Although I’ve talked about combining genres before, I thought that I’d look at it from a slightly different angle today. This is because, whilst there are lots of ways that writers/artists/musicians/filmmakers etc… can mix genres together, the act of genre blending is important in it’s own right.
Here are a few reasons why:
1) It widens audiences: Normally, I’m not a fan of the superhero genre, especially when it comes to “traditional” superheroes. Don’t even get me started on how annoying it is when people use the word “comics” as a synonym for “superhero comics” (other types of comics exist!). And, yet, one of my many favourite TV shows is probably “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman“.
This is an American TV series about Superman that was originally made during the 1990s and it is a world apart from “gritty and serious” modern superhero movies. This show is much, much better as a result. But, why? Well, because it includes elements from lots of other genres.
Rather than being in the action genre, it takes heavy influence from the comedy genre, the romance genre, the detective genre and occasionally the science fiction genre. It’s a fun, light-hearted and funny show about an incredibly cute couple (and their complicated love life), who solve mysteries that also occasionally include things like futuristic gadgets and spaceships. In other words, it’s a show that wasn’t made for obsessive superhero comic fans and it is amazing!
Likewise, I used to think that folk music was a boring genre. Then I heard heavy metal and punk bands make amazing songs that were based on various old folk songs. I also used to think that the fantasy genre was “silly”/ “nerdy in a bad way”, but then I read and watched “Game Of Thrones” (which takes influence from the horror genre), and played computer games like “The Longest Journey” and “Shadowrun: Dragonfall” that blend the fantasy and cyberpunk genres in really cool ways.
If you include elements from other genres, then you introduce audiences to genres that they may not have really been interested in before. Not only does this widen the audience for a particular genre, but it also allows people who aren’t usually fans of a particular genre to take a look at it without wasting their time.
2) Originality: As many people will probably tell you, there’s no such thing as a “100% original” creative work. Everything is influenced or inspired by something else. And, yet, the most famous “original” works have got that title for the simple reason that they took influence from an original mixture of things.
For example, the film “Blade Runner” wasn’t the first sci-fi film about robots. It wasn’t even the first thing in the cyberpunk genre (a writer called Bruce Bethke got there first). The basic story behind the film isn’t even original (it’s an adaptation of a Philip. K. Dick novel). Even the film’s beautifully ‘futuristic’ set designs are clearly inspired by cities like Tokyo and Seoul, older comics like “2000AD” and “Métal Hurlant” and old film noir movies.
But, it’s recognised as a cinematic masterpiece because of the fact that it combined science fiction, film noir and philosophy in a way that no-one had ever done before. The film’s originality comes from doing something totally new with a wide range of different influences.
New genres and highly “original” creative works tend to emerge when people mix elements from different genres in ways that no-one has really done before. So, genre blending is essential to originality.
3) Awesomeness: If you’re a fan of two genres, then seeing them combined can make something even better. Whilst this depends a lot on how the two genres are blended, it can result in some truly awesome things.
The classic cinematic example is probably the film “Alien“. Science fiction is awesome. Horror is awesome. This film blends both genres together in such a way that they rely on each other to turn the film into something greater than the sum of it’s parts. Without the film being set on a claustrophobic spaceship, it’d just be a generic monster movie. Without the alien creature, the film would just be a generic “serious” late-1970s sci-fi movie. But, together, these elements create something truly brilliant!
When genres are mixed in a way that allows each genre to compliment the other genre, then it can turn into something that is mind-blowingly awesome if you happen to be a fan of both genres.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂