Imagine it’s late at night and you’re laying in your bed actively trying to find a Netflix TV show or movie. There are thousands of movies and shows at your fingertips, but you cannot decide what you want to watch. You may ask yourself: why can I never find a show or movie to watch? Then all of a sudden a light bulb goes off right above your head, and you decide to search by Genres. Wow, what an amazing thing to be able to find entertainment with similar topics all in the same place. Wrong. Although you may find a flick quick and easily, you finish your search without expanding your cinematic horizons. In a society that consists of short attention spans and endless options, Genres can be considered a great thing. On the other hand, Genres limit people to embracing the same kinds of entertainment without every branching out. The questions to be argued are: are Genres a good thing? Or are they simply masquerading as something good?
Like most things Genres have their pros and their cons. However, before determining if Genres are good or bad, we should first examine what the word means. According to The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, Genres are “the classification of literary works on the basis of their content, form or technique” (175). Labeling things and classifying them into groups is done in many aspects of life. Fruits are foods generated by plants or trees and have seeds. Basketball and soccer are classified as contact sports because they contain a degree of physical contact. Classification and genrefication materializes in all different facets of life including areas like food, sports, literature, cinema and other art forms.
There are many positive aspects to genres that allows for much easier access to all forms of entertainment. Finding movies, and shows that we like has never been easier, because our entertainment service of choice divides them into extremely specified genres. Entertainment providers like Netflix have split up there shows into genres as specific as “Cult Horror Movies”, “Standup Comedy” and “Political TV Documentaries” among many more. What a fantastic thing? It is amazing that humans can now quickly access cinematic entertainment of our liking in minutes or even seconds.
We often find a great movie or book that we latch onto and maybe even finish the series. The sadness that strikes when we conclude the series is like no other. The only replacement is another series, and the best way to find that new series is by looking through genres. Maybe you just read “The Hunger Games” series and are now looking for another gritty action series to replace it. Lucky for you, your local library is probably set up to find the perfect stand-in for your favorite books. Parting ways with a specific movie, TV or book series can be tough, and genres allow for people to find a very similar series to continue their adventures.
There are negative aspects of genres however that originates in their destruction of uniqueness. To unpack what I mean by “destruction of uniqueness”, I will liken a child’s drawing to a work of entertainment. The child likely felt that their drawing was very special and unique; so they decided to give the drawing to their teacher. The teacher said they liked the drawing and then threw it in a pile with the other kids’ drawings. The kid probably wouldn’t feel as though his drawing was that special anymore after being put into a stack of other kids’ drawings. The same applies to entertainment. To genrefy entertainment is to amass unique works of art, and lump them together under a label. The act of denaming a work of entertainment, and stripping it of its’ identity is essentially what genrefication is.
There is so much personality driven into entertainment and it isn’t done justice, because of genres. People may not explore certain movies or books because the sound of the genre turns them away. An example is a genre may be called “Fantasy Movies”. Maybe someone really disliked the fantasy movies they saw in the past so they decide to not look at that particular genre. Extraordinarily unique movies may not even receive the liberty of getting a momentary glance because the movie’s genre turned the viewer away. The viewer may be interested that a new movie from the “Harry Potter” series came out, but then read that it is a “Fantasy Movie” and be discouraged. Another example is when someone finds another piece of entertainment under the “Anime” genre. What I mean by this is that genres can carry negative connotations that people may be afraid to take part in. Anime is a great example of this, because some people may not understand or appreciate the art. Genres can scare viewers away from entertainment that they may have visited before realizing that it was placed under that category.
Genres are a really interesting aspect of entertainment, because it makes things seemingly easier, but simultaneously harder. Genres can make libraries and movie websites easier to access, but viewers and readers can also miss out on titles they would’ve wandered into by mistake. Genres can lead people into trying new things, because they’re tired of the same old genres. However, genres ultimately place unique works of art under a broader label which doesn’t portray the work’s special aspects. Genres can be a great thing for searching for entertainment or a really limiting way to search for entertainment depending on the how the consumer utilizes them.