When people say that something is a deconstruction of its genre, what does that mean?


When people say that something is a deconstruction of its genre, what does that mean?

In: 12

A deconstruction is like taking apart a toy to see how it works. When someone deconstructs a genre, it means they are looking at all the parts that make up that genre and figuring out how they fit together. Then they might change some of the parts or put them together in a different way to create something new and interesting.

For example, think of a puzzle. A deconstruction of a puzzle would mean taking it apart piece by piece and looking at each one closely. Then, instead of putting it back together the way it was before, you might rearrange the pieces in a different way to make a new picture.

Basically, that it analyzes the tropes and concepts of that genre and takes them more seriously, in a way that breaks from tradition. A superhero movie where the entire story is about how the main character wearing a mask and hiding his identity destroys his relationships with his loved ones because they realize he doesn’t trust them once they discover who he really is as it turns out that simply wearing a mask doesn’t do a lot to protect your identity would be a deconstruction of superhero tropes.

It tells a story that approaches that genre from a different angle and the challenges the tropes of that genre, showing how they might be flawed or unrealistic.

they mean it’s subversive but I don’t think that’s the right way to use the word “deconstruction”

Every genre has certain unrealistic aspects to it. But within those movies/books/tv shows, those unrealistic parts are ignored. That’s just how things work in that kind of story. For example, in a romantic comedy, the guy might make some big grand gesture to win the girl back (he rides into the church on a horse to interrupt her wedding to the jerk guy). And this wins her heart and she rides off with the hero. In real life this sort of thing might get you arrested, or hit with a restraining order, or even shot by the girl’s dad. But in a romantic comedy, the grand crazy gesture works.

In a horror movie, your car might not start, even though it’s been very reliable before. A group of teenagers might split up when they hear a bunch of scary noises out in the dark, instead of sticking together. These are normal events in horror movies that are taken for granted.

“Deconstructing” a genre involves pointing out the stuff that wouldn’t work in real life. Often it’s done for comedy, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it’s done to make a subject much darker than it would be otherwise. Basically you criticize the genre, by making a movie/book/tv show that is sort of set in the genre, but none of the standard storytelling assumptions work anymore. This dramatically changes the tone of the story. Sometimes you explicitly point out that these things don’t work (“What, you think you can barge into my daughter’s wedding like some character from a romantic comedy? Think again…”), and sometimes you don’t. And then sometimes the storytelling tropes will work, but you took extra special care to justify them and point out why they’re in place (the killer reveals he sabotaged the car so you can’t get away).

It doesn’t follow the rules of the genre. Most genres have tropes an building blocks. Some artists remove some of them or intentionally mis place them.