The word “Genre” originates from the french and Latin word for kind/class this is any category of music, literature, art, entertainment; whether it’s written or spoken it’s based on a stylistic criteria. But genre theories or genre studies began as a classification system for Greek literature, including performances, poetry and prose which each had a specific style related to the theme of the story. This then developed in the 18th century where theorists tried to find a genre that’s the equivalent with the realities within the texts; meaning that they attempted to find specific categories for the text/film.

However, today we realise how difficult it is to categorise films into a particular genre because they often have conventions of more than one genre. Therefore, many people argue “Is there really such thing as genre?” because films have aspects which fit into different groups so the word genre simply has no meaning behind it. For instance: the film “Star Wars” has the label Science-Fantasy because the sub-genre blends it’s elements of science fiction and supernatural; which if it was just labelled with the genre of Fantasy then it would lose the sci-fi theme presented through the characters.

Additionally, the creators face problems as they can’t experiment out of the genre because without a label on their idea, they are most likely to not succeed in the production of the film. This is due to the audience who require genre to understand and choose their media. As a viewer, I will most likely go and see a film which ticks all the boxes for a thriller film for example, if I have seen the trailer which reveals snippets of what will occur in the film. This links to the theorist Fiske, who mentioned genre is made up of conventions such as the settings, recurring icons, plots, themes and prepares audiences expectations. These conventions build the genre and are constantly repeated in each film that fits in the same category. So genre is used by producers to target the audience as they can recognise and identify it from the characteristics presented in the film.

Another film theorist, Steve Neale states that “genres are instances of repetition and difference”; this means that adding differences within the genre is essential because more repetition would not attract the viewer, the film would just be using the same ideas and conventions as several other films in that genre. But he believed that the film must still conform to these inventions enough so that it can still be identified as a film of that genre. As well as, the film must establish these convention enough that it is still viewed as a unique film, not just a clone of another film based in that genre. I agree with Steve Neale because the target audience recognises the conventions of other films that fit in that genre, and will therefore associate their feelings which are shown as conventions in the film.


Film theorist Rick Altman argues there is no such thing as a “pure” category for a film as genre is progressive, constantly changing throughout time. His theory suggests that the audinces have become tired of the same characterisitcs of a genre in a film and so films are now made to entertain/appeal to them. As films are oftenly extremely similar in the sense that we know what’s going to happen and therefore want something different to suprise us. Thus he claimed that genre is only suriving because of hybridisation, or genres using different conventions from one another; this then makes it harder to categorise films today. I can relate his theory to the film “Suicide Squad” for the reason that it contains elements of an action film due to the fighting scenes and the use of props like guns. But also it can be classified as a thriller film because of the character the Joker played by Jared Leto, who acts as a terrifying psycopath creating tension from the villains in the super-hero movie called “The Suicide Squad”.

I can conlude that the theory of genre has changed over time; leading to sub-genres and hybridisation because films now adays contain conventions of more than one genre to excite the viewer.