Derives from the French gay community's slang term se camper
, meaning "to pose in an exaggerated fashion". The term "Camp
" morphed into referring to a sensibility that revels in artifice, stylization, theatricality, irony, playfulness, and exaggeration rather than content, as Susan Sontag famously defined the term in her short essay "Notes on Camp". Don't expect it to take itself the least bit seriously.
The main debates concerning the term are twofold:
- How such an aesthetic relates to intentionality: whether camp deliberately cultivated ("high" camp) is the same to that of the unintentional kind ("low" camp).
- Whether the term relies too much on the elitist notion that popular culture cannot also be enjoyed by a sophisticated sensibility, except through a condescending or distancing label.
See also Camp Gay
, Macho Camp
and Camp Straight
. Compare So Bad, It's Good
, Stylistic Suck
and Narm Charm
. Related to Large Ham
and World of Ham
. Not to be confused with the movie Camp
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Anime and Manga
- The newest incarnation of the Cutey Honey anime, Re Cutey Honey, is deliberately rendered in a psychedelic, humorous 1970s-style exaggeration of the franchise's infamous violence and Fanservice. The live action movie is similar.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam uses a hammy, posing, comically serious style from start to finish, all the more noticeable in a franchise that until then was known for being dramatic and semi-realistic. Where earlier designs were clean and sober, the giant robots here look like an American footballer with boxing gloves on a surfboard, Sailor Moon, or a windmill. The combatants pose in latex bodysuits that link their movements to their robots, making the melée fighting close and personal in contrast to the detached, calculating feel of other entries. Every aspect is exaggerated to the point of ridicule, from the absurdity of the premise, past the national stereotypes, ringing voices and power-ups by willpower that flash the whole robot red, to the finale that sees hundreds of different robots rally to save the world. Like it or not, it is a deliberate choice with fully intended comedy.
- Sailor Moon can fall under this trope sometimes, especially the first season. The Super Sentai-type fights are one indicator of this.
- Star Driver, as one might expect from a Super Robot show produced by the Ouran High School Host Club team, is absolutely dripping in camp. The male lead is the only one with a Magical Girl-worthy Transformation Sequence, for example. It's just pure FABLUOUSness. But watch it for the gorgeous animation.
- If Yoshiyuki Tomino is in a good mood while directing a Humongous Mecha show, chances are good that it'll fall into this. If not well...
- Valvrave the Liberator seems to run purely on camp. One of the enemy factions is literally Space Nazis complete with Gratuitous German, and every episode seems to strive to add some twist even more insane than the one before.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure: the anime's 2nd OP is a good demonstration of the glam Bishōnen action, but you can't realize how Campy it is until you perform or see the poses in real life, which caught on first with fans and spread to other anime and Japanese idols and celebrities.
- Yugioh has its lapses into this due to its premise in which card games are Serious Business and its English dub's hammy voice acting.
- The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, especially this number. The movie was written by Dr. Seuss, and it's exactly what you'd expect from him.
- The Abominable Dr. Phibes
- The Entire Burton/Schumacher Batman film franchise to varying extents. The first film less so than the succeeding three.
- The Disney flick Condorman falls squarely into this category. It's pretty entertaining if you don't mind suspending your disbelief a bit (and remember that it was intended for kids).
- Flash Gordon. The movie's script was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr., script consultant and sometimes episode writer for the Adam West-era Batman. The theme song is done by Queen. Of course it's going to be camp as hell.
Flash - a-ah - saviour of the universe
Flash - a-ah - he'll save everyone of us
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Flash - a-ah - he's a miracle
Flash - a-ah - king of the impossible
- The campiness was really enhanced by this being one of the first completely self-consciously Raygun Gothic productions made. All the designs for Mongo were completely over the top, and everyone had equipment just lying around that made no sense for them to have but was both cool and convenient. (A slideway from the edge of the deathmatch arena down to a rocketcycle in a city inhabited exclusively by people who can fly? Why not!)
- The Showa (1955-1975) Godzilla films were just filled with this.
- Lair of the White Worm is extremely campy. Some of Ken Russell's other films could count as well.
- Mommie Dearest has Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford gravely overacting while everyone else seems to be sedated. The editing only adds to the strangeness. For example, in one scene, Joan has been fired from her job and the scene ends with her boss turning around to the camera. Then there is an immediate cut to a screaming Joan, decked in an expensive evening dress, cutting apart her rose garden with a pair of hedge clippers and then ordering her daughter to "bring [her] the axe" so she can chop down a tree.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was meant to be a classic 'dashing hero saves beautiful true love with aid of Lovable Rogue mentor'. Then Johnny Depp took over and turned it into something glorious.
- Moulin Rouge!. Derivative, archetypal plot? Check. Large Ham villains? Check. Large Ham non-villains in a World of Ham where everyone breaks out into song at regular intervals? Check. Ham-to-Ham Combat? Check. Soundtrack predominantly composed of pop music given a Softer And Slower Cover? Check. Costuming? Lavish. Aesthetics? Fantastic. Music? Amazing. Disney Acid Sequence? Definitely. Also, the director of the film (Baz Luhrman) is a Camp Straight.
- Phantom of the Paradise, and oh so gloriously, from the music to the casting.
- The 2000 film Psycho Beach Party is an Affectionate Parody of old camp films and is truely extremely camp itself.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Tommy Wiseau's The Room is one of the more popular examples of low camp. Althought Wisseau made the smart marketing decision to now push it as an ironic comedy, it's clear to everyone that he originally meant it to be completely serious.
- Snakes on a Plane. Notably, the film started out as low camp and morphed into high camp over the course of its production process, thanks to its internet popularity and the noble efforts of Mr. Samuel L. Jackson to preserve the film's working title.
- Tank Girl. More regarding the film version, which featured all staples of camp seen above. Bad jokes, bizarre plot, unexplained animation segments, Malcolm McDowell playing late-career Malcolm McDowell, and—of course—a random musical segment.
- TerrorVision, an obscure 80's monster film, is this in loads. It's about a literal family of cliched stereotypes that install a dish for their TV and an Eldritch Abomination that barks like a dog gets received from space and comes out of their television to absorb everyone. It's like The Thing (1982), but a parody.
- How could Temptation Island not be this? Consider this line by Suzanne/Serafina to Azenith/Cristina: "Good morning. What did you have for breakfast, Eggs Benedict? Did Umberto serve you?"
- Troll 2 is loved because it is so delightfully camp and not scary at all.
- Pretty much every film made by cult B-movie producers Troma Film has loads of camp value.
- Vampire Cop Ricky splices camp with extremely serious scenes.
- James Whale famously employed this in his 1930s horror films, particularly The Old Dark House (1932) and Bride of Frankenstein.
- The film version of The Wiz.
- The infamous The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman may well qualify as one of the worst movies ever, owing to its having been a failed attempt at camp. It is a rip-off of the Adam West TV series, right down to the ludicrous villains and the 60s go-go dancing. The producers of Batman took Jerry Warren to court, which is why he threw in that tacked-on opening about the "synthetic vampire" Batgirls.
- Kevin Ayers features in possibly the gayest, most outrageously camp, music videos ever committed to tape. His 1973 hit Carribean Moon has all the gayness buttons deliberately racked up way past eleven. Julian clary would look like a macho straight. The video is also hilarious.
- David Bowie, especially his stage persona of Ziggy Stardust in The Seventies.
- Everything Doctor Steel - or his fans - do is done consciously and conspicuously over the top.
- The artist Gunther embodies camp, mullet and all. Witness the glory that is the Ding Dong Song.
- Michael Jackson sometimes was intentionally campy, most famously with the song and video for "Thriller".
- Klaus Nomi, the 80s version of Lady Gaga, with his "postmodern theatricality". Which brings us to...
- Lady Gaga, who claims inspiration from the above two. "He ate my heart, and then he ate my brain!"
- Kylie Minogue's career is practically built on this trope. See "Your Disco Needs You" and her Light Years album.
- Queen. Their sound was essentially this combined with the Epic Riff and/or Epic Rocking. "We Will Rock You" cranks it up to eleven, naturally. Lead singer Freddie Mercury was Camp Gay/Manly Gay note . This should come as no surprise that his songs and videos were extremely camp as well. He loved to dress in fur and leather. Later in his career, he had a moustache.
- Steps, even by The Nineties pop standard. The three mains traits of the band were exaggerated dance moves, cheesey, happy music and bright colours and costume worn by the members. Like the Batman television series, it was intentionally camp.
- Rob Zombie. His stage act self-consciously uses every bad cliche ripped from B-Movie Slasher Flicks, and yet he obviously has an affectionate attitude towards the source material and puts genuine effort into using it. For more evidence, see the ''Dragula'' video.
- Most Broadway musicals, especially those adapted from movies.
- The entire output of Gilbert and Sullivan is high camp. As ridiculously uppercrust as Sullivan was Gilbert made his living as a parodist. Their operetta Patience is particularly worth noting as being a camp parody of the, also very camp, aestheic movement.
- Most Richard Strauss operas — especially Salome.
- The musical of Little Women takes the short and melodramatic play that Jo and her sisters stage in the early chapters, and turns it into a musical number spanning the entire cast (all... six of them), stuffed chock-full of wholesome, affectionate camp.
- Bayonetta, spiritual successor to Devil May Cry, begins with the main character, disguised as a nun, presiding over a funeral that is subsequently visited by heavenly beings who rip off her clothes, allowing her to use her suit of magical hair and the handguns (which she wields four at a time, one to each limb) that were hidden in a coffin to beat, shoot, and rip the angels apart gruesomely, all to a cover of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon." It's as over the top as it sounds.
- The Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series is mildly campy. Red Alert pushes it Up to Eleven.
- Contra: Rebirth Seems to be this with the hero dropped into space station from helicopter, robotic llamas, upside-down midboss, a pyramid of running enemies, over-the-top Excuse Plot and generally lighthearted presentation.
- Deep Fear: Although the game itself is hardly camp (instead falling under So Bad, It's Good), the campiness cranks Up to Eleven whenever the sub designer, Dubois Amalric, opens his mouth to deliver his ridiculously accented lines at a volume as loud as his purple turtleneck sweater.
- Devil May Cry. In the second game the developers forgot this, but the third game made up for it in spades.
- Fallout: New Vegas: All three tribes that run the casinos in New Vegas are camp to some degree (The Omertas representing the seamy underbelly and the White Glove Society representing the elegance well, on the surface, anyway of the old Las Vegas, respectively), but the Chairmen crank it Up to Eleven. All of them dress like Rat Pack rejects and say things like "Ring-a-ding, baby" and "What can I do to make your stay the tops?" with completely straight faces. And it's hilarious.
- Jet Set Radio Future for the XBOX is mostly this. We've got a group of teenagers on roller-blades that protect the cities by spraying graffiti everywhere, rival rollerblading gangs in silly costumes, Comically Serious villains who think that graffiti-spraying punks are worth calling in armed choppers, and lots of silly songs in the soundtrack. The final boss, however, takes a creepier, more surreal, direction.
- Metal Wolf Chaos is about 'AMERICA!!' It takes the Eagleland trope Up to Eleven. Let's just say its campiness rivals Batman.
- Resident Evil 4 greatly improved the storytelling of the series simply by acknowledging how ridiculous the franchise's premise is at its core (thanks in no small part to the characterization of Leon into a Deadpan Snarker who reacts to the game's ludicrous plot on behalf of the bemused player). Sadly, this was not to last, as the subsequent games all attempt to be taken seriously and are far less highly regarded for it.
- Space Channel 5. The setting is '60s style psychedelic future. You play as a swingin' news reporter. Colorful aliens start to invade. How do you defeat them? By the power of dancing and copying the moves of the enemies. It also has "space-" inserted to almost every occupation.
- Team Fortress 2. The characters have exaggerated Rockwell-esque designs, each of them have a different, very much played up accent and traits stereotypically associated with each's respective nationality. Furthermore, it's filled with Ludicrous Gibs (after you get killed, during a freezecam of your murderer the game will gleefully point out where "your pancreas!", "your foot!", "your kidney!" etc. lies, if the body parts appear on the shot). It is largely thanks to that factor that the game was received so well.
- The Wolfenstein series, especially Wolfenstein 3D. It's hard to get much campier than Mecha Hitler with quadruple Gatling Good yelling in bastardized German/English and exploding into Ludicrous Gibs.
- Two words: Deadly Premonition. It's camp of the unintentional variety. With it's less than stellar voice acting, animation, sound mixing, graphics, script, framerate—well just about everything, it's the embodiment of So Bad, It's Good.
- Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. Its premise is that of a post-cyberpocalyptic world where basketball is outlawed (and its former players hunted down and murdered) because one Charles Barkley performed a Chaos Dunk and accidentally killed thousands in the ensuing blast. The bathos is palpable, and it never ceases (including such things as Michael Jordon infecting Barkley's son Hoopz with type 2 diabetes through a needle, and Barkley reacting by calling Jordon a "motherfucking goddamn baka".
- Animutation tends to be a surreal take on this.
- Most of the comics commented upon by The Comics Curmudgeon are delightfully campy. Apartment 3 G stands out as one that Josh loves for the camp.
- Commentary! The Musical.
- Robot Unicorn Attack. Beloved for its campiness and extremely gay synthpop theme song (Always by Erasure). When they tried to make a Halloween version with a Slayer soundtrack, it wasn't received well.
- In Worm, the superhero Mouse Protector is said to have made this part of her shtick so that being defeated by her would be more embarrassing — but the crapsack nature of the Worm universe doesn't leave all that many people following her example.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series lives off this: "Pegasus is ruthless. Camp, yet ruthless".
- Where the hell do we even begin with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog? Some even view it as the Sonic equivalent of Adam West's Batman. For starters we have Sonic (who is voiced by Jaleel White) shouting out over-the-top Catch Phrases such as "I'M WAAAAAITING," and "WAY PAST COOL," Scratch and Grounder who are too INSANELY stupid to do almost anything right, yet alone catch Sonic, and (of course), Dr. Ivo Robotnik who should probably give himself a promotion for displaying such camPINGAS usual we see.
- "Darling, I don't have to answer to you. I'm Batman!"
- "Tooo Infinity, and Even FURTHER!"
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983). So much so, that even in the 80s, many were suspicious that it was actually gay propaganda. (Especially with names like Ram-Man, Man-at-Arms, Extendar, and last but not least, Fisto. Yes, these were real).
- Megas XLR is a mix between this and Troperiffic. It's a fun, wacky ride through 80s pop culture, Humongous Mecha battles with Kaiju, and alien invasions. Not to mention one of the show's recurring villains is Bruce Campbell as a MODOK parody.
- ¡Mucha Lucha! is very much this. Everyone in their world is a wacky, over-the-top Masked Luchador with the strange ability to morph their bodies into whatever shapes that are based on their special move's names. They go on crazy adventures that lead them to battle evil toilets, ancient Mexican mummies, an entire classroom that teaches some of the other luchadors how to be evil, and many other bizarre things.
- The Return of the King: "Where there's a whip *whipcrack!* there's a way!"
- Schoolhouse Rock is so camp that it often gets in the way of being educational.
- M. Bison, in the animated Street Fighter series. This is delicious!
- Spiderman And His Amazing Friends
- Totally Spies! is pure camp. We have three somewhat ditzy teenage girls who, for reasons unknown, become secret agents for a spy corporation oddly named WOOHP. They each wear their own bright-colored spandex outfits and are given silly gadgets that look like hairdryers, makeup kits, and many other female fashion-themed devices. The villains they face are absurd, complete with ludicrous motivations.
- VeggieTales. They've got silly songs, corny jokes (pun intended), goofy adventures, and various other things.
- John Waters (whose guest appearance on The Simpsons provides one of the quotes above) has made a career out of it.
- Many of the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Let's see; Fake Venice, Fake Paris, Fake New York, Fake Ancient Rome, Fake Camelot, Fake Ancient Egypt, Pirates on the Vegas Strip... if "camp" is defined as deliberate bad taste then the Las Vegas Strip is practically the best example out there. It is all incredibly over the top and tacky but it done so incredibly well that one cannot help think it is So Bad, It's Good.
- The Venetian is the clearest case of Camp on the Strip. Most of the resorts do indeed have an exaggerated and theatrical presentation. However, not all of the resorts have the required derivative substance or hilarious badness or monumental tackiness. For instance, the Bellagio is certainly exaggerated in its theatricality, and presented very well. However, the resort takes itself very seriously and the vast majority of visitors to it consider it So Cool It's Awesome rather than So Bad, It's Good.
- And let's not forget Macau's own Fake Venice which is not only three times the size of it's Vegas counterpart, but even campier. Picture sitting in a Japanese restaurant, overlooking a fake indoor replica of the Grand Canal, with the gondolier rowing past and singing a (very good) rendition of Sarah Brightman's part in "Time To Say Goodbye". Oh, and the Brazillian steakhouse on the fake St Mark's Square, with street entertainers suddenly bursting out of doors to do rousing renditions of "Feniculi Fenicula". Oh yeah, it's more camp than Rufus Wainright.
- With regards to the Treasure Island resort, their famous streetside "pirate battle" was originally a straightforward, theme-park like spectacle: pirates vs. the British navy, and the pirates win. When the resort was overhauled to appeal more to adults, this show became The Sirens of TI and became sirens (re: sexy, scantily-clad sea witches) vs. pirates; the sirens win and the pirates join them for a Dance Party Ending. Now THAT'S campy!
- The bulk of Las Vegas shows qualified as mostly unintentional camp for decades. But then Cirque du Soleil arrived in The Nineties and presented high theatricality and fun alongside elegance, subtlety, and artistic ambition. Audiences found it refreshing, and this triggered a sea change in Vegas entertainment. Nowadays, when you see a campy Vegas show, it's either intentional camp or an older show that didn't get the memo. For the latter, see this review of the last remaining Vegas showgirl show, Jubilee!
- 19th century dandies, including Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron. Not all of them were necessarily gay, but they were all extremely camp, which is required for being a dandy.
- Jonathan Ross repeatedly referred to LL Cool J as this during an appearance on "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross." LL had no idea what it meant. When he found out, hilarity ensued.