‘Genre’ is a French term meaning “type” or “kind”. Putting things into categories is useful in any form of study; it’s a way of establishing some kind of control over an amorphous mass of information. Each medium in the mass media has its own kinds of language, characteristic signs and sign systems. Genre is part of the Key Concept of Language, and can be applied to all kinds of media text. Putting media texts such as film, television programmes, print media, or music into categories is useful as a way of establishing some kind of control over an amorphous mass of information.
Each genre follows its own kinds of conventions – language, characteristic signs and sign systems. However, genres are fluid and not fixed and under constant renegotiation between media industry and audience through the combination of the familiar and the unexpected. The standard approach to teaching genre in film and television is to focus on the common codes and conventions. Looking at film posters, trailers or short scene extracts will quickly enable students to identify similarities and differences in characters, location, stories and familiar objects (the iconography).
Repeated narrative patterns can be observed and beyond this the recurring theme which leads to exploration of shared ideological messages. For the study of magazines the categorisation might be based on definitions of target audiences – age, gender, ethnicity, class etc. The History and Evolution of Genres Genre analysis also includes understanding the evolution of a genre over time. Genres change and develop because of changes in the culture or historical period in which the genre is being produced.
The Western solo hero who was popular in the 1940s and 1950s evolved into the group of heroes in the 1960s and 1970s with Rawhide and Bonanza—shows that reflected a shift in the workplace to that of the group in the corporation or company during that time. And, with the increasing interest in urban crime and international espionage in the 1970s and 1980s, the Western was replaced by the police/detective and the spy/thriller genres. Genres also gain popularity with certain audiences who seek out these genres given the historical or cultural forces operating in a certain period.
During the Great Depression, audiences flocked to movie houses to view Hollywood romantic comedies as a way of escaping the grim realities of everyday lives characterized by poverty and deprivation. The nature of the threat in science fiction movies also shifts to reflect changes in fears or threats facing societies. During the 1930s and 1940s, Americans expressed racial fears, as manifested in the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and in the film, King Kong. During the 1990s, with the increased production of films and the control of media conglomerates over the types of films being made, an increasing number of formulaic genre films were produced.
Film studios needed to attract large audiences in order to make a return profit on the millions they invested in high-production, special-effects films, so they turned to safe, familiar genres and sequels. As Wheeler Dixon (2000) argues: What audiences today desire more than ever before is “more of the same,” and studios, scared to death by rising production and distribution costs, are equally loathe to strike out in new generic directions. Keep audiences satisfied, strive to maintain narrative closure at all costs, and keep within the bounds of heterotopic romance, no matter what genre one is ostensibly working in.
Yet, at the same time, the studios must present these old fables in seductive new clothing, with high budgets, major stars, lavish sets, and (if the genre demands it) unremitting action to disguise the second-hand nature of the contemporary genre film (p. 8).
Film versus television genres. There are some important differences between film and television genres. Film genres (see list below) tend to be more general, for example, the western, action/adventure, comedy, horror, science fiction, etc., while television genres (see list below) are often specialized, for example, cooking shows, sports-talk shows, children’s animation, etc.
A film that is representative of a certain film genre also tends to be selfenclosed—the conflicts are often resolved within the film, even with film sequels. In contrast, a television genre program tends to be part of a serial, in which a storyline may continue and develop or characters may evolve across different programs.
There are a wide range of different types of film genres: detective, action/adventure, mystery, science fiction, horror, gangster, romance, comedy, musical, comedy, animation, detective, spy thriller, as well as specific television genres: game show, prime-time drama, sports broadcast, soap opera, musical, medical drama, news, pro-wrestling, reality-television, talkshow.
It is often difficult to identify a particular movie or television show as a primary example of a particular genre because a movie or show may contain elements reflecting different genres. 1. Soap operas: Soap-opera is the most popular form of television programming in the world.
A large proportion of television viewers watch and enjoy soap-operas. Soap-operas dominate the national audience ratings over other programmes that are telecast. Soaps in general have a predominantly female audience, and in fact at least 30% of the audiences for this soap are male. The main interest for men was in business relations and problem and the power and wealth shown, whereas women were more often interested in the family issues and love affairs. Soaps appeal to those who value the personal and domestic world.
There is no doubt that viewing and talking with family and friends about soap operas is experienced by many women as a pleasurable experience. Women are stereotyped in soap operas but the image of the modern women has changed. From being a submissive, quiet, obedient housewife, she has grown and evolved into a strong individual. She not excels in her profession but is also an able homemaker. Soaps create a world dominated by interpersonal relationship, where characters discuss marital, romantic and family problems.
There is little physical violence or crime. The soap opera world seems emotionally hazardous-mainly because of the continual sorting and resorting of relationships. PORTRAYAL IN SOAP OPERAS Though not as strongly as in earlier years, the portrayal of both men and women on television is largely traditional and stereotypical.
This serves to promote a polarization of gender roles. With femininity are associated traits such as emotionality, carefulness, cooperation, a shared sense, and obedience. Masculinity tends to be associated with such traits as wisdom, efficiency, competition, individualism and ruthlessness. Most significantly though, soap opera’s concern with the everyday lives of everyday people and their problems, big and small, appears to be one of the main reasons why this genre is so popular.
2. The Talk Show: The television talk show consists of four different subgenres: 1) The morning talk shows 2) The day-time talk: some of which are characterized as “tabloid” or the “confessional” talk show, as well as “courtroom” shows. 3) prime-time/late-night talk show 4) Political talk shows 1.
The morning and prime-time/late shows retain a consistent format established by early hosts in the 1950s through 1970s: for the morning shows identifies five characteristics of this subgenre: • The centrality of the host. The program revolves around the host as the central figure of the program. The host often has control over the show’s content and guest selection. The host is often supported by others who laughed at his jokes and provided an immediate conversational audience. The hosts often serve as commodities for their networks—functioning to promote not only their shows, but also the network itself and other products.
• The present-tense flow. Even though the shows are pre-taped, they are highly structured in ways that create the illusion that they are occurring “live” in present time for the viewer audience. • Varied modes of address. The host is simultaneously addressing a range of different audiences: the immediate audience on stage (guests, co-hosts), their studio audience, and the viewer audience, all in ways that serve to engage the viewer audience as the intimate “you. ” • The commodity function. The show serves not only as an advertising vehicle, but it also serves to promote the celebrities who appear on the show.
Stars of television programs on the same network often appear as guests to promote those network programs. • Structured impulsiveness. Despite the seemingly spontaneous nature of the program, a large cast of writers, producers, celebrating agents, and technical people construct a scripted, semi-rehearsed production that adheres to time constraints and certain publicity messages they wish to convey. Recently talk show hosts have functioned to provide their own versions of daily news events for their relatively younger audiences who may not be acquiring news from other sources.
2. The day-time “tabloid”/”confessional” shows are often organized around particularly themes or topics often related to interpersonal conflicts, health, beauty—and, on the tabloid shows. The increased popularity of “courtroom” shows dramatizes personal or family conflicts within a seemingly legal area. These shows attempt to actively promote conflicts between participants, often resulting in arguments, taunts, and physical fights. They also engage audience members as players in these conflicts, asking them to create alliances between the conflicting participants.
These shows’ focus on dramatic conflict between participants serves to overlap with the conflicts portrayed in soap opera (see soap opera) and reality television. The “confessional” shows focus more on having participant’s articulate personal problems that are then addressed by an “expert” or by the host as a moral guide . The prevailing discourse of these shows is healing—the assumption that through “talking-out” issues and improving interpersonal relationships, problems can be solved, a discourse that masks the influence of institutional forces. 3. The political talk show
often features competing political perspectives from what is described as the “liberal” and the “conservative” side, in which participants argue with each other in a highly dramatic, combative manner with little contextualization or development of ideas. Moreover, the “guests” who appear on Sunday morning talk shows generally represent status quo institutional perspectives and are largely white males. 3. Advertising: Media employ specific techniques to construct believable stories. They hook our attention through psychological devices and technical effects.
The techniques are vast and many, but some common ones are easily recognizable and are identified here. Remember, advertisers will use many techniques not listed. Add to this list as needed. Technical effects: • Camera angles enhance perspective, such as low angles that give the subject power. • Close-ups provide emphasis. • Sound effects animate products, giving them emotion. • Mise-en-scene (set and setting inside camera frame) creates cultural and ideological context. Is the set a concert, a hall, a shopping mall? • Accessories enhance the product. What’s being associated with the product, such as clothes, props, models?
• Lighting is used to draw your eye to certain details. • Happy and attractive people are made-up and constructed to enhance the message. What kinds of people are in the ad? • Music, popular songs and jingles create pneumonic devices to program or trigger your memory (some songs are used for nostalgic reasons, while others are used to cross promote products, i. e. cars and latest album). • Products are sold using three main emotions: fear, sex and humour. Ads appeal to our emotions through emotional transfer and are rarely dependent on intellectual analysis.
• Special effects bring inanimate things to life and make them exciting. This is especially true with children-targeted ads. • Editing is used to pace and generate excitement. Notice how military and video game ads have very fast cuts, usually a scene change every second. Common Attention-Getting Hooks: • Emotional Transfer is the process of generating emotions in order to transfer them to a product. For example, a Coke ad shows happy, beautiful people but tells us nothing about the product. The point is to make you feel good and to transfer that feeling to the brand or product.
This is the number one and most important process of media manipulation. • Fear messages are directed at our insecurities, such as “no one will like you if you have dandruff,” or “bald people are losers. ” This is a very common technique and extra attention is required to resist these messages. • Symbols are easily recognized elements from our culture that generate powerful emotions, such as flags and crosses. • Humour is often used because it makes us feel good and is more memorable. • Hype, don’t believe it. Be skeptical of exaggerated claims.
Statements like these are meaningless and vague, but sound good. • Fitting In is a very common technique that tries to influence us by stating that if everyone else is buying the product, so should you. • Cute. Children and animals always steal the show. • Vague Promises like “might,” “maybe,” and “could” divert our attention. “Super Glue may heal cuts better than Band-Aids,” sounds absurd, but you will often hear claims as absurd as this and it would still be true (because it can’t be disproved). • Testimonials are statements by people explaining why certain products are great.
Famous or plain folk or actors can do them. This is more powerful when someone we really like or respect endorses a product. “Beautiful” people are usually used to glamorize merchandise, especially unhealthy products like alcohol, tobacco and junk food. Models and actors generally don’t represent average people, but idealized notions of beauty that are constantly changing. • Famous People such as Michael Jordan make products appealing and attractive through association. • Ordinary People are people that might be like you or me. This is common in ads that stress community or family. • It’s Easy.
Simple solutions are often used to convince us that a product will solve our problems. • Macho is generally used to appeal to males, but not exclusively. It demonstrates masculinity and male stereotypes; these are common in military and tobacco ads. • Femininity is another gender stereotype used in a variety of ads, from teen make-up commercials to alcohol ads. • Repetition is done to reiterate a sales pitch over and over again, like the phone ads that repeatedly display and annunciate the phone number to access their service • Big Lies are exaggerated promises that are impossible to deliver.
• Exotic. This is the appeal of the “other”; it could be a beach location, tribal person, something strange or unknown. This is often meant to hook you through presenting something that is out of the ordinary or beyond our everyday experience. • Flattery is used to make you feel good about you as a consumer and that you are making the right choice when you chose a product. ” • Social Outcasts generally represents a put-down or demeaning comment about a competing product or cultural group. This is not limited to ads, but is common in propaganda as well (“they don’t believe in God,” etc. ).
• Free Lunch offers you something in addition to the product such as “buy one, get one free” or tax cuts. Freebies constantly hook us, but there are always hidden costs. Rarely is a thing truly free. • Surrealism. Commercial media employ some of the brightest minds of the media world and often require cutting edge artists to keep their material fresh (e. g. MTV). Often, as a reflection of how unreal the fantasy world of media is, you will see juxtapositions and dreamlike imagery that make no sense because the advertiser is trying to get your attention by presenting something strange and different.
• The Good Old Days. Images, fashion, film effects and music depicting specific eras or subcultures are meant to appeal directly to the demographic represented in the ad. • Culture. Niche marketing is more common as advertisers hone their messages for specific cultural groups. Latino-targeted ads, for instance, might have family scenes or specific uses of language. 4. Music: Form – most (not all) music involves some repetition, and we find some patterns recurring in many pieces.
In other words, you will need to consider the elements below for EACH melody in your song (i.e. , the elements that characterize the A melody, again for the B melody, etc. ) Be aware that even if a melody (tune) is repeated, there may be changes – a chorus might sing what a soloist sang the first time, etc. , and a good analysis will account for those changes.
• Melody (Melodies) • Tempo(s) – literally ‘speed. ‘ Using Italian terminology, how fast or slow is this tune? Are there changes in the tempo? Are they gradual or abrupt changes? Do you feel the tempo in this particular performance is appropriate for the lyrics or mood? If not, should it be faster or slower?
Who seems responsible for establishing the tempo? • Dynamic level(s) – literally ‘volume’—how loud (forte) or soft (piano) is this piece? Dynamics tend to fluctuate a lot in music, so how does this particularly piece progress? Are changes sudden or gradual? • Mood – the “emotional” atmosphere of the song. This is a subjective assessment, but it should be supported by some of your other answers on this page. Sad songs, for example, usually aren’t very fast! • Lyrics – how would you describe the poetry? Is it continually changing, or do you hear a lot of repetition of text?
Do the words seem ‘important,’ or is the emphasis on the melody? How frequent are the rhymes? Is there patter singing? • Medium – the performers needed for the piece (both vocal and instrumental! Don’t forget to notice any instruments or voices used in the accompaniment! ) • • • • • • • • Text Setting Text Expression – has the composer crafted the music (tempo, dynamics, etc. ) to be appropriate to the meaning of the poetry? Does s/he use any devices such as wordpainting? Rhythm – Is the rhythm prominent? (Are your toes tapping? ) Can you tell what the meter is?
What is the subdivision? Why might the composer have chosen this meter or subdivision? Do you notice other rhythmic devices, such as dotted rhythms or syncopation? Texture(s) – Does the texture change at any point in the piece? What’s the most prominent texture in the song? Mode – is the mode major or minor at the beginning of this piece? Does it change at any point? Is the mode appropriate for the poetry? Style – does the music seem to fall under a particular style label (i. e. jazz, swing, rap, ballad, rock, operatic, blues, gospel, etc. )?
What other elements create this style? (Text setting, instrumentation, etc. ) Type – some songs can be classified as functioning in a typical way—such as soliloquies, charm songs, comedy songs, vision songs, challenge songs, “I want” songs, love songs, patriotic songs, etc. Does this song belong to a recognizable category? (Not all songs fit into these sorts of classifications. ) Action/Dance – does this song structured so that it contains some sort of staged action or dance? Is the action in the background, or does the singer(s) participate? Describe the setting as best you can.