Making Camp: Rhetorics of Transgression in U.S. Popular by Helene A. Shugart

By Helene A. Shugart

Making Camp examines the rhetoric and conventions of “camp” in modern pop culture and the methods it either subverts and is co-opted through mainstream ideology and discourse, specifically because it relates to problems with gender and sexuality.

Camp has lengthy been aligned with homosexual male tradition and function. Helene Shugart and Catherine Waggoner contend that camp within the well known media—whether visible, dramatic, or musical—is both pervasive. whereas aesthetic and performative in nature, the authors argue that camp—female camp in particular—is additionally hugely political and that conventions of femininity and feminine sexuality are negotiated, if now not constantly resisted, in lady camp performances.

The authors draw on a variety of references and figures consultant of camp, either old and modern, in featuring the evolution of lady camp and its negotiation of gender, political, and id matters. Antecedents resembling Joan Crawford, ask yourself girl, Marilyn Monroe, and Pam Grier are mentioned as archetypes for modern pop culture figures—Macy grey, Gwen Stefani, and the characters of Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess and Karen Walker from Will & Grace.

Shugart and Waggoner locate that those and different girl camp performances are liminal, occupying an area among conformity and resistance. the result's a research that demonstrates the superiority of camp as a ancient and evolving phenomenon in pop culture, its function as a website for the rupture of traditional notions of gender and sexuality, and the way camp is configured in mainstream tradition and in ways in which withstand its being diminished to basically a style.

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144). Ross (1999) similarly asserts that pop camp is a “parasitical practice” characterized by “a rediscovery of history’s waste. Camp . . is more than just a remembrance of things past, it is the re-creation of surplus value from forgotten forms of labor” (p. 320). Furthermore, the sensibilities of irony and pastiche that distinguish contemporary popular culture have a natural affinity with and constitute a natural environment for an appropriately depoliticized and restylized camp aesthetic (Cleto, 1999; Robertson, 1996; Ross, 1999).

Rather than a covert, cult sensibility, camp becomes a commercialized taste—and a taste for commercialism. (p. ” He cautions, however, that “we must also remember to what extent this cultural economy was tied to the capitalist logic of development that governed the mass culture industries” (p. 326). Pop camp, he suggests, is entirely defined by the conditions of its production and consumption. For all of the intuitive sense that the distinction between “authentic” camp and “pop” camp makes, however, and despite the attempts of critics to fix that distinction, it remains rather vague.

Interestingly, the examples that Babuscio invokes for these, as well as for ironic masculine/feminine incongruity, are all films and/or celebrities, suggesting that irony is inherent to camp not only as performed but as received, as well. ’ Irony is an operation of discourse which sets up a complex of tensions between what is said and various qualifications or contradictions generated by the process of the saying” (p. 141). As suggested by the existing literature on camp, however, most theorists appear to endorse camp as essentially, fundamentally ironic, both as performed and as received, and they likewise would find little or no inconsistency between Britton’s definition of irony and the “ironic” sensibility that infuses and characterizes camp.

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