A tweet from the @barackobama Twitter account depicting a young guy in flannel pajamas eager to discuss health care policy really upset conservatives. That's not what a man looks like, they said, winking at each other a lot. You know what we mean. Wink wink.
This is the tweet that launched a thousand subtweets.
This is not an actual tweet from the president, it's worth noting. It was created by Organizing For Action, the awkward, misunderstood sibling of the 2012 Obama campaign. (The campaign leases the @barackobama Twitter account to OFA.) For most people, the line is blurry, so the presumption was that the Obama administration had seized on a new spokesperson. A dude in jammies.
Which was a curious choice, to be sure. The tweet prompted quit a bit of tittering among Twitterers and a few Photoshops, of which this is one of the more current-eventsy examples.
The emergence of #PajamaBoy, as the hashtag had it, also prompted a lot of annoyance from conservatives and, weirdly, disgust, as kindly (and predictably) curated by the folks at Twitchy.com. It goes from this:
And then to this:
Look at how they portray the American male: a hot chocolate drinking doofus in a onesie. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/Ov1wAaShk0— Andrea Tantaros (@AndreaTantaros) December 17, 2013
Tantaros, one of the hosts of Fox News' The Five is concerned about how "they" (OFA, as she may not know) "portray the American male." What does this mean? What does it mean to "portray the American male" as something other than a stubble-chinned stud riding a mustang into the sunset? Other people on Twitter cut through subtext. @informedblackmn: "Choose to be gay. Wear Gay Pajamas. Hold hot chocolate like a gay dude. Talk about your gay hero, Obama, with other gays." @OvarianFoster: "Fantasy Football team is made up entirely of women's figure skaters." @writerguy636: "That's the gayest f***ing thing I've ever seen"
See, he's gay, this guy in pajamas, because if you like pajamas and hot chocolate, you are gay. When you portray the American male in this way, you are saying American males are weak. Whereas American men used to be portrayed as fighting men marching off to war (as in the first link in @iowahawkblog's tweet) (which was created during World War II), now "government propaganda" (which is from OFA, not the actual government) consists of dudes in pajamas talking about girlie things like health insurance and, God forbid, birth control. The response turned into a big mish-mash of gay and weak and Obama and Obamacare. This idea of liberals as being necessarily effeminate is older than time itself.
But you know who likes hot chocolate? Lots of people do. I like hot chocolate. You know who liked putting on dorky, comfortable clothes and having his picture taken? Ronald Reagan, that's who.
Time will tell if #PajamaBoy will become a standard trope in Obama-mockery, presenting an eternal short-hand for conservatives wanting to make jokes. Like Julia, the star of an Obama campaign ad last May, meant to portray the typical problems of an American. Julia similarly became a symbol for the right, which had enough momentum to bear a mention from the editor of Townhall as recently as Monday ("I forgot that Julia waited till 31 to have a kid."). These symbols have staying power on the right, so expect "#PajamaBoy" to be used as an unsubtle dis suggesting that Obama is gay from here on out.
Because here's the thing about gay people that homophobes don't really like. There is a gay person out there who is better than you at everything that you think you're best at. There is a gay person out there who is more attractive to women than you. Who is better at shooting a gun. Who's a better writer, who's funnier, who's smarter. There is a gay person — many gay people! — who are faster, better at baseball, better at football, better at golf. There is a gay person who would completely whip your ass in a drag race or a fist fight. There is a gay person who is more manly and self-confident than you on your best day. There is a gay person who is all of these things, who is better than you at every single little thing you can imagine, up to and including sex. Pajama Boy is better at you than a lot of things.
But you'll survive.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.