How Are Conventions Enforced in Genre Films?


Hello Reader Nawafnet, when it comes to genre films, there are specific conventions that are expected to be followed. A conventional film is one that adheres to specific patterns within the genre, such as a plot structure, tone, and character types. As an audience member, we expect certain elements to be present in each genre.

These conventions can be enforced in various ways such as the use of stereotypes, character development, and plot devices. In this article, we will be exploring how conventions are enforced in genre films and the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. We will also cover some of the most frequently asked questions about conventions in genre films.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and explore the world of conventions in genre films.

What Are Genre Film Conventions?

Genre conventions are pre-established rules, which have sub-genre variations and evolved with time. They represent a set of tropes and clichés that are expected in a given type of film or literary work. These conventions help to identify the film type without being explicitly mentioned.

The use of conventions has been around for decades. Hollywood film studios began using them in the 1930s and 1940s to increase the efficiency of producing films. The concept is simple, and it highlights the basic premise of catering to audience expectations. Genres such as action, romance, horror, and comedy have their own sets of conventions. This means that a romance movie, for example, will follow certain patterns that are distinct from those of an action movie.

By adhering to these conventions, filmmakers can easily communicate with their audience and maximize box office revenues. Using the same familiar elements is a safe way to ensure that a film appeals to a specific audience.

How Are Conventions Enforced in Genre Films?

The enforcing of conventions within genre films can be done in various ways.

One way is by using stereotypes. Stereotyping is categorizing people or things into groups based on appearance or personal characteristics. As parts of cultural patterns, stereotypes in films have commonly involved race, gender, and physical appearances. Stereotyping can be helpful in guiding the audience as to the types of characters in a particular genre of film. For example, in an action movie, the protagonist is typically male and is portrayed as confident and strong. In horror films, the victim is usually female and portrayed as weak and helpless.

Another way conventions are enforced is through character development. Characters in genre films are usually created with specific stereotypes in mind, like a jock or a nerd. Most movies rely on minimal character development. In a rom-com film where there is a love triangle, the character development happens in relation to the love interest. These characters are secondary to the genre itself, and their actions reflect the conventions of the genre.

The third way is through plot devices. Plot devices are used to move the story along and are often used repeatedly within a particular genre. For example, in a murder mystery, there is usually a twist ending. In a romantic comedy, the guy and girl will usually end up together and overcome all of their obstacles. Genre films manipulate the audience’s emotions and make them feel a certain way by enforcing specific plot points.

Strengths of Conventional Approach

It’s essential to note that there are many strengths to adhering to conventions in genre films. One of the most significant advantages is that it makes the audience feel comfortable. People like familiarity, and when they buy a ticket to see a genre film, they expect certain things. Conventions provide the audience with those familiar elements and reduce the risk of producing a film that the audience isn’t interested in seeing.

Another strength of the conventional approach is its ability to create a sense of community. When like-minded people come together to watch a genre film, they are all experiencing the same emotions. This shared experience builds a bond between the audience and the movie. It also makes it easier for people to recommend a film to others – in other words, “Hey, I liked that new horror movie because it had all the usual scary stuff.”

The final strength of conventional approaches is its efficiency. With a set of pre-established conventions, genre filmmakers can create movies quickly and without much fuss. It’s like a formula that can be replicated over and over again with slight variations. This ensures that Hollywood can produce content that is easy to make and that audiences want to see.

Weaknesses of Conventional Approach

While there are strengths to the conventional approach to genre films, some weaknesses need to be considered as well.

The first weakness is predictability. With conventions comes a certain amount of predictability. The audience always knows what to expect. This can be a double-edged sword. People like knowing what they are signing up for, but they also like to be surprised. Without variety, there is a risk of becoming too stagnant, and eventually, the audience may move onto something new.

The second weakness is a lack of originality. With the same formula being repeated over and over again, it can be challenging to be creative and original. This can cause the genre to become predictable and boring, leading to a lack of enthusiasm from audiences.

The third weakness is the risk of stereotyping. While stereotypes can be helpful in guiding the audience, it also can contribute to harmful and negative representation of certain groups of people. Some genres have traditionally favored certain types of characters, such as predominantly male casts in action films.

Table About Conventions in Genre Films

Genre Conventions
Action Male protagonist, chase sequence, action set-piece, final fight
Comedy Humor, witty dialogue, light-hearted storylines
Horror Jump scares, suspense, twist ending
Romantic Comedy Love triangle, meet-cute, obstacles, happily ever after

FAQs About Conventions in Genre Films

Q: Why are conventions important in genre films?

A: Conventions are essential because they help the audience know what to expect. By following the genre conventions, filmmakers can create a shorthand language with their viewers, making it easy to understand the story.

Q: Can conventions change?

A: Yes, conventions can change over time. Audience tastes change, and filmmakers have to adapt accordingly to meet audience expectations.

Q: What happens if conventions are not followed?

A: If conventions are not followed, the film may not resonate with the audience. It may also struggle to find a target audience and become less successful at the box office.

Q: What is the purpose of conventions in genre films?

A: The purpose of conventions in genre films is to create an expectation and shorthand language with the audience. It also makes it easier for filmmakers to produce new movies that are similar to past successes.

Q: Do conventions apply to all types of genre films?

A: No, not all genres have established conventions. However, most mainstream genres do have conventions that are commonly adhered to.

Q: Are conventional genre films always successful?

A: No, just because a film strictly adheres to conventions doesn’t mean it will be successful. It also still needs a good script, acting, and direction to resonate with audiences.

Q: Can unconventional genre films still be successful?

A: Yes, unconventional genre films can still be successful. Breaking conventions can be refreshing and offer a new perspective on a well-worn genre. However, it also runs the risk of alienating the audience, who expects a certain amount of familiarity with the genre.

Q: What happens when genres blend together?

A: When genres blend together, new conventions can be created. These conventions are a combination of both genres, and audiences will have different expectations for these types of films.

Q: Why does Hollywood rely so heavily on genre conventions?

A: Hollywood relies heavily on genre conventions because they are a safe bet. If a film adheres to the conventions, it’s easy to market and can easily appeal to a specific audience.

Q: How do conventions change over time?

A: Conventions change over time as audience tastes change. For example, in action movies, the male protagonist has become less popular, and the industry has seen an increase in female-led action films.

Q: Are conventions unique to film?

A: No, conventions exist in other art forms as well, such as literature, music, and theater.

Q: What is a sub-genre?

A: A sub-genre is a smaller subset of a larger genre that has specific conventions of its own.

Q: Why do people like genre films?

A: People like genre films because they are familiar and predictable. They know what they are getting into when they watch a particular genre of film.


In conclusion, conventions in genre films are essential for filmmakers to produce their content efficiently and ensure audience satisfaction. By adhering to genre conventions, filmmakers can create shorthand language with their viewers, making it easy to understand and appealing to a specific audience.

However, there are both strengths and weaknesses to this approach. While adhering to conventions can ensure audience comfort and create a sense of community, it can also lead to predictability, lack of originality, and stereotyping.

It’s essential always to remember that conventions can change over time, and filmmakers must adapt to meet audience expectations. With the rise of streaming services and the shift in Hollywood, genres are becoming more fluid with the expectation of a more diverse representation of characters.

If you are a budding filmmaker, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the conventions of your chosen genre and know when it’s appropriate to break them for creative purposes. Understanding conventions will make it easier to communicate with the audience and maximize box office success.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this article, and we hope it has been informative and helpful. As always, support your favorite genres, watch films, and enjoy the experience!


The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the content of this article. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. Always do your research before making any financial or artistic decisions. The author does not own any rights or claims to any of the images used in this article.

How Are Conventions Enforced in Genre Films?

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