Genre Perplexity Explorer

How well can we predict a movie's genre?

The less perplexity experienced by the software while using a certain genre model, the better that genre was at describing the movie. The software was more surprised by The Devil Wears Prada when using the Woman's Film topic model suggesting that we are dealing with a Chick Flick as defined by Karen Hollinger. Around 1 hour and 26-27 minutes the software thought the film is more of a Woman's Film and this happens to be where the female protagonist defends the female antagonist against accusations by a male character that the woman is a sadist.

Genre Analysis

Film criticism often focuses on genre-based analysis so we decided to topic model genres. We looked at four genres including Action as defined by IMDB, Horror as defined by Kendall Phillips, and Chick Flicks and Woman's Films. In her book Feminist Film Studies, Hollinger describes the Woman's Film as a sort of meta genre consisting of films comprised of various core genres such as motherhood melodramas and female-centered action-adventure films. Hollinger investigates whether the contemporary Chick Flick—a genre with a romantic comedy core and incorporating other conventions i.e. the female friendship film—grew out of the Woman's Film or if it is a distinct genre of its own. One key difference is that the Woman's Films focus on the loss and pain experienced by women under patriarchy, while the Chick Flick either celebrates female triumph over patriarchy or takes female equality for granted and presents a shallow female desire linked to sex and shopping. Despite overlap of the two genres, Hollinger nevertheless derives two distinct lists of film titles for each of them.

Woman's Films

  • Far From Heaven (2002)
  • Gaslight (1944)
  • All That Heaven Allows (1955)
  • Imitation of Life (1959)
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
  • Magnicifent Obsession (1954)
  • Mildred Pierece (1945)
  • One True Thing (1998)
  • Stella (1990)
  • Stella Dallas (1937)

Chick Flicks

  • Bridesmaids (2011)
  • Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
  • Bridget Jones Diary The Edge of Reason (2004)
  • It's Complicated (2009)
  • Julie & Julia (2009)
  • Legally Blonde (2001)
  • Maid in Manhattan (2002)
  • Sex in The City (2008)
  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
  • Something's Gotta Give (2004)

Hollinger finds that The Devil Wears Prada follows a Chick Flick formula but goes beyond (e.g. the female protagonist is young but intelligent and the elder career woman antagonist is not altogether evil). We wanted to see if our software would confirm her analyses. Up until this point we worked with topic models generated for each movie. For genre analysis we generated topic models for whole genres by merging the topic models of the 10 constituent movies into a single model of 200 topics per genre. We analyzed The Devil Wears Prada using the topic model for Chick Flicks and Woman's Films. The software generated perplexity readouts at each minute of the movie which indicated how perplexed or confused the software was when looking at the movie while using each genre model.