The origins of Uncle Sam are not exactly clear, but some historians say that references to him go as far back as the 1700’s. Others say that Uncle Sam was a nickname given to Sam Wilson of Troy, New York for creating food care packages for soldiers. James Montgomery Flagg is credited with creating the image of Uncle Sam, using a picture of himself for the iconic pitchman of American patriotism.
Uncle Sam has appeared in movies, books, and television. He’s also been a regular in advertising commercials, pitching everything from military enlistment to new cars. At least some of Sam's appeal is as a benevolent paternal figure concerned with protecting America.
But a new set of television ads
has turned the craggy Jimmy Stewart-like visage of Uncle Sam into a leering peepshow creep. It’s part of a conservative group’s effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. In one ad
, Uncle Sam is seen gawking at the rear of young man who is lying on his side in a medical examination room. In anothe
r, he appears to be giving a gynecological look-see to a young woman.
The ads are telling young people that they shouldn’t get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which for many young people is the same as telling them not to have health insurance. They’re kind of “don’t drink the water” warnings, except they don’t make sense. Health insurance could save a young person’s life.
Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last few years, you know that many conservatives don’t support the Affordable Care Act. They’ve tried everything imaginable to kill it, including these commercials, which portray Uncle Sam as a sex offender in stars and stripes.
The ads fail on many levels, but fireworks should have gone off when Uncle Sam was recommended as the spokesperson for an anti-government message. Even more peculiar is the premise: convincing young people to risk their lives for political ideology.