Television genres are not identifiable merely by comparing different texts, because audience and industry both shape the identity of genres over time. Therefore, "We need to look beyond the text as the locus for genre and instead locate genres within the complex interrelations among texts, industries, audiences, and historical contexts." (7) Mittel essentially wants to historicize and contectulize genre.
Five Principals of Cultural Genre Analysis
- Genre analyses should account for the particular attributes of the medium. - TV is different from film
- Genre studies should negotiate between specificity and generality. - Either look at specific elements within genres OR use a case study to branch out into the complexities of a genre.
- Genre histories should be written using discursive genealogies - Emphasize breadth over depth in describing a genre.
- Genres should be understood in cultural practice - Examine the cultural discourses before looking at the texts.
- Genres should be situated within larger systems of cultural hierarchies and power
Mittel charts MTV's decision to play MJ's videos on what was then a channel that played almost exclusively white white, straight, male musicians. MTV bowed to pressure from fans, CBS Records, BET's competition, high-profile protests, and the economic clout of MJ.
Beat It and Thriller are particularly noteworthy because of the way they stretch the music video genre; Mittel notes MTV initially cited Beat It's non-musical intro as evidence that it was not a music video.