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Not to be confused with Campcore, an aesthetic about camping, the activity taking place in nature.


Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that seeks to express irony and subversion of mainstream society through deliberately assuming a gaudy aesthetic. As described by Susan Sontag, the academic who codified the term, its characteristics are: "artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and shocking excess".[1] It is utilized in multiple mediums including film, fashion, theatre, music, and even modes of speech.

The aesthetic concept is popular within the gay community because of gay men being perceived by mainstream society as less masculine and worthy of ostracization. Camp becomes a way for them to exaggerate the effeminate and taboo parts of themselves as a rebellion against what society perceives a man should be, and the culture's behavior and camp inform each other. For example, drag shows, the gay "accent," and cult films popular within the LGBT community such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show are examples of camp.

Defined by Merriam Webster: "Absurdly exaggerated, artificial, or affected in a usually humorous way." This Definition gives the "Campy" aesthetic an incredibly wide reach, while still fitting within the genre. While many things can and do fall within this definition, there are some that are deeply associated with "camp".

Common Types of Camp

Horror

The "Campy Horror" genre is incredibly popular, with countless pieces of media that fall within it.

Old Film

Older film such as Film Noir, 50's movies, and other such media have a campy aesthetic when viewed today.

20s media/Aesthetics

The Flapper Aesthetic, Great Gatsby, and Art Deco all very often fall into the genre of camp when portrayed in media.

80s media/Aesthetics

Much of 80s media is loaded with camp, and was part of the culture then as well as the current appreciation of it now.

Drag[2]

Drag is commonly associated with camp, and has been adopted by the community.

Theatre

Camp is Very common within theatre.

Parody

Camp is a very effective tool in parody media, and is used by artists such as Mel Brookes, Steve Martin, and

High Camp[3]

Intentional Camp.

Examples
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • SpaceBalls
  • RuPaul's Drag Race

Low Camp

Unintentional Camp. While not meant to be camp, it still hits all the boxes.

Examples
  • The Room
  • Nyan Neko Sugar Girls
  • Sonichu

Visuals

There are no "official visuals" of camp, as the word itself needs to be used in the context of who is performing camp. For example, Marilyn Monroe's white dress flaring up in the subway grates is not camp itself, but when another person mimics her actions in a highly exaggerated parody, it will be considered camp. This is especially true if the person doing the Monroe parody is doing so in a way to mock the white male gaze.

It is also difficult to classify visuals because camp is unlimited, and highly dependent on the individual's unique perspective.

  • Drag shows
  • Exaggerated movements such as batting eyelashes, dancing, etc.
  • "Tacky" materials such as sequins, plastic, and rhinestones

Media

Movies

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Showgirls
  • Serial Mom
  • Barbarella
  • Flash Gordon
  • The Evil Dead
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  • Elvira
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • The Blob
  • Sharknado
  • Grease
  • Clue
  • Murder by Death
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Chucky
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Camp Rock
  • High School Musical
  • SpaceBalls
  • Swan Lake

Musicals

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Cats
  • Chicago
  • Grease
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Rent
  • The Wiz

Television

  • Batman
  • RuPaul's Drag Race
  • Aadam's Family

Music

  • Love Shack - The B52's
  • Witch Doctor -cartoons
  • Muskrat Love - Captain & Tennille
  • Beverly Hills - Weezer
  • Fashion - David Bowie
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
  • Trash - Alice Cooper
  • Hot Dog - Led Zeppelin
  • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds - Elton John
  • We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel

Other

  • Vaudeville
  • madame tussauds
  • Goosebumps
  • Tiffany Lamps

Notable Figures/Artists

  • Mel Brooks
  • RuPaul
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Elvis Presley
  • Dorris Day
  • Tim Curry
  • Jack Black
  • Steve Martin

Resources

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