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Holy camp shenanigans Batman!

Derives from the French gay community's slang term se camper, meaning "to pose in an exaggerated fashion". The term "Camp" morphed into referring to a sensibility that revels in artifice, stylization, theatricality, irony, playfulness, and exaggeration rather than content, as Susan Sontag famously defined the term in her short essay "Notes on Camp". Don't expect it to take itself the least bit seriously.

The main debates concerning the term are twofold: 1. How such an aesthetic relates to intentionality: whether camp deliberately cultivated ("high" camp) is the same to that of the unintentional kind ("low" camp), and 2. Whether the term relies too much on the elitist notion that popular culture cannot also be enjoyed by a sophisticated sensibility, except through a condescending or distancing label.

See also Camp Gay, Macho Camp and Camp Straight. Compare So Bad It's Good and Narm Charm. Not to be confused with the movie Camp

Examples of Camp include:

Anime and Manga


  • Tommy Wisseau's The Room is one of the more popular examples of low camp. Althought Wisseau made the smart marketing decision to now push it as an ironic comedy, it's clear to everyone that he originally meant it to be completely serious.
  • The infamous The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman may well qualify as one of the worst movies ever, owing to its having been a failed attempt at camp. It is a rip-off of the Adam West TV series, right down to the ludicrous villains and the 60s go-go dancing. The producers of Batman took Jerry Warren to court, which is why he threw in that tacked-on opening about the "synthetic vampire" Batgirls.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • Flash Gordon. The movie's script was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr., script consultant and sometimes episode writer for the Adam West-era Batman. The theme song is done by Queen. Of course it's going to be camp as hell.

 Flash - a-ah - saviour of the universe

Flash - a-ah - he'll save everyone of us

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Flash - a-ah - he's a miracle

Flash - a-ah - king of the impossible

Live-Action TV

  • Probably no TV show had as much intentional camp as its central focus than did the live-action Batman from the 1960s. Notorious for putting the prefix "bat-" in front of everything Batman did or used, and for Adam West's portrayal of Batman as a constantly emoting expositionist who had but one tone of voice no matter the situation. However, many of the people involved with the production debate the label as needlessly denigrating to the hard work they put into the show's elements of farce.

    In his essay Batman, Deviancy and Camp, Andy Medhurst goes so far as to say the best definition of camp could be "sort of like the Batman TV show." Adam West has apparently made a career out of playing campy superheroes. Occasionally he even plays himself as if he thought he was a superhero.

    West mentioned during interviews that he deliberately played up some 'campy' aspects of the show -- it was, apparently, a necessity, as only part of his face was visible, and he had to find another way to express emotion.

    Nowadays, the animated Batman: The Brave And The Bold series and its video game adoption has picked up the camp role. Besides its surprising emphasis on more obscure, cheesier villains, the show also gave us the Music Meister, a villain who controls the will of others by singing like Neil Patrick Harris.
  • The video for Sweden's 2007 Eurovision entry, "The Worrying Kind" by The Ark, is three minutes of pure, distilled camp. And who could forget 2006 winners Lordi - a Finnish heavy metal group, adorned in full-body monster costumes, which sings about the "Day of Rockening"? Combine for maximum powah!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a presentation of campy movies lampooned for your enjoyment. The sketches between movie segments tended toward the delightfully campy as well.

 Tom Servo: Well, time to start camping. You dress up as Oscar Wilde, and I'll sing Noel Coward songs.


Professional Wrestling

  • Titanes en el Ring, from Argentina. Every bit of it.


  • Most Richard Strauss operas -- especially Salome.
  • The musical of Little Women takes the short and melodramatic play that Jo and her sisters stage in the early chapters, and turns it into a musical number spanning the entire cast (all... six of them), stuffed chock-full of wholesome, affectionate camp.
  • The entire output of Gilbert and Sullivan is high camp. As ridiculously uppercrust as Sullivan was Gilbert made his living as a parodist. Their operetta Patience is particularly worth noting as being a camp parody of the, also very camp, aestheic movement.
  • Most Broadway musicals, especially those adapted from movies.

Video Games

  • Devil May Cry. In the second game the developers forgot this, but the third game made up for it in spades.
  • Bayonetta, spiritual successor to Devil May Cry, begins with the main character, disguised as a nun, presiding over a funeral that is subsequently visited by heavenly beings who rip off her clothes, allowing her to use her suit of magical hair and the handguns (which she wields four at a time, one to each limb) that were hidden in a coffin to beat, shoot, and rip the angels apart gruesomely, all to a cover of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon." It's as over the top as it sounds.
    • To elaborate for the uninformed: Bayonetta is a game about a sexy witch who brutally kills angels by basically stripping naked and breakdancing with handguns on her quest to find a gemstone in an Expy of the Vatican whilst making thousands of references to Clover Studios and SEGA. Its Better Than It Sounds
  • Space Channel 5. The setting is 60s style psychedelic future. You play as a swingin' news reporter. Colorful aliens start to invade. How do you defeat them? By the power of dancing and copying the moves of the enemies. It also has "space-" inserted to almost every occupation.
  • The Tiberium series of Command and Conquer games is mildly campy. Red Alert pushes it Up to Eleven.
  • The Wolfenstein series, especially Wolfenstein 3-D. It's hard to get much campier than Mecha Hitler with quadruple Gatling Good yelling in bastardized German/English and exploding into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Contra:Rebirth Seems to be this with the hero dropped into space station from helicopter, robotic llamas, upside-down midboss, a pyramid of running enemies, over-the-top Excuse Plot and generally lighthearted presentation.
  • Team Fortress 2. The characters have exaggerated Rockwell-esque designs, each of them have a different, very much played up accent and traits stereotypically associated with each's respective nationality. Furthermore, it's filled with Ludicrous Gibs (after you get killed, during a freezecam of your murderer the game will gleefully point out where "your pancreas!", "your foot!", "your kidney!" etc. lies, if the body parts appear on the shot). It is largely thanks to that factor that the game was received so well.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: All three tribes that run the casinos in New Vegas are camp to some degree (The Omertas representing the seamy underbelly and the White Glove Society representing the elegance well, on the surface, anyway of the old Las Vegas, respectively), but the Chairmen crank it up to 11. All of them dress like Rat Pack rejects and say things like "Ring-a-ding, baby" and "What can I do to make your stay the tops?" with completely straight faces. It's hilarious.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos is about 'AMERICA!!' It takes the Eagle Land trope Up to Eleven. Let's just say its campiness rivals Batman.
  • Deep Fear: Although the game itself is hardly camp, the campiness cranks Up to Eleven whenever the sub designer, Dubois Amalric opens his mouth to deliver his lines at a volume as loud as his purple turtleneck sweater.

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life

  • John Waters (whose guest appearance on The Simpsons provides one of the quotes above) has made a career out of it.
  • Many of the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Let's see; Fake Venice, Fake Paris, Fake New York, Fake Ancient Rome, Fake Camelot, Fake Ancient Egypt, Pirates on the Vegas Strip... if "camp" is defined as deliberate bad taste then the Las Vegas Strip is practically the best example out there. It is all incredibly over the top and tacky but it done so incredibly well that one cannot help think it is So Bad It's Good.
    • The Venetian is the clearest case of Camp on the Strip. Most of the resorts do indeed have an exaggerated and theatrical presentation. However, not all of the resorts have the required derivative substance or hilarious badness or monumental tackiness. For instance, the Bellagio is certainly exaggerated in its theatricality, and presented very well. However, the resort takes itself very seriously and the vast majority of visitors to it consider it So Cool Its Awesome rather than So Bad It's Good.
    • And let's not forget Macau's own Fake Venice which is not only three times the size of it's Vegas counterpart, but even campier. Picture sitting in a Japanese restaurant, overlooking a fake indoor replica of the Grand Canal, with the gondolier rowing past and singing a (very good) rendition of Sarah Brightman's part in "Time To Say Goodbye." Oh, and the Brazillian steakhouse on the fake St Mark's Square, with street entertainers suddenly bursting out of doors to do rousing renditions of "Feniculi Fenicula." Oh yeah, it's more camp than Rufus Wainright.
    • With regards to the Treasure Island resort, their famous streetside "pirate battle" was originally a straightforward, theme-park like spectacle: pirates vs. the British navy, and the pirates win. When the resort was overhauled to appeal more to adults, this show became The Sirens of TI and became sirens (re: sexy, scantily-clad sea witches) vs. pirates; the sirens win and the pirates join them for a Dance Party Ending. Now THAT'S campy!
    • The bulk of Las Vegas shows qualified as mostly unintentional camp for decades. But then Cirque Du Soleil arrived in The Nineties and presented high theatricality and fun alongside elegance, subtlety, and artistic ambition. Audiences found it refreshing, and this triggered a sea change in Vegas entertainment. Nowadays, when you see a campy Vegas show, it's either partially intentional or an older show. For the latter, see this review of the last of the Vegas showgirl shows, Jubilee!
  • 19th century dandies, including Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron. Not all of them were necessarily gay, but they were all extremely camp, which is required for being a dandy.


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