Posts tagged ‘Genre’

September 29, 2012

Hysterical Realism

White Teeth

Hysterical realism, also called ‘recherché postmodernism,’ is a term coined in 2000 by the English critic James Wood in an essay for ‘The New Republic’ on Zadie Smith’s novel ‘White Teeth’ to describe what he sees as a literary genre typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization and careful, detailed investigations of real specific social phenomena.

Wood uses the term to denote the contemporary conception of the ‘big, ambitious novel’ that pursues ‘vitality at all costs’ and consequently ‘knows a thousand things but does not know a single human being.’ He decried the genre as an attempt to ‘turn fiction into social theory,’ and an attempt to tell us ‘how the world works rather than how somebody felt about something.’ Wood points to Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon as the forefathers of the genre, which continues in writers like David Foster Wallace and Salman Rushdie.

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September 26, 2012

Film à clef

Citizen Kane

A film à clef [fil ma kle] (French for ‘film with a key’), is a film describing real life, behind a façade of fiction. ‘Key’ in this context means a table one can use to swap out the names. It is the film equivalent of the roman à clef (‘novel with a key’). Notable films à clef’s include ‘8½,’ based on Federico Fellini’s experience suffering from ‘director’s block.’ ‘Annie Hall,’ is believed to be a version of Woody Allen’s own relationship with Diane Keaton. Allen has denied this in interviews, however. ‘Citizen Kane,’ is a thinly disguised biographical film about publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. ‘Dreamgirls,’ the musical film based on the career of The Supremes.

‘Magnolia’ is loosely inspired by Paul Thomas Anderson’s experience in dealing with his father’s death from cancer. ‘Adaptation’ is partially adapted from Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book ‘The Orchid Thief,’ but most of the film is a heavily fictionalized account of Charlie Kaufman’s difficulty in adapting the book into a screenplay. In ‘Lost in Translation’ Charlotte and John are believed to be based loosely on writer-director Sofia Coppola and her ex-husband, Spike Jonze. ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ features a protagonist based loosely on Jacques Cousteau.

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September 26, 2012

Roman à clef

primary colors

Roman à clef [raw-mah na kle] (French for ‘novel with a key’) is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a facade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the ‘key’ is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. This ‘key’ may be produced separately by the author, or implied through the use of epigraphs (a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document) or other literary devices.

Created by French writer Madeleine de Scudery in the 17th century to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures, roman à clef has since been used by writers as diverse as Victor Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, and Bret Easton Ellis.

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September 14, 2012

Afrofuturism

Deltron 3030

Afrofuturism is an emergent literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.

Examples of seminal afrofuturistic works include the novels of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler; the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the photography of Renée Cox; as well as the extraterrestrial mythos of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra, and the music of DJ Spooky. 

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August 26, 2012

Electro House

Benny Benassi

Electro house is a subgenre of house music influenced by 1980s music. The term has been used to describe the music of many of the world’s top DJs, such as David Guetta, deadmau5, Skrillex, and Tiësto. Electro house, sometimes resembling tech house (a hybrid of techno with house), typically retains elements of house music and can incorporate electro-influenced synths and samples.

It often has a ‘dirty’ bass sound created from saw waves with compression and distortion. The exact origins of the genre are uncertain; it has sometimes been seen as a fusion of electro and house; or a term using ‘electro’ as an adjective (meaning ‘futuristic’ or ‘hard’). French house, by artists such as Justice and especially Daft Punk, has also been considered a strong influence.

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August 13, 2012

Riot Grrrl

Riot grrrl

Riot grrrl is an underground feminist punk rock movement that originally started in Washington, D.C.  and the Pacific Northwest in the early to mid-1990s. It is often associated with third-wave feminism which is sometimes seen as its starting point. Riot grrrl bands often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, racism, patriarchy, and female empowerment.

Bands associated with the movement include Bikini Kill, Jack Off Jill (and later Scarling), Bratmobile, Fifth Column, Sleater-Kinney, L7, and also queercore like Team Dresch. In addition to a music scene and genre, riot grrrl is a subculture: zines, the DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are part of the movement.

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August 13, 2012

Oi!

Cockney Rejects

Oi! is a working class subgenre of punk rock that originated in the UK in the late 1970s. The music and its associated subculture had the goal of bringing together punks, skinheads and other working-class youths (sometimes called ‘herberts’).

The Oi! movement was partly a response to the perception that many participants in the early punk rock scene were, in the words of The Business guitarist Steve Kent, ‘trendy university people using long words, trying to be artistic…and losing touch.’ André Schlesinger, singer of The Press, said, ‘Oi shares many similarities with folk music, besides its often simple musical structure; quaint in some respects and crude in others, not to mention brutally honest, it usually tells a story based in truth.’

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August 9, 2012

Transgressive Fiction

Naked Lunch

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature that focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual and/or illicit ways. Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressional fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic. The genre deals extensively with taboo subject matters such as drugs, sex, violence, incest, pedophilia, and crime.

The term ‘transgressive fiction’ was coined by Los Angeles Times literary critic Michael Silverblatt. Rene Chun, a journalist for ‘The New York Times,’ described is as, ‘A literary genre that graphically explores such topics as incest and other aberrant sexual practices, mutilation, the sprouting of sexual organs in various places on the human body, urban violence and violence against women, drug use, and highly dysfunctional family relationships, and that is based on the premise that knowledge is to be found at the edge of experience and that the body is the site for gaining knowledge.’

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July 23, 2012

Rhythm Game

simon

donkey konga

Rhythm game refers to a genre of music-themed action video games. Games in the genre typically focus on dance or the simulated performance of musical instruments, and require players to press buttons in a sequence dictated on the screen. Doing so causes the game’s protagonist or avatar to dance or to play their instrument correctly, which increases the player’s score.

Many rhythm games include multiplayer modes in which players compete for the highest score or cooperate as a simulated musical ensemble. While conventional control pads may be used as input devices, rhythm games often feature novel game controllers that emulate musical instruments. Certain dance-based games require the player to physically dance on a mat, with pressure-sensitive pads acting as the input device.

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July 17, 2012

4X

civ

4X games are a genre of strategy video game in which players control an empire and ‘explore (reveal surrounding territories), expand (create new settlements), exploit (gather resources), and exterminate’ (eliminate rivals). The four elements often overlap with each other and vary in length depending on the game design.

For example, the ‘Space Empires’ series and ‘Galactic Civilizations II’ have lengthy expansion phases, because players must make large investments in research to explore and expand into every area. The term was first coined by video game critic Alan Emrich in his 1993 preview of ‘Master of Orion’ for ‘Computer Gaming World,’ in which he rated the game ‘XXXX’ as a pun on the rating for pornography.

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July 17, 2012

Zef

die antwoord by david choe

Zef is a South African counter-culture movement. Die Antwoord (Afrikaans: ‘The Answer’) is a South African rap-rave group whose style draws from the movement. The word ‘zef’ stems from an Afrikaans word, which roughly translates to the English word ‘common.’ South African rapper and Die Antwoord collaborator Jack Parow, describes the movement as ‘It’s kind of like posh, but the opposite of posh.’

It differs from the Australian term ‘bogan’ (pejorative f0r those from a low-class background) and the related British term ‘chav’ in that it is mostly a positive term used to describe oneself, rather than a derogatory term for someone else. It is also not typical of the poorest classes of the society, but rather a mostly white, lower-middle class subculture, albeit one that glorifies cheap stuff. Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord is quoted as saying, ‘It’s associated with people who soup their cars up and rock gold and shit. Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.’

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July 11, 2012

Post-punk

gang of four

Post-punk is a rock music movement with its roots in the late 1970s, following on the heels of the initial punk rock explosion of the mid-1970s. The genre retains its roots in the punk movement but is more introverted, complex, and experimental. Post-punk laid the groundwork for alternative rock by broadening the range of punk and underground music, incorporating elements of Krautrock (particularly the use of synthesizers and extensive repetition), Jamaican dub music (specifically in bass guitar), American funk, and studio experimentation into the genre.

It found a firm place in the 1980s independent scene, and led to the development of genres such as gothic rock, industrial music, and alternative rock. The term ‘post punk’ was used in 1977 by ‘Sounds’ to describe Siouxsie and the Banshees. In 1980 critic Greil Marcus referred to ‘Britain’s postpunk pop avant-garde’ in ‘Rolling Stone.’ He applied the phrase to such bands as Gang of Four, The Raincoats, and Essential Logic, which he wrote were ‘sparked by a tension, humor, and sense of paradox plainly unique in present day pop music.’

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