The Flexibility of Genre

Genre characterizations, both academic and not, conjure up a singular look and feel to the genre film. A Western has a moral main character and the antagonist has an immoral character. They settle their conflict violently against a backdrop of beautiful vast open spaces.

The gangster film has an urban setting that makes the gangster’s struggle modern. But the means of conflict resolution remain violent.

These characteristics are accurate but limiting. Genre has always been flexible, pliant to creative reinterpretation as well as the audience’s insatiable craving for novelty. Although we will use specific genres to illustrate genre flexibility, it might be useful to contextualize the range of flexibility, by looking ...

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