Opinions on Camp (style)

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"Campy" redirects here. For other uses, see Campy (disambiguation).

Camp is a social, cultural and aesthetic style and sensibility based on deliberate and self-acknowledged theatricality.Camp, as a cultural designation, is constantly debated and contested. Commonly, camp is associated with and attributed to gay male subculture(s) but this is too limiting and too stereotypical an understanding. Camp aesthetics disrupt many modernists' notions of what art is and what can be classified as high art by inverting aesthetic attributes such as beauty, value and taste through an invitation of a different kind of apprehension and consumption.

Camp can also be a social practice. For many it is considered a style and performance identity for several types of entertainment including film, cabaret and pantomime. Where high art necessarily incorporates beauty and value, camp necessarily needs to be lively, audacious and dynamic. "Camp aesthetics delights in impertinence." Camp opposes satisfaction and seeks to challenge.

The concept is related to kitsch, and things with camp appeal may also be described as being "cheesy". When the usage appeared in 1909, it denoted: ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, and effeminate behavior and by the middle of the 1970s, the definition comprised: banality, artifice, mediocrity and ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal. American writer Susan Sontag's essay "Notes on 'Camp'" (1964) emphasized its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naive middle-class pretentiousness, and 'shocking' excess. Camp as an aesthetic has been popular from the 1960s to the present.

Camp aesthetics were popularised by filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar, Andy Warhol, and John Waters, including the last's Pink Flamingos, Hairspray and Polyester. Celebrities that are associated with camp personas include drag queens and performers such as Dame Edna Everage, Divine, RuPaul, and Liberace. Camp was a part of the anti-academic defense of popular culture in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s with the widespread adoption of postmodern views on art and culture.


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