Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Genres and subgenres we hate

As this weekend proved less congenial to blogging than I’d expected (dog-sitting for a friend’s pups), here’s a question of the week instead: is there a genre or sub-genre of movies/TV/comics/fiction that you cannot stand?

Westerns are one of mine. I don’t utterly hate them; there are several I love, including Silverado, Red River and Winchester ’73. But most Westerns leave me cold.I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the genre, Westerns just don’t click with me. I find no magic in the fantasy of the Wild West and the frontier; maybe it’s the American mythology, but my English soul is happier with swashbucklers. If the reviews say a Western is Awesome, I’ll usually rate it Okay, at best.

I dislike found-footage films much more intensely. Sure, Blair Witch Project was great, but most of the films following in its wake just use the premise to cheat. You don’t have to provide intelligent explanations if the characters forgot to turn the camera on during the exposition scene. No need to have things fit together, just blame it on which scenes got filmed and which didn’t. Not the filmmaker’s fault! Only of course, it is. It’s why I loved one episode of the anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that comes off as a found-footage parody (“No, there’s no unseen footage where Miss Asahina undresses before going to bed!”).

It was a real shock to discover that the 2018 Irish film The Devil’s Doorway is a good found-footage film. It’s set in 1960s, with two priests arriving at a Magdalen Laundry — brutal facilities for penning up unwed mothers and their children — to confirm or disprove accounts that one of the statues is weeping blood. It turns out there is indeed a dark force at work, but is it any worse than the horrors the nuns have inflicted on their charges?

So to restate my initial question, are their genres or subgenres you hate — and are their films/books/TV shows from that subgenre that won you over anyway?



  1. jccalhoun

    Fantasy. I hate magic and elves and dragons and all that. I read Tolkien in junior high like a good nerd but didn’t really love it. I liked the LotR movies though. I read the Song of Ice and Fire books when the tv show started. The last two were bad. The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon shows have left me cold.

    Mafia. I am a movie fan. I got my phd in media studies. I’ve never seen the Godfather films. I have zero interest in them. Same with Sopranos.

    1. I love fantasy but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Strangely enough while I can’t get into The Song of Ice And Fire/Game of Thrones at all, my wife who isn’t a genre reader loves them.
      This is what makes horse races (a phrase I just coined. I’m confident it will go viral).

    2. Der

      I love fantasy. I don’t know if it’s my favorite genre but is my burger genre

      I mean, I love burgers. Even crappy ones on sale and reheated in a microwave(with cold center!) are pretty ok in my book, so I’ll tolerate crappy fantasy all the time. Wich makes me really happy when I find really good fantasy(guys, this is your hint to reccomend me really good fantasy books. But like REALLY good. I can find the below average ones by myself)

  2. David107

    Not a genre as such, but any film which uses shaky camerawork. I know it’s meant to make the film feel more urgent, in the moment, real – as if you were actually there. All it does for me is make me ill, a form of motion sickness. A good example is Master And Commander where, I suppose to simulate the rocking motion of a ship, the cameras kept swaying from side to side. I suppose it worked, since I bailed out after twenty minutes feeling sea-sick.

    1. Le Messor

      any film which uses shaky camerawork.

      The director: It gives it that documentary feel.
      Me: I don’t watch documentaries.

      The bigger problem for me is that, especially when it’s combined with very, very dark cinematography (which it almost always is), I can’t see a thing that’s going on in the movie.

  3. Two that come to mind:

    1. Medieval fantasy. I can’t make it through Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones or any of that. Not my thing. Weirdly, I *love* Thor comics. But that combined medieval fantasy with robots and outer space and superheroes and other stuff I do like.

    2. Coming-of-age dramas. I can’t stomach ’em.

    1. I can’t stand coming of age novels. Movies sometimes work because the actors give the stock situations life.
      I have similar distaste for “New Adult” novels (coming of age in your twenties!) and mid-life crisis novels.
      One of the things that impressed me about the late British fantasy writer Diana Wynn Jones is when I reread her Fire and Hemlock and realized she’d done a coming-of-age story that I like.

  4. Le Messor

    I watch / read comedy, fantasy, science fiction, horror, superhero.
    The farther away from those genres you get, the less I want to partake. (I’m a little looser with novels than movies or comics.)

    I can’t stand dramas, especially. (Exception: Stand By Me.)

    Also, I’ve never enjoyed a mockumentary style comedy, except What We Do In The Shadows and Wellington Paranormal. I don’t think there’s anything inherent to the style though, but I’ve found every one I’ve seen dull and flat and unfunny.

    (Wait… you thought Blair Witch Project was good?)

  5. Der

    In comics, I don’t like autobiographies. I’m of the mindset(and maybe I’m really wrong about this. It wouldn’t be the first time!) that you tell stories using the elements around you(including your own story) but autobiographies in comics sound really, really, REALLY boring

    I know they say “write what you know” but I don’t think that means “just write your life story and that’s it”. Unless you are already famous/importan/interesting person, I don’t care about your autobio comic

  6. conrad1970

    I really dislike the horror genre, there’s no joy to be had from what is essentially torture porn these days, I do however like the old Hammer movies.
    I also dislike violent crime movies, it’s not something that needs to be glamourised.

  7. mike loughlin

    I don’t like stories about get-rich-quick schemes. Any time characters cook up a zany idea to make money, it will go wrong. Sometimes, the characters learn lessons. Blech. There are exceptions- one of my favorite movies is The Producers, which is so funny it transcends the scheme aspect.- but not many.

  8. Jeff Nettleton

    It’s all in the storytelling; so, no I don’t “hate” any genre or subgenre, unless you want to count movies/tv/books/comics that revolve around torture. To me, there is no “entertainment” in misery and human suffering; so, you can keep your Saws and their ilk. For similar reasons, I have little use for most of what passes for “True Crime,” as it tends to be tabloid voyeurism. Same for serial killer accounts that sound like fan worship.

    I’m not a horror fan, though I do like some horror movies, comics and novels. It’s all in the story and how it is told. I have yet to see a slasher film that I didn’t think was either misogynist, horribly acted or just plain stupid. That said, I enjoy the classic Universal Monster films, some of the Vertigo material, Tomb of Dracula, and Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series (which is vampire fiction, but encompasses more than horror tropes). The scariest movie I ever watched was The Wicker Man (the original, obviously), where no one gets gutted like a fish, eaten by monsters, or is tortured by demons. You just have a police officer on an isolated island community, investigating the disappearance of a young girl, who encounters more and more bizarre things and people, yet no one commits any violence. It’s just a building dread, with your own mind filling in the details, until they surprise you with the ending and all of your expectations go out the window. Just great filmmaking and storytelling.

    I get why some don’t care for Westerns; but, I find that it is usually a certain type of Western they really don’t like. I grew up with things like Gunsmoke and Bonanza, The Virginian and The Big Valley. They were okay; but, not favorites. I watched them for certain characters, like Hoss & Little Joe, or Festus & Doc. I loved The Wild Wild West, which mashed up the western and spy-fi, with a touch of Jules Verne, creating a proto-steampunk series. When I finally encountered Have Gun, Will Travel, I thought it was terrific; same with Maverick,

    I don’t enjoy as many 50s westerns or the 1940s oaters, as a general rule; but, I do enjoy many of the spaghetti westerns (especially Leone and Corbucci) and Clint Eastwood’s American westerns. John Ford does them well; Howard Hawks, too. I like some of the “Turn-of-the-Century” westerns, like The Shootist and Bite the Bullet, where Progress is overtaking the West and you see people grapple with the changes. I enjoyed the Hec Ramsey tv detective series, where he employed new forensic techniques in a booming Western town, mixing the Western with the modern detective.

    I’m not a fan of stuff that glorifies murderous criminals, like Natural Born Killers, where the alleged satire falls flat and it ends up being more of a celebration. By contrast, I like Scorcese’s films, because of how he handles characters. I’m not as enamored of Coppola. I kind of prefer a Michael Mann approach, where both sides are on display, for good and bad. I do like well done caper films and caper comedies; but, bad ones are really bad.

    With anything in entertainment or literature, there will always be good and great works in any category, and a lot of mediocre and awful.

    1. The Wicker Man is great. I don’t recall finding it scary but it’s clever and Christopher Lee is a hoot. It’s supposed to be one of his favorite films as he rarely gets to play that kind of seemingly affable eccentric.
      I cannot get into Scorsese. His work is pitched at a frequency I just don’t pick up.
      Wild Wild West I love. I bought myself the DVD set and while the sexism frequently riles, otherwise they hold up well.

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