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Hunx, Peaches, Xiu Xiu & queer camp as Rabelaisian revival
April 26, 2010, 12:42 pm
Filed under: comedy, grotesque, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swiped this vid from Young Creature. Behold Hunx & His Punx engaging in communal binging! Behold the eroticization of food/eating as well as the funny irony of the song’s sentiment in light of Hunx’s delivery both vocally and performatively! Voila la comedie grotesque!

(Interestingly, there is a thing called a hunkypunk, a regional term (Somerset, England) for a grotesque carving of a squatting animal, not unlike the sheelanagig (see PJ Harvey’s “Sheelanagig” for an explication of this image in rock). Look at these…

a 'hunkypunk'

a 'sheela na gig'


One wonders, is the comedic grotesque definitive of queer camp? I’m thinking Peaches, I’m thinking Xiu Xiu — both of whose videos tend to deliver their music with crassness and winks.

(See vids & read more after the jump…)

Peaches ft. Shunda K of Yo! Majesty:

I esp like the ‘sexy cat!’ eating dog entrails. And another bc why not:

I love how Peaches’ videos (and performances) confound the (increasing) slickness of her music’s production. I love Xiu Xiu’s fucking with the line between deadserious and yougottabeshittingme, which is typically pushed towards weirdly deadpan adolescent humor (with heart) in their videos:

The video for “Dear God I Hate Myself” has already been posted on this blog previously.

All of these videos have a commitment to grotesque realism, cf. Bakhtin as I’ll explain partially below. Even when in video game or Oz, there’s a crudeness that keeps things ‘more real’ than, say, Lady Gaga, who could stand to lose some of her cool. In her appropriation of camp, she evacuates much of the bawdiness. Is camp always already queer? Is the queer always already camp? Probably. There’ve gotta be a million essays that argue this, but I’m lazy at the moment and honestly just spinning my wheels. (Sontag posits that queers (she uses the limiting category “homosexuals”) are the vanguard but that the relationship is not one to one.) Is queer/camp always already grotesque? Well, maybe not. May I mobilize the problematic gay/straight binary as a somewhat irresponsible conceptual tool? Gay camp as artifice; queer camp as grotesque.

I wonder if this new binary I’ve created (artifice v. grotesque) makes sense to categorize separate though at times converging experimental literary traditions too. Hey I’m all over the place! This feels great!

Contra Sontag, camp is of course political — the political framed as haha — and I’m thinking contemporary queer camp may be the most vicious and victorious (I mean, funny) revival of the Rabelaisian (medieval), celebratory grotesque that Bakhtin posits has gone missing in modern grotesque — which he argues replaces laughter and the distended, leaking, uncontainable body with the somber, individual contained body and its boooring existential crisis. Okay, he doesn’t say boring, but he does say things like morose. Unfun.

Behold the queer and its uncontained body, laughing as it leaks, with the “peculiar gay freedom of thought and imagination” that Bakhtin sees as utopian and collective (49). Serious! He said gay. And is this what Lady Gaga is just not getting, stuck as she is with all that $$$? Who cares about Gaga. I like her a lot. But I agree with the culture vultures who say she’s *pretty much* doing with more money and less laughter what Peaches has been doing for years. Or is this a vast oversimplification of Gaga’s project and Gaga is going beyond, and “camping camp”, as Jack Halberstam argues? See Gaga Stigmata for weightier analysis.

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