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For the Love of Camp

Last night as I was being an insomniac, I decided to watch Fired Up on Netflix.  It is a cheerleader movie where two oversexualized guys decide to join the Cheerleading Squad and get chicks along the way.  This is all centered around cheer camp.  Initially they are kissing lots of girls and getting an in with their lines that are typical and nothing special.  By the end, they’ve both grown as human beings. It was a perfectly mediocre movie, but Netflix thought I would like it for one specific reason.

I love campy comedy.  I love Cry Baby, Hudson Hawk, and even like the original Hairspray pretty well.  There is something about a campy comedy that can be so much better and more fulfilling than “normal” comedy.  The risks are bigger.  The situations are more outlandish. Sometimes Elivira shows up.  Some of the best known campy directors are John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Cry Baby, Hairspray) and Andy Warhol.

Hudson Hawk kept being recommended to me over and over by Netflix so I read some reviews by other Netflix users.  People either really liked it or disliked it completely.  For those that don’t know, Hudson Hawk is one of Bruce Willis’s earlier movies.  It was a major studio production and made far less than it cost to make.  I watched it, not knowing how I would feel about it.  To my delight, it was completely adorable.  He and his partner timed their crimes by singing songs.  So there was musical accompaniment to the robberies.  It was, however, incredibly campy.  Camp films can’t be billed like major studio films because they have such a different audience.  Even though it flopped, it is wonderful.

You know what else is campy?  Drag Queens.  Really, who doesn’t love a Drag Queen?  Lots of celebrities are campy.  People like Divine (of John Waters’ movies), RuPaul, Bette Midler, David Bowie, and Elton John are all campy.  Wikipedia says so. Even Lady Gaga embraces camp in her performances and outlandish clothing choices.  Camp is not something to be feared and avoided, but rather something to be loved and cherished as the glorious cultural component it is.  Embrace the camp.  Now go watch a John Waters movie.

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