“This child is still you – simply the best of you. You could conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result.” – Gattaca (1997)
Gattaca is an imaginary movie that was released in 1997 about the not-so-distant future involving a dystopic world with genetically engineered humans and technologically reinforced discrimination. It is about a world that no longer discriminates against one’s gender, class or religion but on one’s genes instead. The movie acts as a cautionary tale about the extremes in technology and genetic engineering through its powerful visuals. A world attempting to create utopia by genetically enhancing reproduction does not leave much to an otherwise natural process, and this can ultimately lead to more destruction than perfection.
Gattaca is set during a futuristic time when reproduction is no longer a completely natural process. Babies are engineered and born into a sterile, genetically-enhanced world where undesired factors such as alcoholism, violence, premature baldness are eradicated before birth. A person’s career and life depends on his/her genes; it is used exclusively to determine one’s potential. People with great genetic profiles are hired into higher level jobs while the others are considered useful for menial work only. Even though people with “inferior” genes can still do well, they are never given the chance to prove themselves. Their genes are not good enough for them to be considered for any respectable positions.
Couples, thus, have the option of altering their child’s genes to produce their perfect son or daughter. The protagonist of this story, Vincent, was one of the last naturally-born children; his younger brother, however, was altered and soon became the star of his family. The brother was stronger and had brighter future prospects. Now that they have the power to choose so many factors about their child, what made them decide that they want a boy and not a girl? Why and how does one make such a decision? If gender is chosen in this manner, does the even ratio of males to females still hold true? If so, how come in the later scenes in Vincent’s office there were always more male workers than female?
Let us take a look at the scene where they show Vincent’s parents visit the doctor before they were going to have their second baby. The doctor starts off by showing them their choices – two healthy boys and two healthy girls – and asking them what they would like their child’s gender to be. They choose male. Why? Because they want Vincent to have a brother to play with. They had specified the color of his eyes, hair and complexion, and the doctor himself decided to eradicate any potentially prejudicial conditions like myopia, addictive susceptibility, obesity etc. When the parents interfere, saying they would like to keep some things to chance, the doctor responds: “You want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built in already.” The mother glances at Vincent at this statement – the imperfect Vincent, with myopia, attention deficit disorder and heart disease. I find this scene extremely powerful. This is a world working towards having the most perfect people but ignoring the fact that success is not guaranteed to the ones with these “superior” genes. Members of this class can have unpredictable downfalls, and members of the lower class can be good or even better than their genetic superiors. The mother’s expression of realization at the doctor’s words and her glance towards the “imperfect” child shows just how dystopic the world is. Children are labeled perfect or imperfect. Something as natural as one’s gender is now an identity chosen by one’s parents. What happens to genders other than male and female? Can people not decide for themselves anymore what they want their own genders to be?
The movie then proceeds to show Vincent impersonate a man, Jerome, whose genes are second to none. Jerome paralyzes himself waist down in an accident outside of the country, so there was no record of his illness. We see here how a person with clear genetic superiority faces unexpected downfall. Jerome sells his identity to Vincent, and Vincent uses this to fulfill his dream of becoming an astronaut – a dream he could not have achieved with his inferior genes. He proved himself to be very good at his work and was selected to be part of a prestigious mission to a moon in Saturn. Stealing Jerome’s identity did not change Vincent’s abilities. He was always capable of doing well in this field, but his genes would never have given him that chance to prove that he can be better than most.
At the end, we see Vincent interacting with a doctor at his workplace. The doctor was assigned to test everyone getting on the mission, and Vincent’s true identity gets revealed to him. The doctor tells him that he knew all along. He himself has a son who is genetically inferior but who hopes to be an astronaut, just like Vincent – a dream difficult to fulfill without the necessary genetic enhancements. He says: “Unfortunately, my son’s not all that they had promised. But then who knows what he could do.” Once again, I feel like this is another extremely powerful scene that shows the dystopia in the society. There are other people who feel the injustice in the system, but yet they cannot speak up. The discrimination against genes is strong and a part of the society that most people seemed to haveaccepted.
Gattaca is a powerful movie with subtle hints throughout that point towards oppression of a different kind. This is a world that hoped to reach a utopia but went terribly wrong. The scenes are carefully crafted and the two scenes mentioned in this paper are a few of many more that scream out the dystopia. Extremes in technology and genetic engineering does not alter the “imperfections” in the world. Some things are meant to be left natural.
Gattaca, Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1997
Gattaca The Movie And Discrimination
- Length: 409 words (1.2 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
In the movie Gattaca the main character Anton was discriminated against because of his gene makeup. Anton never even had a chance in the society in Gattaca because the potential employees of companies were not tested on their skills or knowledge but on their physical and mental possibilities. The same society also used derogatory terms for people like Anton. Just because his parents decided that he would come into the world naturally instead of through gene therapy or alteration. Terms like “faith birth'; and “invalid'; were used against Anton. I think gene therapy has it promises, but when used in the fashion as it was used in the Gattaca I think its progress should be carefully monitored. Right now sheep and other animals are being cloned. Soon primates and Humans could be cloned. I think we should further investigate human cloning for research on the parenting process and other physiological experiments that can only be used now on identical twins separated at birth. These experiments when used could be used to gain insight on what our genes determine in our personalities. I also think that the achievement of us humans cloning ourselves would be a great achievement for the entire human race such as it was when we landed on the moon in 1969.
In the movie Gattaca they barely showed the moral consequences of the actions. Anton’s father showed more pride in his brother than Anton, but what about Anton making friends, was he doomed to be a social outcast in friendships also? The second rate swimmer so depressed by being second in a race almost committed suicide, what about him? The movie never revealed how poor nations around the world dealt with eventually becoming a nation of an inferior human race. The movie pretty much shows how Hitler’s plan of creating a perfect human race would be like.
The movie does show some positives though. A longer lifetime full of health was promised to all planned pregnancies.
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Gattaca Discriminated Against Human Race Discrimination Main Character Anton Alteration Positives Gene Therapy Outcast
Diseases were also virtually eliminated and gene problems where also stopped. The crime solving potential of having every ones gene son file were also showed. Such technology could be used however with out cloning or genetic altering.
Weighing all these positives and negatives though is not a choice for me or anyone else, but a choice for future generations to come when they have the technology and choice whether to decide if it is needed or right for their time.