Drew Carey is an American comedian who burst on to the national scene in 1991, when he appeared on the Johnny Carson Show. I saw that appearance and I am still chuckling. Beginning 1995 he starred in The Drew Carey Show for nine years. At least as early as 1996, at the close of the show, just after the closing credits, there appeared what is known in the TV business as a vanity card, which serves to promote the production company behind the show. This one featured a little video of a sonogram in which the infant chuckles (apparently at the preceding 22 minutes of comedy).
I remember being struck by this short but powerful message. Twenty-six times a year, for nine years, this subtle message went out to everyone watching the show. Ironically, the producer responsible for the closing credits says that he did not intend to send a pro-life message. Before sonograms, we obviously knew that there was an infant inside of the mother but outside of medical schools, most of us had not seen video or film of an infant in utero (in the womb). With the advent of sonograms, Moms and Dads all everywhere began to take home VHS recordings (it was the 90s) of their children growing in the womb. The producer seized on that technology and appended a little bit of at the end of each show.
Without explaining anything, all the while making a joke, the producer unintentionally said something quite profound: that infant inside of mother is a human being (and my show is so funny even the kid is laughing). Humans laugh. The creature on the sonogram is laughing. Therefore, the creature is a human. Mere blobs of tissue do not laugh but humans, made of tissue, made in the image of God laugh.
Even if unintentional, this was cultural subversion. The very existence of sonogram videos undermined the notion that what mothers carry is less than human. By science, logic, and intuition we know that human beings conceive humans, that what is gestating within mother is human, and that there is an organic developmental process whereby the zygote becomes an embryo (which is Greek for “infant”), which, in turn, becomes a foetus (Latin for infant). The human which is born at about 40 weeks gestation did not magically become human in the seconds before coming down the birth canal. It was essentially human all along. We all know that we are playing games with language and deadly games with human lives when we prosecute people for killing infants outside the womb (until that becomes legal) but permit people to murder those same infants in utero. It is barbaric to think (let alone to say) that an infant becomes human only when the mother decides it is. This is the logic of genocide.
Who knows what was the effect of this little commercial for humanity at the end of the show but it is hard to imagine that it no effect. Most likely most viewers probably did not think about it much but it was certainly memorable. What can we learn from it? First, my point is not that Christians should try to imitate Drew Carey, i.e., we do not need a “Christian” Drew Carey Show nor is it that Christians should append meaningful vanity cards to their video productions. The question is how can we subvert the culture as quietly and effectively as that little clip?
Polls suggest that opinions on abortion are changing for the better. Being patient has come at a terrible cost to human life—probably 60 million humans have been murdered in utero since 1973 and abortion is still an issue but abortion clinics are closing and the cultural tide seems to be shifting toward life. Simultaneously, the West is in the midst of a sexual revolution, in which nature is being divorced from identity. The acronym LGBTQ is growing. Now we are to add I for “intersex” and A for “ally,” presumably one who not Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Intersex but who supports those identities and their associated political-cultural movements. This is a war against nature and against nature’s God. It is a war against order. The apostle Paul says this very thing in Romans:
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Rom 1:26–27; ESV).
Paul’s argument here is from nature. There is an order to things. There is a giveness to created life. There are boundaries. There are rules. There are consequences for breaking those rules. Paul does not share the LGBTQIA conviction that sexual relations should be defined by affection rather than by nature, by design (and by the designer).
I think that in Paul’s argument from nature lies perhaps the seed of the sort of cultural subversion that we witnessed in the 90s and early 2000s in the credits of the Drew Carey show. If it was a matter of nature, logic, and biology that humans conceive humans and that was illustrated by a sonogram there must be a creative, subtle way to illustrate the folly of sexual-identity politics (“I am whatever I say I am regardless of biology.”) Such an absurd view must be ripe for gentle, subversive parody.
It deserves some thought.
—R. Scott Clark, Escondido.
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