Thread: Breaking the fourth wall.

In theater and movies there’s an imaginary fourth wall at the front of the stage. When an actor talks directly to the audience this is known as breaking the fourth wall. It’s a good technique in acting, and it would also be a good technique in political debate, if you want to establish a bond between yourself and the audience.

In the three debates this year, neither candidate did it. I wished many times that Obama would have looked straignt into the camera as Romney was going on and on in fantasy-land and say “He just makes this shit up.”

Instead we say it among ourselves on Twitter.

George Burns did it

Breaking the fourth wall is not a new idea.

George Burns did it well, and he even took it a step further. After breaking the fourth wall, he’d stroll over to his TV set and snoop on people as if he were on Homeland or The Wire and could tune in any person he wanted to as if they were a program. Usually he’d spy on his ditzy but wonderful wife, Gracie Allen.

Here’s an example.

Bring the audience on stage

I’ve also suggested that next time around the debaters would be allowed to bring a computer with them and hook into Twitter, or whatever is hot in four years, and participate in the discussion while his opponent drones on and on lying about this and that.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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