Obamacare 'Pajama Boy' Controversy Wrapped in Anti-Semitism

Right Wing Anger at 'Jewish' Star of Viral Health Care Ad

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By Jay Michaelson

Published December 28, 2013.

Surely the silliest kerfluffle of a political year that contained much silliness was the recent conservative hand-wringing over “Pajama Boy.”

Pajama Boy, you will be forgiven for not knowing, was the star of a recent ad — one among many — by “Organizing for Action” (formerly Obama for America) designed to get people to register for health insurance. This particular ad, part of the ‘Healthcare for the Holidays’ campaign was aimed at the twenty-something demographic, and advised said demographic to “Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance.”

Interestingly — and seemingly overlooked in the ensuing media hubbub — the ad campaign’s actual purpose was to get those millennials to talk to their families about healthcare. The assumption being that twenty-somethings are more plugged-in than their parents to the details of the Affordable Care Act. Which they probably are.

But I digress. How could such a milquetoast political campaign attract so much vitriol? Well, demonstrating the three action-items of the campaign was a photograph of a young man, wearing pajamas, mug in hand, eyebrows raised, presumably ready to talk about health insurance.

The Right went apoplectic, calling Pajama Boy “a metrosexual in a plaid onesie,” “an insufferable man-child,” and various other vaguely sexist and homophobic epithets. Apparently, real men don’t wear pajamas.

Or glasses. What’s interesting about the Right’s freakout about men who don’t measure up to the standards of the 1950s is how Pajama Boy’s obvious Jewishness has been subsumed by these other characteristics.

Yes, Virginia, Pajama Boy is a member of the tribe. Look at him. Pale Ashkenazic skin, Jew-fro’d black curls, Woody Allen specs. Even the smart-ass expression on his face screams of the Wise Son from the Passover Seder.

Parenthetically, the model himself is one Ethan Krupp, an Organizing for America staffer who is, in fact, Jewish. But whether Krupp himself is circumcised or not, Pajama Boy is semiotically Jewish, even stereotypically so.



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