Yang broke kayfabe.
Andrew Yang is polling around 1 percent among the Democrat crop. He’s got nearly zero chance of taking the nomination. But he may be my new hero because Yang–a capitalist, Columbia-Law-trained attorney–did something no other candidate has done in years. He broke the character barrier; he smashed the “fourth wall” of entertainment and television.
“We’re up here with makeup on our faces, and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show,” Yang said during the TV debate. “It’s one reason we elected a reality TV star as our president.”
This one statement is as close to actual reality as any candidate has gotten in years, including Barack Obama. Real people outside the media and entertainment business don’t put on makeup and stand in front of cameras with prompters and rehearsed lines. They don’t speak into a lens while pretending to care about the people on the other end of it.
They don’t espouse “save the climate” policies that harm actual people who work for a living to put food on the table.
I disagree with Yang’s policy ideas–pretty much all of them. But I admire him for having the courage to stand up on the stage, wearing makeup, and admit how absurd politics, entertainment, and media has become.
Contrast Yang’s statement with CNN’s Brian Stelter’s tweet:
Is the armchair critic opinion of a former reality star, now POTUS, supposed to make the blacked-out windowless vans show up for Don Lemon, or Brian Stelter? Are they going on a ride, never to be heard from again, because Donald Trump, who has been an opinionated media gadfly for 40 years, said something mean?
Or are we watching kayfabe, the term in professional wrestling meaning the wink-nod role playing that goes on between the “heel” and “face” characters? Wrestlers stay in character because it’s part of the life. It becomes as natural to them as working out. Not that wrestlers don’t have skills (who wants to fight Dwayne Johnson or AJ Styles?), but they don’t break character–they don’t break kayfabe, the illusion that this is all real and not entertainment.
Politics has become entertainment, and politicians don’t break kayfabe. I think we’d all be better off if this wasn’t so. Andrew Yang broke kayfabe, and for that, he just may be my new hero.