Camp on TV

While reading Sontag’s Notes on Camp, I tried to make the connection between 1960s’ camp and today’s camp. So, I stumbled upon the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, a sketch comedy on Adult Swim. Tim and Ericis a comedic duo parodying certain mannerisms and attitudes.

Sontag argues that camp is a “certain mode of aestheticism”[1]favouring style over content. In the clip above, it is the idea of the artifice[2]that is emphasized. The video mocks the advertising business and makes use of original editing techniques that resemble art nouveau style. On the one hand, editing compromises the filmic space of the moving image in that as the background picture remains the same, the actors are constantly being cut into the frame. Special effects also legitimize the visual of exaggeration that Sontag refers to[3]. On the other hand, the parody of the comic sketch creates a comedic narrative based on the exaggeration as well of how advertising competition functions.

On the second clip of the same playlist under the name Carol’s Boss Problems, Sontag’s theory of camp as an epicene style[4]surfaces. Sontag argues that “the androgyne is one of the images of camp sensibility”[5]and is “a relish of the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality mannerisms.”[6]In this example, a man is dressed as a woman secretary who gets assaulted by her boss for being fat. The episode ridicules the effect of that assault on the woman in a very graphic and aesthetically unusual way.

I would argue that this type of comedy can be considered camp because it seems unintentional and apolitical; because it is bizarre and yet funny.

 

[1]Susan Sontag, “Notes on Camp”, in Against Interpretation and other essays, (London, Penguin Classics, 2009), 277

[2]Ibid., 277

[3]Ibid., 279

[4]Ibid., 280

[5]Ibid., 280

[6]Ibid., 280

3 comments

  1. The appropriation of this ‘retro’ aesthetic and style of editing is good example of camp humour. The huge, over-the-top graphics and confrontational style seems so ridiculous now, and I think the knowledge that these features used to be considered standard adds to the comedy. As Sontag mentions, something that seemed perfectly banal during its original time period can be transformed into something Camp through the decontextualisation caused by time passing.

  2. This is an good example, as it is not what Sontag refers to as “pure” Camp. Here, the parodic aspect of the sketch leads it to still be Camp. It’s interesting to think of something so simple as a crappy commercial like is being parodied here asCamp, but it does fall in with Sontag’s explanation of Camp.

  3. It is interesting that this example fits the description of camp because it is so different from the original examples. However, although it does fit into the definition, it is worth thinking about where the lines are between crude, camp and absurd. Could the terms, ‘unintentional’, ‘apolitical’, and ‘bizzare’ be applied to these other styles?

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