How Rooster Teeth’s ‘Camp Camp’ Balances Wholesome Entertainment With Vulgarity
This past weekend at RTX 2018 the Geeks of Color team had the opportunity to sit down for a roundtable discussion with a few of the minds behind Rooster Teeth’s thriving 2D animated comedy, Camp Camp. For those just being introduced to Camp Camp, the show follows the adventures of a group of campers as they attend a defunct summer camp lead by their overly cheery counselor. We had the privilege to sit down with RT Animations Miles Luna, Jordan Cwierz, Yssa Badiola and Elizabeth Maxwell to talk about the show.
Camp Camp is primarily centered around Max, a sneering young boy who has made it his summer quest to torment his grotesquely giddy counselor, David. With the help of two close friends and an assorted cast of campers, the kids run rampant in an effort to find the counselor’s breaking point.
Luna notes this role reversal as a key point of developing Camp Camp‘s charm, “Originally the idea was to have our camp counselor be this very cynical, jaded, tired person trying to deal with all of these kids. But we realized that’s– probably too true to life. So that’s where the idea of what if you just switched the role— you make the 10-year-old the jaded, wiser than his years asshole and the camp counselor just overbearingly positive.” Cwierz then went on to emphasize the point, “There’s also something funny, the reverse of that– he picks up on things that the adults say but he’s still a kid. He still has a child understanding of the world. And that’s something I always thought was funny, kids are very innocent and very naive, and that’s just right for the wrong lesson to be learned.”
The show’s bright aesthetic, summer camp setting and moral of the week format may make the show appear to be one of RT Animations more kid-friendly shows. However, it’s still far away from your traditional Saturday morning cartoon.
While the show does make an effort to end each episode with a lesson. It also features morally questionable moments, like when Dolph, a heavily Hitler coded camper, in one episode puts his campmates into a gas chamber. Cwierz and Luna feel that it’s important to strike a balance between wholesome and vulgar entertainment, without being excessive.
“Seeing a ten-year-old cuss is only funny a handful of times and we never wanted to be the ‘shock humor show’ I think we’ve always just done what we’ve genuinely thought is funny and I don’t think there’s ever been the need to go edgier.” Cwierz interjects, “It’s actually a fine line between pushing the envelope and becoming edgy for the sake of edginess, where Max is like ‘yeah, I vape now’ it’s just edgy for no reason.”
Luna continues with how the show’s evolution has altered the tone, “Camp Camp will always be a fairly episodic show but the one thing that stays consistent is character development which is a trend I see happening a lot more in cartoons these days. You may have your adventure of the week, but this person is a changed person from the adventure of last week, and that’s something that’s definitely prevalent with several of the characters. Then we started realizing halfway through the season, we are having a little more wholesome of a vibe this season, and the audience picked up on it, but I’m not worried about it because it feels right.”
Not only does it feel right, but the stats are there to back up the creative decisions as well. Camp Camp is RT Animations most female viewed show, beating out even RWBY, with an audience skewing nearly 70/30 female. A demographic which even surprised Nikki’s Voice Actress Elizabeth Maxwell as she gave her immediate reaction to the news.
Maxwell equated the impressive stat to the wholesome feel of the show compared to some anime titles she’s worked on in the past, “I have to admit for me as a woman, there is a bit of a relief– I feel like once you go past puberty, it’s difficult to exist in the world as a woman without constantly being reminded of your sexuality and whether it’s measuring up. There’s something really nice about doing a show about kids where sexuality isn’t really a part of it at all unless it’s like a joke or an adult. And not that I don’t love anime, but constantly being surrounded by the often over-sexualization, it’s really nice to kind of set that aside for a little bit.”
Although Camp Camp just wrapped up a whirlwind of a third season, the Summer is showing no signs of ending anytime soon! While you await the gang’s return in season 4, be sure to head over to Rooster Teeth’s website and check out three seasons worth of Camp Camp available to stream now.