Friday, February 19, 2021

Ave, Charles!

Charles writes an interesting essay on the tyranny of genre.  People get into fights all the time over genre, taxonomy, classification, or however else you want to describe the parsing of phenomena.  Look at my tussle with my buddy Mike and my brother Sean over the term "grilled cheese."  As Charles notes, it's the edge cases that can be troublesome; Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, called this the "platypus problem."  

When I'm wearing my film-critic hat, I occasionally encounter movies that seem to straddle genres; this is sometimes a pleasant experience and sometimes an unpleasant one for reasons that Charles notes in his essay.  I may have observed, long ago, that certain Korean movies vary wildly in tone and genre; "YMCA Yagu Danji," a dramedy about the introduction of baseball to occupied Korea, is one such film—first comic, then tragic as the story's focus moves from the tentative beginnings of Korean baseball to the larger context of the Japanese occupation.  The shift in tone is jarring for those expecting the story to be comic until the end.  The American superhero film "Hancock," starring Will Smith, undergoes a similar shift in tone and genre (two concepts that often seem linked in film and literature), starting off as a zany comedy, then becoming something much darker and more serious by the end.  A more recent example, among movies I've reviewed, is "The Hunt," which combines elements from the action, thriller, satire, comedy, and horror genres.  Platypi abound.

Anyway, give Charles's educational, edifying essay a read.  It might make you (or me) think twice before you (or I) facilely pigeonhole something in an effort to make sense of it.


Charles said...

Thanks, man. I definitely also had film on my mind when writing that, as you can probably tell. The original version of the essay went further into the marketing aspect of things, particularly in the publishing world, but I quickly realized that this was a can of worms I probably did not want to open up.

So that's two February essays down, one to go, with a little over a week left. Did you ever see The Queen's Gambit? I don't remember seeing a review for it. Anyway, that's my next task, and it's going to be another lengthy piece.

Kevin Kim said...

I think "The Queen's Gambit" is a Netflix series, and I don't have Netflix. I've been trying to divorce myself from subscription services, lately, because I feel as if I'm being nickeled and dimed to death. It would be nice if "The Queen's Gambit" came out on Amazon Prime Video, but I think all the various subscription services are aggressively proprietary these days. That sucks because Netflix has some shows I'd like to see, e.g., Season 3 of "Cobra Kai," the movie "The Irishman," the Chris Hemsworth actioner "Extraction," etc. None of these is available on iTunes or Amazon Prime Video.

Anyway, I look forward to your review of/reaction to "The Queen's Gambit," even if it involves spoilers. I doubt I'll be watching the series anytime soon.

Charles said...

Oh, yeah, it is Netflix. But I completely understand your attitude toward streaming services and feel the same way. We have Netflix, but that's it, because I refuse to be party to this Balkanization of content.

If it makes you feel any better, though, "Cobra Kai" kind of went downhill in season 3. I have a group of friends who are all watching it, and we were universally disappointed. It's just gotten ridiculous as they keep trying to top what they did before. I'm not saying there weren't good points, but as a whole the series seems to be going downhill in a big way. I'll watch Season 4, but I don't have high hopes for it--especially since they apparently have plans for six seasons, and I can't see how they could possibly drag it out that long.

Kevin Kim said...

Sad to hear that about "Cobra Kai." I'd enjoyed the first two seasons. Alas, I saw enough spoilery snippets of Season 3 on YouTube to have some idea of the general plot, so I have some inkling of what you're talking about.