9. Has student understanding of genre changed as a result of increased film and media availability (e.g., DVD rentals, web access, TCM)? Has your approach to teaching genre in the classroom changed as a result? If so, how?

Bookmark and Share   Download as .PDF

Mittell: Definitely the rise of TV-on-DVD allows for a broader range of shows to be studied and taught, especially long-form serial television. There are still some crucial gaps in a lot of genres, such as game shows, talk shows, soap operas, and news. Television’s genre mixture is so much broader than film, and DVDs still operate within the core genre categories determined by cinema.

Shetley: A few of my students seem to have had an education in the classic genres through Turner Classic Movies. For the most part, however, the advent of home (and later, web) video has had the paradoxical effect of narrowing students’ cinematic experience. In the early decades of TV, the networks decided what films would be shown. Large numbers of viewers (some of them future filmmakers) had their first encounters with classics of the studio era on television; one would turn on the TV and find oneself watching movies one had never heard of, which turned out to be The Awful Truth, or My Darling Clementine, or Dark Victory. Now, viewers have more control over their viewing choices, which in effect means that most young people end up watching films they’ve already heard of—recent films that received advertising campaigns but didn’t seem sufficiently interesting to make a trip to the theater worthwhile. Few students have much experience with what they refer to as “old movies” (anything in black and white, and almost everything made before 1980). I have to start from scratch in developing genre knowledge in all the courses I teach.