Its commercial record was questionable. His political record was meager. But as Alex Pareene said so in The New Republic, he became “a TV character that people not only heard about, but people really love.” On the debate stage, on outlets like the Joe Rogan podcast, and as a commentator on CNN, he has found a following for his advocacy for a universal basic income and his one-liners, like “The opposite Donald Trump is an asian man who loves math. “
Mr. Yang has a lot of differences from the reality TV star he ran to replace. But as a mayoral candidate, he also tests the theory that in current politics there is no bad publicity. Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign was a series of bangs that, as a founding tweet put it, people were confident “Ol Donny Trump” would never get out of – which cemented his place as the leading antihero drama.
While Mr. Yang’s New York run is more of a squeaky sitcom in the genre, we can’t rule out the repeat of that pattern. More than one time, people have compared it with Michael Scott of “The Office”, the enthusiastic and distraught tourist who rented his favorite slice of authentic New York pizza, from Sbarro.
But here’s the problem: Michael Scott was successful in securing and keeping this leadership position at Dunder Mifflin. And people have happily watched his character for years. Would you like him to be the mayor of Scranton, let alone America’s largest city? Maybe not. But beyond proxy laughs at his embarrassment, viewers responded to his indomitable and unwavering optimism. (Mr. Yang’s own campaign even adopted the comparison last week, tweet a video from him pouring a basket, with the quote, “You miss 100% of the photos you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky ‘- Michael Scott. “)
And so Andrew Yang’s character arc continues, moment after meme, through one infallible campaign killer after another. (Ziwe’s offer last week delighted anti-Yang Twitter, who imagined him to be done with him.) Perhaps these incidents will, cumulatively, drop him.
But for the moment, they generate him an inordinate media attention (of which this piece is an example) and put his name at the head of the credits. It’s the kind of binge eating in which you don’t always know who is eating and who is eating. One person’s bait these days is another person’s meal.