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Film Genre, Narration, Reality Tv Essay

“Types of films are commonly referred to as genres (pronounced “zahn-rahz”). The word genre is originally French and simply means kind or type.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 108). Genre groups films, which share similar filmic qualities and themes, into various subsections according to the type of film they are associated as.

Various film genres are recognisable by the way they are presented and patterned or the way that they portray a certain emotion or feeling, as those of humour or horror. There is no distinct way by which we can define genre. Some films incorporate various aspects of different genres, thus we cannot define exactly what kind of text-book definition genre it is and being that all people are different, a comedy to one person may be a complete bore to the next. In a sense, certain films portray their genre as a subjective opinion.

Film genre, in the modern filmic world today, is also very reliant on the actors that star in the feature. Automatically we, as viewers, would associate brawn and large stature with an action film, but occasional films tend to meld these characters into completely different subgenre, giving the film a very hybrid, generic feel to it.

Genres are ways of providing films with the intended associations. It is a convention in which people can refer to initially grasp the notion of a film, “for the vast publicity system that exists around filmmaking, genres are a simple way to characterize film. In fact, reviewers are often central in gathering and crystallizing notions about genres.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 110).

Genres are helpful in the general public as they give spectrum to different people and their different tastes. It also accommodates for any mood one may be in if they wanted to watch a film. It characterizes the films and sorts them into place for the viewer’s pleasure, “At all levels of the
filmmaking and film-viewing processes, then, genres help assure that most members of society share at least some general notions about the many films that compete for our attention.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 110)

Most genres share specific genre conventions. Stereotypical plots or certain predictable characters are expected to appear during a film of a desired genre. These are the conventions which group films into subgenres. Other than visual and audio conventions, those concerning mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound, lighting and editing, genres often also make boundaries around the type of thematic notions that are presented within films.

Interweaving and altering certain genres, film producers create hybrids of genres that are incorporate mixture of different filmic techniques implemented by different genres. These subgenres, as with conventional genres are not always effective. “The periods in which a genre remains popular are called cycles.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 115). Genres can only be portrayed so many times before they become old, such as with anything else in the world.

Film Narration
(Researched from “Film Art: An Introduction” by D. Bordwell and K. Thompson.)

According to D. Bordwell and K. Thompson, a narrative is considered to be, “…a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space,” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 69), otherwise also known as a story. The narrative of a film begins with an instance and throughout the film’s time and space alters in story and elements in such a way that the final narration is the end product.

The narrative of a film is structured in a way that we, the viewers, can identify with and understand what is going on in the film. The sequences and events are arranged in an order such that to portray the notion of a flowing story. Causality, time and space are the governing factors behind this story or narration. The story undergoes a “cause and effect,”
(Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 69) situation where one event leads onto another.

“A narrative may cue us to draw parallels among characters, settings, situations, times of day, or any other elements.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 69) The way in which the narrative of a film is revealed can lead the viewer to make connections between certain elements in the film such as interlinking character backgrounds or settings.

What the viewer sees onscreen is mechanically fed into the back of his/her mind and slowly they start tying in different aspects of a film as they are uncovered one after the other. By the actions or method of speech certain characters have in films, for example, the viewer can achieve a comprehensible understanding of the character and how he/she fits into the, sometimes social or other, hierarchy of the narrative of the film. This is a contributing factor towards the plot development of a film as the characters are to have an affirmative role that the viewer should be able to understand.

“…the film’s plot may contain material that is extraneous to the story world.” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004: 71). D. Bordwell and K. Thompson use the example of nondiegetic intro music being a form of narrative to the story plot as it does set a pace and a mood for the story.

The film’s plot and story are not the same thing but are closely linked in aspect. The plot mechanically uncovers a film’s storyline and events while the film’s story adds complexity and body to the film as a whole through diegesis. The Bordwell and Thompson CD-ROM addition describes diegesis to be, “…the world of the film’s story. The diegesis includes events that are presumed to have occurred and actions and spaces not shown onscreen. See also diegetic sound, nondiegetic insert, nondiegetic sound.”

Therefore the understanding of the film’s narration will have a different, more in depth meaning to someone like the director as opposed to the viewer. Thus it is the director’s duty to arrange the narrative in such a way that it would portray a desired notion or motif through the way it is presented.

Causality, time and space are the overall key factors governing the convergence of film narration. Precise sequencing and technical usage of these three elements is what brings about a good story narrative.

Reality T.V
(Researched from “InfoTrac Onefile” online journal.)

“The term ‘reality TV’ was first coined in the USA, and was used to describe television programmes based on film footage from police forces and the emergency services, usually featuring dramatic car chases and accidents.” (Joan Garrod, 2004).

Reality is a rather new and very different hybrid of television genres that are encountered daily. It totally abolishes the rules and regulations of standard acting and filming procedures. Whereas other forms of televisual entertainment make use of camera and acting synchronisation, reality television goes one step ahead to disrupt this congruency and allow the action and camera to work individually creating a, once-unnatural, different form of filmic entertainment.

“The main reason viewers give for their interest in reality TV is that it is not as predictable and formulaic as ‘mainstream’ television dramas and sit-coms.” (Mark Andrejevic, 2004). This factor is what binds viewers to their television sets when a new hit reality show is broadcast. The fact that this stream of entertainment is still rather new and unpredictable, viewers become completely absorbed and over-obsessed with their new favourite show, “…13 million people in the UK watched the final of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here….” (Joan Garrod, 2004). That is a colossal quantity of viewers for the UK alone.

Reality television it considered by some to be an insult to their intelligence. It requires no previous acting skills at all and has the habit of creating stars almost as popular as ones we would find in our everyday Hollywood films, “Here, in short, are people becoming famous for doing nothing much at all, but doing it where everyone can see them.” (Salmon Rushdie, 2004). It is easy to notice why various media critics are ‘insulted’ by this form of television entertainment. They are coming from backgrounds with the art of media has been cultured to such a fine point that an entertainment of this nature would be, just plainly, unacceptable.

Certain critics have made note that reality TV, as well as having negative repercussions on the viewers, have negative repercussions on the participants as well. “…participants become psychologically weakened and more easily manipulated, and are thus more prone to be subject to the authority of the producers.” (S. Brenton and R. Cohen, 2003). Many participants often enter a “distressed state” and, invariably, leave the show early.

Mark Andrejevic, a Colorado PhD student, goes on to find other aspects of reality TV that are beside the norm. He states that because the participants, in reality TV, are ‘real people’, more and more viewers are adapting to identifying with them as opposed to acted characters in conventionally produced film. He also states that reality TV is a new advancement in “televisual interaction”. It gives the viewers the option to choose how they would like the ending to happen. This is silly however, as what would be the point of watching a reality series in the first place?

Reality TV is a diverse and upcoming television genre in the future. Critics predict it to be around still for an extensive amount of time. So many ideas and manipulations from real life can be brought into action on the screen and we, as mindless, malleable viewers, will eat up all the Americanised filth that is brain-fed to us through our television sets… an unhappy ending to a debatably unhappy story.

Bibliography

David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson, (2004) Film Art: An Introduction, The McGraw-Hill Companies: New York. P 69, 71, 108, 110, 115

David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson, (2004) Film Art: An Introduction, The McGraw-Hill Companies: New York – CD-ROM attachment.

Joan Garrod (2004). Author of news article, “What is reality TV and why do we like it?” Sociology Review journal, Feb 2004 v13 i3 p14(3) S. Brenton and R. Cohen (2003) Shooting People: adventures in reality TV, Verso. Mark Andrejevic (2004)

Salmon Rushdie (2004)


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