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"Batman (1966) became Camp. In those days, Camp was a fairly serious intellectual enterprise. When kids see it, they take it literally, but when adults see it, they realize it's comedic."
Denny O'Neil, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
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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:

  1. How such an aesthetic relates to intentionality: whether camp deliberately cultivated ("high" camp) is the same to that of the unintentional kind ("low" camp).
  2. 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, Camp Straight, and Campy Combat. 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 (2003), nor has anything to do with a Camping Episode.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The opening theme to The Big O is an homage to the Flash Gordon theme.
  • Re: Cutie 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.
  • Code Geass actually brings a rather large component of camp to everything from its voice acting (Lelouch, Lloyd and the Emperor are the most obvious examples), elaborate outfits and posing (see almost every time Zero gives a public speech), over-the-top events, crazy robot power-ups and many other elements. Not much of a surprise if you realize the director previously made Scryed and GUN×SWORD, plus was also part of the staff who worked on Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
  • JoJo's 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.
  • 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.
  • Powerpuff Girls Z. More so than the original American show. Being a Magical Girl show, it's to be expected.
  • Sailor Moon can fall under this trope sometimes, especially the first season. The Super Sentai-type fights are one indicator of this.
  • Smile Pretty Cure! (aka Glitter Force in America) is full of this. It's a Sailor Moon-like series complete with candy-colored superheroes, fairy tale villains, ridiculous monsters, cheesy dialog, and they beat the baddies with The Power of Friendship and Love.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The infamous The 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.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • The bread, butter, and jam of The Aquabats! Super Show!.
  • Probably no TV show had as much intentional camp as its central focus than did the live-action Batman (1966) from the 1960s. Notorious for putting the prefix "bat-" in front of everything Batman did or used, and for Adam West's portrayal of Batman as a constantly emoting expositionist who had but one tone of voice no matter the situation. However, many of the people involved with the production debate the label as needlessly denigrating to the hard work they put into the show's elements of farce.
    • In his essay Batman, Deviancy and Camp, Andy Medhurst goes so far as to say the best definition of camp could be "sort of like the Batman TV show." Adam West has apparently made a career out of playing campy superheroes. Occasionally he even plays himself as if he thought he was a superhero.
    • West mentioned during interviews that he deliberately played up some 'campy' aspects of the show — it was, apparently, a necessity, as only part of his face was visible, and he had to find another way to express emotion.
    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold series and its video game adoption picked up the camp role. Besides its surprising emphasis on more obscure, cheesier villains, the show also gave us the Music Meister, a villain who controls the will of others by singing like Neil Patrick Harris.
    • The Mexican dub was even campier, the prefix "bat-" was changed to "bati-", and the characters got ridiculous dub names such as "Gatúbela" for Catwoman or "El Guasón" for The Joker (Even when the card is generally referred as "joker" in Spanish) and Bruce Wayne was changed to the more Hispanic Bruno Díaz. The dub was so successful that even today the characters are known officially as that even in later Darker and Edgier adaptations.
  • Continuing the tradition, Gotham slowly embraced the camp as it went on. While Darker and Edgier than Batman (1966), it is silly by having everyone act dead serious while walking around in an Anachronism Stew, in a very gothic looking Gotham City, with very comic-accurate supervillains and costumes.
  • Burke's Law. A Millionaire Playboy who also happens to be a police captain rides to crime scenes in a chauffeured Rolls Royce. The murders he investigates are almost always rather baroque and sometimes even excessively complex and the suspects are usually members of The Beautiful Elite of Los Angeles.
  • Doctor Who has flirted with camp on-and-off throughout its various incarnations. This was partly out of necessity, due to the low budget. However, camp is, in some ways, inherent in its premise: It's a world where the hero triumphs (usually deflating any attempts at seriousness in the process) by virtue of being gallant, romantic, and stoic in the British tradition. In Whovian circles, this push-pull dynamic between camp and drama is known as "Guns and Frocks", a term taken from one of the New Adventures novels. The Sixth Doctor, when confronted with a choice between fending off the villains with rifles or frocks, sides with frocks. The Doctor will always win in the most outlandish, silly way possible, because the alternative would be to resort to violence, which is against the franchise's philosophy.
    • This is not to say Who doesn't indulge in deconstruction now and again. The aforementioned New Adventures novels turned the Terrence Dicks interpretation of the Doctor ("Neither cruel nor cowardly") on its head: In Love and War, the Doctor still behaves like the children's hero we all know and adore - even parroting the same Dicks catchphrases - while simultaneously doing thoroughly fiendish things. This contradiction later surfaced on the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood, most notably with the flamboyant pansexual immortal child killer Captain Jack — about as schizo a character as you can come up with.
    • The new series, faced with the terrifying prospect of a reasonable budget and cheap and high-quality special effects being widely available by that point, perhaps overcompensated for this by having a Darker and Edgier Doctor - one who was now the Last of His Kind, wore a black leather jacket that, in WWII London, has a fellow time traveller compare him to a U-Boat Captain and a shaved head and had committed double genocide as Back Story - fighting mostly extremely goofy comedy monsters over his short run, with the notable exceptions being the Daleks, a "serious" but legendarily campy 50s B-Movie-like monster played painfully straight here and the Empty Child (whose double parter is considered to be one of the best and creepiest stories in the show's history). The worry was that, with good special effects, the Narm Charm responsible for a lot of the campy appeal would be lost, and so it had to be added by replacing "low camp" with "high camp" - not least to avoid traumatising children (which the original series cared about much less, being by far the goriest show on The BBC at the time). By the second series, the Doctor got more mellow and the monsters got (mostly) spookier, finding what is generally agreed to be a good middle ground - and it's still camp as hell. Since then, it's yo-yo'd between gleefully embracing the camp and playing up the drama (the John Simm incarnation of the Master epitomising this by starting his takeover by bellowing "HERE! COME! THE DRUMS!" and bopping along to Rogue Traders' "Voodoo Child", then casually ordering the deaths of 600 million people because he thinks the word 'decimate' sounds nice).
    • Even some of the Nu-Who music comes under this - composer Murray Gold, when creating a Leitmotif for the Doctor's alien-ness, was deliberately asked to do it as a Cliché Storm, so he went with an operatic One-Woman Wail. This was nicknamed by him "Flavia's Theme", after an extremely campy One-Scene Wonder Time Lady in "The Five Doctors", who he could imagine singing it. It's deliberately overly dramatic, but at the same time hits exactly the emotional button it's supposed to push - both Angst and the promise of adventure.
    • The costume designs under John Nathan-Turner's tenure as producer were done this way for merchandising reasons, probably inspired by the Iconic Outfit appeal of the Fourth Doctor's scarf - the Doctors went from dressing in a somewhat bohemian, anachronistic approach to whatever is mainstream fashion of the day, into dressing in blatant costume, with red question-mark motifs and occasionally really hideous colour schemes. Many fans agree this crossed over into What the Hell, Costuming Department?, especially with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, though the JN-T Fourth Doctor outfit is generally agreed to be flattering and quite good. In retrospect, it helps that the Doctor has notoriously fashion sense, so the clothing choices could be dismissed in that light.
    • Some of the scores in the late 80s. Italo Disco Daleks, anyone?
    • The Rani, a ridiculous Large Ham Mad Scientist character written specifically in a 'gay icon' style.
    • The score of the official "Shada" reconstruction shot for this (alongside Retraux) as it was a late 80s-era Doctor Who scorer doing a very knowing pastiche of the 70s style scores, but it is generally agreed upon to be distracting, inappropriate and just really nasty to listen to.
    • Lampshaded in David Tennant and Catherine Tate's "Let's Do It" video in which Tate's Julie Gardner asked Tennant's Russell T Davies, "let's revamp - make more camp - a sci-fi show from yesteryear".
  • Eurovision: The video for Sweden's 2007 entry, "The Worrying Kind" by The Ark, is three minutes of pure, distilled camp.
  • Giant Robo. Look at the costumes!!
  • Both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess delved into this with gusto. The latter is a heavily self-aware and unapologetic cult show about scantily-clad sapphic warriors fighting crime.
  • LazyTown is 24 minutes of pure, unadulterated camp. The show crosses goofy outfits for the characters and goofy-looking puppets with musical numbers soundtracked with cheesy Eurovision Song Contest-esque pop songs. Don't forget the goofy plots about the main villain trying to stop our heroes from encouraging healthiness and exercise.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus featured an exhibition of Close-Order Swanning About.
    Drill Sergeant: Squad! Camp it... UP!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a presentation of campy movies lampooned for your enjoyment. The sketches between movie segments tended toward the delightfully campy as well.
    Tom Servo: Well, time to start camping. You dress up as Oscar Wilde, and I'll sing Noël Coward songs.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse
  • Power Rangers and its parent series Super Sentai. It went for a Darker and Edgier setup for some of its later seasons, though. After Power Rangers RPM, Saban Entertainment bought the rights back from Disney and the show went back to its campy roots with Power Rangers Samurai.
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey had more than its share.
  • Sherlock borrows the aesthetics and Mood Lighting of gritty crime drama and uses it as window dressing for incredibly silly, implausible stories that take place in a world of movies and setting-transplanted pulp Victorian fiction rather than in the real world. This is partially demonstrated by how much joy it takes in Painting the Fourth Wall, and also in how much the dialogue implicitly mocks its own premise and characters while at the same time being in no way a Self-Parody. It is mostly able to handle its acute self-exaggeration and ridiculousness through extremely high-quality acting which plays it all exactly as straight as it has to be, making Sherlock himself The Comically Serious. Then there's the individual character Moriarty, who embodies all of this in himself alone.
  • The Showa era (1966-1981) of the Ultra Series were full of this. The later series also tend to have a lot of it, depending on how seriously they take themselves.
  • Schitt's Creek contains a rather sophisticated In-Universe example in the character of Moira Rose, with her over the top designer outfits and wigs and career in soap operas and a b-movies. This is acknowledged in a storyline when her son David's ex-boyfriend comes to town to photograph her, and David realizes that the intention is to make a camp joke out of his mother.
  • Supernatural: During the Eric Kripke era, Seasons 1-5, the show tried, often successfully, to avoid the campiness associated with many low-budget genre series. Not that a bad episode or two, like "Bugs" didn't sneak in and there were intentionally silly episodes such as "Tall Tales" and episodes like "The Monster at the End of this Book" that thrived on Leaning on the Fourth Wall. However, once Kripke left the series, the show introduced more over-the-top, cartoonish villains, and villains like Crowley and Lucifer, who had been genuinely menacing in early seasons, became jokey. The show started relying more on obvious CGI, queerbaiting its audience relentlessly, and generally began feeling like a parody of its earlier, superior seasons.

    Music 
  • Liberace, whose act was magnificent high camp, but who in life sucessfully sued newspapers for even hinting that he was gay, maintaining that he was straight despite the facade. After his death from AIDS, the truth was out.
  • 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 '70s.
  • 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 "Bad", where he dances in a leather jacket to impress some gang members that he is "bad" like them.
  • Klaus Nomi, an eccentric pop star dressed in theatrical costumes who sings in an operatic voice on albums like Klaus Nomi and Simple Man.
  • Lady Gaga, who claims inspiration from the above two. "He ate my heart, and then he ate my brain!"
  • Kesha's music is loaded with over-the-top teen party imagery, cheesy lyrics, silly youth slang, and an exaggerated Valley Girl accent autotuned up the wazoo.
  • Kylie Minogue's career is practically built on this trope. See "Your Disco Needs You" and her Light Years album.
  • Queen's sound was essentially this combined with the Epic Riff and/or Epic Rocking. Lead singer Freddie Mercury was a decidedly Macho Camp variety of bisexual and loved to dress in fur and leather (and sported a Porn Stache later in his career).
  • Steps, even by The '90s 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.
  • Andrew W.K.. His music is loaded with over-the-top, cheesy lyrics focused mostly on partying, along with Epic Rocking born from a wild combination of Alternative Metal and pop rock.
  • The entire Hair Metal genre was practically born out of this trope. The four main things in common with the bands in the genre were: a combination of '80s Hair and outrageous outfits, cheesy lyrics, over-the-top Epic Rocking, and many, many power ballads. Their stage acts, especially in the genre's 80s heyday, involved over-the-top lighting and special effects (coupled with gratuitous pyrotechnics). Not even it's early 90s demise with the arrival of Grunge and the constant bashing of the genre's image and attitude by metal purists were able to snuff out the genre's legacy and long-term popularity.
  • This trope was the bread and butter for several boy bands, especially in the 90s. Boy bands tend to feature exaggerated dance moves, coupled with cheesy, bright and happy music and (often matching) outfits worn by the members.
  • The music videos for Boys Town Gang's Can't Take My Eyes Off of You and Armi ja Danny's I Wanna Love You Tender bleed camp.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • GLOW mixed Camp with Narm Charm/So Bad, It's Good.
  • Argentinian promotion Titanes en el Ring. The best way to sum it is WWE's Golden Eighties mixed with CHIKARA's Y-7 approach. You have Large Ham commentators mixed with light-hearted storylines and characters such as El Gitano Ivanoff (an immigrant from Romania), Julio César (yep, that one) La Momia (a fighting mummy), Genghis Khan (yep, that one) high-flying luchador Caballero Rojo, biker Mr. Moto, and so on...

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Clue VCR Game is very campy, indeed. Everyone's a hammy stereotype, the story is played entirely for comedy, and the musical tunes are fun and catchy.
  • Feast of Legends is an RPG made by Wendy's meant as a commercial for their products in a Tabletop Role Playing Game form, but the camp levels are through the roof, if you aren't laughing at the commericalism you'll be laughing at the bad writing. If you aren't laughing at either one of those you'll be laughing at the fact you WERE laughing at one of those.

    Theater 
  • 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.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney has outlandish character designs, copious overacting, and very over-the-top trial sequences.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Uncle Grandpa is one of the campiest and trippiest shows you'll ever see. It's got a photo-realistic flying tiger that farts a rainbow trail for propulsion, talking pizza, Godzilla if he were a middle-aged man, a talking fanny pack, and a magical adult child with various abilities.
  • VeggieTales. They've got silly songs, corny jokes (pun intended), goofy adventures, and various other things.

    Real Life 
  • John Waters 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 awesome rather than So Bad, It's Good.
    • 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 '90s 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!
  • Really, any city known as a gambling/casino mecca will have at least a few of these:
    • Macau's own Fake Venice which is not only three times the size of its 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 Wainwright.
    • Atlantic City, the Eastern Vegas. Its most famous pieces of ludicrous camp are probably its Fake India (which was shut down and replaced with a Hard Rock theme), Fake Rome, and Fake Old Havana, but really, all the casinos either specialize in or at least include some kind of faux something (for instance, Bally's has the Wild Wild West section—even though the Golden Nugget also has a Wild West theme. In Atlantic City. Literally a few yards from the Atlantic Ocean in the case of Bally's. Yes.) And perhaps fittingly for New Jersey,note  the most successful casino in town is in large part Fake Tuscany. Even when it's not aping something it's often ludicrously garish. That the rest of Atlantic City—heck, Atlantic County—has been kind of a mismanaged shithole for decades only accentuates the camp.
  • 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.

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