Obamacare Ads: What We Talk About When We Talk About Pajama Boy

A new ad, tweeted from President Obama’s account, has people talking — but not about getting covered. Just as HealthCare.gov distracted from the underlying principles and issues of the Affordable Care Act, “Pajama Boy” has burst on to the scene is his plaid onesie glory, stirring up stereotypes and debate about the millennial generation.

Organizing for Action is the group behind the ad, and it isn’t the first time the holidays have been used as a window for a discussion about health care. Leading up to Thanksgiving, the same group behind hot chocolate and health care ran a TV spot — possibly using the same actor as a “millennial” — about the importance of parents and their kids talking about health insurance.

Neither has sparked a debate about young people signing up for health care. Instead, pundits have latched on to the images, creating a personality, backstory, and sexual orientation for the young man sitting on the couch. He has become a meme, a parody, a hashtag, and a cultural conversation that can easily slip from reasonable to ignorant.

One side follows a train of thought akin to a quote from Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention: ”College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”