Often used to describe film stories that have been repeated again and again with only slight variations, following the same basic pattern and including the same basic ingredients. Setting, characters, plot (conflict and resolution), images, cinematic techniques, and conventions are, then, considered practically interchangeable from one film to another in the same genre. There has been some difficulty in defining genre, in part because of the overlap present in many films. Maybe we should rethink genre as a "ubiquitous, multifaceted phenomena rather than as one-dimensional entities to be found only within the realms of Hollywood cinema or of commercial popular culture." -Steve Neale. In other words, the times we live in shape the meaning of genre, as well as genre films as a whole. Setting: American West or Southwest, time span usually between 1865 and 1900. Hero: Rugged individualist, personal code emphasizes human dignity, courage, justice, fair play, equality, respect for women. Intelligent, honest, kind, fair, consistent, even-tempered, but will resort to violence when necessary. Usually clean-shaven, white hat. May have a love interest, but never so serious that he can't leave town by film's end. Villain: Outlaws, crooked businessmen or sheriffs. Mustaches/facial hair, black hat. Justice always prevails in this genre. Action conventions: Climactic shootout; prolonged chase on horseback; barroom brawl; cavalry-to-the-rescue scene. Structural convention: Begin with the hero riding into view from the left side of the screen and end with him riding off in the opposite direction, usually into the fading sunset. Recent westerns, such as "Unforgiven" and "Dances with Wolves," have changed these genre conventions. Setting: The decaying older part of a modern big city, mostly at night, rain often added for atmosphere. Hero: Brutal, aggressive, lone-wolf type, cocky, ambitious, self-made. Women are generally sexual ornaments, cheap and mindless. An intelligent woman may associate with the hero early on but soon leave. The hero's mother is always respected, the sister protected, both are civilized and have traditional values: Basic Conflict: Anarchy of the gangsters vs. social order. Cops vs. gangsters, mob vs. mob, or sometimes an internal conflict within the gangster family, and always an internal conflict within our hero over his nature. Our hero usually finds success temporarily but eventually meets his deserved end, as his criminal side gets the better of him, and his dignity and strength are gone. Message: Crime does not pay. Gangster conventions: Machine guns, pistols, cigars, whiskey, posh nightclubs or hole-in-the-wall bars, at least one chase scene with occupants in both vehicles exchanging gunfire, montage sequences of violence. The hardest genres to define. Science fiction films often invite us to catalogue our culture's major anxieties, including race, society, gender, sexuality and technology (Blade Runner, Aliens, Terminator, The Matrix). Fantasy films often feature a young child or orphan, summoned out of obscurity to undertake a journey into the heart of evil that will also be a voyage of self-discovery. Ex. Spider-Man, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman. Does this recent love of dark fantasy films say something about our current society? Escapist entertainment mixed with the harsh realities of a modern world?