Texans Getting Campy

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst in cowboy attire

Image Credit:

Hey y'all, in case you haven't heard, we're electing a new Lt. Governor this year here in the great state of Texas.  With four Texas Republicans competing for the position, a campaign is taking shape to see who can be the cowboy-iest candidate of 2014.  With a fight like that, you might expect to see some campaign ads that border on self-parody.  And what, my friends, do you get when sincerity fails?  Well, of course, a whole lot of camp!

Reading Django Unchained as Camp

A juxtaposition of the costume design for Django as valet and Thomas Gainsborough's "Blue Boy"

Image Credit: Vanity Fair

Although it’s been two months since its initial release, the internet is still abuzz with social critique of Tarantino’s newest film Django UnchainedRoxane Gay, a staff writer for Buzzfeed, argues that rather than encouraging a national discourse on slavery, slavery is instead “the movie’s easily exploited backdrop.”  The movie functions instead as “a white man’s slavery revenge fantasy, and one in which white people figure heavily and where black people are, largely, incidental.”  Finally, she concludes, “Django Unchained isn’t about a black man reclaiming his freedom. It’s about a white man working through his own racial demons and white guilt.”

Many of Django’s critics couch their arguments in similar terms—that is, that while Tarantino claims to reignite a discourse on slavery in Django Unchained, he in fact privileges genre over content in a way that dangerously decontextualizes our most central national trauma.  I have argued in an early post that privileging medium over content can function as a form of censorship.  Here, I want to discuss how the same aesthetice practice can simultaneously suggest and defer engagement with tragedy and trauma. 

Girls Just Want to Party in the USA (and Boys, Too!)

Screenshot from video for Taylor Swift's "Love Story"

Image Credit:  Screenshot from YouTube

As everyone reading this blog knows, I love random bits and pieces of pop culture.  Jezebel is one of the websites I visit to indulge this love, and they did not let me down last week.  I’ve been saving this since then, and though I know it may be a bit late to write on this, I couldn’t resist bringing this to everyone’s attention as a kind of alternative archive in its own right.

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