Kayfabe, My New Favorite Word

What do pro wrestlers and politicians have in common? They both perform and do whatever it takes to protect their institution from outside introspection. There is a word for it.

Kayfabe, My New Favorite Word
Photo by Larry Costales / Unsplash

Professional wrestling fans will want to stop reading right now, or they will soon realize I know shit about fuck when it comes to their favorite sport. But I did learn a new word that is part of a pro wrestling fan's lexicon-a fascinating word that encapsulates the performance art they love and, in one fail swoop, does its job. Kayfabe (pronounced KAY-FABE) is a shorthand term that involves acknowledging the staged, scripted nature, essentially removing the competitive sport component and replacing it with staged-yet-presented-as-authentic conflicts rivalries, and relationships between combatants. Pro wrestling requires the suspension of belief to create the sport's non-wrestling aspects, including angles, feuds, gimmicks, heels, and champions. The term also was used to help protect the secrecy and dynamics of these onstage and offstage antics that create wrestler narratives. It was used as a warning between wrestlers when they were around people who weren't "in the know" and were around people who weren't privy to the secret scripted dynamics at play. Even more remarkable, people in the business would not even acknowledge kayfabe! It was as if it didn't exist, and despite the open secret that wrestling was scripted, even under pressure from journalists, folks acted as if it didn't even exist!! Kayfabe is less maintained today due to internet communities and the ever scaling sports entertainment industry, but what a word! It took me a paragraph to explain it!

Powerful letters
I love all the words, yo!

I love learning new words, and you bet your bottom dollar that I will be using it at least several times today, even if it seems forced. More importantly, words like "kayfabe" -a word that does a lot while lacking a traceable etymology, materializing out of the sheer need to describe the concepts around a made-up sport-should not be forgotten. Kayfabe was a term used by insiders to describe the charade they were a part of by never acknowledging the charade they are part of, keeping the mystique about the sport alive.

I fell in love with the word when I looked it up because of its simplicity and concept-rich definition. And I instinctively chose to usurp this word, helping it hold on to its unique place by repurposing it appropriately.

American politicians are kayfabe experts. Professional wrestlers held on to this concept to help maintain the mystery around their business and to protect their assets - the narratives AND the performances all fall under this purview. Politicians are running the same fucking game-political kayfabery (coined here). They work together more than what the news talks about. They drink and party together when not in the halls of congress. It is an open secret that you spend at least HALF your time fundraising (4 hours a day) when you get to congress. You then go on TV and talk about all the work you do and the things you are learning, making sure to be serious about the joke of a job you are doing.

When campaign time comes, you need a heel, so you find one, and then you battle it out and say awful things to each other only to reunite down the road. It is kayfabe-fake action and no actual results backed by fake rivalries and wedge issues to maintain power. Once in a while, they will pass a bill, but they are serving their donors for the most part. They could give a fuck about your vote once in office because now the game is about money. But they maintain the illusion that you matter to them so that they can keep their gravy train. If you didn't follow the link, they work about 133 days out of the year compared to 240 days for the average American worker. But you hear them say how hard they are working, and blah fucking blah - KAYFAB'ing mother fuckers!  

Frustrated Young Man Screaming in Fear
Enough of the kayfabery 

Yes, and it is gloriously appropriate to use it to describe the charade shit show we have going on in Washington. I am both sides-ing this shit. Instead of fans, we are constituents, and instead of a loss of a match, we lose billions in wealth, lose our health, and in some cases die because of the games being played.

It is time to stop the madness. We need to penetrate the secrecy and faux complexity of passing legislation and talk about what is going on: older people that think the world should work a certain way and then create rules and regulations to penalize those who disagree. But to do this, all congresspeople have to maintain kayfabe so that you aren't inspired to run for office, aren't motivated to vote, don't think anything matters, all while allowing them to rake in the connections, cash, and career pensions.  

Politics and professional wrestling need kayfabe to keep up the illusion of progress. Meanwhile, we form tribes and groups, make up heels and champions, and get absolutely nothing but some emotional exuberance when our "team" wins.

Last but not least, doesn't kayfabe sound sophisticated, more so than calling it a shitshow?  

Say it and use it and then tell me about it. You can even make up a story! kayfabe!!

Truth, yo!