Posts tagged “canon”

Kayfabe and narrative frameworks


“Original Deadman” t-shirt, street market, Bangkok, 2006

I just learned the word Kayfabe. It describes the artificial story elements in professional wrestling. Beyond any discussion of the fights themselves (long dismissed as fake), kayfabe refers to the everything else that is fake, such as the feuds and rivalries. The word is probably a Pig Latin-esque version of “fake” (where by avoiding saying “fake” outright, it’s now a codeword to keep the fakery discussion only among those in the know).

Here’s more, from the above Wikipedia article

Many storylines make use of kayfabe romantic relationships between two performers. Very often, both participants have other real-life relationships, and the “relationship” between the two is simply a storyline. However, more than once, kayfabe romantic relationships have resulted either from a real-life relationship, such as between Matt Hardy and Lita, or ultimately developed into a real-life marriage (e.g., Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who married in 2003, more than a year after their kayfabe marriage ended).

Whoah. Layers of meaning and truth and piled onto other layers of implication and lies. My brain feels like I’ve been pummeled with a roll of quarters. Layered conceptual devices are challenging enough, but there’s also interest in breaking kayfabe

To have certain non-fictional elements weaved into a storyline. They might be staged to look real, meaning that a real truth is being spoken, but are part of the script to make the rivalry look authentic or personal, and to make the feud much more interesting.

That’s some efficient use of a narrative framework. When you go outside the framework, you still have story (and meaning).

If you find this difficult to parse, join the team. At least having some labels (kayfabe, breaking kayfabe) make it easier to discuss.

Related: Canon, the defined world (characters, events, history, etc.) of a story. Especially notable in science fiction, with complicated story lines, detail-oriented fans, and franchises with sequels and prequels galore. Previously about Star Trek’s sprawling fan-driven post-TOS canon, and the person hired by Lucasfilm to maintain continuity as the Star Wars canon guru.

Related: Retcon is the portmanteau word for retroactive continuity, where a new story element is introduced that changes our understanding of previous facts. I would include It Was All A Dream (e.g., Dallas) as the laziest version. It can also be ironic as well as convenient, such as having Klingons in Star Trek explain their differing physical appearance over the various series (obviously the result of new production designers as well as budget and makeup technology) as part of the race’s own history. Many more examples are here.


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