Doritos & Fundamentalism: Why Christians Should Thank NARAL

Doritos Super Bowl NARAL baby

Who knew Doritos could spark so much conversation? A light-hearted Super Bowl commercial about a chip-loving baby demonstrated that fundamentalism never really goes away. It is just repurposed and adopted by a different viewpoint.

Here is how NARAL, a pro-abortion group, responded to this funny ad.

There’s so many contradictions and absurdities crammed into one tweet that it’s hard to keep up. They criticize it for “humanizing” a human baby. Even if you want to use the word fetus that simply means “an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception.”

If you doubt it’s a baby, ask the man who created the ad. The ultrasound video, minus the tricks, is the actual ultrasound of his now nine month old son Freddie. That’s not a blob on the screen. That’s a little boy named Freddie.

Also, if you want to dismiss the ad for humanizing a fetus, you might not want to refer to the man and woman in the video as a mom and dad. Even when NARAL wants to undermine and reject the humanity of unborn life, they still can’t help but use language that affirms it.

Not to mention, it’s hard to take you seriously when you chastise Doritos for perpetuating a stereotype of moms as being “uptight,” in a tweet where you are chastising a snack food company for a Super Bowl commercial. If anything serves to push that sexist trope, it’s a group purporting to speak on behalf of women displaying a complete lack of humor and perspective.

But it’s at this point where we can really see what has happened with NARAL. For all of their opposition to religious right, many on the secular left, like NARAL, have embraced its worst attributes. They have become the new fundamentalists.

New Fundamentalists

The cultural approach of previous generations of Christian fundamentalists was to evaluate everything purely by how well it lined up with a biblical worldview. If it deviated at all, it was to be completely rejected. Boycotts and protests were the preferred method of cultural engagement.

In the end, the Christian fundamentalist approach failed, in part, because it misunderstood culture and its place within it. They believed themselves to be in a position of ultimate power.

They were the “Moral Majority” and if they could just awaken all those who shared their beliefs, they could reshape culture in their image through acts of pressure and coercion.

Now, in many places, the secular left has replaced the religious right as the primary cultural force. And like Christian fundamentalists of old, they live in isolated cultural bubbles of their own creation and assume a silent majority sees the world exactly as they do.

Buoyed by a sympathetic press and evangelistic art, secular fundamentalists struggle to grasp that any serious person could disagree with them. When a simple Super Bowl commercial operates outside of their accept paradigm, the only way they know how to respond is with a dour, humorless critique.

But hopefully, as Christians, we recognize those same temptations exist within our own subculture.

Old Fundamentalists

Thankfully, most Christians have sought to move beyond this approach to culture. However, we still struggle with knowing how to best engage and evaluate culture because of the vestiges of our fundamentalist past.

After reading the responses to his cultural critiques, Trevin Wax wrote that he gets criticized in two opposite directions that both miss the point. “Examining a cultural artifact is not a statement on the spiritual state of an artist; neither is it a blanket endorsement or condemnation of a product.”

Our cultural engagement has to be more than those reductionist approaches. We have to do more than ask, “Does this cultural artifact (movie, book, show, Super Bowl commercial) agree with my worldview?” That is the fundamentalist approach, exemplified by the NARAL tweet and recent Christian history.

Christians must go beyond our own “sympathetic press and evangelistic art” to engage with those who disagree with us. We should critique and evaluate culture, but we should do so at a deeper level than merely determining whether we agree with the propositional truth claims presented.

The temptation for the Christian to fall back into that type of response remains. Discernment, seeking to engage without embracing, is hard. Particularly for conservative Christians, we can slide back into former ways and old habits.

In that way, we should thank NARAL for serving as an example to us, holding up a mirror to our worser selves. How we saw their tweet is how others often view us. In fact, it’s still how they think of us in many ways.

Beyond Fundamentalism

Driving home yesterday, I heard a radio DJ begin to discuss the Doritos Super Bowl commercial. Curious as to how he would handle the issue, my ears perked up.

After describing the commercial, he said, “And pro-life people were outraged on Twitter because they thought it was promoting some pro-choice message. Can you believe that? It was just a funny Super Bowl commercial.” He had completely distorted what actually happened.

In thinking through how he could have made such a mistake, I wondered if it was a case of intentional bias or inherent ignorance. Was he willfully trying to confuse listeners or was he just that misinformed?

I suppose, I’ll never know, but I believe it could be an issue of both. He was clearly ignorant of the facts, but that ignorance was probably colored by his bias. He assumed this was something pro-life Christians would do. To be honest, he could make that assumption based on how we have often responded to such things.

Those past mistakes have dug us into a cultural hole that allows such assumptions to thrive, but as Christians find better ways to talk with our friends and neighbors about culture, we can emerge with a better perspective and perception.

If secularists like NARAL want cultural fundamentalism, I say we let them have it. Let’s choose a different way.

4 Comments

  1. I would love to see the “dumb dad” trope move on, for sure. But I did this. I ate Twizzlers while my partner was giving birth and she is nauseated by the smell to this day (11 years and a bit)! No visible change in the pre-birth/post-birth child though.
    Besides the lack of humour–after all, I still laugh at the M&M guys, and then eat peanut M&Ms–what is weird about that pro-abortion response is the supposition that pro-children = anti-abortion. If we were to grant the best pro-choice position, it would be that women should have access to abortion. There is no need for abortion access activists to:
    a. Be so lame.
    b. Scrooge out on the beauty of birth and the wonder of children.
    It’s just a tweet, but it shows a very limited view from this activist that I think reveals a problematic culture behind the scenes. Remember how people poo-pooed the Juno film? Called it a passive aggressive pro-life film. The main character being played by a feminist lesbian, I suspect the secret pro-life agenda there sort of failed.
    Sometimes jokes are jokes and stories are stories and the policing of them is disturbing.

  2. Rose Kelly

    You made me laugh. NARAL made me laugh too. Ignorance and narrow minds result in such tweets. It is a commercial for a Dorito… Live and learn to enjoy life and don’t be so sensitive… Such anger at a mother and all over some Doritos…

    After the laughing, your thoughts about fundamentalism… never thought of it that way. Maybe, between the noise of the children, we can discuss cultural fundamentalism.

About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.