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Horror, melodrama and porn are the same genre

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How body genres depict emotional excess

At first glance, Halloween, The Fault in Our Stars and Debbie Does Dallas probably seem like they don’t have anything in common. However, the ways horror, melodrama and porn overlap can teach us a lot about how emotion is depicted across cinematic genres.

All three categories fall under the header of “body genres,” which means they privilege provoking a physical sensation over plot development or narrative closure. The purpose of a body genre is to provoke a specific emotional response in the audience, be it fear, sadness or arousal. The physical expression of an emotion, such as screaming, crying or orgasming, provides an emotional release for the audience. Who needs a character arc, anyway?

Despite how popular body genres are, they’re broadly considered low culture, largely because they focus on emotional excess. They are often criticized for relying too heavily on tropes and cliches, and not on developing characters or plots. That doesn’t stop anyone — myself included — from enjoying them, but it can stop people from thinking critically about the messages body genres communicate, especially about emotion and gender. Watch the above FiendZone video to learn more about how these genres overlap!