Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The problems with pajama boy




Let's break it down:



I am assuming the reader is supposed to identify with the man in the picture, given the likely demographics of President Obama's Twitter followers.  The message is that you, smart person who was able to acquire health insurance thanks to the president, should take some time during the holidays to talk about the experience with your less enlightened and skeptical family members, most likely his parents.

Now, let's look at the picture.

The text says he is drinking hot chocolate, which adults do drink on occasion but is generally a child's drink.

He is wearing pajamas.  But not just pajamas, but footie pajamas.  My nine year old daughter is currently growing out of her last sets of these.

He is also wearing a wristwatch.  An generally unnecessary accessory in the days of cell phones (which this man almost definitely owns), but particularly unnecessary in a situation that also calls for pajamas.

He is perched on his chair with a satisfied look on his face.

And why is he satisfied?  Well, the ad is encouraging us to talk about getting health insurance.  Presumably, he has either just done this or is preparing to do so.  Presumably, he was unable to get health care coverage for himself until health care reform passed.

So, is it possible to have a problem with this that's not rooted in homophobia?  Let me take a shot, going from general to specific:


  1. This is not unique to President Obama, but I have a problem with the president in his second term continuing to maintain a campaign website and campaign.  You've got the job., Do it.  
  2. I also have a problem with the president, or any politician, trying to turn us into foot soldiers to sell his policies.  Politicians are supposed to fight for us, not the other way around.  It's your job to evangelize about health care reform, not ours.
  3. I'm in particularly not a fan of the ideal of sending people to family holiday gatherings with talking points as if they're surrogates on Sunday morning talk shows.  Maybe the holidays should be a time where we enjoy each others' company rather than beat them over the head with our political views.

    In particular, for many of us, the "holiday" still is Christmas, which, for Christians, is a time to remember our God becoming incarnate to save us.  This invites us to instead talk about how, thanks to President Obama, we now have health care.
  4. The implicit message of the ad is, "Be like this guy."  A guy who apparently was unable to acquire health care for himself before the ACA, in spite of being apparently somewhat affluent and able-bodied.  So, our model of adulthood, or manhood, is a guy who needs government help to get himself health insurance, then spends the holidays telling other people about it.  Is it crazy to think we ought to aim better than that? Yes, health care reform came about because there was a need, but is needing that help something you should be proud to talk about at family holiday gatherings?
The ad does present an odd model, an childish person proudly dependent on the government.  It seems one have a problem with this without considering his sexuality.
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