It’s a method of categorisation Genre represents how texts are constructed, as well as what’s in them Characteristics include: visual elements, editing style, actors, props, costumes, lighting, music etc.
“Those particular signs that we associate with particular genres – a pattern of visual elements common to a genre” These ‘icons’ are usually found within the mise-en-scene of a text. “Icons are second-order symbols, in that their symbolic meaning is not necessarily a connection established within the individual text, but is already symbolic because of their use across a number of similar previous texts” Horror Example – Young Girls, ‘Normal’ setting, use of high key and low key lighting, blood, knives etc. These icons can be – Symbolic, Iconic or Indexical.
Hybridisation is a term used to describe a type of media convergence whereby a new mode emerges containing elements of combined media. Hybrid media represent most modern media and the concept that different media forms can work together to create new media (http://newmedia.wikia.com/wiki/Hybridization) E.g. Romantic comedy and Horror thriller Sub-genre is a term to describe a subcategory within a particular genre E.g. Action suspense-thrillers, film noir
The structuralist film theory supports the notion of genre: It emphasises that films convey meaning through the use of codes and conventions Each element within a cultural system derives its meaning from its relationship to every other element in the system “With genre, Conventions are usual indicators such as phrases, themes, quotes, or explanations that we expect to find in a certain genre. They could be considered "stereotypes" of that genre. For example, Science fiction is expected to be set in the future, and has futuristic events, technological advances and futuristic ideas. Realistic fiction is expected to contain a story about people who could pass as real, struggling through real-life situations and/or real world events, etc.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genre_studies#Conventions_of_a_genre)
The genre theory was developed in the 60’s and 70’s. It is a continued argument and debate about what it is and the actual existence. Early theories came from French cinema critiqe Andre Bazin –“The western must be something else again than its form. Galloping horses, fights, strong and brave men in a wildly austere landscape could not add up to a definition of the genre nor encompass its charms” - The Western, Andre Bazin Ultimately, Bazin believes that there is more to genre than just a list of characteristics. On the other hand it can be argued that audiences are reassured by the concept of genre as they like the “familiar patterns of representation and variation”- AS Media Studies, Essential information, Rayner Et al Media Studies
http://www.mediaknowall.com/gcse/keyconceptsgcse/keycon.php?pageID=gNo — genres are described as dynamic, i.e. the boundaries areconstantly changing. Individual texts can challenge conventions,and defy certain parts of the usual genre categorisation — forinstance, recent movies such as Superbad, Forgetting SarahMarshall and Knocked Up (all from the same producer, JuddApatow) have redefined the romantic comedy genre, making thehumour cruder, and telling stories from a male characters, ratherthan a females perspective. Genre texts would get very boringand predictable if they all followed exactly the same conventions— no audiences would want to consume new ones, they wouldjust keep on revisiting old favourites.
Theorist and critic Rick Altman (1999) came up with a list of points he found problematic with genre classification. Genre is a useful category, because it bridges multiple concerns. Genres are defined by the film industry and recognised by mass audience. Genres have clear, stable identities and borders. He would argue that you can take a narrative theory, and apply it to any film – does that make the narrative irrelevant to understanding genre? The genre is classified by the visual aspects: clothing, props, characters and mise- en-scene. http://www.slideshare.net/HeworthMedia/genre-t
But... Genre is more complex that that, its not merely a beginning, complication and resolution It can be argued that the narrative plays a huge part in the classification as seen in films such as Lord of the Rings – the meaning is derived from the narrative as well as the genre, thus linking both narrative and genre together.
Postmodernism suggests that everything is copy and as a result there are no longer any original ideas. As a result it can be argued that there will be no new genres in film. Instead we see combinations of genres coming together to form new ideas made of a mixture of codes and conventions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-HuenDPZw0
But... It can be argued that genre is a tool. - audiences use genre to fulfil their expectations. Genre is used to target a particular audience, thus it can be considered a tool for institutions when distributing their product.
The idea of genre is that it helps the audience establish what they are watching and different genres appeal to different groups of people. The Inbetweeners for example. Could be established as a comedy however to put it to any other genre would be difficult. “The most important recent development in thinking about familiar entertainment genres was to put them into the context of audiences understanding and activities. Genres are no longer seen as sets of fixed elements, but as working with repertoires of fixed elements or fluid systems of convention and expectation”(Gill Branston and Roy Stafford 2000)