In a movie review for the 2021 House of Gucci movie, Tom Ford, the former creative director of Gucci familiar with the actual people that the movie is based on, wrote a movie review essay for Air Mail quoted in a Hollywood Reporter movie review article.

The article's title is:

Tom Ford on Watching ‘House of Gucci’: “It Was Hard for Me to See the Humor and Camp”

"Humor and Camp" also appears in the last paragraph:

Regardless of quality, ultimately the experience of watching the film, Ford says, was difficult. “I was deeply sad for several days after watching House of Gucci, a reaction that I think only those of us who knew the players and the play will feel,” he concluded in his essay. “It was hard for me to see the humor and camp in something that was so bloody. In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.”

I found another usage of "humor and camp" in an architecture article discussing various characteristics of Postmodern architecture. The following comes under the heading "humor" (as a characteristic) with Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel as an example:

Both humor and camp, an ironic movement of gaudy art that was perceived as beautiful, were used interchangeably throughout the postmodern era, particularly in the United States. And while the postmodern movement began as a rebellion against the rigidity of modernism, camp postmodern work took rebellion to new levels. Theatrical buildings, like Hotel Dolphin (1987) in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, were famous for their use of humor and overindulgence. By reaching the extremes of what a building could look like, camp architects challenged formality and encouraged creativity in new construction and design.

My question: What does "humor and camp" mean in the movie review paragraph? Specifically, which meaning of "camp" does "humor and camp" related to, as listed in the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary? It seems to be meaning 1b in noun (2). But I would like a confirmation that this is the one, as well as whether there is no additional connotation when pairing it with "humor". It would be nice if the answer could confirm whether the meaning is the same in both the movie and the architecture examples.


1 Answer 1


“It was hard for me to see the humor and camp in something that was so bloody. In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.”

Ford uses a number or words figuratively in that sentence, and I think it makes it hard for someone to understand it if they are just looking at the meaning of each word.

It was hard for me to see the humor and camp...

It was emotionally difficult for me to watch a portrayal of those events that made them seem funny or "campy"...

something that was so bloody...

"Bloody" here is figurative. For example, we could say "he tore my heart out" to explain a strong emotional pain. It was bloody in the sense that they were hurting each other emotionally, not physically (I think, I am unfamiliar with the story).

In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.

Some of the events were absurd, but not in an amusing way. It was actually really sad.

Basically, Ford seems to think the movie made the story inappropriately amusing when it was really quite sad.

"Camp" in both senses is exaggerating the absurdity of a situation to make it funny. In the architecture source, it means exaggerating building features so they were gaudy and like a cartoon. In a movie, it might mean exaggerating someone's personality or clothing choices so that it was so absurd it makes people laugh.

In general, people have a hard time explaining precisely what makes something "campy". IMDB has a list of campy TV shows that might help explain it by example.

  • Thanks for the answer. Looks like the meaning of "camp" you described fits also with "black humor and camp" that is in quite a few Google search matches. This dictionary also give more concrete examples under the definition "Deliberately exaggerated and theatrical behavior or style." such as "It wears its queerness like a flashy Dolce and Gabbana blouse, with style and humor and camp - but an intentional lack of tragedy." which is also consistent with your answer. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 19:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .