Humanities 218 -01, Fall 2015
Argumentative Final Paper
Argumentative Final Paper
LaBruce’s Bold Reinterpretation of the Word ‘Camp” in Modern Times
Bruce LaBruce and Susan Sontag are two characters that we have to understand before delving to the summary of this week (11/23/2015)’s lecture post. Susan Sontag is a famous writer that wrote an essay called “Notes on ‘Camp’”, in her essay, Sontag analyzed the word “camp” and the different type of cultural and political connotation that comes with the word. Bruce LaBruce is also an actor and writer that frequently uses materials that involve gay culture, sexual transgressions and even pornography. This week’s post delves into Bruce LaBruce’s interpretation of Susan Sontag’s Notes on ‘Camp’ and the interesting take that one artist has on another is the focus of this week’s lecture.
Sontag’s interpretation of the word Camp is restricted to her time period, which came 50 years before LaBruce’s time period. Sontag also had a broader interpretation of the word while LaBruce attempted to take the meaning of the word to the edge by uncovering the extremely elaborate sub-categories of the word camp and the different types of camps out there. Due to LaBruce’s explicit nature of his artwork, he specially explored the different camps such as the “bad straight, good straight, bad gay, good gay camps” etc. LaBruce not only expanded on Sontag’s interpretation of the word, he also critiqued her essay by accusing Sontag of “normalizing” the word camp while being somewhat hypocritical about it. According to LaBruce, since Sontag is herself a lesbian and is herself in a camp and is involved with campy things, she should not have defined the world or the social term “camp” in such an off-handed manner. LaBruce is especially offended by the reference of the camp by Sontag as “a sensibility that convers the serious into the frivolous.” Not only does this definition seek to undermine the entire culture of camps, it also contradicts with Sontag’s own previous definition which called camp a sort of “sophistication.”
Later on in LaBruce’s essay, LaBruce does acknowledge the fact that Sontag’s essay was written 50 years ago when there was a different society. Fast forward to modern society, camp is something that is ironically more mainstream. It is clear to see that both artists believe camp to be some sort of a social phenomenon where people of the same liking could band together and perform a sort of a social function. However, according to LaBruce, in modern society, the”whole damn world” is a sort of camp. “Camp today is for the masses,” says LaBruce, with a commentary to today’s modern world. Even though he still believes that there are some sort of reason that modern camp is still based on a certain aestheticism, camp is starting to become prevalent in our society.
Based on this assumption, LaBruce goes on to break camp into different sub-categories such as good/bad straight and good/bad gay. LaBruce also goes on to explain in detail what each camp will entail and what the different types of sub category means to the world and the word camp itself. Bruce also refers to these sub-categories as an “anti-camp” as LaBruce rejects what Sontag defined to be camp, restricting the influence and meaning of the word. 50 years later, LaBruce is redefining the word camp based on modern day interpretation as well as his own background and experience. LaBruce uses Sontag’s writing as a tangential connection from which he then jumps onto his own completely new interpretation of the word camp, and contradict the old discussion of the word written by Sontag.