Something can be 100% camp. Rocky Horror is camp. The Darkness is camp. Everything John Waters does is camp. Conversely, something can be entirely ironic. Threadless shirts are ironic. Last Action Hero is ironic. Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" is ironic for how unironic it is.
But this issue is not completely black and white. In order to clarify the distinction, Dobson and I contrasted music videos of the 80s and 90s.
Michael Jackson was camp. There's no doubt about it. It isn't just the presentation, but how seriously he took himself. He really was that weird. This commitment is why he is a cultural phenomenon, and not just an 80s sideshow. Look at the conviction he presents in "Beat It."
While "Beat It" was camp, "Bad" delved into irony territory. Jackson is committed, but it's a mediocre song and a mediocre video. Even the dancing is lackluster. Also, Martin Scorsese directed this video for some reason. The moment Scorsese directs your street dancing 80s pop video, it becomes ironic.
The Beastie Boys are also a good example. "Sabotage" is camp.
Of course they're all in fake mustaches and add silly cop stereotypes, but I still consider it more camp than ironic. They commit to the silliness. It's really the product of Spike Jonze listening to the song and going "it would be cool if this were the theme song for a 70s cop show!"
"Ch-Check It Out," however, is 100% ironic. It's all weak rehashes of their previous videos. There's no commitment. They're playing dress-up in front of a greenscreen.
The 90s are a bastion of ironic videos. Jonze and Gondry both made stuff that was visually stimulating and on the cusp of the sincerity dearth known as the hipster movement. Weezer's "Buddy Holly" is 100% ironic.
If you want to look for pure camp, however, you have to turn to the 1980s. It was the genesis of music videos. No one really knew what they were doing. And based on the finished product, it seems to be the only promotional material which they expected no one to see.
"Safety Dance" is pretty darn camp. Ren fest. Midgets. Maypoles. Cavorting.
But if you want the best, campiest music video of the 80s, go no further than Men at Work's "Land Down Under."
It combines campy elements to create something extremely endearing and rewatchable. All of the actions on screen match up perfectly to the lyrics. What do they do during an instrumental? Just add something crazy like dig dancing, or playing the flute to a koala plushie.
If they wanted to be ironic, they could have easily winked at the camera as if to say, "we know Australians aren't really like this." But they never do. They fully commit to the belief that all Australians are vegemite-sandwich eating, Foster's spraying, vomit spewing, fun-loving wackos.
"Land Down Under" is the music video that all music videos should strive to be.