Did conservatives get trolled by Pajama Boy?

posted at 8:21 pm on December 19, 2013 by Allahpundit

Yep, says Megan McArdle. A little, says me.

Pajama Boy is not a good ad. Whatever you think about progressives, they are in most ways perfectly normal people. Normal people do not, at the age of 26 or so, want to spend their holiday in footy pajamas, listening to their parents harangue them about fiscal responsibility. Good ads usually do one of three things: they make you want to be more like the person in the ad; they make you want to date the person in the ad; or they engage you and the maker of the ad as knowing co-conspirators in laughing at that terrible person in the ad, whom you are not at all like in any way.

Who is going to look at this ad and aspire to be more like Pajama Boy? Or to date a man more like Pajama Boy . . . you know, the kind of guy you can bring home to Mom to talk about buying health insurance?…

So, why was this ad made? Well, Pajama Boy doesn’t seem well designed to get people to sign up for health insurance. But it seems tailor-made to get conservatives talking about Pajama Boy. And naturally, once they did, liberals jumped in to defend what is, objectively, a pretty stupid advertisement. Suddenly, lots of people love Pajama Boy — the sort of people who give money to OFA and retweet their ads for Obamacare.

She’s assuming that OFA deliberately went maximum dork on Pajama Boy to bait righties, but that’s the great unsolved mystery of this episode. Did they? How often does a political shop stoop to mocking its own side by embracing its opponents’ stereotypes about it in the name of igniting a flame war online? Have you ever seen FreedomWorks, say, run an ad with a guy in a Gadsden flag hat holding a gun and wearing a t-shirt that says “Love It or Leave It”? No, and there’s a reason for that — it’s too easy for a strategy like that to backfire. Just look at what these poor bastards have been reduced to in the name of defending this. Someone at MSNBC actually argued today that Pajama Boy, who’s so white that it’s dangerous to your eyes to look directly at him, is allegedly an “emblem of an increasingly non-white electorate” to conservatives. Is this helping OFA sell insurance? If you were a normal, relatively apolitical twentysomething thinking of enrolling in O-Care and watching this episode play out online, which side would you would feel more at home with? Conservatives? Or people who think it’s racist and “heteronormative” or whatever to tease a 30-year-old man for wearing a onesie? Let’s face it: If you’re leaning towards the latter group, you already signed up for ObamaCare. On the first day.

Beyond that, I’m still not sure that OFA looked at this and saw something obviously mockworthy:

To you and me it’s obvious, but remember, they featured this same guy in other ads where he dressed and acted perfectly normally. He played the son in OFA’s Thanksgiving video about ObamaCare; it was the parents in that case who were the comic relief, not him. He’s been featured in other Twitter images by OFA wearing nothing cornier than a Christmas sweater. It seems unlikely, after all that, that the OFA brain trust would have looked at him and realized “You know what? If we put you in a onesie and gave you a cup of cocoa, you’d be the Platonic form of the right’s stereotype of infantilized urban lefty hipster douches.” I think the thought process was more like this: “We need an ad about talking about insurance at Christmas. Let’s make it cute and homey, with jammies and cocoa. Take our star and dress him in something that’s really obviously pajamas so everyone gets it right away.” And then the creative director, himself an urban lefty hipster/hipster-sympathizer, looked at the shot and thought, “Yeah, cool.” No irony intended. My hunch is that, if they really wanted people mocking him, they would have been careful to show that he was indeed wearing footies. That’s how ad people think — you only get one chance, so don’t be too subtle or else the viewer might miss your point. They didn’t show the footies, though, did they? Why? Because they meant this unironically. Dude, Pajama Boy is on the level.

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New coke/old coke. Lots of pub. Remember Coke’s CEO’s comment when it was suggested they changed their formula knowing they’d switch back to “Classic” after a brief furor? “We’re not that dumb and we’re not that smart.” Obama and his crew don’t think things through. They just do stuff and flap their gums. Some things are outrages, some are just stupid. Categorize it any way you want. It matters little because it matters little. Obama is not that smart. But he might be that dumb.

mark of fish on December 20, 2013 at 4:53 PM


But I think the prospect of losing the “public” argument is what liberals and progressives fear most. Saving face is their bottom line, especially if the consequence is looking mighty stupid, or of having miscalculating the public reaction or both.

I used to be a liberal and the one thing I can guarantee is that being ridiculed is the last thing they want.

MrX on December 19, 2013 at 8:40 PM

I used to be Leftist, and I’ll doubly guarantee it. People like McCardle will never get it.

rrpjr on December 19, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Exactly! So they will always cook up some answer, even if the “answer” consists of risibly claiming, “You just got trolled! Ha ha ha!”

E.g., libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 8:30 AM

It’s the political equivalent of blurting out some inappropriate comment (usually in anger or frustration) that is aimed at a friend in an interpersonal context. When the blurter gets called on it, he or she will immediately insist: “Come on! You know I was just kidding! Where’s your sense of humor?”

We all know people who try to pull that one off from time to time.

Trochilus on December 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Liberals don’t want other people to know them as they really

Megan McArdle is trying to blow smoke up our asses. Trying to camouflage reality for the sake of liberalism everywhere.

Pajama Boy is exactly how liberals look and act. He is the epitome of a liberal.

BigSven on December 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Classic tactic from the left.

Make an idiotic move – experience fallout – point fingers.

“We didn’t screw up! We meant to do it – we were….ummm…playing a big prank on conservatives! See how stupid they are? Fell into our trap!”

“It’s true! Just ask my girlfriend…Morgan Fairchild! Yeah, that’s it – that’s the ticket!”

RDuke on December 22, 2013 at 4:57 PM

McCardle doesn’t get it. And why? Because she is part of the same encapsulated crowd who assumes everyone thinks it is normal that Hollywood is shoehorning Gay characters in every show, and ignores a trend of women choosing metrosexual partners. But there are people who see this and are alarmed at the sinking rate of ‘maleness’.

The reality is that the Left thinks, and perhaps they are partially right, that the modern male is more sensitive and touchy feely and would relate to “pajama boy”.

McCardle doesn’t understand that the Left thinks Pajama Boy is relatable to the man-boy of today. She thinks demean him is to be so utterly clueless (meaning you must be a Tea Party Repub). What she also doesn’t understand is people are getting tired of males being prejudged to be effeminate weenies.

To spin this as some sort of brilliant move on the part of Democratic strategists in order to bait the Cromags into berating him is enjoyably laughable.

darkmetal on December 23, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Hey, here’s something I’ve learned about Marketing… a lot like what makes a joke funny.

IF you have to EXPLAIN IT in excruciating detail for anyone to get the point… it’s not a funny joke, and it’s not good marketing.

gekkobear on December 23, 2013 at 2:06 PM

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