Controversial themes have long been a component of memorable film. These particular films touch on topics audiences might have typically found taboo or litigious, often dealing with ethical and social affairs. A prime example of this is the 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca. In a nutshell, Gattaca is a tale about a genetically caste era featuring modified humans and technologically reinforced discrimination. This world is no longer prejudice against class, gender, or religion but rather on DNA itself. The film serves as a warning about extremes in technological advancement and genetic engineering.
A society attempting to create utopia by genetically customizing reproduction introduces several questions regarding genetic discrimination, expectations of prophetic engineering, and human will. From the beginning, there are distinct contrasts between societal views on “in-vailds” (natural born) and “vailds” (genetically modified). It would appear in the film, that genetically enhanced beings are preferred over naturally developed humans. Genetic engineering is believed to create a superior being; a human free from supposed “genetic dispositions” including anything from premature baldness to behavior disorders.
This notion creates a division of superiority starting from birth. For example, Vincent, the protagonist of the film, was a God-child; his younger brother Anton, one the other hand, was genetically crafted. During the designing phase of Anton’s genes, his parents have second thoughts about whether or not to “leave some things to chance,” but after his mother gazes toward Vincent, seeming to acknowledge his imperfections, nods in agreement to alter the embryo. It’s from this moment forth that Vincent, even from his parents perspective, is seen as defective and inferior.
His unborn sibling is “worthy of his father’s name” and quickly becomes to the family’s preference. Discrimination is not only used in personal matters such as these, but also in the workforce. Biologically engineered individuals are given the most prestigious positions, whilst those naturally born are deemed subordinate and reserved for menial work. Vincent falls victim to this bias and describes how he “belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the color of your skin. Because his “resume was in [his] cells,” Vincent was never considered capable of success in other fields and receives an occupation as a janitor for Gattaca.
Further, in order to eliminate the possibility of a “de-gen-erate” falsifying employment, all individuals at Gattaca must undergo daily finger sticks and routine urine testing for identification purposes. Societal views often influence how others are portrayed and personified. The film shows quite clearly the cause and affect of such social norms and how, in this particular scenario, society is more divided and segregated than before genetic engineering.
Undoubtedly, determined by their genetic perfection, one would be forced to believe that valids are incapable of fault. It was, therefore, surprising to be introduced to Jerome, a highly praised Valid, whose living in secret to hide that he has been paralyzed. By giving Jerome an impairment, the film is able to establish that even “for the genetically superior, success [may be] easier to attain but is by no mean guaranteed. ” At the same time, it’s thought that in-valids are not qualified to become successful.
Viewers settle on this belief when Vincent’s father proclaims “the only way [Vincent is] going to see the inside of a spaceship is if [he’s] cleaning it. ” Yet despite his genetic prophecy, and after Jerome barters his identity, Vincent becomes a triumphant engineer, later invited to lead a mission to Titan. If genetics no longer contribute to successes, what factor must drive accomplishment? Throughout Vincent’s endeavor, he remains persistent and determined to reach his goals, no matter the cost.
Vincent goes as far to “dispose of as much loose skin, fingernails and hairs as possible, to limit how much of [his] in-valid self [would be] left in the valid world. ” In another instance,Vincent travels with Irene, a female co-worker, when she insists that he accompany her for a surprise. Despite being blinded without contacts, Vincent risks crossing a dark busy roadway after Irene. In this moment, Vincent is again willing to venture into great depths to protect his identity and to pursue his dreams.
Human will, especially in Vincent’s case, affirms stronger than genetics. Vincent is able to overcome discrimination and deceive Gattaca administrators, convincing them of his greatness. He receives validation when his director compliments his hard work saying, “Not one error in a million keystrokes. Phenomenal. It’s right that someone like you is taking us to Titan. ” Again, the film argues on behalf of human nature; people are whom they desire to be. Certainly the creators of Gattaca had our generation in mind when developing the concept for this film.
Technologies, such as gene editing, are no longer a vision of the distant future, but rather a stronghold on present society. As humans, we are constantly looking for the passage to perfection. Persistently hunting ways to modify different aspects of our lives, rather that be cosmetically, intellectually, or genetically. But what really makes one individual more flawless than another? Is it the way we are assembled? Or perhaps it’s the way we develop. Either way, as the movie implied, “There’s no gene for fate. “