Monday, January 3, 2011

Against camp!



Definiton of Camp: something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, or out-of-date as to be considered amusing ....

OR

Camp:
sensibility wherein something is appealling because of its bad taste and ironic value.


I genuinely love old movies and used to have a passion for seeing them in the movie theater. But I can hardly do that anymore. Camp has ruined it. In whatever city I live in, there always tends to be a sort of "mondo" night at the independent cinema. This has become a gathering of people who like to make fun of a movie Mystery Science Theater 3000 style. Claiming that "it's so bad it's good".
I have been lured into these gathering places for the chance to see some of my favorite films on the big screen such as Caged Heat, Slumber Party Massacre 2 and Q: The Winged Serpent. I am not sorry to say that I think all of these are excellent pictures because they all represent a very individualistic creative vision. They should not be written off as exploitation.

Often, these screenings have a curator who introduces the movie by slamming it and setting it up to be laughed at. I can't tell you how much this annoys me. What makes these guys think they're so smart that they could publicly ridicule a creative endeavor? Filmmaking is no easy business. If you are still talking about a film 20 or 30 years later, it most definitely is not bad. If something is "so bad it's good", it's not bad...it's just GOOD. Why it's "so bad it's good" to a viewer is that it doesn't fit inside their parameters of what filmmaking should be. To me camp is the equivalent of a mob of talentless people who know very little about creativity...making fun of a creative endeavor somehow makes them feel good about themselves. Well, this makes me angry. There is so much to love about cinema. If you don't like something, why bother with it? To me, camp is ultimately obnoxious and insulting.

The next time I get excited about a screening, I'll have to pass. While I've always imagined it is better to see a film on a large screen with an interested audience, I can't seem to stomach the laughter in all the wrong places. Even when the movie is not billed as camp, like a recent screening of Tootsie I've seen, the audience howls and laughs at the outdated fashion rather than the actual jokes in the film. I would like to surround myself with others who appreciate art, rather than sabotage it.

I'm sticking with video for now.

1 comment:

  1. I felt inclined to jot down this rant after attending a screening of Slumber Party Massacre 2 at the Loft Cinema in Tucson, AZ. I have lived in Tucson for two months and have wanted to see a screening there ever since the first time I drove past the beautifully lit sign on Speedway Blvd. When I saw Slumber Party Massacre 2 on the marquee, I stopped in and bought a ticket. Slumber Party Massacre Part 2 is a fun teenage horror/comedy made in 1987 by Deborah Brock. To me, it's a really enjoyable light horror movie, rather than a nasty one. It sort of reminds me of Joe Dante's early movies.
    I was surprised that there was a full house that turned out for this screening. There were nearly 80 people in the audience on a Monday night. At 8:00, I was ready for the movie to begin. I waited... At 8:05, a "curator" appeared and was applauded by the audience. He then proceeded to knock the film and give away the plot for nearly 20 minutes. In his excruciatingly snobby "speech" he managed to call this one of the worst movies of it's kind as well as insulting the director. The audience laughed and applauded. I was insulted and got up and left before the film even started. An hour later, I still felt angry. I don't like this feeling. Call me uptight, but this just seemed so wrong to me. Would this guy have the guts to say these things if Deborah Brock was in the audience? I mean really! Anyway, for the record, I love you Deborah Brock. Damn these camp purveyors and their elitist tastes.

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