In general, genres points to the categories and subcategories of any sort of literature, art or entertainment based on some collective stylistic criteria. The term “genre” has been derived from the French language which literally means “type”, “kind” or “sort”. A famous media theorist Douglas Kellner has defined genre very precisely. Kellner explains genre refers to coded set of formulas and conventions indicating culturally accepted ways of organizing materials into distinct patterns (Kellner 1980). Genre is used to classify the mode of expression in the literary or art and entertainment works.
Genres may have various types depending on different factors, categories, subcategories, themes, plot of a literature, art, or entertainment contents. Broadly speaking the two important genres may be identified as literary genres and film and television genres. Further genres types may be named such as action, comedy, horror, satire, thriller, animation, live-action scripted, live-action unscripted, romance and in fact many more. However many times genres in work can’t be defined precisely and exactly.
Sometimes a single work may be an amalgamation of two or more genres to make it more entertaining and exciting. It has been observed amalgamation of genres keep viewers more engaged and it attracts larger audiences. Genres demonstrate the manifested messages, every artistic work, programs or show have the intention of spreading or giving out a clear message. Genres of the artistic works or programs clearly illustrate the manifested message of a work or program to the audience and depending on the genres being demonstrated in the programs or show, audiences can easily decide if it is worth watching or not.
When audiences know about the genre(s) of media presentations or programmes, they hardly face any difficulty in understanding the messages inside. Consequently they may never feel cheated over the information of themes and genres of the presentations. A well identified genre for a presentation or media programme clearly explains the plot of a work independent of any individual production organization. Genres further illustrate the purpose and intention of production of the work clearly.
For example a television program named “Morning Interview Programme” clearly sends a message to the target audience that the programme is all about interviewing a famous person, group or representative of an organization. Audiences who are looking for musical entertainment can easily make a conclusion about the programme, it has not been produced for them. Genres display the emotion and fulfill therapeutic functions. Audiences in every section of society are inclined to or love to watch particular genre(s) and based on this different sections of audiences have different preferences of genres.
There may be a group of audiences who love to work for philanthropy and they prefer watching philanthropy shows on television, on the other hand there may be an audience group who love to create each and every single person in the society and they prefer watching shows which promote the cause of literacy. Hence these genres of the shows or programmes reflect the emotion of audience and they essentially want to display their emotions through such programmes or shows. Nowadays emotional displays are a central element to many television shows.
Genres fulfill the therapeutic functions of audiences. It fulfills the therapeutic functions in a way by putting audience in touch with their primal emotions (Silverblatt 2007). For instance groups of audience who love excitement, a thriller movie may arouse feeling of thrill among them and hence fulfilling their therapeutic function. Genres offer positive role model for target audience. As mentioned above every genre is liked by a particular group of audience. The audience who like a particular genre, this genre can be accepted as the primary source of inspiration and modeling.
Audiences can just learn to handle their day to day problems as a character in their favorite programme of preferable genre handles such problems (Silverblatt 2007). In various ways someone may use these genres to reach wherever they want to. Genres enables production house to target exact audience. Every artistic work, programme or show is produced by a production house, keeping in mind a group of audiences whom they want to attract or impress. It is a fact that hardly any of such works may be liked by everyone. Hence genre enables production house to limit it audience boundary and produce the best for the concerned crowd.
This way they can be more precise and clear while making the contents of such works or shows rather than putting the plots in a haphazard manner. Genres may act as social actions. Since the beginning of the concept of genres they have been acting as social actions. Genres may incite a section of people in the society to take a call on social actions necessary to bring healthy changes in the society. Genres featuring the need of political changes, promoting the cause of equality among people, cause of spreading education may incite many people for social actions and move for bringing healthy changes in the society.
These genres certainly incite social actions at a major level. Genres may help many students to feel the need of hour to participate in community actions and how they may really contribute in it (Miller 1984). Leaving apart different genres of TV, television itself has been a source for historical facts, incidents, cultures and ideological promotion. In this section of the paper an important TV genre “Documentary” will be analyzed in terms of its historical and ideological features and also importance. TV programs with documentary as it genres essentially features nonfictional aspects of reality, some incidence or historical records.
Documentary programmes or films are a method being sensible which may include politics, economics, history, science. They claim to depict the real and true incidence, facts or historical aspects (Nicholas, 2001). It is believed that until the year 1926 the term “documentary” was not coined and it was mainly known to be actually films. Many documentary programmes on TV feature the historical incidents of the past, their importance, connection with culture and subculture. To illustrate this one of the most famous example of documentary is “The Square” directed by Jehane Noujaim. The documentary depicts the ongoing revolution of Egypt.
Another such great example of documentary is “The Invisible War” which is a 2012 documentary. The documentary highlights and reveals the facts of epidemic rape of soldiers within the US military. However when we observe the current trends in the documentary it may not be purely factual. Many production houses have shifted their focus towards satisfying the demand of box offices and making documentaries more entertaining for amusement purpose. This compels them to stuff non-historical, unexamined, unreal tragic drama to keep it live as per the demand of viewers and fulfill the business part of production.
Every documentary in a sense pictures certain characteristics features of a culture, society, creed, tradition. It presents the unique features of past and bring to the notice of people about past culture of their own people, living style, and many other features (Barry & Jeannette, 1998). In recent times, the advancement in technology, turmoil in socio political economical contexts is generating a large number of audiences who demands informative, argumentative and controversial topics to be discussed in an open platform (Grierson, 2012).
Outstanding and controversial works by filmmakers like Jean Rouch Errol Morris, Michael Moore are broadening the boundary of documentary with progressive and out of the box thinking, a concoction of socio-political economical phenomena, world affairs, etc (Nichols, 2009). Documentary has gained wide appreciation from both mainstream commercial movie goers and also amongst the researchers and scholars due to the crisp analytical informative narrative style, the dynamism of the plots chosen, etc.
Documentary films have raised issues about the ways to represent people, their body which is cinematically commensurate and significant in the context of social status, cultural backdrop and relations (Kingsley, 2014). “The Square” is an Egyptian-American documentary film, made in 2013, and directed by Jehane Noujaim, which is based on the Egyptian revolution movement of 2011, rooted in TAHRIR Square (Barry & Jeannette, 1998). The film received wide appreciation in the whole world and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The Chicago Tribune praised the film saying, “it gave the audience an inside view and took them to a cascading series of revolutions and counter revolutions that have agitated and stirred Egypt during 2011” (Nichols, 2009). The Square, though was not shown publicly in Egypt but received wide appreciation and created a wave of arguments in social medias. Noujaim tweeted after the Oscar nomination that this work is a dedication to “the blood, hopes and dreams” of Egyptians who were the symbols of power and beauty they have seen in Tahrir (Turan, 2011).
A documentary film can be defined as a nonfictional motion picture, which blends realism, cinematic brilliance, progressive thinking and issues relevant to the then socio political, ideological, historical contexts. A documentary as a part of filmmaking is ever evolving and has no clear boundary which liberates documentaries from the mainstream restrictions (Barry & Jeannette, 1998). Analysts in box office is claiming that documentary film genre is becoming constantly successful in theatrical releases with documentaries like Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, Food Inc.
, Earth, March of the Penguins, being successful both commercially and critical acclaim. Producers and film production houses find the documentaries to be made in a lower budget and highly profit earning capacity rather than the dramatic narrative big budgeted films (Kingsley, 2014). The subjects of the documentaries are more intimate, and explicit in nature which allows the audience to build a personal connection with the silver screen. History and ideologies play a figuratively important role in making documentary as socio political cultural blend is never possible without historical and ideological references (Hornaday, 2014).
Historical documentaries like, “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years by Henry Hampton, UNESCO awarded film, “500 Years later”, brings out history and realism in a closer look. Commercial success f documentaries like Thin Blue Line , roger & Me, has compelled modern documentary makers to blend some fictional material in order to bring dramatic elements to hit box office success. Critics refer these films as Mondo films but not documentary (Nichols, 2009). The outrageous growth of reality shows, short films, television daily soaps, emergence of internet and videos have pushed the documentary makers to make itself staged or rehearsed.
Addition of fictional materials is being made these days in order to make documentaries commercially successful (Grierson, 2012). On being asked in an interview that why Noujaim has chosen this subject to portray he answered that, he loked for some real characters, with whom he could fell in love with, with whom he could have connected on a personal level and therefore transmit that connection into the audiences (Kingsley, 2014). He also explained that he wanted to challenge his comfort zone by compelling him to think outside the common notions, travelling to places where he had never been.
The films may be based on Egypt and Egyptians, but would tie the hearts of people all over the world (Barry & Jeannette, 1998). The rollercoaster over past few years in Egyptian revolution had bring the bloodshed into cinematic landscape, the glimpses of battle, an revolutionary political election and revolving drama around it. The Square dugs deep into heart by being such intimate, but filled with rough energy, aesthetically shot with cinematic brilliance but wrenches audience emotionally by the rudeness and spontaneity (Grierson, 2012).
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P , 2014, The Square: an Egyptian Oscar nominee that won’t be shown in Egypt, available at: http://www. theguardian. com/film/2014/jan/20/square-egypt-documentary-oscars-nominee-noujaim, posted on: 20th Jan, 2014, accessed on: 09/02/2014. Nichols. B 2009, History, Myth, and Narrative in Documentary, Film Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Autumn, 2009), pp. 9-20, University of California Press, United States Silverblatt, A 2007, Genre studies in mass media: A Handbook, M. E. Sharpe, New York. Turan, K. 2011, “Documentary The Square, nominated for an Oscar, details life in an Egyptian crossroads”.
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