Oh, That Death of the Grown-Up


When Diana West wrote the The Death of the Grown-up in 2007, I wonder if she realized how badly things would plummet in just five years with the arrival of Footie Pajamas Boy. But first, let’s flash back several decades. Granted, he was an outlier, but Orson Welles was 26 years old when he co-wrote, starred in, and directed Citizen Kane in 1941. (Which means he was 23 when he produced his infamous War of the Worlds radio adaptation in 1938 that eventually landed him his license to kill at RKO Pictures.) And he was a self-styled “Progressive,” who was playing an adult far beyond his age, both on screen and in real life. Picture a grizzled 50-something veteran lighting man who had been around Hollywood since the days of silent pictures being told how to light a set by a man half his age directing his first film, and you get a sense of what Orson was up against – and managed, through sheer will and force of personality, to pull off. In the Ricochet Podcast yesterday, the gang attempted to triangulate the age of Footie Pajamas Boy, and since Obamacare covers “kids” until age 26 – again, the age that Orson Welles made his first and best movie – he has to be at least age 27. In his latest G-File email, Jonah Goldberg concurs with that estimation. As Jonah asks, “What Were They Thinking?”


First, it’s worth stating this isn’t about Ethan Krupp, the Obamacare activist who plays Pajama Boy. For all I know he bow-hunts alligators and rides a Harley. Though, come on, it’s doubtful. The point is that the Obama social-media folks, for whom Krupp works, are going for an image, so what Krupp is like in real life is irrelevant and people should probably leave the guy alone. There’s a debate over why on earth the promoters of Obamacare would pick this image to hawk their wares. One side says that it was a brilliantly cynical move because it got people talking just like those “Brosurance” ads with the keg-stands got people talking. (The motto of the campaign is, after all, “Get Talking.”) If you can make young people chatter about Obamacare, goes the theory, more will eventually sign up. The other side of the argument is that this offers a real peak into the collective mind of liberalism (and the collective incompetence of the Obamacare team). Pajama Boy represents an actual constituency. There are males (if not necessarily “men”) who fit this profile. Like most people who’ve thought it through, I’m more inclined to the latter. The Pajama Boy image is an extension of the original Thanksgiving enrollment video, which featured parents saying, “We love you no matter what, but it’s time to get covered.” Which isn’t quite as weird as saying “We are admirals of the pantless armada, give us your ball-bearing vestibules,” but still strange. The “we love you no matter what” line — like the “get talking” line — is an attempt to make getting insurance both edgy and mature at the same time. Edgy because there’s a vague hint that talking about this stuff violates a taboo or is difficult. Mature because it’s something grown-ups do. But there are problems. For starters, Obamacare actually delays adulthood. You get to stay on your parents’ plan until you’re 26! Which means the young people we’re talking about are 27-year-olds! Twenty-seven used to be the age of seriously grown men. John Wayne was 27 in the Lucky Texan. You can go to college, enlist in the army, do a couple tours, and come home again before the age of 27. The average age of marriage for men is 28. (Though the women I’ve talked to think dudes who have difficult talks in their jammie onesies while drinking hot cocoa might have to wait a good deal longer. Seriously if women had Terminator-like vision that saw the world by sexual attraction instead of infrared, Pajama Boy would be an almost invisible boy-shaped vapor.) Moreover, isn’t it interesting to see the contempt Gen-X and Baby Boomer liberals have for Millennials, or at least Millennial men? (By the way, where are the ads targeting young women?) Twenty-something males are either testosterone-addled idiots doing keg-stands or they’re suffering from estrogen poisoning. Last, I love the rearguard effort from liberals trying to turn the mockery of Pajama Boy into proof of right-wing sexual insecurity. It seems to me this is a pretty desperate attempt by the MSNBC fanboy set to compensate for the fact that so many people find Pajama Boy pathetic. That cuts too close to home. So it must be more proof of racism or gender confusion. But if you just take a step back, you can see the problem. If you find yourself in the position of arguing that real men get snuggly in their jammies and drink cocoa, you need to push the keyboard away and walk around the block a bit.


But did the left attempt to troll conservatives by placing Footie Pajamas Boy in such an outrageous getup? We’ll quote from someone exploring that topic right after the page break. At Hot Air, Allahpundit asks, “Did conservatives get trolled by Pajama Boy?” Linking to a post by Megan McArdle at Bloomberg.com, who believes that they did, he asks, “Did they?” I think this is a pretty good bit of deductive reasoning that likely, they didn’t:

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.

Eventually, Allah concludes:

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.


Of course, Andrew Klavan proffers an even more astonishing comparison: Footie Pajamas Boy with Duck Dynasty’s grizzled alpha male pater familias, Phil Robertson. Creating the little thumbnail image to accompany the link to Andrew’s post on the PJM homepage, I think I may have bent the space-time continuum more than a little by putting Footie Pajamas Boy in the same frame as Robertson. We’ve either made contact with a distant alien civilization, or the Eloi really do walk amongst us at last.


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