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Friday, 13 July 2012

The Function of Genre


Central to film industry practises is the construction of a ‘narrative image’ for each film.  ‘An idea of the film is widely circulated and promoted, and idea which can be called the “narrative image” of the film, the cinema’s anticipatory reply to the question, “What is the film like?”’ John Ellis (1981)


‘The attraction of genre to the industry is closely linked to its presumed appeal to viewers.  Filmgoers generally like to have a broad idea of what to expect from any individual picture.  Genres are constituted not just by bodies of films but also by the established expectations of viewers.’ King (2002)


'genre theorists argue that ‘shifts in film content reflect changes in society.  The underlying assumption…is that popular films are more or less an accurate mirror of social structure, because by choosing the films it attends, the audience reveals its preferences to film studios and distributors which…passively produce and finance films reflecting audience desires.’ Kapsis (1991)

Classification and Interpretation:

‘genres are not simply bodies of work or groups of films…Genres do not consist only of films: they consist also…of specific systems of expectation…which spectators bring with them to the cinema, and which interact with film themselves during the course of the viewing process.  These systems provide spectators with means of recognition and understanding.  They help render films, and the elements within them, intelligible and therefore explicable.’  Steve Neale (1990)



'Generic convention is a product of the formulaic repetition of the capitalist-financed studio system, and can therefore only produce meanings in support of the status quo.  Genre films temporarily relieve the fears created by social and political conflicts by offering simplistic solutions based on following tradition.'  Judith Hess

Elements of Genre:

 Genre is comprised of:

  • Iconography – elements of mise-en-scene specific to a particular genre which signify meaning
  • Character Roles
  • Narrative Structures
  • Visual Style
  • Values and Themes (ideology)

Steve Neale would argue that genres are also comprised of the expectations of the audience, and the ‘extra-textual relay’ that circulated about genre and individual films.

Function of genre
50 Cent – In Da Club
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow
The music video for this song contains numerous cameo appearances from Eminem and Dr. Dre as well as one from Xzibit. This promotes the music video as their reputation shows that their appearance in the video means that it is high quality and gives the image 50 cent wants for his rap song.
There are many shots of the members of the band highlighting and promoting their own individual talent to the audience. Also, the majority of the video is them performing live, promoting themselves my showing the experience they provide to a live audience and how good they are.
 The audience for this song would be fans of 50 cent himself of general fans of raps songs. Therefore in the video the video was dominated by 50 cent while rapping with the odd appearance of other rappers. The video contained elements that are expected from the audience such as 50 cents posse and all of them to look cool with sports clothes and expensive jewellery.
The audience for this song would be fans of Red Hot Chilli Peppers or general rock fans. It is expected from a rock video to show the band performing live and to have a number of shots in black + white. The band try to provide what the viewers of the music video want to see to meet or exceed expectation.
Socio-culture applied to this song would be that any fans that watch and listen to 50 cent many want to be like him. Therefore, they would want to buy expensive sports clothing or go out to night clubs more to get as many women as he is shown to. Alternatively, this music video could be an incentive for some people to maybe start rapping or work out as much as 50 cent as an aspiration.
The socio-culture of this music video may encourage their audience to go to more live performances or to make their own band. Viewers may also show their expectation resulting in distributors providing what they want in order to be as profitable as possible.
Classification + Interpretation
Rap songs come with a lot of expectation when it comes to the connotations of the genre. With 50 Cent - In Da Club, many expectations are met when the viewer watches the music video with the way they dress, expensive cars and jewellery and 50 Cent's posse going to the club and attracting a lot of female attention.  This theory indicates that some viewers may relate themselves to rap artists and have high expectations of them.
Rock songs come with a lot of expectation when it comes to the connotations of the genre. With Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow, many expectations are met when the viewer watches the video with the mixture of live performances and video for the narrative. Also, with the numerous shots highlighting the individual performances and the experience on stage the band provide, viewers expectations are met.


 50 Cent - In Da Club                                                           

 Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow

Conventions of Rock:

  • Both narrative and performance based
  • Tends to show romance between the lead singer and a girl
  • Performance aspect tends to be either a live performance to an audience or a performance just in front of the camera
  • Frequent shots of the bands logo - reminds viewers who's performing / strengthens reputation of the band
  • Mise-en-scene being that the location and costumes of the artists are relevant to the narrative 
  • Generally in black and white. 
  • Frequent shots of the band - highlighting the stars

Conventions of Rap:

  • Various locations such as night clubs, parties, expensive houses, expensive cars etc.
  • Often flaunt their success; references to money, clothing, possessions etc. 
  • Regularly shown in a posse
  • Cameos from other successful videos - promotion of video and artist's reputation
  • Casually dressed - basketball tops, jeans + trainers etc.
  • Usually features themes of violence or sex
  • Sections of the artist rapping to the camera with some narrative - primarily highlighting star to promote them.
  • Variety of camera angles - generally close ups/mid shots of the star

Application of conventions:

50 Cent - In Da Club

This screen shot from 'In Da Club' highlights a number of conventions that are typically found in a rap genre music video. Here, a mid shot has been used to highlight the star who is wearing casual sports clothes, but also flaunting his wealth and popularity with his jewelry and by showing him leading his posse in to the club. 

More typical conventions of the rap genre in this screenshot are shown as you can see that another star, Xzibit, is playing a cameo role in 50 Cent's video which will promote both of their reputations. Also, this shot highlights that the common setting of a nightclub is being used for this music video and not to mention that 50 Cent is surrounded by females and shown with a different female in each shot. 

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow 

These two screenshots show that the convention of a rock video that there is a mixture of both narrative and performance to a camera at a venue in the Red Hot Chilli Peppers music video. The narrative screen shot also highlights the convention of which the band frequently try to have shots of their logo or band name as a form of promotion for themselves. Also, these two screen shots both show that rock bands generally produce their music videos in black and white.

In this screen shot of 'Snow' by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, we can see that a mid shot has been used to show the drummers performance. Generally in rock genre music videos, this will frequently occur as there will be a number of shots of the band as a whole and individual members highlighting their performances and emphasising their talents. 


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