November 8th, 2009


Camp review- A Little Bit of Good and a WHOLE LOT that's not.

I want to tell y'all something. Sometimes (not often), I wish that I hadn't started educating myself on feminism/anti-oppression issues a couple of years ago. Also, sometimes (not often), I watch/read something that leaves me thinking "that could have been SO GOOD! If only...".

It should not surprise you that these two occurrences happen more or less in sync with each other. Nor should it surprise you that the film Camp (2003) is one of the things that produced the latter reaction.

It could have been so good! It's about a musical theatre camp, for gods' sake. Stephen Sondheim cameos as himself! It should have been right up my alley. And parts of it were! I really thoroughly enjoyed the musical numbers, and the plotline that dealt with theatre matters (to wit: a washed-up composer who is teaching at the camp and who the kids help to become less JADED and CYNICAL) was also really quite well done.

But then there were the problems. Oh, lordy, the problems. I'm going to break it down in list format (roughly arranged in the order these issues crop up in the film), because if there's one thing I love, it's lists.

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Now, the movie's not all bad! The musical numbers are excellent, Stephen Sondheim has a fantastic cameo, there's a really awesome drag party scene...there's a lot to like. It even tries to look at some serious issues (near the beginning, the gay lead is bashed for going to his prom in drag, and this is touched upon a couple of times throughout the film, though not in great depth).

However, there's a lot MORE that is so massively full of fail that it's pretty much impossible to ignore. Unfortunately.

And this brings me back to my opening lines: A couple of years ago, I probably would not have seen anything wrong with this film. Like, at all. And while on one level I am glad I am watching it now instead of then (because greater awareness is not by any stretch of the imagination a bad thing), part of me wishes I were able to just enjoy the Fun Musical Theatre Movie, without critiquing it for inclusivity and progressiveness.

Fortunately, (I think), that feeling passes. And then I go and write snarky reviews and SHARE THEM WITH YOU.