Submissions:2015/Fuzzy as Fuzzy St. John: The Value of Identifying, and Properly Assigning, Film Genres

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Fuzzy as Fuzzy St. John: The Value of Identifying, and Properly Assigning, Film Genres
Type of submission
David N. Lewis
E-mail address
Wikipedia retains strict standards in terms of classifying the genres of motion picture productions, and some editors will not allow a particular film to inhabit more than sphere of experience or presentation. If Sam Peckinpah’s “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” is not a Western, then what is it? Where do we draw the line when we decide that a given genre designation is too inclusive or general (“Drama”), or too specific (“steampunk”)? Why can’t a film be “Experimental/Avant-Garde” and something else when it contains an Experimental/Avant-Garde sequence, such as is the case with Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”? As an editor of Wikipedia’s Experimental/Avant-Garde listings and other film related pages, I have long been struggling, with myself, and other editors, over these issues. In my paper, I plan to address some of these topics: how much is too much, where we go when we’re not sure, and what criteria we might include when we are trying to develop descriptive information for motion picture productions. In addition, I would like to propose some guidelines as to the use of imdb as a resource; some aspects of it are unreliable, but not all, and to discourage all editors from referring to it is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Wikipedia has developed the potential to become one of the major resources of information about films and television programs and we should not have the blinders on so tight that we cannot expand our usefulness to film scholars, yet we owe it to our readers to keep in place sensible kinds of controls. It is also one area of entertainment where we haven’t gained a lot of blowback among users for unreliability and bad information, as we have in the music space. With guidelines that allow our entries to grow organically, we can gain much in the realm of film scholarship.
Length of presentation
30 min.
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  1. Gamaliel (talk) 08:35, 23 August 2015 (EDT)
  2. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 08:53, 26 August 2015 (EDT) (Yes! Film related topics!)