Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on Gattaca

I have just finished watching Gattaca, which I found it to be an extremely good movie. The theme of the movie is genetic determinism; the protagonist, Vincent Freeman, is a naturally conceived and thus genetically inferior person in a world where genetic screening and engineering has created an upper-class of the genetically superior. With his "in-valid" DNA, he is denied even an opportunity to become an astronaut; however, by deceiving the ever-present genetic tests with the exceptional genetic profile of a paraplegic ex-swimming star, and through keeping the disguise with intense passion and will, Vincent proves himself to be "as good as any, and better than most".

Without a doubt, the viewer empathizes with the situation of Vincent, and must surely agree that there is something more to humans than our genes; the greatest achievement is not in meeting our potential, but in surpassing our limitations.

And yet, at the same time, I find it difficult to refute the position adopted by the society in the world of Gattaca. Is it truly discrimination if there are significant differences in ability between the engineered and the merely human? The argument is barely weakened even if the possibility of a naturally conceived person being better (at a job) than one conceived artificially is acknowledged to exist; there seems to be little reason for a company to risk itself on such a gamble, or to spend extra resources to verify the ability of individuals that are unlikely to be the best candidate.

I must imagine that Gattaca's society would look unfairly upon "borrowed ladders", or people who deceive genetic tests by borrowing superior genetic profiles. The film may cause us to empathize with Vincent's position and view such deception in a positive light as a tool against genetic discrimination, as a equalizing weapon for those that are unfairly discriminated. But then again, in my mind I constructed a parallel scenario existing in our very own reality, of people who purchase false credentials, certifications, and qualifications. We would naturally find such actions contemptible. And yet, for at least of some of them, their lack of legitimate qualifications are not due to a lack of quality or ability, but by the unfairness of fate and circumstance. How different are the scenarios, and how different are our attitudes?

1 comment:

Jahbless888 said...

Nice point and I think our society's reliance on 'pieces of paper' is damaging to the lives of many and we, as a community, lose out on some spectacular people by making it so difficult for them to progress and taking away their opportunity to develop thier lives and ideas.