The Pajama Boy is back. Look how far the world has come in seven years…
I bet you completely forgot about the “Pajama Boy” hubbub and I’m very sorry for reminding you about it. But some things must be drudged up for us to lament on our far-too-recent past.
All that happened was an Obamacare-affiliated organization tweeted out this picture saying it was cool and acceptable to talk about and sign up for health care this Christmas season, back in 2013. Just some jolly, vaguely-hisptery dude enjoying himself.
And people were PISSED OFF.
Apparently wearing pajamas and drinking sweetened beverages is some sort of mortal sin, because assholes like Rich Lowry went ham about this Pajama Boy in way that looks absolutely embarrassing all these years later. Moronic sycophants like Chris Christie used it as a mocking anti-liberal meme. I don’t even remember how it played back then, but it’s pretty vile looking at it all now.
Oh no, not all men are super buff, toxic-masculinity spewing machines of sports and fishing and barely suppressed self loathing. Who the hell cares? Obviously the entire world just wanted to jump on Obamacare, which was just launching around this time and had a lot of issues that would last for several years before finally becoming an invaluable source of health care for millions of Americans. But in doing so they opened up a festering “culture war” wound which has failed to adequately heal since then.
(Also, a lot of the Pajama Boy mocking came straight out of the anti-semitism playbook. The whole ordeal is significantly darker in retrospect.)
Why the Pajama Boy Meme Failed
OK it was fun to make fun of this one dude in pajamas because he represented everything “wrong” with America. But guess what happened since Pajama Boy? The rise of the Alt-Right. The giant internet phenomenons like “soy boys” and “beta male cucks” and “incels.” This meme died as quickly as it came, but it previewed this insane fracturing of American masculinity that has utterly wrecked out culture.
With all of that out in the open, it’s really started to change things for the better, too. More openly hostile and toxic masculinity cultures rose—and so too did the backlash against them. The “incel” community and “the red pill” rose significantly in 2014 and beyond. Many young men were radicalized and some even committed mass shooting terror attacks. But so too did certain feminist campaigns in 2016 and beyond. The #MeToo movement sprang up in 2017 and helped expose to the entire world the horrors of toxic masculinity. If “traditional men” were keeping a culture of abuse and terrorism alive, then our entire culture needed to change. And in many ways… it did.
It’s an ongoing process. The President of the United States was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault and never even apologized. In 2020, the current President-Elect has also had a long history of creepy and inappropriate touching. So we still have a long way to go in that regard.
But for accepting that our Pajama Boy is just as valid an adult man as anyone else? We’ve at least come there.
But Also, Time’s Just Passed
One much less dramatic change… Millennials just kind of grew up.
Pajama Boy was the icon of the Millennials, the evil target for twentysomethings nationwide. They were lazy with no job (thanks to the Great Recession); they were glued to their evil screens (just like everyone else would soon become); and they were passive losers who eschewed “traditional values” (divorces are way down from just ten years ago). But all that disappeared, just like the Gen X slacker stereotype or the hippie Baby Boomer stereotype.
The Millennial of 2020 is in their late twenties at youngest, and forty at oldest. They aren’t hapless kids (or fresh war veterans) anymore; they’re established adults with families and careers. The idea of masculinity has changed, just as it does with every generation. But now the Pajama Boy is there as just another guy.
Now, of course, Obamacare is wildly popular, and it isn’t going anywhere. All the stupid fights and memes about it are a thing of the past… But they’re also really terrible when you look at them now.
It’s so embarrassing to read all these vitriolic insults by middle aged men from seven years ago. It’s aged so poorly that I can hardly fathom how it started. But then I look to all of the mega culture wars that were fought online in the years afterwards, and suddenly I get it. The Pajama Boy was just a prelude to the bullshit to come.
If you’re feeling nostalgic about the stupid memes of the Obama era, please read my post: The Nostalgic World of Obama x Romney Fan Fiction.