres, such as horror, comedy or the thriller may be better conceptualised by considering their effects, in other words, what they do to the audience, to their bodies. For example, a film of horror genre intends to make the viewer feel tense and scared.
John Fiske – Fiske defines genre 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.“A representation of a car chase only makes sense in relation to all the others we have seen - after all, we are unlikely to have experienced one in reality, and if we did, we would, according to this model, make sense of it by turning it into another text, which we would also understand intertextually, in terms of what we have seen so often on our screens. There is then a cultural knowledge of the concept car chase that any one text is a prospectus for, and that it used by the viewer to decode it, and by the producer to encode it.”
Daniel Chandler – Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content (such as themes or settings -iconography) and/or form (including structure and style) which are shared by the texts which are regarded as belonging to them.• Iconography is an important aspect of genre. We expect to see certain objects on screen when we see a particular genre, for example, in a Western, dusty lonely roads, saloon bars, cowboy hats and horses, jails, sheriffs badges, guns, etc..• In a modern horror film, we expect young girls, ‘normal’ objects, use of dark and light, etc. These ‘genre indicators’ are called the iconography of the mise-en-scene or genre.’Daniel Chandlers theory can therefore be applied to the horror genre as said above, as we expect to see certain elements within horror texts.
Similar to John Fiske, Rick Altman argues that genres are usually defined in terms of media language (SEMANTIC elements) and codes (in the Thriller, for example: guns, urban landscape, victims, stalkers, menaced women or even stars, like James Stewart or Jack Nicholson) or certain ideologies and narratives (SYNTACTIC elements – Anxiety, tension, menacing situation)Again, this can be applied to the horror genre as we expect to see certain elements within horror films such as darkness, victims, evil/killers etc, and we expect certain syntactic elements like fear, anxiety, suspense, tension.