Genre overview

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Genre overview

  1. 1. A2 Media Studies Genre Overview
  2. 2. Academic approach <ul><li>Genre is a critical tool, a concept that helps scholars to study films and filmmaking as well as audiences’ response to film. It has been used since Ancient Greek times when plays and poetry were arranged into tragedies or comedies. </li></ul><ul><li>Genre study allows a form of scientific methodology to be used in studying things, which display similarities. Comparing films within the same group and between groups has several benefits. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Uses of genre theory <ul><li>• Trying to decide the criteria for grouping a film encourages us to study it closely. </li></ul><ul><li>• Looking at similarities and differences between films, within groups and across different groups, helps us think about how films are understood and what their meanings might be. </li></ul><ul><li>• By comparing similar groups of films produced at different periods in film history or in different countries, we can begin to see the importance of economic, social and cultural influences and the context of each film’s production and reception. </li></ul><ul><li>This scientific approach is found in many Social Sciences and Anthropology and they also inform genre work in Media Studies. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Genres are dynamic and so is genre theory <ul><li>Genres are not fixed and it is not the intention to provide a definitive definition of a film’s essential elements, rather it is useful in understanding a film’s process towards meaning. Any film will reveal a pattern of similarities but even a re-make will also reveal a pattern of differences. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Genre Theory & Authorship <ul><li>The alternative way of understanding film is to focus exclusively on the role of the director (Auteurism). This traditional Artistic approach to film theory suggests that great Art is made by individuals and that if you wanted to talk academically about films you needed to discuss artistic merit. </li></ul><ul><li>However it was soon seen that auteurs tended to produce films within certain genres and one way of identifying artistic merit in these distinctive films was to compare them to the other films by lesser-known directors in the genre. </li></ul><ul><li>By the mid 1970’s genre study had replaced authorship as the critical approach to film study. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Genre and ‘Art’ films <ul><li>Genre is associated with commercial film making, for mainstream commercial cinemas. Art films are made for specific audiences and are usually keen to avoid the narrative features of commercial cinema. Critics would argue that this in turn makes Art movies into a form of genre. In addition Art movies often play with the convention of mainstream movies in order to make their own meaning. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Genre Classifications <ul><li>Genres are not fixed categories: Take “Charlie’s Angels” for example, it might be classified as: A mixed genre action comedy. The action refers to martial arts and modern technology; the comedy is parody or spoof. In addition the film is consciously adapted from the 1970s TV series and therefore includes elements of nostalgia and a range of other appeals to the target audience not least the “Baywatch” exploitation elements. </li></ul><ul><li>A modern genre critic would categorise this as a hybrid film but don’t think hybrid films are a new phenomena; silent movies were often packed with as many elements as they could hold. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Repertoire of elements <ul><li>In the last few years genre theorists have begun to talk about a repertoire of elements from which generic descriptions might be constructed (Branston and Stafford 1999, Neale 2000). </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of elements might be considered to be characteristic of a particular genre? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Iconography <ul><li>• Films contain visual and audio images, which become instantly recognisable and associated with the genre. E.g.: Gangster films feature the iconic ‘Tommy’ gun spraying bullets in the hands of a man in a sharp suit usually standing on the running board of a car. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Style <ul><li>Iconography refers to the objects but style describes the way they are presented. Camera angles, editing, lighting and the use of colour all contribute to the style of a film. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Setting <ul><li>Some genres have a distinct location but this can be subject to change, for example horror films have moved from the gothic to the suburban. Genres can also be associated with time periods like the gangster films set during prohibition in America but successful films have updated this. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Narrative <ul><li>This refers to the story structure as well as the specific narrative devices, which genres employ. (Car chases, gunfights, weddings etc). Narrative theories explain the underlying structures, which inform the way audiences make meaning from narratives. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Characters <ul><li>Narrative is usually developed through characters and their functions (hero, villain etc). Some characters are so closely associated with a genre that they become generic types. For example, in horror movies, the ‘final girl,’ who maintains her personal dignity, usually defeats the psychopath. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Themes <ul><li>Critics talk about a film’s discourse when they are discussing the topics, which the film is making comments about. These can be explicit in the case of Gangster films which directly address the problems of violence in society or implicit in the case of Romantic Comedies which may comment on capitalism and the increasing isolation of individuals in society. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Audience response <ul><li>The pleasures offered by genres can be very immediate and non-intellectual. We often go to receive sensation, an immediate emotional response. The adrenalin of adventure, the anxiety of a thriller or the release of tension through comedy. In the two most extreme genres, horror and erotica, critics argue (Clover 1987) that we want to watch our deepest desires and fears being played out. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Target audience <ul><li>Every film has a ‘mode of address,’ the way it speaks to its audience. There is an assumption that certain genres appeal more to one gender than another and there is good research to support this. However, there is some evidence that hybrid movies are changing these assumptions. E.g: Female interest in female heroine figures in action movies. </li></ul><ul><li>For two specific genres though the target audience is crucial. Teen movies must appear to alienate an adult audience in order to appeal to the rebellious image of the audience. Women from the 1940 onwards formed a strong audience willing to go without male partners to see a woman’s movie. ‘Erin Brockovich,’ (2000) can be seen as a modern version of the woman’s movie. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Industrial context <ul><li>Genre is a way of maximising profit through specialisation. Either through franchising a successful concept or producing films which can draw upon the talents and aptitudes of the studio workforce and facilities (conveyor belt production process) </li></ul><ul><li>A key marketing tool throughout the distribution and reception cycle. (cinema/premier cable/rental/cable/private sale/Terrestrial TV. </li></ul>

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