English 345 Practice Blog (GENRE)

This is an opportunity for us to get comfortable using the course blog.  Let’s sound off on any dimension of the Schatz reading and/or my notes on genres.  You may react to the course materials thus far.  Maybe you want to tell us about your background in cinema, or your favorite genre.  Or we can even take it another way–your relationship to Washington, DC.  Do you visit regularly?  Which films are you looking forward to seeing?

 

The most important thing here: I want to read something from everyone.

 

 

21 thoughts on “English 345 Practice Blog (GENRE)

  1. Schatz’s comparison that he made at the beginning of the reading between films and language was particularly interesting to me. I am a linguistics minor, and after reading this paper I found myself thinking of the similarities between movies and language much more. I have taken the intro to film class here at UMW and I loved it so I am very excited for this class. My favorite genres of film are mystery and crime, and I am really excited to watch All the President’s Men for this class. I grew up 10 minutes outside of D.C. so I have visited the city countless times. I am looking forward to seeing familiar places in the films we watch this semester!

  2. Schatz’s discussion of cinema being a communication system was interesting to me. It gives me a different perspective on how many things can be used as modes of communication and as a communications major, this is helpful and also intriguing. I took a film study class in high school, then took the 245 class last spring. I enjoy film and film history so these classes always have my interest. Thankfully they also fill my major elective requirements. My favorite genre of film is horror and it always will be, so seeing The Exorcist on the list was great to see! I grew up in Springfield, VA, so I am pretty close to DC.

  3. I have a similar story to Quinn. I found the comparison between film and language to be a super interesting read. There were definitely some moments I had to stop and think about it for a little while, but overall it got me thinking and I think that was probably the point 🙂

    My favorite genre would probably be horror, although I do enjoy Sci-Fi quite a bit as well. So I was happy to see films like The Exorcist and Independence Day on the syllabus.

  4. I find it interesting that people will watch certain genres of movies and be almost comforted by the predictability of the plot structure. I love watching movies. I watch a lot of them. I think I would lose my mind if every movie I watched was essentially the same. My favorite genre is probably horror– which is likely why I actively search for movies that are different from the rest, because horror movies can be very repetitive and predictable. Also, I just finished watching all seven seasons of The West Wing and I suddenly want to be a politician in Washington D.C., so this classes subject couldn’t have come at a better time.

  5. Two semesters ago I took the intro to cinema studies class and we studied the genre of romantic comedy. It was interesting being able to see how the genre changed over time and what aspects of the genre remained the same. Some of the movies were completely different from each other, but could still be recognizable as a romantic comedy because of some key characteristics. I’m excited for these movies this semester and to see how they portray Washington DC. My aunt and Uncle live there, so we go up there all the time. We mainly see the theater and art parts of DC.

  6. So reading Schatz comments reminded me of one of my all time film critic Roger Ebert, he once stated that “film is a window glancing into the mind of a person.” It shows us that Film as an art form that gives us a chance to freely express ourselves. As for my background in film I did a cinema study class in community college where we had to create a short film based on a certain genre in class. I’m excited to see films like the Exorcist or the Hitchcock film as I’ve never seen them before. I don’t got to DC often but when the theaters were open I tried to go there at least once a week.

  7. I find it so interesting to consider the difference between a “genre film” and “film genre.” As Schatz describes it a genre film is the actual event that honors the contract that is film genre. It seems simple but I had never considered the implied differences between the two especially when I think about the ways in which movies that I love are dynamic and static in the ways they present and contribute to the idea of genre. I really love gang/crime films, dark comedies, and horror, and I am really excited to watch Dr. Strangelove because so many people have told me I would love it and also The Exorcist because I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet! I am really interested in film studies because I would really like to work in the film industry writing and making my own films.

  8. Hi everyone, I’m Eli. Similar to others who have already responded, I found the comparison between English and films to be very interesting, especially the ways in which they are opposites. Schatz’s point about how individual english utterances make sense because of meaning that already exist, but individual genre films contribute to the making of meaning and help shape a genre as they come into popular culture was fascinating. His exact quote was “whereas a verbal statement represents a speaker’s organization of neutral components into a meaningful pattern, a genre film represents an effort to reorganize a familiar, meaningful system in an original way (566).” In this way, the “language” of film genre exists because of the genre films that have informed viewers on the genre, so the unlike languages with conventional rules, genre can be much more fluidly altered as it has been fluidly constructed. I am very excited to continue learning about the way films acts as texts like this, as in the past I have not given it much thought but Schatz’s essay was very intriguing.

  9. I liked Schatz’s section on setting within genre, because it was something I haven’t though about. He talks about how it is hard to identify genre by setting, and how you have to look at the “character types and conflicts” and how the setting reflects them. This stood out to me because in a creative writing class, we talked about the setting “creepy” and how it can be described as a happy object in a sad place (like the red balloon in IT), or a sad object in a happy place. Basically something that stands out as “not belonging”. I can see how in movies, setting isn’t as descriptive because it is shown, not read. Im looking forward to applying Schatz’s idea in the movies we are watching. As far as my personal taste, I love movies that are new. That sounds bad but I am a sucker for CGI, I could care less about plot. I think this comes from years of imagining myself playing the main character (I am moving to LA after college to try to act, I’m giving myself 2 years, wish me luck) so I do picture myself in all movies, no matter the genre. The one genre I didn’t like watching until recently was horror, but after I read The Shining/Dr.Sleep, I watched the movies and loved them, so I think if I am able to tear apart the horror movie I no longer find it hard to watch. 🙂

  10. I found the end of the Schatz reading particularly interesting. It brings up the pattern of film’s endings becoming less concrete as a genre reaches its later days. We discussed this idea of loose endings in my Vicotorian novel class last semester. I was one of the only ones who preferred not to have the ending neatly presented to me as in, for example, Villete’s unspoken tragedy and Bleak House ending with an incomplete sentence. Being able to create our own interpretation of the ending of a book or film is part of what keeps us engaged. For background, I am a Biochemistry and English double major, so I usually spend much more time reading books than watching movies. I have not taken the intro film class, but I thought taking this class as an English elective would be an interesting way to expose myself to a wider variety of films and learn to “read” other forms of cultural works. I was also very excited to read that DC will be our focus for this semester! I grew up in Southwest Virginia, but one of my aunts lives not too far outside of DC in Maryland, and my school took field trips there often as well. I am also in the process of applying to a medical school in DC, and it will be great for me to learn more about the area before interviewing and possibly moving there in the years to come.

  11. I found it interesting that the generic requirements of a film will change based on the social norms and the time period in which the film was created. A theme that was socially acceptable in one era might not be acceptable in another. I do not watch many different genres of movies. I like to watch musicals and romantic comedies. Hallmark movies are the only movies I really watch. Hallmark movies tend to have similar plots, where something wrong will happen in the last half hour of the movie and the problem has to be resolved in that half hour. I personally like consistent plot lines, because I generally know when something bad is about to happen, also I know there will be a happy ending. I am excited to see films from different genres I am not familiar with watching.

  12. Something I found really interesting was how genres are also formed as part of a cultural ritual. I think I subconsciously saw that the same way I see how we have genres because our brains like patterns and categorizing things, but it was different in the sense of the way I watch romantic comedies. I watch them because a part of me is a hopeless romantic who wants a good story, I want my life to be that interesting, but I don’t have that. So in watching those movies, I am subconsciously fulfilling that need inside me. It wouldn’t fit under just any comedy or even drama film. I need the romance aspect of it.

    I love movies and I’m really interesting in going into movie marketing someday. I’ve taken a movie marketing class as well as your intro to film course and loved them both. I really want to understand films on a deeper level and understand why we love the movies we love. Like I said before, I’m a sucker for romance movies even though I don’t always like to admit it so I usually just say comedy. But I love watching movies from all genres.

  13. I happy reading these thus far. It sounds to me like many of you have an investment in Washington, DC (potential school or work, weekend fun, culture travel, family, etc.). I’m surprised at how many of you list “The Exorcist” as a plus on the syllabus. A lot of students have trouble with that one. It scared me terribly when I caught a glimpse of it on television (I must have been around 8). But it is, after all, a movie set in Washington DC (which seems strange, but we’ll discuss why that might be).

    I appreciate the interest you placed in Schatz’s piece, and I’ve glad so many of you connected to your own prior education. This is what college is all about–connecting all the dots. We’re in for a fun and interesting semester, I think.

    We’ll use Schatz but also our own developing ideas of genre going forward.

  14. I found it interesting how after a while, a movie will specifically challenge the earlier works in the genre it is in. I do love movies but there are few that I will watch on my own. Sci-fi and fantasy would probably be my favorite genre, though funnily enough my favorite movie is a spy film. I have a very specific taste in horror films and I’m excited to finally watch The Exorcist. I have two family members that work in DC and I’ve visited the city often, mostly for theatre shows and showing international students from UMW around.

  15. I found it really interesting to see that part of why we have genres is because of a cultural ritual. I think I subconsciously saw it that way but I didn’t put it together until now. The same way we have genres because our brains like patterns and categorizing things. That I knew, but never really thought about it.
    Something I think is really interesting is if you compare why people went to the movies during the Great Depression and why people want to go to the movies, or just watch movies, now during this pandemic. I watch movies now and I envy the time when we didn’t have to wear masks or stand six feet apart. Same goes for when I watch a post apocalyptic movie like I Am Legend. We want to see that happy ending in hopes that we will have the same thing.
    I want to go into movie marketing someday and I’ve taken both movie marketing and your intro to film courses. I am really looking forward to understand films on a deeper level and expand my tastes.

  16. I find it interesting how movies can fit into some type of genre, but they push the barriers of that genre. Each new movie seems to want to appeal to as many people as possible. So even a very high action movie will also have some romance, comedy and scary parts to it; to hopefully bring in the most money. I’m really enjoying that I can watch a movie in a specific genre and get little “surprises” inside of different flavors.
    My connection to D.C. is pretty minimal; I lived in northern VA for 8 years before moving to Fredericksburg. Most of my time in D.C. has evolved round school field trips and summer daytrips. For my Freshman seminar I went to a play in D.C. and that’s the only show I have ever seen professionally done.

  17. Something that seems obvious once we are taught it, but that we don’t consider prior to is that genres are formed and utilized based on social norms and pop culture. I find it funny that everyone is excited to watch “The Exorcist”. My stomach dropped when I read that on the syllabus, I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to scary stuff! In regard to D.C. I have several pleasant memories of my family and I spending time up there over the weekends every Saturday from May to August every year since I was 9. Traveling up there for rugby matches, we often took it as an excuse to have family time, which I will always treasure.

  18. One thing from the reading (and film in general) that I love is the ability for genre to adapt with the times. My favorite two examples come from the classic noir and western films. Seeing neo-noir blossom in the 1990s-present with a resurgence of film noir themes and aesthetics in works such as Lost Highway (1997), as well as space-westerns dominating our screens with franchises such as Star Wars, it’s so interesting to see the ways in which a genre can transform within a changing general consciousness. Learning about the confines of a genre is also exciting because it allows studios to consistently break those norms and traditions to keep audiences engaged. In regard to this semester’s theme, speaking form personal experience in the area, I think living near a place that is in film can be sort of a mind–trip. I imagine living in prominent metropolitan cities has a similar effect, seeing your home on the big-screen can be sort of exciting. D.C. was always a place I could easily drive to within 30 minutes growing up and while I’ve never lived in the city, it’s sort of like home.

  19. One thing that Schatz points out at the end really stuck with me: this notion that, in playing to a genre’s rules, the characters’ loss is minimized in favor of either upholding social order (in determinate film genres) or in integrating into a more balanced society (in indeterminate films). I find this particularly interesting in that we, as an audience, have been (and apologies for the blunt wording) effectively groomed by filmmakers and genre conventions alike to ignore those unanswered questions that might linger at the back of the mind after the credits roll.

    When you watch a typical romantic comedy, where the two leads constantly spend the 90 minute runtime at each others’ throats and/or have opposing careers, you’re simply supposed to expect that they get together in the end–no questions asked, because the man grows to become a more “mature person” or the woman learns to stop being so uptight/a workaholic and just “enjoy life”. You don’t consider whether or not they’re truly compatible because it’s fiction, so you can just enjoy these acceptable breaks from reality even when you know that, logically speaking, the two opposites would likely end up signing the divorce papers maybe a few months into their happily ever after.

    My favorite genre is horror, because of how vast and yet simply structured it is. I’d say, in reading Schatz, the horror genre could be considered determinate on the surface—there are things that go bump in the night that threatens our peaceful social order (serial killer, monster, an indescribable cosmic threat), with typically one to maybe five or so average joes/scientists/etc. tasked with dealing with the threat, typically through a violent confrontation. Despite horror’s many subgenre’s, there’s still plenty of “rules” that even those who don’t even watch horror are aware about: the characters who do drugs/have sex/are minorities tend to be killed off or otherwise “punished” first, there’s an old creepy abandoned asylum that the foolish teenagers happen to explore one spooky night, the creepy local drunkard spewing ominous warnings to our doomed protagonists, spooky clues hidden around abandoned locals giving some vague hints at the greater danger, etc., etc.

    Yet as our growing understanding of these tropes continue to flourish, plenty of filmmakers are willing to twist the conventions and tropes of genres like horror until the subversion/deconstruction of a trope becomes almost just as recognized as the old trope it was twisting to begin with. Back in 1996, the hit slasher film scream was hailed as a revolutionary classic due to it twisting some of the slasher film’s most recognizable tropes: final girl Sidney Prescott survived the film despite having sex, alongside a snooty reporter and her nerdy best friend; likewise, the killer wasn’t some silent, unstoppable maniac lurking in the shadows but were instead ordinary, human people who make arguably more mistakes than any of their victims. Yet, nowadays, while Scream is still regarded as a classic and revolutionary film for it’s impact on the slasher genre, most people seeing it nowadays won’t really get the impact of these little changes in genre convictions due to an oversaturation of trendy imitators and growing cultural awareness of these tropes; nowadays, it isn’t so uncommon for the final girl to not be the pure, innocent virgin that dominated 80’s cinemas. and the tired joke of “black/LGBTQA character always die in horror” has been turned on it’s head with films like Get Out and the recent remake of Black Christmas. Similarly, Scream’s tongue-in-cheek mockery of conventional slasher films paved the way for other deconstructive darkly humorous takes on the slasher genre: 2006’s Behind The mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon documents the journey of a aspiring horror movie slasher villain in his attempts to make his name in horror history among the greats like Michael and Freddy, with plenty of discussion of the Freudian symbolism in a young woman taking down her male tormentor with a phallic weapon, and giving a behind-the-scenes look on how a typical slasher villain operates. Likewise, 2014’s You’re Next mixes slasher with home invasion and family drama, once again humanizing mysterious masked killers and presenting us with a heroine who takes the fight to the monster immediately as opposed to either being blissfully unaware or cowering until she is the last one standing.

    Nowadays, it’s a cycle of subverting/deconstructing genre until the deconstruction becomes a facet of genre in of itself, and I am really interested to see how I cam try and potentially explore that in the future.

  20. I have admittedly not studied film in an academic context before (which just makes me all the more excited to this semester!), but I have studied literature genres many times, so I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between how the system of film genres and genre films work vs. how fiction genres and genre fiction work. I think it is so interesting to study genre film and how genre conventions shape films, such as how Schatz mentions that later genre films often respond to earlier ones. I am also excited for the Washington DC theme of this semester. Like a lot of my Virginian classmates, I’ve visited DC many times throughout my life, be it with family or friends or a school trip. It has always been close by, but I’ve never really thought about DC as a location outside of these trips, so I’m excited. Also seemingly like lots of my classmates, I’m a big horror fan, so I’m definitely most looking forward to watching the Exorcist.

  21. Hi everyone, I’m Grace. I personally found the idea of how culture can affect how genres are depicted to be very interesting. I like to watch many movies across different cultures, so to see this topic incorporated into our notes was very satisfying. I took Intro to Cinema Studies in fall 2019 and I enjoyed it, so I thought it’d be a great idea to take this class. My favorite genre by far would be horror. I even spent most of my time during the shutdown exploring horror movies with my family. As for my relationship to DC, I don’t visit that often, which is funny to me seeing as I’ve always lived close-by in Northern Virginia. Maybe I’ll start exploring it in the future.

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