What is genre?
Genre refers to the categories in which texts are grouped and is often used to distinguish texts based on their subject/content, for example, romance, science fiction, fantasy, or their form and structure, for example, poetry, novels, short stories, fables, and biographies. Genres are often classified based on tropes, expectations, or devices used. In exams and assessments, questions surrounding the genre will often ask you how a text studied will either challenge, reinforce or subvert expectations or how the genre is employed in a text for a particular purpose or audience/response.
How do we analyse genre?
Image Credit: IMDB (2022), Everything Everywhere All at Once.
To understand the genre and its complexity, let’s look at Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s film produced by A24, Everything Everywhere All at Once. The thought-provoking and deeply philosophical film follow the life of Chinese immigrant Evelyn Quan Wang, the owner of an American laundromat who is portrayed as living anything but the “American Dream”. The film delves into issues such as marital problems, financial struggles, intergenerational trauma and sexuality.
The genre in Everything Everywhere All at Once is particularly complex, as the beginning of the film provides viewers with the understanding that the film is a comedic drama, demonstrated by short, witty lines throughout. However, the genre subverts as the concept of the ‘multiverse’ is introduced, similar to that of a Marvel movie; the genre shifts into an action-packed science fiction film with comedy/drama elements. The unique take on the genre in this particular film provides more room for analysis of the genre and alternative perspectives on events taking place.