technology-driven entertainment genres

What distinguished the Age of Mass Communication, which most believe took off after the Industrial Revolution, was that messages could be mass-produced to reach audiences of unprecedented size. Although the post-Gutenberg press gave literature wider audiences and set the stage for the artistic, scientific, and political developments of the Renaissance and thereafter, the scope of these audiences pales in comparison with that of publications like Benjamin Day’s The Sun. Similarly, expanding

audiences for today’s diverse literatures provide much of the content for technology- driven entertainment.

As media technology leapfrogged into photographic and electronic forms, literature adapted to the new media. Movies extended the reach of books—both fiction and non- fiction narratives—as did radio and television. Universal access to music, which was a rarity prior to sound recording, went from dream to reality. The impact of entertainment as a core component of today’s mass media is significantly reflected by the fact that most of the television content viewed in the average U.S. home is mostly entertainment.

Entertainment Genres To make sense of the gigantic and growing landscape of entertainment in the mass media, content creators and critics have categorized entertainment by genres that represent different types of storytelling and music.

Storytelling Popular genres for storytelling literature include suspense, romance, horror, Westerns, fantasy, history, and biography. There are also subgenres, such as detective stories, some of which cut across multiple genres, such as sci-fi films that blend elements of Westerns. An example of this is the film Serenity. According to Joss Whedon, the director of the film Serenity, “Serenity has elements of a Western, in terms of the element of life on the edge, where people exist remotely in areas where laws are often non-existent.”

Cowboys and Aliens, a sci-fi Western, is another example of blended genres.

In the 1970s, a controversial movie genre dubbed blaxploitation emerged. It featured black actors and musicians in plots that focused on black urban settings or Southern venues for slavery. Among the best-known films of this genre were the Shaft films, the first of which was released in 1971. Although some viewed blaxploitation films as aiding in black empowerment, the genre was criticized by groups like the National Urban League. This was, at least in part, because it was thought to perpetuate white stereotypes of blacks. More recent blaxploitation films included the Black Dynamite (2009), a spoof of blaxploitation, and Django Unchained (2012), Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist film on plantation slavery.

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