Three Questions To ‘Ponder’

  1. How useful is the notion of genre for explaining the full range of modern media texts?
  2. Which types of cultural production appear to be the most generic and why? Which appear to be the least generic and why? How do these reflections tie into the work you are doing on your optional modules?
  3. Does the notion of genre aid our understanding of newer forms of cultural production such as online production? Does Adorno’s thesis still hold true given the ‘democratic’ nature of the internet?

Responses:

1. I think genre is still relevant to cinema, as there are modern trends within cinema (such as superhero movies) which follow conventions to target audiences if. If genre was not relevant, ‘trends’ and ‘fashions’ would not exist. However, user-generated content do not have audiences. ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ was put up on Youtube because the maker thought it was cute and decided to share it with the world. No profit was intending to be made from it. No audience needed to be targeted. Thus, genre is less relevant to such viral videos.

A lot of user generated content appeals to the masses. Genre is relevant in mainly targeting select groups of audiences. Unless a media artefact is created with the sole design of targeting an audience (for promotional purposes, profit or otherwise), genre is not so important. A lot of user generated content is put up because people have access to the internet, and nothing else. Equals Three reviews viral adverts, and can appeal to anyone above a certain age. Jon LaJoie also has a general audience above a certain age. The Annoying Orange doesn’t really target anyone in particular either – they’re just there for the taking. They all have comedy elements however – very little user generated content is serious (probably because of the low production values – comedy is cheap providing you have wit). The lack of serious production could affect why genre is lacking in these artefacts.

2.

The types of cultural production that are most reliant on genre are the ones that involve the most capital. Cinemas rely heavily on genre to target audiences, as do television shows and dramas. Video games also target specific niche markets of gamers, depending on the content. Music has it’s own genres. But again, the artefacts without target audiences are the ones least reliant on genre. Genre can be used via props, or via conventions. Props and conventions cost money to construct, which is why official broadcasters use genres more than user generated content does.

In terms of Formats, genre is important for highlighting target audiences for your show. We are creating quiz shows, that have a general audience, and that is reliant on humour, much in the same way as youtube viral videos. When targeting general audiences, comedy is always a good thing to use, as it’s cheap. It’s interesting to know that most quiz shows originated on the radio, and usually involved comedy and wit of some sort, because that’s cheap to make (which is desirable on pilot runs with no guarantee of success). Effectively, user-generated content will be at that level for a long time, cheap, cheerful, and reliant on humour.

The interesting part will happen when user-generated content starts becoming a viable source of income. As the money in that area of the industry goes up, so will production values. When things such as props can be afforded in user-generated media, genre will start to become more relevant. This ties in wth my prediction of an outbreak of ‘pirate media’, that will possibly occur within the next ten years. If user-generated media goes ‘professional’ (as it has already started doing), official broadcasters will have serious problems in the upcoming decades.

3.

As aforementioned, genre will not help us to understand online productions, unless they are designed to target audiences, or do that with which the idea of genre is imposed. Theodor Adorno mentioned the idea of the ‘authentic’, which is quite relevant to this topic.

Some may say that user-generated online media are nowadays more authentic than that of official broadcasters and publishers. Films and TV series are all about ‘representation’ through the media channels, with purposes to inform, or entertain. Formats and genres are used to allow audiences to identify with the material, but in using these, ‘authenticity’ is lost – the artefacts take a certain stance on a topic, or portray a certain point of view.

Online videos are uploaded perhaps to entertain, or perhaps to inform. ‘Two O Clock Reviews’ is a series in which people are interviewed at 2:00am, having just watched the late night premiers of the latest films. Those artefacts are to inform. The Escapist reviews games, and thus has a target audience there, but is not particularly part of any genre. As mentioned above, comedy and the purpose of entertainment always seems to be the driving force behind what gets uploaded to the internet. Battle At Kruger is not particularly comedic in nature, but it is entertaining.

One thing that is differentiating the authentic with the mainstream, besides production values, are timelines. Very little user-generated content lasts beyond fifteen minutes, whether it be reviews, films, or shows. Roughly six minutes is the average I deduce. This suggests that internet entertainment is more relevant to office hours than TV is. During the day, in lunch breaks, people tune in to their favourite internet shows, but by night, they want something ore substantial, and this tune in to the BBC or ITV. It is only a matter of time before the internet starts making better shows – people from all over the world need to get organised to make shows that rival those of the BBC, but I’m sure they’re out there.

Thus, to conclude, we can say that genre does not apply to online media yet. Online media holds a variety of things, from the controversial to the innocent. They may all be to entertain, but they are not aimed at any particular audience, and thus do not need to fit into a genre. This can account for the really random things one might find on the internet. Perhaps eventually people will start making big bucks by creating formats online. PERHAPS my prediction of Pirate TV and Pirate Radio through ‘pirate satellites’ on the internet will come true. The internet opens everyone up to all and sundry, and where there is cash to be made, people will do it. Genre is crucial to identifying target audiences, so once money is thrown into the mix, maybe one day genre will be more relevant to online medias.

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