Februar 1, 2010

„Genre Films“

Posted in Lesen, Sehen um 1:19 pm von deadra

This post showed up in my feed today, and it got me thinking about the term „genre films“.

The author seems to be referring to horror films and thrillers in particular, but I’ve also seen the term used to refer to sci-fi, fantasy, action films, buddy movies, rom-coms, musicals and (encompassing the last two) chick-flicks (and many, many more).

It seems to me that there are many, many genres, but being associated with a certain genre automatically means a loss in prestige and credibility. „Genre films“ get associated with terms like „specific target audience“, or worse, the ever dreaded „formulaic“.
And then there are films that never seem to get labelled as genre films, because they are oh so good and oh so relevant and oh so successful at award ceremonies. But, the thing is, they *are* genre films, and they are at least as formulaic as any other film. And the fact that their target audience is best summed up as „critics“ doesn’t make said audience any less specific.

Therefore, I hereby propose some new genres. First and formost, the Terrible Twosome, „Oscar-Baiting Political Sermon“ and its sibling „Oscar-Baiting Social Sermon“. Both of these genres make you feel like a good person, because you watched them, and you understood them, and you cared, just like everybody else should care. Both of them rarely go beyond the exact degree of depth required to win a GoldenGlobe. Then there’s the perennial favourite „Underdog Makes Good“. We get it – their lives suck, they overcome their circumstances or their own issues and ultimately find success or at least redemption. (And the actor who plays the part finds themselves nominated for an Academy Award.) No formula there at all.
And, last but not least, we have „Problems Of An Able-Bodied Heterosexual White Middle-Class Person“ (yes, I’m looking at you, „Up In The Air“).

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t excellent films in any of those genres, because there are. Just as there are excellent films in any other genre (I think…if you like the genre, at least). My point is that these *are* genres (even if I’ve named them just a tad cynically), and they have conventions, just like any other genre. Denying that and claiming universal appeal and general high-brow artsiness doesn’t change that fact.

Thus endeth my rant (for now).


4 Kommentare »

  1. kalafudra said,


    It’s the same thing with books. Nobody said that „The Time Traveller’s Wife“ was SciFi. Because it was „literary“.

    At the same time, nobody would think about giving, don’t know, Douglas Adams a Nobel (he had the dual disadvantage of writing comedy AND SciFi).

    • deadra said,

      Oh yes…don’t get me started on books.

      There’s „Our Parents Were Nazis So We Hate The World“, then „Weltschmerz Of A Middle-Class Jewish Dude“, and the ever popular „Random Shit I Thought About While Gazing Out A Window“.

      And those are just off the top of my head ^^

      • kalafudra said,

        Of course, the movie genre „Problems Of An Able-Bodied Heterosexual White Middle-Class Person” is also a book genre.

        And the „Even the most innocent scene has at its heart INCEST! DRAMA! SUICIDE!“ genre (led by Ian McEwan).

  2. […] “Genre Films”. […]

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