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Monday, May 05, 2014

Genre Mixing


Lacking creativity? Can't seem to come up with something other than a rehash of "The Thing" or Pocahontas? Try genre-mixing.

A genre is nothing but a set of tropes and expectations. Some of the best arts in the world were created by taking standards from one set and applying them to another. Horror is an excellent mixer. It's the onion of the cinematic world. All the settings have been taken? Put it in space (Good example: Alien. Bad example: Leprechaun 4: in Space). But no, let's make it a comedy (Good example: Shaun of the Dead. Bad example: Killjoy). Dean Koontz is known for hybridizing, some to success and some to not. I think some flavors don't mix. If you start introducing ghosts or other fantasy elements into a mystery, it loses the stakes, because it becomes "anything goes". A Game of Thrones is a soap opera of "Lord of the Rings".

There are already plenty of standard combinations: "action comedy", "comic science fiction", "comedy-drama". I'm saying go one step farther. Combine "The Terminator" with an eighties family film, and you get "Short Circuit", one of my all-time favorite movies. And Star Wars, the all-time most popular thing ever, is just a combination of template fantasy and science fiction. Tim Burton's famous for this -- "Beetlejuice", "Pee Wee's Big Adventure", "Sweeney Todd". And speaking of that, what other type is more genre-busting than a horror musical -- Repo! The Genetic Opera and Little Shop of Horrors.

And you can go beyond movies. Video games like Final Fantasy and others have some fantastic mixing. In FF8 there are computers and CDs and TVs and radio and gun-swords and giant beasts that work for you and monsters and spaceships and aliens and sorceresses and time travel. What a salad! Japan has a lot of strange stuff like this. Read or Die has spies who can control paper. Evangelion has giant robots and teen angst. Trigun combines the Wild West and... well, to speak of anything begrudges spoilers.

You can do this with music too. Lindsey Stirling is famous for upgrading violin music with dubstep, video game covers, and stuff you've never heard before. Combined with awesome dancing? Sold! I have tickets to see her in July, and I'm looking forward to it muchly.

Above, you have read some of my favorite pieces of media. Like, personally favorite. And it's not that hard to do. Granted, you can easily screw it up. There's more bad combinations out there than good.

But the potential for brilliance is worth the risk. Here, I'll leave you with this.

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