How’s it going everyone, Flobo here! (Oh, but of course)
Today I want to talk to you about genres, and how they have evolved over time. “In the beginning” there was two genres: Drama and Comedy. They have since sired literally hundreds of genres and subgenres in terms of books, movies, and music. Seriously, fifty years ago there was a genre called Rock And Roll. Nowadays? There’s a genre called Pop-Punk-Post-Rock. Seriously.
But what about when genres go out to the local bar and go home with other genres? Bending and Blending is bound to happen. Allow me to tell you a little story:
When I was in film school many moons ago, one of things my peers would classify you by (besides your area of study) your favorite movie. People thought differently of you if you said your favorite film was “Casablanca” over say “The Godfather” or “The Deer Hunter”. I also noticed the films many of my peers deemed as their “favorite” were classically lauded films. This disturbed me a bit, because it was almost an excuse for people to select more and more obscure movies as their “favorite”, in some sort of a film geek knowledge contest.
“Oh you’ve never heard of 13 Tzameti? Well, that’s a shame bro.”
Believe me, these aren’t the word of some bitter film grad (Not today, anyway). I remember in my first class ever, we went around around the room the answer the “favorite movie” question. When Chinatowns and Bicycle Thieves were discussed ad nasuem, when the focus shifted to me I figured I go for the honest route.
“Well, my favorite movie is Men In Black.”
I never quite understood the phrase “went over like a fart in church” until that day. Now, this may be the perception of a man who already felt out of place to begin with, but there was no denying there was some snickering going on. Why did I decide to mention this film over the hundreds (if not thousands) of films that were considered better? Well for one, “Men in Black” is the movie that made me want to make movies. The reason for that being up until that point, I had never seen a film in it’s genre.
That being the Sci-Fi-Buddy-Action Comedy-Police Procedural with bonus Rap Video.
I was a wee preteen when the film came out in theaters. I couldn’t afford to see the film outright, so I waited the SIX MONTHS (!) until the VHS (!!) was available that holiday season to check it out. The film blew me away. The camerawork was kinetic (Sonnenfeld had camera push ins, pans, and zooms galore), the acting was spot on (Agent J was just TOO COOL), and I didn’t appreciate it then but the film had a pretty notable media aesthetic and mise-en-scene (that’s film school textbook talk for the flick’s ‘look and feel’). I also learned that if fiction is done well, the audience will be more likely to believe the world you are trying to create. I didn’t believe in aliens, even as a kid, but I wished there was some sort of black suit wearing covert agency I could sign up for.
Okay, this isn’t a MIB fluff piece (although i will be there the premiere day for MIB3), rather it’s an example of how genre blending could actually strengthen the pieces you create. In the 2000s for example, horror comedies came into focus with “Shaun of The Dead”, and “Zombieland” being noted examples.
In fact, I think we are heading into an era were genre blending is to be expected less your film/book/song is to be seen as “straight-up” or “generic”. It’s something to consider when you are taking a crack at that next greatest song/screenplay/novella.
Well everyone, keep writing! Now, where’s my neuralizer?