I HEART CAMP! NO, NOT THE KIND WITH TENTS!
I have no taste. That’s the general consensus from my friends, who are by turns bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by my obsession with camp, especially when it comes to films and 80’s pop culture. Things came to a head last week when I invited some of them to a special screening in my house of the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. For those unfamiliar with it, here’s a clip of some the movie’s greatest scenes. Enjoy!
"How’d it get burned? How’d it get burned? How did the Bees in my eyes get Burned?
There is absolutely nothing better than Nic Cage at his most spastic. The Wicker Man had Nic in full looney-tunes mode, along with the most unintentionally hilarious script to come along in many a moon. Plus it also had the great Ellen Burstyn looking like Braveheart‘s crazy grandma.
Take the L out of Lover … and it’s over! *
*My undying love to whoever gets that visual reference.
So when I mentioned what movie we would be watching, that’s when the mutiny began. All I heard were angry rants of "Snicks, that movie is crap!" and "Why do you only watch terrible movies?" and "You need help, dude".
I tried explaining that The Wicker Man was not a run-of-the-mill bad movie. It was something special, something that only happens when the stars align and create a rare object for some gay men (like me) to gaze upon with awe and adoration. It was a camp classic.
But the question for this BEST.GAY.WEEK.EVER! is – what is "camp", and why do so many gay men enjoy it?
Webster’s Dictionary defines "camp" as:
1: exaggerated effeminate mannerisms exhibited especially by homosexuals.
2: something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, or out-of-date as to be considered amusing.
Before my friends stage a "camp intervention" and cart me off for deprogramming, let’s look at examples from both of these definitions …
1: Exaggerated effeminate mannerisms exhibited especially by homosexuals.
Sean Hayes, Jonathan Harris, and Darryl Stephens
When I read that definition, for some reason I picture Joe Friday from Dragnet solemnly intoning "Exaggerated effeminate mannerisms exhibited especially by homosexuals, ma’am." All three of the characters above can be considered "camp" in varying degrees. Whether it’s Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) making an art form out of "jazz hands" on Will & Grace , or Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) calling the robot on Lost in Space a "bubble-headed booby", some gay (or ambiguously gay) characters have taken the description and run with it.
One of my favorite recent TV characters to fit this bill is Noah (Darryl Stephens) from the late Logo series Noah’s Arc, whose inherent campiness added to his, um … obvious appeal.
Next page! More camp characters, plus a look at some classic camp films.