Whilst, as already noted, some recent redefinitions of genre have downplayed or displaced a concern with the textual features of genres, there is a danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Hence, this section briefly notes some of the key textual features of genres in the context of film and television narrative.
The distinctive textual properties of a genre typically listed by film and television theorists include:
Less easy to place in one of the traditional categories are mood and tone (which are key features of the film noir). In addition, there is a particularly important feature which tends not to figure in traditional accounts and which is often assigned to text-reader relationships rather than to textual features in contemporary accounts. This is mode of address, which involves inbuilt assumptions about the audience, such as that the 'ideal' viewer is male (the usual categories here are class, age, gender and ethnicity); as Sonia Livingstone puts it, 'texts attempt to position readers as particular kinds of subjects through particular modes of address' (Livingstone 1994, 249).
Some film genres tend to defined primarily by their subject matter (e.g. detective films), some by their setting (e.g. the Western) and others by their narrative form (e.g. the musical). An excellent discussion of the textual features of 'genre films' can be found in Chapter 4 of Thomas and Vivian Sobchack's Introduction to Film (1980).
As already noted, in addition to textual features, different genres also involve different purposes, pleasures, audiences, modes of involvement, styles of interpretation and text-reader relationships.