Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I want to be Clementine Ford – Except for the Ryan Gosling obsession.

I first met Clem on Twitter. Yes I said it. I met Clem on Twitter - and then strangely we ran into each other at a local café and only realised we were each other until we both hit up Twitter ten minutes later.

Clem is a freelance journalist, boner killer (her words not mine) and notorious trouble maker out of Melbourne and an exception writer. I say exceptional because when I think of being a good writer I think of being a good truth teller. Essentially writing, whether it is fiction, journalism, or birthday cards, is all about telling the truth as you see it.

Clem writes about what she sees, how it makes her feel and the rest is well, a big case of deal with it. What I like the most about her writing is her feminist social analysis. Some of her articles are exceptionally well thought out, researched and basically spot on when discussing social issues to do with women in our society.

I like Clem’s work because she writes regardless of the haters and I wish that I had the vagina to do the same. Clem receives quite a bit of angst for her thoughts none more so than the barrage she received below on Twitter. This tosser was promptly deleted by Twitter, but none the less Clem took it on the chin and well the rest is beautiful history.

If you want to read some thought provoking truth then hit up Clem, like, yesterday. Facebook search “Clementine Ford” hit up her blog HERE and follow her on Twitter @clementine_ford.

Clem also writes for the Drum and you can find some of her articles HERE..

Get on it…oh just look past the Ryan Gosling obsession. I think she has a Ryan Gosling blow - up doll.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

One for the Nerds - What is the purpose of Genre?

Here's my last Uni Assignment. I'm still trying to get my academic writing on, but i really enjoyed researching this essay. For those of you who love your genre films or just a decent film in general, you'll like parts of this essay.

Go on get your nerd on, and have a read.



What is the purpose of genre?

            When discussing the purpose of genre in film, we must first analyse what genre is, and the various elements that constitute a genre film or filmic product. Most films will broadly fit into a genre category, or type of genre but determining what these genres are will largely depend on the interpretation of the texts that constitute the definition of genre. As Stadler and McWilliam state genre can be defined as “…a type or kind…one way that films and television programs are classified into recognizable groups and sub-groups by privileging particular similarities to (and dissimilarities from) other films and television programs.” (2009, Pg 218).
            A genre film could broadly be defined as possessing at least some or all of these elements to make the genre identifiable to another. Pramaggiore and Wallis state “…a genre refers to a group of films that share a set of narrative, stylistic, and thematic characteristics or conventions. While not every film in a given genre will exhibit all of the genre’s conventions, every film in a genre will exhibit at least some of them.” (2008, Pg 374)
            Genre is a style of film in which the viewer can come to expect certain elements consistent with that genre. As Neale states, “Genres do not consist only of films: they consist also, and equally, of specific systems of expectation and hypothesis that spectators bring with them to the cinema and that interact with films themselves during the course of the viewing process. These systems provide spectators with a means of recognition and understanding.” (1997, p160). But what are the elements or texts that make up a particular genre and how are they interpreted? As Stadler and McWilliam state “…the most common conventions around which genre texts are classified are: a formulaic plot; setting; style and structure; and iconography.” (2009, Pg 219).
            These texts are the defining elements in which a viewer can identify a certain genre different from another. For example a viewer can identify a western movie by its iconography. Western films will have a cowboy who wears a cowboy hat and uses a “six shooter” and rides into town on a horse under the backdrop of a setting sunset, while off in the saloon the antagonist, or outlaw will be drinking whiskey or playing poker and usually be dressed in all black. These are all iconic elements that identify the film as being a western genre film.
            In this instance the western genre creates predictability in the narrative and serves a purpose to allow the viewer to know what kind of film they are seeing. By having these conventions it serves a purpose of identification with these elements that assist the viewer in knowing what to expect from the film. So when someone goes to see a western film they know that at some point there will be a shootout with the sheriff and that he will need to rescue someone, usually his unrequited love.
            A particular genre text however, is only defined in that genre of film as it conforms to those particular genre’s conventions. As Stadler and McWilliam state, “This process is both contextual and intertextual, because it is an articulation of one texts relation to the other texts, in terms of their shared features.” (2009, Pg 219). So when in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) another film is quoted like Star Wars and a character says “I’ve noticed you have gone to the grumpier side of the force” another text is referenced linking the two.
            Some films or filmic products will not strictly stay to one particular genre but indeed be a hybrid genre. Stadler and McWilliam state that “…hybrid-genre texts are not only common, but also much more common that than single-genre texts.”  (2009, Pg 221). Using BTVS as an example it could be broadly categorized as horror, but it also has elements of adventure, fantasy and also romance as all genre texts from these genres make an appearance in some form or another thorough out the course of a season.
            Genre can be intrinsically linked to popular texts and the production of such genre films or filmic products can be dependant upon what is selling in Hollywood at the time. Gibson states “…Hollywood is surely a cinema of genres, a cinema of westerns, gangster films, musical, melodramas, and thrillers. Indeed, in early reflections on Hollywood cinema, it was this very quality that generated antagonistic criticism, with generic structures being deemed an impediment to artistic achievement.” (1998, Pg 327). In recent years the “Vampire” genre or resurgence in vampire iconography that makes up a vampire film (pale colored characters, violence, blood, biting, crosses, werewolves) has had a resurgent not just in film genre but also in the literary world which has fueled more vampire orientated films and filmic products.
            The purpose of genre however, is not be used as a mere definition or tool to categorize a film in terms of whether it is different or the same as another, but to provide an expectation with the viewer for what film they are going to see. Individual genres might be difficult to define in themselves, as the elements that make up that genre are important in defining a film for the audience. Lacey states, “Despite the difficulty in defining genres, it is obvious that genre is a potent concept because both audiences and institutions use genre to define texts, and producers use genre to generate and articulate meaning.” (2005, Pg 59)

            It is the strength of the texts within the genre themselves that can give the film strength and meaning. Whilst a genre film might provide a certain element of predictability in narrative, it can also be strengthen by adding different texts from other genres to enhance the film – this would be another purpose of genre and the sum of its texts. Lacey states that “…genres, while essentially formulaic, thrive on difference. Hence if we have a clear idea of what a particular genre consists of, this can be contrasted with how the generic conventions are sued to individual texts. Such differences may simply be in the mix of ingredients, such as a film start appearing in the genre not associated with her or him.” (2005, Pg 59). As an example, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) in its sixth season saw a particular demon come to town and turn everyone’s life into a real life musical. It was an entire episode of music where characters would go from talking in normal dialogue to suddenly breaking out into song and everyone dancing. Whilst the texts in BTVS could be broadly categorized as horror, and fantasy by adding a different text from a completely different associated genre such as the iconography of a musical, it created a completely different genre or hybrid genre by creating a horror musical with similarities to the Rocky Horror Picture show - but with less distortion guitar. These mixing of texts in genre creates hybrid genres as previous discussed and the formation of subgenres
            Genre does serve a purpose however in how a film is communicated and indeed marketed by film companies and Hollywood. Cinema goers want to see a certain kind of film, or might be in the mood for a certain film, and genre has now been an element to serve a purpose of brining people to the movies by appealing to our need for formulaic plot and narrative construction.
            Genre has also provided a medium for people to view the changing nature of culture as the genre changes. Whilst some genres will still reclaim the tradition of certain elements, they can develop and change over time as culture changes thus creating a reflection on certain elements of the changing nature of our society. Pramiggiore and Wallis state, “Another mode of criticism measures how genres gradually change, or evolve. While on one level genres retain their basic conventions, over time certain conventions will give way to others. An obvious example is the horror film’s depiction of monsters. The more obviously grotesque products of nature or science have been replaced by serial killers who appear perfectly normal.” (2008, Pg. 393).
            These subtle changes are both a reflection on the changing nature of our culture and filmmakers are changing the elements within the genre to make sure that the particular genre still applies and is believable to an audience. Some elements of a western film made in the 1950’s would be drastically different because of the social atmosphere as apposed to a western film today. Brokeback Mountain, which could broadly be categorized as a western still had some of the traditional elements of a western film. The iconography of the cowboy on the land and the costume they wore, however by making both the male characters gay made a significant impact on the genre of the film by reflecting views of gay rights, as was the time when the film was made in 2005. Obviously having two gay cowboys in a John Wayne film in the 1950’s would have significantly altered the predictability of the narrative with the western genre and would most certainly not reflected the American culture of the time. 
            In conclusion genre serves a purpose to give the viewer a point of reference of what kind of film they either want to see or are seeing. By containing elements and texts that confirm a particular genre a viewer and a filmmaker can rely upon the stylistic nature of the genre. But further than that, genre serves a purpose as to comment on the changing nature of our society and culture. By having predictable elements such as iconography and narrative with a certain genre, change even slightly, this tells us that our culture is demanding more of the cinema and asking filmmakers to provide a more believable and up to date reflection of that particular genre, its elements and how it relates to the audience. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Street Preachers v’s Street Guardians. How The Green Team is balancing the crazy.

My first exposure to the Rundle Mall hate preachers was at the 2010 Fringe when, upon entering, I heard a barrage of messages from some smelly guy, in yesterday’s clothes who was in desperate need of a shower and a spiritual lobotomy – it was Fringe time so I didn’t think it was anything strange.

He was on a box (although I don’t think it was a soap box) screaming into a megaphone that created only fuzzled muffled tones. But within the first few minutes I was able to decipher that these guys were all about preaching their gospel of hate and intolerance. It took me about five minutes to realize that it wasn’t in impromptu Fringe show. Anything on the streets of Adelaide in Feb and March could be considered a Fringe show – I was so disappointed that I wasn’t watching some street theater but actually fervent “Christian” dudes believing the crazy they were trying to sell.

Since then the Rundle Mall Street preachers have been creating quite a stir, especially in the media, and with the inability for the Adelaide City Council to stop them from screaming at unsuspecting shoppers, and now with recent reports of them now “preaching” on Adelaide trains.

These guys give me a shudder to the very core of my non-committal, non-practicing, recovering, pseudo Christian spine.

What disturbs me the most (other than their intolerance and crazy talk of God and hate) is that the minority is screaming the loudest. These crazy’s are giving a wrong impression about Christianity to many people.

Most (I say most because I have met some that have embraced the crazy side of the Christian force) Christians are people with a genuine faith and determination to leave this world better than what they have found it.

Enter The Green Team.

In stark contrast to the Rundle Street Preachers, if you continue to mozie on down to the west side of the city and head into the darker edgier parts of Hindley St you may see a bunch of young people cruising around in bright Green Hoodies.

These guys are The Green Team – a group of committed young people from Adelaide Churches coordinated through Encounter Youth (visit HERE.) who wander the dark corners of Hindley St to assist Police and those young people who have got on the sauce a little too much.

I had the pleasure of working for Encounter Youth a couple of times and I still remain impressed. The first time was a genuinely enjoyable experience….the second….was….well…..i digress.

Starting about 10 years ago at the Schoolies Festival in Victor Harbor, The Green Team is an example of what Christianity should be about – less CD purchasing, and less megaphone preaching, and more helping of those who need it.

So next time you are wandering in the City on a Friday and Saturday night, head down to Hindley St and say hi to a Green Teamer. They’re there to provide an extra presence for Police and help those drunk 19 year old girls who stagger out of Red Square get into a cab safely, and to help Police nab those wanker 21 year old guys who feel the need to get their testosterone on with some fisty cuffs.

So next time you see a bunch of hairy, smelly, weird looking dudes shouting their crazy about how God hates fags, and girls who have sex before marriage go to hell, remember these two things…:

They use the bible like a Selleys no gaps filler. They just use it where they need too.

And most Christians would rather wear green than stand on a soapbox. Me on the other hand will do neither and continue to just sit on the fence, point and go…”What is that…?”

If only there was a way the Green Team could make music CD’s and sell them to make millions….oh sorry hang on, that’s not the point.

My bad…



See a promo video below...its a little lame, but you get the idea. Sorry Jess...