Liberals were getting snippy on Twitter last night over how much fun conservatives were having with this because the jokes were too masculonormative or whatever. Which means it’s a must-post.
A major political operation puts their spokesman in a onesie and expects this to pass unremarked upon? Not in Vin Diesel’s America, my friends.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 17, 2013
A few thoughts. One: If ever someone deserved a blog at a major paper based on appearance alone, it’s this guy. Just wind him up, say the words “income inequality,” and watch him go. The arch of those eyebrows tells me there’s a young “Thought Leader” in there somewhere who’s itching to burst out. Two: Emily Zanotti’s right. The onesie is semi-defensible as hipster-wear but I don’t think it was intended that way. OFA’s ObamaCare ad campaign thus far has had this guy talking insurance with his parents, not his roommates, and I’d like to think even hipsters wouldn’t resort to jammies as, er, ironic as this around mom and dad. And let’s face it: If this guy’s wearing a onesie because he enjoys it, because it brings him a sense of childhood security that mere pajama bottoms just can’t provide, then there’s no way he doesn’t already have health insurance to hedge against risk. But … purely as an advertising matter, why put a guy in a onesie unironically?
That brings us to point three. David Freddoso thinks this is further evidence that the middle-aged political operatives who organize issue campaigns really, really don’t understand twentysomethings. (A piece two days ago at Bloomberg suggested boosting enrollment among “young invincibles” by holding a lottery or making rap videos.) It’s the flip side of the “brosurance” campaign in Colorado. Each infantilizes young adults but in different ways. Fair enough, but I’ve always assumed the point of goofy social-media efforts like brosurance or Thought Leader here was simply to get young adults’ attention. If you assume (probably correctly) that they’re the age group that’s most likely to use the Internet and to consume lots of different media online, your big challenge is to get them to stop surfing for five seconds and process the idea that getting insurance should be a priority. How do you make them pause when they’re all set to dive into a new BuzzFeed list of 37 reasons why Santa might be real? Throw something like this out there. Even if you’re laughing at pajama boy, at least you’re spreading the word about enrollment.
And of course, among young adults just as in any other demographic, there’s low-hanging fruit who can’t be persuaded by normal means. Figure maybe 90 percent of twentysomethings can be reached through conventional political appeals. What about the remainder who think an ad showing uninsured “bros” risking injury through keg stands is a valuable cautionary tale, or that a guy in footie PJs holding a cup of hot chocolate couldn’t possibly have the wrong advice on risk management? They’re out there. They’ve got a little money saved. And they’re ready to be gouged by inflated premiums for insurance they don’t really need. All you need to do is ask the right way.
The alternative theory to all of that is that OFA really thought nothing of putting a grown man in a onesie. This wasn’t a gimmick to get attention, It’s just how they imagine the average socially conscious young male progressive dresses for sleepytime. I … can’t bring myself to believe that they think that. After all, the president is the ultimate socially conscious young(-ish) male progressive and he doesn’t dress in a onesie for bed. Right?