Camp vs. Kitsch: Battle of the Late Night Advertisements

Originally published on Camp vs. Kitsch.

It’s not a great secret that kitsch sells. But when serious minded advertisements transcend their origins into Camp, does it ultimately help the product? Thankfully, this is not the kind of blog that utilizes any sort of thoughtful examination of statistics. (But if you know of any, by all means, leave a comment.) It is, however, the kind of blog that dredges up wonderful YouTube videos so that you can vote for your favorite.

Today’s competition pits the ultimate kitschy item’s ultimate kitschy ad against a really important service that nonetheless launched a catchphase that undoubtedly sold more novelty products than subscriptions to the service. Yes folks, in the kitsch corner, we have CHIA PET, “The Pottery That Grows.” And in the camp corner, I give you LIFE CALL, complete with “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”



Now I will admit, I may be biased in part because my family actually subscribed to Life Call for my grandmother, whereas I don’t believe I ever met a real Chia Pet in the wild. Plus, I think “Chia Tree, to keep your pets company” seals the deal. However, Amy votes for Life Call, “Not for the old people (I feel bad thinking
they’re funny), but primarily for the guy who answers the call all
‘Right away, Mr. Stevenson.'”

Where do you stand?


Camp vs. Kitsch: Desperately Seeking Susan

Originally published on Camp vs. Kitsch.

The idea behind this blog is simple. We’re going to examine the phenomena of camp and kitsch, using YouTube as a vehicle. Each entry will present two videos on the same or similar subjects, the only difference between them being whether they fall into the camp or kitsch sensibility. There will be a poll, all you lovely people out there in the internet will vote, and we’ll see if there’s a clear trend to prefer one to the other.

Unsure of the difference between camp and kitsch? Have no fear, here’s a quick refresher:

CAMP was famously defined by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp.” Sontag’s main points include that to be campy, a piece of art must necessarily be marginal. In Sontag’s words, “uhe ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful.”

KITSCH, according to Sontag, isn’t necessarily a discrete category separate from camp. However, Sontag writes, “Camp taste nourishes itself on the love that has gone into certain objects and personal styles. The absence of this love is the reason why such kitsch items as Peyton Place (the book) and the Tishman Building aren’t Camp.”

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