“Let me put down my frappuccino and talk about genre”
The above link is to an io9 interview with the director of Let Me In, the American remake of Let the Right One In. The article is fine and makes me look even more forward to the film. I enjoyed the original, and there was little chance I would not see it. It is a vampire romance with kids in a depressing setting. What can go wrong?
What bothers me is that even the director of the film has taken to the science fiction/fantasy/etc. fan habit of referring to the grouping of genres simply as genre. He discusses making a genre film. It is not a urban fantasy or horror film. It is a genre film.
The origin of the usage is completely understandable. These media have genres and stray from normal fiction. In a bookstore these books would not be found in the fiction section. In a video store they have their own specific categories. The thing that gets me is that fiction is a genre. These all fall under that umbrella category. It may be a story that could be about your neighbors, but it is part of a genre.
Genre film implies that other films are genreless. That does not work for me.
Maybe this has happened because mediamakers (can I coin that?) are tired of microcategorizing what they make. Earlier I mentioned urban fantasy, a genre I first read about on io9. Basically it is fantasy that fits into a realistic setting, setting Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, and True Blood. Fantastical elements that occur in the neighborhood. Ten years ago Buffy and Angel were simply horror, regardless of the comedy and teen drama elements.
I have been caught saying dramedy many times in the past. Six Feet Under? Dramedy. Veronica Mars? Teen dramedy. Microcategory within microcategory.
Why not just simplify it? Science fiction and fantasy fans have combined all of those under their umbrellas and called it not science fiction and fantasy – like it used to be – but genre. Genre excludes realistic fiction, comedy, mystery, and musical/dance unless such media include fantastic elements. Regardless, those are genres in their own right. They just do not manage to count.
It seems to me that calling them genre is just the hip thing to do. Oh, you’re going to see a comedy? Sorry, I much prefer genre films. Musical? If it were genre it would be great. Let’s see Repo! The Genetic Opera instead. Thank you but no thank you.
Inclusiveness within a concise term provides strength for fans and the genres involved. At the same time, it manages to put off people. In all honesty, I like saying science fiction. I like saying fantasy. I like the separation. And the haughtiness attached to genre really does not help the cause of inviting more people into our exclusive geek club here.