Camp (style)

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Camp is an aesthetic sensibility wherein something is appealling because of its bad taste and ironic value. The concept is closely related to kitsch, and things with camp appeal are described as being "campy" or "cheesy". When the usage appeared, in 1909, it denoted: ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, and effeminate behaviour, and, by the middle of the 1970s, the definition comprised: banality, artifice, mediocrity, and ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal.[1] American writer Susan Sontag's essay Notes on "Camp" (1964) emphasised its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess. Camp as an aesthetic has been popular from the 1960s to the present.

Camp films were popularised by filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar, Andy Warhol, and John Waters, including the latter's Pink Flamingos, Hairspray and Polyester. Celebrities that are associated with camp personas include drag queens and performers such as Dame Edna, Divine (Glen Milstead), 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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