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190 Paper 2 - Andrew Soliman Piday Warren CTCS 190 22...

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Andrew Soliman Piday Warren CTCS 190 22 November 2011 “As a genre’s classic conventions are refined and eventually parodied and subverted, its transparency gradually gives way to opacity: we no longer look through the form to glimpse an idealized self-image, rather we look at the form itself to examine and appreciate its structure and its cultural appeal” Drew Casper An Exploration of Modern and Postmodern Comedy Film Like all other art forms, the medium of film is in constant flux. So too are the genres that operate within the medium of film. This flux can be accounted for, because the medium must progress in order to maintain the attention of their audience. In conjunction with this, each era that a genre undergoes is a response to the previous era. Thus, the eras of film are interrelated by a tenuous web, retaining some aspects throughout time, and altering or opposing others. The genre of comedy in specific has come quite a long way from its origins in classical slapstick comedy. Despite the difference between comedy of old and current Hollywood blockbusters, however, several of the key elements of classical comedy remain in order to define the genre. It can then be said that all comedy films are different takes on classical comedy. Therefore, it is pertinent to examine the fundamentals of comedy that remain constant in films made in different eras, as compared to the specific techniques and traits that define each era of film, using the films Young Frankenstein and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as case studies. Comedy is simultaneously one of the most popular and one of the broadest genres in the film lexicon. The mass appeal of the genre can be attributed to its ability to take people out of their day-to-day lives and make them laugh for a little bit. It is precisely this
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attribute that most generally delineates the genre; comedy is intended to evoke laughter. Not only do they all make you laugh, but every comedy film since the earliest ones made by the Lumiere Brothers have done so in the same way: by using the element of the unexpected. In a study of comedy, not just in film but also in general, it becomes clear that “conventional patterns can be turned into laughter by inverting them” (Grant 191). Apart from that general outline, it is difficult to define the comedy genre further. There are, however, many more generic myths, conventions, and iconographies that can be attributed to the classical era of comedy, but have remained throughout the flux of comedy and even into the postmodern era. These include the hero as a couple or collective in which the protagonist drives the plot, surrounded closely by other characters that add comedic aspects. The setting of classical comedy films is classically a civilized space in which the protagonists does not initially belong, but must assimilate into. Thus, the conflict of such a plot is an internalized or emotional one belonging to the main protagonist in his efforts to make peace with his counterparts and be accepted by his community. The resolution is typically the community’s acceptance of the protagonist
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