Quotes from media theorists
Richard Dyer – in 1973 argued that ‘genres are pleasurable because
they offer escapist fantasies into fictional worlds that remove the
boredom of reality’. He sees these worlds as Utopian that offer an
abundance of energy, excitement and spontaneity.
Hartley – ‘Genres are agents of ideological closure; they limit the
meaning potential of a given text’ – e.g. classic westerns expected
roles of stock characters limits the unexpected developments of the
narrative. Recently genres have been adapted to allow alternative
representations – bad cowboys or gay cowboys.
Hodge and Kress – ‘genres are typical forms of texts which links
producers, consumers, topic, medium, manner and occasion’. E.g.
a Disney fairytale using computer generated imagery, released in
multiplex’s and DVD and internet availability.
Fowler – ‘one advantage of genres is that they
can rely on readers already having knowledge
and expectations about the works within a genre’.
This means that producer do not have to explain the
conventions of a text as audiences are already
Gledhill – ‘Genres can be seen as a kind of
shorthand, increasing the efficiency of
communication’. This means that because
audiences already know what to expect within a
genre, it is not necessary to explain all of the details
to them, narratives can therefore be condensed.
Allen – ‘Any text requires what is called ‘cultural capital’
on the part of its audience to make sense of it’. E.g. they
bring their past experience of a genre to help them
Fiske – ‘the assignment of a text to a genre influences
how the text is read’. E.g. if you believe a text to be in a
certain genre you will interpret according to your
expectations of that genre.(You expect the up and down
relationships in Bridget Jones and don’t worry as you expect
a happy ending).
He also said: ‘Genre constrains the possible ways in
which a text is interpreted, guiding readers to a
preferred reading’. Again in rom coms we don’t take
behaviour seriously because we know that everything will
turn out well.
Knight – ‘Genre may offer various emotional
pleasures such as empathy and escapism’. We enjoy
imagining ourselves living the characters lives.
Neale – ‘Pleasure is derived from repetition and
difference’. We like to feel secure with the familiarity of a
genre but also like surprise.
Abercrombie – ‘We derive pleasure from observing
how the conventions of a genre are manipulated’.
Knowing what to expect makes us enjoy the unexpected.
Pastiche and parody in genre
A pastiche is a media text made up of pieces of
other texts or an imitation of other styles
A parody is an imitation of one media text by
another for comic effect – Scary movie and
Shaun of the Dead
Pastiche can involve Homage – when one text
deliberately imitates the characteristics of another
in recognition of the texts importance. What lies
beneath contains elements of homage to
Genre are liked by producers
Constructed for an known/guaranteed audience
Use repeated storylines and stock characters
Allow re-use of sets, props and actors – financial
They are tried and tested and provide an element
of security for investors
Budget and financial return are easier to predict
They allow for clear product and audience
differentiation and market segmentation
Why audiences like genre
Know what to expect
they can plan viewing with certain expectations
They enjoy subtle variations within a particular framework
They engage quickly with easily recognisable plots and
They enjoy predicting outcomes
They can easily follow the narratives within genres, therefore
requiring less attention
They can experience a sense of cultural and emotional security
Helps choosing the right text for entertainment
Are genres too predictable and
Genres try to avoid this because:
If they are audiences will decline and industries will
lose money, genres have to adapt to reflect changes
in social and cultural attitudes, values and
expectations (horror and gangster genres)
Stale genres can be revived by being less predictable
and more imaginative (The Western - Brokeback
Audiences seek familiarity and difference within
genres and therefore welcome a degree of
predictability. The loose conventions allow film
makers to take short cuts by using stock characters
and locations thus requiring little development
However, audiences want plot twists and hybrid
developments to keep them interested
Today films are increasingly flexible and
unpredictable with their mix of genres to appeal to a