Our question is ‘Consider how useful genre theory is as a method of film analysis in relation to both text (i.e. film style and theme) and context (audience and industry). You may refer to two films of your choice in your answer.’ We think the question is asking us to measure the effectiveness of genre theory to analyse film (regarding film style, theme, audience and industry). And to highlight both the positives and negatives genre theory has on the film industry as a whole.
Altman’s four meanings of genre. 1. , as a formula that precedes programs and patterns industry productionconventions of the genre ( shaped by director). 2. , as a formal framework on which films are foundedthe building blocks for the film to work off: how they are instructed to make certain moods and atmosphere ( the producers and scriptwriters). 3. , as a name of a category central to decisions and communications of distributors and exhibitorsto distinguish and advertise (marketing). 4. , as the viewing position acquired by each genre film or its audiencewhat the audience expects (audience)
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For instance in a horror the audience will expect to see a weapon and when they see that weapon using knowledge from previous films they have watched in the same genre they will know that that weapon will be used for murder, therefore identifying this film with the horror genre.Prefferred response – the audience can relate to the events unfiolding on the screen and are therefore more empathetic towards the characters and their situations. They percieve the film in the way in which the director intendedNegotiated response – the audience cannot realter to the events of the film directly but they can still realte. They may share some of the same views presented in the text however they still challenge some of the ideas presented.Oppositional response- the audience have no realtionship with the film they cannot emphasise with the events on the screen
Iconography props costumes signs and symbolsArchetypal characters such as the hero/ the villain/ the damsel in distress/ the child/ the trickster etc.You must have a greater understanding of the genre before you can isolate it. The western genre wasn’t invented until the 1960’s. The great train robbery which was made in 1903, wasn’t made with the intention of it being a western, however if you were to watch it today you would identify it as a western because it contains the same iconography and conventions present in western films.
Such as the presence of a knife, which isan iconic weapon of the horror genreuse of the final girl theory dictating that the last to survive is a girlAs the film goes on the characters (referring to other horrors that came before it (pastiche)) within it challenge the conventions of a traditional horror making Scream postmodern and allows the film to shift the boundaries of the horror genre.The character anticipate the events in the film. Scream breaks conventions as the characters are aware of what is going on around them which is a contrast to other horrors where the characters are kept in suspense regarding what will happen to them.Drew Barrymore who is a high profile star is killed off at the beginning of the film. Her name and face features on the film poster but she is only on the screen for less than 5 minutes. Killing off the star early on is controversial as they usually the focal character in the film.After scream horror genre became more diverse with more films challenging the previous conventions.
How useful genre theory is as a method of film analysis in relation to both text (i.e. film style and theme) and context (audience and industry)?
READING THE SCREEN PRESENTATION BY ALEX OWUSU-ANSAH (N0370794), JONATHAN YOUNG (N0386470), JOSH MCKNIGHT (N0388281), MICHAEL PARSONS (N0400803). Question 3:‘Consider how useful genre theory is as a method of film analysis in relation to both text (i.e. film style and theme) and context (audience and industry). You may refer to two films of your choice in your answer.’
GENRE THEORY• First we will have to ask ourselves ‘what is genre?’• David Duff in his book Modern Genre Theory (1999) says that ‘genre is a recurring type of category text as defined by structural thematic and/or functional criteria’. Genres are generally seen as a fusion of stylistic and substantive features that over time become conventional to the audience.• Rick Altman provides four meanings of genre: Genre as: - a blueprint - structure - a label - a contract• Genre theory is used in the study of films in order to facilitate the categorization of films. Steve Neale describes genre theory as ‘systems of orientations, expectations and conventions that circulate between industry text and subject.’• Genre are dependent on various factors such as story line, whom the director is, what are the audience expectations for example. In using genre theory we create a short cut in how we are to describe films. Genre theory through its use is a method of shortening academic works.
INDUSTRY PRACTICE• Classical Hollywood previously owned both the production companies and the cinemas this monopoly over the industry known as the studio system allowed for them to have control over film distribution and content.• It was cost-effective as the same crew, settings and cinemas would be used. The process was formulaic and constant as the companies did not have to spend money on new technologies or equipment.• Today there is greater diversity in film as the industry is not monopolised. There are various alternatives which allow for more genres to be present in the cinema. Smaller production companies originating in countries other than America now add to the diversity of genres produced bringing different cultural perspectives to the film industry.
AUDIENCE EXPECTATIONS• Genre is dependent on audiences for both their existence and meaning.• Genre films work by engaging in a specific contract. They encourage certain expectations on the part of the spectators, which are in turn based on viewer familiarity with the conventions.• Audiences watch films in order to gain certain gratifications. For example the audience watch Horror films in order to be scared or watch comedies for amusement. While watching the text audiences bring their knowledge of previous films and expect to see certain conventions which help them to identify the genre of the film.• Stuart Hall reception theory states that the audience will have one of three responses to text.1. Preferred response2. Negotiated response3. Oppositional response
ICONOGRAPHY• In genre films iconography refers to particular objects, archetypal characters and even specific characters. ‘To take a genre, such as a Western, analyse it, and list its principal characteristics is to beg the question that we must first isolate the body of films that are Westerns. But they can only be discovered from the films themselves after the films have been isolated.’ Andrew Tudor, Genre in Altman’s Film Genre Reader III
GENRE & IDEOLOGY• Genres reinforce dominant ideology for instance a films of the action genre may promote ideas of masculinity, power and danger.• Audiences will attend films of particular genres. Only an audience with a particular ideology will go and see a certain genre of film which fulfils their needs and caters to their tastes. For instance, you would not expect a stereotypical man to go to see a chick-flick willingly as films of this genre may not be targeted at his demographic but at a female audience instead.
SCREAM (1996) SCREAM OPENING SCENE: HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=PJ4ZYHU0-DQ (1:25 - 2:25)• Scream is a classic example of a horror film which contains all conventions of a traditional horror.• However, it was the first to push the boundaries of horror by challenging some of the conventions. Scream is a classical example of how genres are not fixed but always evolving.• Films that followed afterwards were heavily influenced by Scream.
SCARY MOVIE (2000)SCARY MOVIE OPENING HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=HCJDZWVWJAY (2:50 - 4:00) • The contrasts between Scary Movie and Scream are obvious, but so are the similarities. • The films are linked through their formal elements (setting , characters, weaponry), this shows that they are both horrors but Scary Movie is parodying these elements exaggerating them in order to take a more comical approach to the horror genre. By doing so the film becomes a hybrid creating a sub-genre of horror-comedy.
CRITICISMS OF GENRE THEORY• Richard Coe coined the term of genre ‘Tyranny of Genre’ as he believed that generic categorization limits and constrains creativity.• Genres make it difficult for authors to express themselves creatively as they must conform to genre specifics.• For example: If a writer intends to produce a Horror there are certain criteria he must adhere to in order to stay true to the genre. However the criteria can be too limiting, dictating to the writer how to write. This can be a problem because not only will their work possibly seen repetitive and boring but the writer will find it difficult to be creative, and any creativity will come at a cost, by confusing the audience.• When new genres are created the audience may not always receive the preferred reading of the text. Consequently the film is less successful than films of other genres that have existed previously. This again limits the creativity of the author as any attempt to produce new material may come at the cost of audience satisfaction.
FURTHER READING• Grant, B.K. Film Genre: From Iconography to Ideology (2007) Grant, B.K. Film Genre Reader III (2007) Duff, D. Modern Genre Theory (1999)