Breaking Genre, or how to categorize Breaking Bad

31Mar22

Earlier today, I debuted my newest video essay at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference – alas held online rather than in Chicago as planned. It was part of a great panel on “Genre in the Age of Transmedia,” where the presentations included both typical papers and videographic pieces. I screened this new video:

In thinking about genre, I said a few words after the screening about genres of video essays. Part of the design of my larger audiovisual book project, “The Chemistry of Character in Breaking Bad,” is an attempt to explore a wide range of videographic styles, modes, techniques, and genres. Previously posted videos include works that follow norms of fan video, supercuts, deformations, and more explanatory scholarship. I hope that the final book’s wide range of styles and genres helps provide a kind of exemplary taxonomy of the possibilities of videographic criticism, as well as pointing toward modes that have been as yet unexplored.

“Breaking Genre” was produced with the goal of following a particular “YouTube-style” of video essay, embodying energetic and playful voiceover-driven argumentation (hence embedding my YouTube post rather than the typical Vimeo one). In particular, I was inspired to emulate the amazing work of Grace Lee, my favorite YouTuber, while acknowledging that I’ve certainly fallen short of her heights. (If you haven’t seen her spectacular “What Isn’t a Video Essay?“, get on that!) In many ways, this style is outside my scholarly comfort zone, but I found that it allowed me to embrace creative facets that typically are absent from most scholarship: a playful sense of humor, absurdist asides, running gags, and a manic energetic performance. I’m quite happy with the product that emerged in that vein – but it took a lot of work! So let me offer my utmost respect to Grace and other YouTubers who work in this style on a regular basis…

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One Response to “Breaking Genre, or how to categorize Breaking Bad”


  1. 1 The Sounds of Silent Mike | Just TV

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