The Criminally Camp


John Walker is a Sarah Lawrence graduate who really likes the internet a lot.

True life: I’m enamored with Patty Hearst.  Heiress to the Hearst publishing fortune, hostage of the radical, yet ragtag, Symbionese Liberation Army, and later urban guerilla amongst the group’s ranks, the woman’s appeal seems evident, at least to me.  I guess notoriety might be a more appropriate word, but in my eyes, the events of Hearst’s past transcend the planes of basic morality.  She is a superstar, and I will not be dissuaded.

Though, sometimes I wonder why I am so drawn to the more “colorful” characters in history (like a moth to a crackpipe. #prose).  What does it say about me that I find Patty Hearst an electrifying figure, regardless of her complicity with the actions of the Symbionese Liberation Army?

I guess I am able to see Patty as a camp icon due to one of the very tenets of camp, as defined by Susan Sontag.  In Notes on Camp, she writes: “Things are campy… when we become less involved in them, and can enjoy, instead of be frustrated by, the failure of the attempt.”

Well first of all, I wasn’t born until 1988, so the entire Patty Hearst saga is pure legend to me.  In dealing with what the curious case of Patty Hearst (née Button) represents in American politics and culture, I could be upset by the failure of the SLA to make any lasting change on America’s rigid class system.

At the same time though, the image of Patty toting the weapon in front of the blood-red Symbionese Liberation Army flag is just so dramatic; I feel the tension, I feel the class warfare, I feel the pageantry (Junior Miss Anti-Amerikkka).  Also, it is so fun to view Patty’s, albeit temporary, rejection of her wealthy family as simply an extreme example of what every “different” kid from the suburbs does.  You know, become a vegan, call your parents problematic, rob a bank with a semi-automatic weapon, the usual.

Similar to the ways in which I value Patty Hearst, I deeply appreciate Tammy Faye Bakker (later Messner).  When I see Tammy Faye, I see a kind-hearted set of wilting eyelashes, not the hypocrite who “televangelized” trusting people out of their money.

Valerie Solanas not only authored the fabulously misandric SCUM Manifesto, but attempted murder on Andy Warhol.  THESE TWO THINGS SHOULD NOT MAKE ME LOVE HER, AND YET I DO.

 And is it just me, or does convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer look like Ian Somerhalder’s babely blond brother every now and then?

OK, that was awful.  Awful and TRUE.

Death to the fascist insect that preys upon my irony!

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