rr-3 - Altman, Chapter 5The Problem of Genre History (The...

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Altman, Chapter 5—“The Problem of Genre History” (The American Film Musical) A. Conventional and the proposed, “improved” model (Altman’s) 1. The two conventional primary approaches to genre history are; a. Mythical qualities: audience’s ritual relationship to genre film; participation ion the genre film experience thus reinforces spectator expectations and desires. Far from being limited to mere entertainment, film-gong offers a satisfaction more akin to that associated with established religion. (advocated by Leo Braudy, Frank McConnell, Michael Wood, Will Wright, and Tom Schatz) Assigns ultimate authorship to the audience (Hollywood responds to societal pressure and thus expressing audience desires)(94) b. Ideological (capitalist) how audiences are manipulated by the business and political interests of Hollywood; stresses questions of representation and identification—characterizes each individual genre as a specific type of lie, an untruth whose most characteristic feature is its ability to masquerade as truth; (Hollywood takes advantage of spectator energy and psychic investment to lure the audience into Hollywood’s own positions) 2. Toward a new Terminology 1. his new methodology “which encompasses and indeed thrives on their inherent contradictions. . .to respect the extraordinary energy generated by the play of contradictory forces within a field” (95) 2. semantic elements which make up the genre; genre’s building blocks; “a text’s materials” 3. syntactic arrangement—privileges the structures into which the building blocks are arranged. (95) “meaning bearing structure;” the structures into which the text’s materials are arranged 4. Semantic/syntactic genre “theory distinguishes between the primary, linguistic meaning of a text’s component parts secondary, or textual meaning which those parts acquire through a structuring process internal to the text” (99-100). ( examples from Western and horror) Fundamental to syntactic/semantic distinction is a theory of how meaning of one kind contributes to an eventually establishes meaning of another.” Generic meaning comes into being only through the repeated deployment of substantially the same syntactic structures.” [so that means syntax is more important than semantics?] “It’s important to remember that while each individual text has a syntax of its own, the syntax implied here is that of the genre, which does not appear as generic syntax unless it is reinforced numerous times by the syntactic patterns of individual texts. The Hollywood genres that have proven the most durable are precisely those that have established the most coherent syntax (the western, the musical); those that disappear the quickest depend entirely on recurring semantic elements, never developing a stable syntax (reporter, catastrophe, and big caper films, to name a few).” (101) 5. “Spectator response, I believe, is heavily conditioned by the choice of semantic elements and atmosphere, because a given semantics used in a
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course SLS 492 taught by Professor Swenson during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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rr-3 - Altman, Chapter 5The Problem of Genre History (The...

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