Meet Boyko, the soap star
How cameo roles really work
It turns out that Boyko Borisov is a soap opera star. That's not an unfortunate commentary but a genuine news item. Case in point, just a couple of days ago the viewers feasted their eyes on the cameo role of Sofia mayor Boyko Borisov in the Bulgarian soap opera "Forbidden love". He guest-starred as himself in an episode of the show, where the mayor appeared at a Gala charity. So let's describe the scene he featured in, so as to judge the guest appearance by its stunning merits. Though, the sequence was preceded by a cultural introduction, which hinted at the grand representation.
The wealthy host urged her son to dress in style for the special event. "To look good, at least for the mayor", she hissed at her spoiled son. "The mayor is going to be there, too?", asked the rich and easy-going young man. The bourgeoise (while we're on the subject, the acting skills of the actress Diana Lyubenova impressed me) replied in a haughty, chilly tone: "You’re perfectly aware that the most notable people always come to my parties".
Once idolized in such a way - as the cream of the crop - the mayor appeared on the silver screen, dressed in tuxedo. His cameo role demanded a kind smile and regards towards the rich hostess. Then coyly, she returned the greeting, and whispered to his ear: "You will tell me if you run up for prime minister, won’t you? " or something of the sort. And here the screenwriters hit their stride because the actor Borisov demonstrated again his macho smile (was it that someone had figured in advance that this particular smile is perfect for a soap opera show) and told the hostess: "When I decide, you’ll be the first to know".
The radiant simplicity of this scene would certainly mark my life forever. But then I realized that the impersonation of the mayor is somehow authentic, in a weird way. Note well that they conversed during an elite social gathering. The mayor made himself comfortable among the privileged, the elite, where the wealthy people are. Boyko Borisov parked himself in tuxedo among the public, concerned if he’d become prime minister. And this is where the whole truth about GERB lies. They have for an object to be among the wealthy. Working example, the role of the mayor in the soap opera proves it. GERB, self proclaimed elite, got wind of the power and had a foretaste of it. The character is painfully honest. The wealthy buddies of the mayor will be the first to know when he makes up his mind. That is how I see his point. The ones who finance his political endeavors won’t be bewildered by the lack of information about his experience.
The mayor is going to the ball of the elite. What counts for him is the glitter, the luxury, the money and the champagne. The rising star from Bankya grew addicted to caviar and five-thousand-euro tuxedos in no time. The character of Borisov attaches him portentously to the wealthy and their life. Well, is there anything left to say after this smashing TV revelation?
The soap frankness of the mayor becomes particularly fascinating after we realize yet another fact. It was not even a month ago, Borisov engaged in harsh polemics with the Bulgarian socialist party (BSP) and the prime minister Sergey Stanishev about the notorious tram video, which promoted the last party congress. Now we understand that his criticism was a case of artistic envy, because he got outstripped.
Actually it's not the first time that happened to GERB. They are a kind of postmodern product - in-between the kitsch and the politics. And it was quite natural to their informal leader to appear in the soap show. It's the perfect sustaining environment for the mythological urban consciousness. The merging notions of politics, television, cinema and plot launch us into a brand new cultural orbit. So what's the real image of the mayor - the informal leader or the actor? Boyko Borisov as an impersonation of Osvaldo Rios - it must be every housewife's dream as well as the housewife spouse's political fantasies. This is some kind of new alloy, new mechanism, detonating the politics. And instead of political action and practices they try to foist soap opera lines on us. Instead of mayor they give us a new coming actor. Instead of real politics they throw as an imaginary charity party. This verbal substitution, the replacement of the messages and the emotions is all GERB is trying to do in politics. They want to reduce the level of the public life to the elementary life of the soap opera - the concept of the good versus the bad; the mayor and his wealthy companions against everyone else.
By the way, if we try harder - art enables us to do so - even in this hackneyed episode, we could perceive some slight oppositional attitude. Another female character, hired as a waitress for the party, put into words the voice of the people. She approached her friend, a young woman from the rich posse, and quipped: "How do you stand these people?". However, among "these people" was the mayor Boyko Borisov, holding a glass of champagne in his hand. Yes, he really is one of "those". They don't understand the ordinary people even though they try to portray them.
Once again I will recur to the distinction between the two television representations of Boyko Borisov and Sergey Stanishev. The tram video relates about ideas that come from the heart. In the soap opera Boyko had a chat only with his friends. In one of these fiction universes the prime minister talks to the people in the tram; in the other - Borisov's only remark is his assertion for the eventual nomination. In the Socialist party video the tram goes forward. As for Borisov - he preferred to stay stuck in a luxury gala. He finds it interesting to be there, where he feels like a star. And then they say Bulgarians don't have a real choice. Quite the contrary, they do have a choice. They really do!