Precis: Camp/ Anti-Camp
by Lorenz Ganthaler
In Camp/Anti Camp Video artist and Camp legend Bruce LaBruce sketches out the degrading devolution from an originally marginalized “Classic Gay Camp” to a contemporary “Conservative Camp”. In a taxonomical list of deviant Camp behaviors LaBruce attempts to categorize various subdivisions: High Camp, Quasi Camp, Unintentional Camp etc. In order to define the different subcategories LaBruce provides a list of examples rather than elucidated evidence. This unconventional method resembles the very essence of camp- camp as an exclusive secret lore. LaBruce dedicates his entire essay to the loss of this particular exclusiveness and the current impossibility of a Camp Renaissance.
By updating Susan Sontag’s obsolete conception of Camp, LaBruce extricates the term from its pseudo-academian bonds. He accuses Sontag of betraying Camp culture by taking it far too serious and by denying its political and subversive power. This essential quality however, according to LaBruce, has hopelessly been lost and the former Camp sensibility has diffused into a disaffected white noise. To put it i his jargon:”Now, in this moment, the whole goddamn world is camp”. Camp, which has originally functioned as a gay signifying practice, a protective secret code for gentrified homosexuals has now reached the floodgates of hetero-normative mass culture. This profanation of Camp reaches climax in “Conservative Camp”, which describes the burlesque trolling of contemporary (American) politicians such as Donald Trump. By promoting himself as one of them(the masses) the campy politician creates identification with the silent majority while simultaneously offering an anti-social program. The corruption of Camp by the dominant culture and hence the commodification by turbo-capitalism decontextualized Camp from its original progressive power and from its ability to subvert the patriarchal order. Hyperbolic femininity performance in Pop music (Nicki Minaj) is thus not seen as a transcendence of a normative patriarchal hegemony but merely as a capitalist marketing strategy in favor for a hetero-normative doctrine.