In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« American Cities | Main | Earthquake Hits and Misses »

June 04, 2006

Camp? Post-Camp? Neo-Camp?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Once upon a time, the word "camp" connoted an attitude -- a way of taking things -- that was in-group, sly, coterie. These days ... Well, doesn't it seem as though the media-creation that isn't knowingly self-parodistic is the exception to the general rule? Soon life itself will become just another media event asking to be laughed at while reveling in being paid attention to. Perhaps the time has come to decommission the word "camp"?

That said, this zanily deluded rock video from the self-described "queen of Tampa public-access television" did make me laugh out loud. I do wish it hadn't, though.

Wikipedia describes camp as "an ironic appreciation of that which might otherwise be considered outlandish or corny," and then goes on at considerable length. Hey, what kind of a role did camp play in the music of The Rolling Stones at their peak? I mean: pink satin! Yet there's something else going on there too, isn't there? But perhaps I'm deluding myself.

Question for the day: What to make of it when irreverence-at-the-expense-of-the-mainstream becomes the mainstream thing itself? When everything in life has come to be a knowing put-on of itself, does that signify the End of All Good Things? Or reason to party like it's 1999?



posted by Michael at June 4, 2006


How do you classify this:

Posted by: onetwothree on June 4, 2006 12:35 PM

To answer strictly, camp has nothing to do with the MUSIC. That was the department of Keith and his associates, who ran a production line of blues-based rock grooves. Now, did camp have something to do with the presentation, image, look, stage performance of the Stones? You bet. As a rock band, they were all business. As a vehicle for Mick's unique crazy shtick, all eye-makeup and ass-shakin' and flouncing around -- he was all show biz. This video captures that. The band is like a phalanx, only moving enough to play their instruments -- Bill Wyman chewing gum, even, looking bored -- out front there's Mick like a strutting rooster. That combination was made them what they were, the world's greatest rock'n'roll band. Thanks for sharing. Stones forever.

Posted by: Lexington Green on June 4, 2006 2:28 PM

I figure at this point the culture is building up a tremendous hunger for some kind of sincerity, or, well, whatever the opposite of camp is. Every piece of entertainment around, and much of the rest of life, seems to constantly be winking at you, letting you know that we're all too hip to take this stuff seriously.

And yet, strangely, we all remain mortal...

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on June 5, 2006 8:57 AM

Incidentally, after watching this a couple more times, it is worth noting that they are NOT lip syncing on this! Mick extemporizes some lyrics. What an amazing, tight, in-the-pocket performance. They are like an army.

This performance is the gold standard for rock.

Posted by: Lex on June 5, 2006 9:57 AM

I once had an avid appetite for camp (as a Member-in-Good-Standing of the Homo Tribe, I think there was a rule!) but I agree with Frederich -- the nudge-nudge-wink-wink factor is getting overwhelming.

For instance, "Mommy Dearest" used to be a hilarious film in that so violent a character assassination could be so hamfisted and clumsy. It's embarrassingly overwrought and all my friends loved it.

Now, however, it's been repackaged by Paramount as a dragged-up 'special edition' with commentaries from John Waters and Lypsinka. Love them both but, by stripping the 'shocking true story' of its oafish sincerity, they've also killed the humour.

Thank God for "Seventh Heaven" -- that show was a scream! -- but these days, my heart really belongs to something like "Six Feet Under," which trafficked in all the glib post-modern dream-sequence, soap-opera-melodrama, ironic-humour trappings of a camp-soaked culture but contained a sharp wit and a passionate heart beating beneath it all.

Posted by: Scott on June 6, 2006 3:07 PM

Why the universe was first made of rocks, and why still man has a love affair with rocks.

Immovable, immutable, rocks form the foundation and perception of what men may not alter at will which grants him the only means of measuring changes in his universe, the one reality upon which he is able to rely.

Not earth, not sky, not humans, and not animals, and certainly not religion or ideas. Celebrate the rock!

Posted by: Pat R. on June 7, 2006 1:18 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?