Genre, let’s define ‘genre’. According to our old friend google it’s defined as ‘a style or category of art, music, or literature.’ which is pretty barebones but accurate nonetheless. But we can define it better, faster, stronger, the six million dollar answer.
So let’s dive into it! Let’s start with how genre is used in a modern society, or how it’s treated. All of the media we consume fits into genre’s or sub-genres and we use these as either a guide to decide what we want to consume, or a guide to critique something based on it’s peers in said genre.
You wouldn’t review a comedy for how much fear it made you feel, and you wouldn’t give that 5 star rating to a horror movie that made you laugh so hard you had to leave the cinema. Genre defines our expectations for this media and allows us to have an idea of what we’re getting into.
Recently the Super-Hero Sub-genre has been exploding with Marvel Studios rise to prominence. Superheroes going mainstream lead to so many new movies hitting this sub-genre and it also means it’s peers are held to that standard. For a great example, DC’s movies were doing extremely well, but when they were held to the expectations of a lighthearted and fun Marvel movie, critics had at them. It was a downward spiral from there, but it was based on setting a standard in the industry, and most definitely, in the genre.
You Wouldn’t compare Batman to Gone Girl
These movies aren’t in the same genre by any means, one’s a psychological thriller, the other an action, superhero film. But they both feature Ben Affleck as the lead. That’s the thing about genre, it dictates what can be grouped together, contrasted and compared. Of course you could try to compare these films but you’d find so many differences and the positives are genre specific. Like you don’t want Batman to mess with your head, you want a good old fashioned beat down of the bad guys. You don’t want Ben Affleck in Gone Girl to suddenly get powers and solve the mystery and beat up a few dudes. It’s about the emotional struggle and torment, that’s when it’s at it’s best. Genre allows us to know at a glance, what we’re going in for.
Genre for film, TV, Games, Books, Art or any other Media helps us decide if we want to consume it. Sometimes the media subverts our expectations and rises out of it’s genre to provide an unexpected experience, and much like Bilbo going on his unexpected journey, we like it. So do we redefine the genre this film is in? Do we slap a new sub-genre label on it and call it day?
Genre is a guideline, it’s an imaginary box that we out our media in just so we can have an idea of what’s comparable, what’s something we might like. It literally translates to of-a-kind, and it’s not definitive.