Film Genre or ‘Let’s Pigeon-hole Everything Just Because We Can’
You may have an idea what this evening’s lecture was about. Maybe not. Well, it was about genre, and how it is a product of the Hollywood system (in a nutshell).
Personally, I’m not a fan of ‘genre’, particularly. The term, at least. I have never been one to conform, exactly, and perhaps this is some sort of extension of that, but bear with me.
I find it confusing, not to mention extremely difficult to categorise films by genre; some films are comedy horror, others romantic sci-fi, horror musical or comedy drama (seriously, what is that all about?!). Essentially, my ‘genres’ are: films I like, films I don’t like and films I am yet to see.
This labelling of films seems quite arbitrary, given the number of films that could be classified as more than one, or even two, genres. Then we have offensive labels such as ‘men’s movies’, ‘world cinema’ (which is usually comprised of ‘foreign films as if the US/UK aren’t part of ‘the world’) and ‘gay/lesbian cinema’. Is it that these films couldn’t appeal to anyone but men or ‘foreigners’ or lesbians? It makes very little sense to me.
Of course, the emergence of genre as a result of the Hollywood studio system makes complete sense to me; it was, essentially, a cheaper alternative to producing lots of individual films. Film became standardised and sets, costumes, actors and even script outlines could be used over and over, but in 2012, do we really need to be bound by what is, essentially, outdated terminology?
Apparently, we, the audience, like the idea of genre too. I disagree. We don’t need to be told that a film is funny, or scary, or features robots. I feel it creates unnecessary expectations; if a film does not make me laugh, do I feel conned? A ‘horror’ film makes me laugh, is that right?! The hybridisation of genre just serves to cause even more confusion, and seems to negate the original idea of genre anyway.
I think I will take some convincing on the pigeon-holing of films according to made up, outdated genre specifications, I am, at this point in time at least, able to see who it actually benefits.