“And lodged somewhere within all this tortured choreography, I’m told, is fun.” In a postmodernity defined by depression memes, curated vintage (as seen here on Grailed), and all-lowercase ‘gram captions, it’s hard not to see Sontag’s–and Lowder’s—point. Yet, despite the eeriness of her half-century predictions (can we talk about the “everything in quotes” line?!
) if there’s anything to take away from “Notes On ‘Camp’,” it is the essay’s ending.
However, these broad opening statements are just setting the stage for what’s to come. It's not a lamp, but a ‘lamp’; not a woman, but a ‘woman.’ To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role.” From Virgil Abloh’s 2017 profile in “Quotation marks are one of the many tools that Abloh uses to operate in a mode of ironic detachment…Abloh rejects the who-did-it-first mentality of previous generations in favor of the copy-paste logic of the Internet and its inhabitants.
We’ve gone through and pulled out key quotes from Sontag’s original work, using the text as a explanatory guide (and, in some cases, foreteller) of what was to come for fashion writ large in the following years. His new order is protected by a fortress of irony.” “This is why so many of the objects prized by Camp taste are old-fashioned, out-of-date, démodé. It's simply that the process of aging or deterioration provides the necessary detachment—or arouses a necessary sympathy.
Polari blended many linguistic influences, and etymologists believe that the word , critic Moe Meyer accused Sontag’s essay of “removing, or at least minimizing, the connotations of homosexuality” from camp, and defined camp as “strategies and tactics of queer parody.” Sontag does mention the influence of queer culture on camp, but not until near the end of her essay, when she notes, "one feels that if homosexuals hadn’t more or less invented Camp, someone else would." In a 2018 essay on camp, linguist Chi Luu responds to Sontag with, "Would they have? What other subculture would have the drive and the expressive urgency to develop something as frivolously influential as camp?
" Sontag's essay doesn't discuss race, either, though some believe that camp's origins are in the Black community.It is the love of the exaggerated, the ‘off,’ of things-being-what-they-are-not.” From a critical perspective, this could describe nearly anything requiring production value.Italian opera (or a visit to the in-laws) requires both qualities.Today, Merriam-Webster’s definition is “something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, or out-of-date as to be considered amusing.” camp wasn't used in that sense until the early 1900s.The earliest known use of the word "camp" (outside of the tents-and-sleeping-bags meaning, that is) was in 1909, when it appeared in "homosexual slang," notes Merriam-Webster.“If there’s one thing about queer culture that is the definition of camp, it would be drag,” Zhang says. There are camp queens — that’s a subcategory of drag — but even glamour queens are still camp, because it’s still an aesthetic that’s embracing this over-the-top version of femininity that isn’t truly grounded in what actual women are like.”If it doesn't take queer history into account, the Met’s camp theme may end up being part of what Zhang describes as "the mainstreaming of queer culture." They explain, "I think there’s a broader cultural trend that’s been happening of mainstream pop culture referencing very queer cultural forms of production in ways that obscure the origins." Think of "yas queen!" rising in popularity due to its use in "[' Executive realness'] became a slogan for some random ad that had no connection to the fact that this was originally a category in balls for lower-income, often homeless, working-class people of color who were using corporate dress as a way of resistance," they explain.“The 1980s have, until recently perhaps, been a maligned era of fashion, but even before bum bags (re)took menswear by storm, there was lots to love from a sartorial standpoint.’” “The relation between boredom and Camp taste cannot be overestimated.Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence.” Results of a 2016 survey, reported by “66 percent of American adults and 75 percent of teens agreed that shopping is a ‘great cure for boredom.’ Even more—85 percent of adults and 86 percent of teens—said it makes them feel better, and the best cure for ennui is buying clothes.” “Detachment is the prerogative of an elite; and as the dandy is the 19th century's surrogate for the aristocrat in matters of culture, so Camp is the modern dandyism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it's not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.) Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic."There’s something going on when these cultural references are used. What lens are these exhibitions being funneled through? “If there isn’t a very diverse group of curators, or group of hands working on the project, then it’s not going to include that culture.” Any institution attempting to celebrate camp, she says, should "include gay men of color and gay women of color and people who currently participate in drag and Carnival.We're losing that memory, because people think it’s just a fun thing to say, but it’s actually rooted in a history of resistance forms of cultural production."Christie says that she expects Black camp — like Black '70s funk, Caribbean Carnival costumes, Blaxploitation movies, and "pimp/player fashion" — to be left out of the Met’s exhibit. Bootsy Collins and Chaka Khan are well and alive, and I’m sure they have their costumes archived somewhere.