Friday, October 12, 2012

code word: genre

When "genre" is applied as an adjective, not a noun, what does it mean? Genre movie, genre television, genre genres...

Speaking as someone who isn't in any way part of the entertainment industry, my impression is that it's a code word for "nerdy". The undertone is that labeling media as "nerdy" is too embarrassing. Much better to use the code word whenever possible. As a nerd, I can't help feeling a little offended by this.

Part of my issue is that this practice raises more questions than it answers. I've read that this usage of "genre" is taken directly from the book publishing terminology "genre fiction". According to the Wikipedia entry for genre fiction, crime, mystery, and romance are all identifiable media genres that fiction creators intentionally target. Doesn't this indicate that Breaking Bad is "genre" (crime)? NCIS (mystery)? Rom-coms (romance)? These appear to be genre fiction according to the established definition. If someone objects to calling these genre fiction, then that objection is an indication that the genre adjective is really a code word now, and not short for "genre fiction".

I suppose that there are alternatives to both "genre" and "nerdy". These alternatives emphasize the divergence of these genre genres from prosaic contemporary life: speculative, imaginative, alternate-reality. I'm generally unimpressed by the blatant substitution of code words, but at least these alternatives positively emphasize common characteristics of the works rather than negatively emphasize what the works are not (i.e., Not Literary).

No comments:

Post a Comment