As part of an obsession: Camp

Camp (2003) by Todd Graff

camp1You may have noticed a slight change in the look of my blog, the header is different. This has something to do with my current obsessions: Pitch Perfect and everything Anna Kendrick. And when you’re obsessed you make poor choices – one was watching this movie.

Camp is about just that – in both meanings of the word. A summer camp full of music enthusiasts meet to hone their talents in acting, singing, and dancing. And these kids are certainly talented. But the story that is being told has little to do with what goes on on the stage. Vlad (Daniel Letterle) is kind of an oddity: he’s straight and he still likes to flirt with his gay roommate Michael (Robin de Jesus) sometimes. Michael is thrown because Vlad is cute but also very active with the ladies in the camp – especially Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat) who has some insecurities of her own and is coincidentally Michael’s best friend.

camp3

There are other kids as well, of course. One is Fritzi (Anna Kendrick) and Fritzi has a crush on Jill (Alana Allen). But Jill is a bitch and uses Fritzi as her personal doormat until the younger girl cracks and starts to sabotage the pretty girl who gets all the good parts just because of her looks.

The problem I had with this is rather simple: why make a movie with multiple queer characters, that is called Camp of all things, and then make the biggest part of it about the budding romance between Vlad and Ellen? There was potential there and it was certainly hinted at. But Vlad’s bisexuality never really materialized, he’s more of a tease than an experimental guy. And the makers took the conventional way out. Another thing: while the gay male teens are positively (if stereotypically) portrayed, the lesbian (if we can call Fritzi that) gets the weirdo treatment and then turns mean… certainly, she is talented but look at that temper! Oh, please. Her sexuality is more of a fetishized wet dream than part of her personality.

camp2The acting all around wasn’t as good as it could have been but the story is the major let down of this movie. While it is willing to promote queerness in teens it still pushes heteronormativity down our throats via its two main protagonists and when even Michael jumps onto the bandwagon (if only for one night) things get a little out of hand. There’s an ambiguity at work here that makes me admit: yes, these are kids, their sexualities aren’t set into stone, experiementing is a healthy thing… and I certainly agree with this take, however, it seems that the queer teens are lured into straight experiments more than the straight teen into gay experiementing. The ambiguity is actually a double-standard.

A word to Anna Kendrick: she was amazing. Her role isn’t very big but her character is certainly the most memorable and I was blown away by her performance of Ladies Who Lunch from Sondheim’s Company – the man makes a guest appearance as himself by the way. You should check it out on youtube, it’s a killer. The movie is not, though.

Star Camp / Camp

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Back to TV: Glee

It has been some time since  I first wrote about Glee and I may not be as undevidedly positive about it anymore. But I still like it a lot and I especially liked it today (living in Germany has its drawbacks especially when it comes to TV, let me tell you). I like how tv can emotionally drain you and Tuesday’s episode of “Glee” did just that: it drained me. Or more acurately this face

broke my heart.

Y’know, I never liked Santana much. Sure, she is hot, and her story line with Brittany was always a lesbian highlight, still… Santana, too bitchy, too typically bi-curious. And then she came out as “don’t put a label on me” and it just got to me.

Two weeks ago I had a blog entry about “Glee” planned. It was entirely Rachel’s fault, seeing her in flannel made me think about her sexuality and on how gay she really is. So I thought about how gay the show was and how gay every single one of the characters was and I actually made a gay-meter (no, I do not have any other hobbies, I fill my time with thinking about how gay tv show characters are… not really, only when I cannot sleep). And guess what, Santana actually scored lower than Rachel while Brittany was just topped by Kurt (I did not include Blaine since he’s not at McKinley). Well, I guess I was wrong about Santana…

Several times after having watched the episode this morning I have thought back on that heartbroken face and it actually made me incredibly sad. I never thought Santana could do that to me but I guess it is a credit to Naya Rivera’s acting skills and in moments like this I appreciate acting and the significance it has within culture – and that culture as thus has value in my life.

Glee is a great show. Maybe I am going to come back to it and write about it’s sociological value as comment on today’s (American) society but today I just want to say that it made me feel – as trivial as that may sound – and I am grateful to be able to hold on and cherish this (I get so sappy sometimes but I am sure you know what I am talking about).

Back to tv: Glee

Okay, I have to out myself – again: I love Glee! Yes, I am not only a dyke, I am a stereotypical musical-loving gay woman… And I also love teen-pretty-much-everything – drama, stupid comedy, films about cheerleaders, you name it, I have probably seen it (I have Bring It On on dvd, folks, I am not kidding!).

So, when I heard about Glee I was already hooked. And after I watched I was enchanted. Granted, nothing can ever replace the “greatest show on earth” (that’s Xena: Warrior Princess, of course!) but there’s always room for a new second favorite.

The mix of snarky social comment on high schools, the diversity of characters, and Sue Sylvester makes it just… well, gleeful. And it is also nice to have so many supporting actresses of Heroes combined.

I really love the characters, the music, the overall crazy musical-ness of it. Everybody is incredible talented, sing-wise, dance-wise, acting-wise. And then there is the absolutely incredible Jane Lynch:

Honestly, can this get any better? You should all check out this show ’cause as we all know: Musicals make happy! It’s like smile-therapy, you guys!

In case you wondered who I like best (besides Sue, that is): Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Man, she’s a bitch… oh, and great quote: “The fact is that women still earn 70 cents to every dollar that a man does for doing the same job – that attitude starts in high school.” (from The Power of Madonna) Gotta love her!

So, get Glee-ed!