posts 1 - 15 of 27
Boston, US
Posts: 350

The film Gattaca is about a society that we are closer to becoming than we were, say, in 1997. If we are to manipulate/give preference to certain genes in order to cultivate what are perceived to be good or desirable traits and to eliminate undesirable traits, surely that has a net positive result for society, right? Would people be healthier, stronger, less criminal, more capable of dealing with the challenges of modern life?

If you were alive in such a world, would you prefer to be a “faith baby” or a baby whose genes have been modified? After all, look at the challenges faced by Vincent. Would you roll the dice and hope you’d be a “valid” as opposed to an “in-valid”? Or would you be willing to go the lengths Vincent did by “using” another person’s identity? And what are the risks of that?

In this post and after watching this very thought-provoking film, link its plot to what you know about (a) eugenics and (b) discrimination. How do the questions raised by the film echo questions about the justification for eugenics and its relationship to wholesale discrimination?

Please reference specific aspects of the film and respond with a thoughtful post about these questions and the ethics of the entire enterprise of genetic research and reproductive technologies.

Just two points of clarification: I am not related to Vincent Freeman; this is a fiction film and he’s an invented character. Also, this film dates from 1997 so it is somewhat dated, especially with respect to the outcomes of the Human Genome Project (HGP). Now that the HGP has largely been completed, the questions the film raises are even more urgent than they were in 1997.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

I think it does have a relatively positive result for society, however, I think it would be impossible to genetically modify all of the human race. With so many people in third world populations and 99% of people not being able to afford such modifications, this dream of a perfect society truly just is a dream. It might make people healthier and give people the ability to challenge modern life, but I think we would lose authentic experiences in the process, as well as humanity’s diversity. I think it sounds like a whimsical dream but the realities are more upsetting than the world we really live in.

I think I would want to be a “faith baby” because the idea of being genetically ‘superior’ to a select few, doesn’t sit well with me. I would roll the dice and consider myself in-valid, like Vincent, and refuse to resign to a lesser fate based on my own genetics. I don’t I would go to such extreme lengths of his and use another person’s identity, but I definitely stand with his principles and the idea of refusing to be lesser than having been born with a genetic disposition.

The movie offers powerful commentary on the role of discrimination in our society in addition to presenting a vivid image of the societal repercussions of eugenics. Although the main focus of this movie is on the effects of eugenics, I believe that it really touches on the greater problem of institutional prejudice. The movie inspires viewers to reflect on the discrimination existing in their own lives and society by portraying such an extreme example of it within this made-up world.

Vincent outlined the different ways that companies violate the law to discriminate against "in-valid," or those who have not undergone genetic modification, at one point in the movie that especially hit me. There are several instances of this kind of disdain for the law in our own culture today, particularly when it comes to prejudice towards women or people of color. The movie powerfully illustrates how, even outside of the setting of eugenics, the structure of our society promotes systemic prejudice and the marginalization of some people.

This raises the question of whether other social reforms are necessary before our society can use eugenics as a solely positive instrument, or rather, if eugenics can exist in our culture without having these kinds of negative societal effects.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 19

The promise of “perfect” people: Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions of right and wrong

This may be an unpopular opinion, but if I am being honest, I would prefer to be a genetically modified baby. If I had to choose a life filled with less hardship than the other, I would choose the easier life. Vincent faced a life where he was seen as less than others, and actually had to change his entire identity just to be able to gain the opportunities he wanted to have. He even gets the job he wants immediately just based on his fake DNA, a job he never would have gotten by being himself

While I would rather have this life of ease if I could choose it, I do not think that manipulating genes for the entire population is something that would be positive. First, it would not be accessible for everyone therefore gaps between social classes would drastically widen. These gaps are large enough today, it would probably be catastrophic if they are to widen much more. I understand the reasoning, maybe I would support the changing of genes to help a child avoid some sort of terrible disease or disability but overall I think that that idea is an unrealistic idea to have.

The discrimination faced by those who werent concidered genetically superior is unfair. Just because of some statistics at birth that may or may not happen, someone isn’t able to even try to attempt to perform a job? The fact that Vincent was turned away at an interview because of his genetics and was not even given a chance to show his abilities is unfair. We see that today in many different manners. People are judged off of their visual appearance during job interviews whether or not the interviewer means to or not.

I do not think that as a society, we could handle changes of genes for certain people. We can sort of see things like plastic surgery, even steroids are viewed as inherently negative and I think people would see the manipulation of genes as no different than that. There would be hatred and those who were modified would look down on those who weren't and those who are not modified would see the others as fakes.

Posts: 21
  • I do not believe that choosing genes would have a positive impact on society really at all. It is true that people may be healthier and stronger but that does not necessarily equate to a better society. Using that logic would mean that only the most healthy and strong individuals contribute to society and that is clearly false. When it comes to dealing with the challenges of modern life the people in Gattaca that were “valid” did not necessarily have it easy. The perfect example of this would be Jerome, he had perfect genes but he clearly also suffered with mental health issues like depression and addictions. Jerome threw himself in front of a car because he could not take the pressure of being the “perfect person” and not living up to those expectations. The movie just proves that no matter how much you try you can not “gene out” the person in human beings, people will always make mistakes. Lastly, if you were to have a reality like Gattaca where only the “valid” people were listened to and taken seriously, I think our society would not progress. You need different minds and point of views for a society to thrive.
  • Honestly,if I had to live in the movie Gattaca I would rather be a child whose genes were genetically modified. Why would I choose the option where I am scrutinized, hated, and not given opportunities needed to succeed? It might sound selfish but obviously I would choose a life where I could get a good paying job and a spouse. It is the difference between high class and lower class in Gattaca, would I rather be a janitor like Vincent or an astronaut like “Jerome”. I also would not care at all if my parents genetically made me because that meant they really wanted to have me and wanted the absolute best for me.
  • I do not know a lot about modern day eugenics but I want to make a connection to eugenics and modern day beauty standards. I think beauty standards are the modern day form of Gattaca. What are the lengths that some of us go to to fit into these standards created by society? Nose jobs, BBLs, crazy makeup trends, starving yourself. When Vincent changes to Jerome he changes his eye color, gets surgery to make his eyesight better, even has a procedure to make him taller. These are all things that I think people would do today if they could. This “perfect person” is definitely an idea today even if it is not the full extent of the movie. One scene in the movie includes a woman going up to a DNA tester after kissing a man on a date. This shocked me but then I realized we probably do something similar. Judging people based on clearly genetics or clearly looks- isn't that just tinder. Anyways back to the original question I know that a in different countries the rate of children with disabilities such as down syndrome or autism is much lower because they allow women and people who carry children the option to terminate a pregnancy when these results come back. I don't really know how to feel about this and actually I thought about it the other day when I saw a tiktok about it. Would I want to bring a child into this world knowing that it would never be independent depending on the severity of the disability. The answer is probably no. That's unfair maybe but I really wouldn't. I also would think in terms of the child would they have a good life, but Im sure that's what people in Gattaca believed, children that were not genetically mutated were living harder lives.
  • This movies theme is clearly one of descrimination as Vincent describes “genoism” which is basically racism, sexism or xenophobia but based on genes. Before Vincent transforms into Jerome he is denied from most jobs except janitoring. When he has Jerome's blood he is automatically given the job as an astronaut he states that his real resume was in his cells. Jerome mentions how social class was no longer determined by the color of his skin but instead “they have discrimination down to a science”. Simply using the phrase “invalid” shows the level of descrimination, people not genetically modified were not valid to society.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 23

If I were alive in this world, I personally would want to have been a “faith baby.” Life is all about using what you have and making something out of it. What Vincent went through is insane; I’m not even sure how he even managed to get past the urine samples for work using the straw thing. And altering his legs as well, and worrying about every little speck of dust that he leaves behind??? It takes a lot of dedication and drive to do what he did. If I were Vincent, I would want to take my chances like he did, even if it meant I had to be careful about my surroundings. I would be more proud of myself if I was able to go beyond my limits than if I had everything I could ever need.

  1. In eugenics, genes that are rid of bad heritable traits, such as predisposed heart failure (as seen in the movie), are seen as good genes, and as genes that need to be passed on. This concept of how life should be procured was the central issue in Gattaca. The valuing of these “good genes” are seen in the film when Vincent’s parents are conceiving their second child, and genetically alter the child’s genes to be perfect. The parents start seeing their son, Vincent, as a lost cause, because of how long the doctors said Vincent would live for, and the job opportunities that would be available to him in the future. This society discriminates against people who are “invalid” in order to move the population towards genetically modified “valid” people, which is the whole premise of what eugenics is.
  2. Because this society is now focused on cultivating humans with “valid” genes, discrimination in this movie is very prominent. If your genes are not good enough for companies to see you as a long term asset, it doesn’t matter if you have great credentials or potential. And in this movie, the detective automatically assumed that the person who murdered the director as the invalid (Vincent’s) eyelash they found in the hallway somewhere. Had Vincent’s DNA been considered “valid,” he wouldn’t have been the prime suspect of the case.

Overall, I think that genetic research and reproductive technologies should be used for genetically caused diseases. However, this technology would probably only be available to those who can afford the gene alterations, leaving most of the population without access to such technology. I think if gene alteration is only used for that, and if it is economically available to all, it is an ethical thing to do. However, people who don’t get their genes altered should still be treated with the same amount of care, equity, and respect as “valid” people. I think gene alteration can be a good thing, as long as it is not used for cosmetic purposes or to change people's quirks. As they say in biology, and as we see in society, diversity is important.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

I take issue with trying to rationalize or criticize the issues presented in “dealing with the challenges of modern life.” If we are to pass judgment on the actions of those in the film, we must disregard any and all definitions of the word “modern.” I feel that any support or criticism to the concept of gene manipulation is as much a scientific question as it is a moral dilemma. Who are we to interfere with nature and its ever-lasting opposition against nurture? In my opinion, herein lies the exact issue with the film’s portrayal of a utopian society. What is nature? Who are the nurtures? In a world where we seek to eradicate individualism, one must not be surprised to find how sheepish we all really are. And I mean sheepish in every sense of the word. The mere act of genetically modifying ourselves to be better is the epitome of the fragmentation of a population’s confidence in their ability to thrive and continue to do so. For a moment, however, I must descend from the soap box and admit that I would willingly raise children whose genes have been modified. Again, I contend that such a decision bears no weight without consideration for the nurture, or environment in which the children are raised. We are all taught from a young age that certain people are born in this world with certain privileges, for better or for worse. That being said, not all of us are taught how to learn, accept, and love the differences we encounter every day in our lives. Every suit and tie we saw in the movie was worn by a person conditioned from birth to lead their lives with an innate sense of superiority and entitlement. This mindset alone is more catastrophic to the ongoings of a modern society than any genetic testing yet to be conceived by man. As we learned in the activity earlier last week, the idea of having children is an incredibly pensive task, causing many of us to think more introspectively than perhaps any of us were prepared. Understanding who we are as individuals is extremely crucial in understanding how we choose to introduce the next generation and how they can grow as individuals in an encouraging, informed, loving community.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Gattaca and the promise of "perfect" people

What exactly does good, desirable traits look like? Would we also be able to manipulate personality traits and mental health? I think it might have somewhat of a net positive result for society If everyone regardless of social status was given the option to be genetically modified. Everyone would be programmed to be smart and kind and healthy, with no diseases, no sicknesses, no rude people, no jealousy, no criminals, no depression, anxiety, etc. It seems like the perfect world, but I don’t think this would exist anywhere but in a computer simulation. Especially because we cannot manipulate people’s genes to give them better personality traits, there would still be criminals. Mutations in genes also happen all the time. In the movie, the real Jerome is a modified person and still ends up crippled, this shows that there isn’t a hundred percent guarantee that every modified person would turn out “right”, or be more capable of dealing with life’s challenges.

If I lived in that world I would want to be a genetically modified baby, I want to have a better chance to succeed in life, and not be discriminated against. Vincent has to clean dead hair off his body in blue light every morning, strap Jerome’s pee to his body, keep Jerome’s blood with him, put on artificial finger skin infused with Jerome’s blood, and live on the edge every day because he might get caught. It’s so extreme and it’s just something I would never want to do because anything could go wrong, at any time as seen in the movie. If they decided to do the blood tests again, he wouldn’t have had enough blood samples. If the doctor decided to out him since he knew, then the plan wouldn’t work. If he put the finger skin on wrongly or mistakenly scanned the wrong finger, his real identity would be exposed. The littlest mistake could cause his entire identity to be exposed. I don’t think I want to live like that, I definitely wouldn’t roll the dice, I want an easier life, and that means being genetically modified in that society.

In Gattaca, people are segregated into valid and invalid. People who are invalid, faith babies, who aren't as perfect are discriminated against, they are not allowed to advance in society, and their jobs are to be the cleaners. “Genoism”, what Vincent faces in the movie, is essentially racism but instead of discrimination based on race which isn’t real, it is discrimination against genes which is scientifically proven. The entire movie is also based on eugenics, encouraging the reproduction of humans with desirable traits and discouraging those with weaker traits. When Vincent's parents wanted to have another child, they decided to have a genetically modified child, who is “a boy, fair skin, healthy, smart, not violent, etc.” This child was worthy of his father’s name Anton. Even the parents were discriminatory and loved one child more. They also didn’t have enough faith in Vincent because he was invalid, he was not expected to live long, even though he was incredibly smart, he could outswim his brother even with his heart condition, but without taking on someone else’s identity he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish his dream because the people in charge in Gattaca refused to look past genes. This is the way people in our society most times fail to look past race, your race determines whether or not you can get a house in certain neighborhoods, the quality of your education, etc.

There isn’t a justification for eugenics, because it will always cause discrimination. But, gene modification should only be used to cure certain illnesses or diseases like cancers and heart diseases, etc. not being the traits you want your child to have.

Posts: 19

If we are able to manipulate or give preference to certain genes in order to cultivate “good” traits and eliminate “bad” ones, it would seem like it would have a positive effect on society. However, it is not all that it seems. People can still commit crimes and get diseases and get into accidents as shown in the film Gattaca. Furthermore, people can break under the standard of having to be perfect, as displayed by Jerome Eugene Morrow. But theoretically, this would make people more capable of dealing with the challenges of modern life.

If I were alive in such a world, I would honestly prefer to have my genes modified. If I was an invalid, I would face discrimination, even though discrimination against genes was technically illegal. It wouldn’t matter how much I lied or studied or trained, I would never have the same opportunities given to valids. All they would need to get a job they wanted was their blood. Vincent had prepared so much for his interview at Gattaca, but the only interview was checking if he was a valid or an invalid. Without the facade of Jerome, he would never have gotten to the position he did. He would’ve had to continue being a janitor. However, if I was an invalid, I don’t think I would go to the lengths that Vincent did, using someone else’s identity. I don’t think I’d be able to pull it off. I think I’d get caught very easily, and there are definite risks if you get caught stealing a valid’s identity. Vincent had to constantly make sure he wasn’t leaving any of his own DNA behind and had to constantly make preparations to pass as Jerome. Even a single eyelash caused him to almost lose everything he had worked for. Additionally, if you have a high likelihood of developing a serious disease like Vincent, you could be putting yourself in more danger. Gattaca monitored the physical performance of its employees, which for Vincent could be dangerous as he’s mentioned he’s already “10,000 beats overdue”. This can be seen when he was jogging on the treadmill and his heart rate started going faster and faster. The next scene of him in the locker room seems to display evident pain, or at least discomfort, alluding to the heart disease he likely has or will develop. The process of actually stealing someone else’s identity can also be evidently painful, such as the “surgery” Vincent underwent to reach the same height as Jerome, or Eugene.

The society Vincent lived in was one built on eugenics, or genetic engineering. Genes would be modified to improve the body and thereby society as a whole, getting rid of unwanted diseases or other traits deemed unacceptable by society. However, this gave rise to a new kind of discrimination, a kind that is based on genetics, no longer race or sexuality. A hierarchy of sorts formed, with those with modified genes being innately superior to those that didn’t have modified genes. The use of genetic engineering is being used currently, albeit for minor things. But this movie does show a possible reality of what the future looks like. There are a lot of ethics that have to come into play. For example, genetic engineering is very expensive and a lot of people probably wouldn’t be able to afford it. Therefore, it might be an option only available to the rich, the elite. It also raises the question of how to determine what eugenics should be used for. There are many different viewpoints, some very prejudiced, on what traits are “good” or “bad”. There’s also morals to factor into whether or not eugenics should be used to enhance appearance and such. I think if eugenics was really an option, it would create a lot of disharmony at the very least, but at the same time, diseases could be cured or you could be born without them altogether. It could get rid of diseases that have long had no cure and alleviate those suffering from them. It could perhaps also bring down the death rate. This ongoing debate surrounding eugenics questions if eugenics should be utilized, and if so, how to accomplish that without the discrimination that may or may not come along with it.

Posts: 10

Gattaca and the promise of “perfect” people: Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions of right and wrong

a) The plot of this movie was closely connected to eugenics in that certain people were viewed as more biologically fit than others and therefore superior to those who were deemed less biologically fit / less genetically desirable. The fact that Eugene ultimately decides to incinerate himself with his 2nd place medal truly speaks to how deeply genetic and physical perfectionism plagued this society. Despite the fact that eugenics was able to make him a near perfect human specimen, Eugene tried to commit suidice. Even in his prime, he was in such a bad place mentally that he wanted to end his life which just speaks to the pressures societies focused on eugenics create. One of these pressures is to live up to the perfection that is your body, which Eugene directly portrays in his disdain for the 2nd place medal he received in swimming, because despite being given the genetic lottery, despite being the best he could possibly be, he didn’t receive first place. Additionally, the fact that after becoming disabled, Eugene loses his high status and place in society, to the point where his only option is to give his identity away, also speaks to how the society eugenics creates is focused on the perfect human specimen, not the unique human mind and personality. This film is a great warning of the possible dangers heading towards a society run by eugenics.

b) This film was related to discrimination because when certain aspects of ourselves: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc., or in this case, genetics, are deemed as “less ideal,” then the people themselves who have these “inferior” qualities are viewed similarly, which is the gateway to discrimination. Putting certain traits on a pedestal perpetuates the belief that the only life worth living is one that is perfect and that life can’t be as fulfilling or meaningful if you were born “flawed.” The film shows how eugenics limits the beauty of diversity. Diversity forces people to understand and appreciate people who are different from them; if we were less diverse, diversity and our differences wouldn’t be tolerated as much because each difference would further ostracize us from society. There would be less of a need to tolerate diversity if it was rarer.

The questions raised by the film echo the questions about the justification for eugenics in that it makes you consider the morals behind valuing certain genetic and physical traits over others and manipulating unborn children to fit these values. The problem I have with the idea of genetically engineering people to fit societal expectations of perfect mental and physical health is that when certain traits are deemed desirable and superior, the value of other traits is viewed as less, making them out to be the opposite: undesirable and inferior. This idea is already present in our society in the idolization of light skin and white features so I think we need to shift away from this part of eugenics.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Once undesirable traits are eliminated and traits that deemed “desirable” are manipulated to be present, on paper, society would have the net positive. But as seen in Gattaca, it is clearly not true in application. There is still competition between the “valids”, even though they all have such an upperhand. For example, Eugene is considered to almost be genetically perfect. Yet, he still holds with him the memory of when he got second place, essentially when he wasn’t perfect. This memory has haunted him, serving as a reminder that he isn’t what he should be. But really, what should he be? Society has given him this expectation from birth that he is supposed to be perfect, just because of a choice that he didn’t make for himself. And to have a society essentially centered around the idea that you need to be perfect all the time if you are a “valid” doesn’t really make a better society at all. Modern life will still present its challenges, which is especially seen in Eugene because he still falls to alcoholism. In addition, Irene is considered a “valid” yet she still lives with the fear of the percentage likely of a heart condition. No matter what you do, there is no immunity from non-physical states of being.

If I were alive in this world like the one in Gattaca, I would only have a “faith baby” if society hasn’t progressed to the point that it draws a distinct line between valids and in-valids. I don’t agree with the idea, but it would be what is best for my child if I had them genetically modified in a society that places higher value on them if they are. I just think that if I didn’t, it would almost be setting them up for failure in that society. I think that faith babies in a society not as far gone would be more okay though. I don’t think that I would be “setting them up for failure” because who is to say what is considered failure? In Gattaca, this line for failure is already determined by birth but in a normal world there is no line for failure.

I’m not really sure if I would assume someone else’s identity if I were “in-valid”.Obviously it comes with the perks of being treated better with society but I think that this would just eventually lead to my own individual loss of identity. Kinda like how genetically modified babies wouldn’t really have a sense of individuality if they all are supposed to be perfect.

Gattaca just shows how eugenics still isn’t a solution to fixing society. They can genetically modify babies to their liking but these kids just all end up sitting at cubicles doing work all day for a dream of going to space. It just seems like such a sad society that there is such an effort to make everyone super healthy yet everyone still sits at cubicles and does work all day. No one really has any sense of individuality. If that’s the idea of a perfect society then I don’t want a part of it.

Gattaca’s society is heavily discriminative, even within the “valids”. For example, people gather whatever they can DNA sample of a potential partner in order to determine the other person’s genetic makeup. (Which is a little weird because what’s the point of checking if you’re probably going to genetically modify your kids but oh well) and I think that it just shows how people are never going to be happy as the standards change. The standards for what is “perfect” keep rising and this ends up creating more and more divides between people. It doesn’t create a perfect society at all.

I think that it’s hard to determine what’s a good or bad trait to keep. Even some diseases like sickle cell anemia are considered beneficial in areas that are affected by malaria, so what really is a “desirable” trait? And even if you were to take away genes relating to heart conditions and such, its really not going to guarantee that they aren’t going to develop later on. Nothing is guaranteed.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

The promise of “perfect” people: Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions of right and wrong

- This first question is a tough one. Yes, theoretically, people would be healthier, stronger, less criminal, and more capable of dealing with challenges, but then life wouldn't be special. A huge part of life is experiences challenges. Simply learning to overcome challenges and figuring out our own independant ways in society is important for character development. If everyone was automatically healthy, strong, and capable of dealing with challenges, then life would be boring. It may have a net positive result on things like the economy, crime rates, maybe even world peace, but theres no way it would have a positive impact on our mental health individually. Every human is different, and that is what makes life so unique. Yes, the world is extremely unfair and unjust, but living in a world where everyone is the same and nobody has any special features about them would simply just be so boring. We might as well just be robots if we are all perfectly genetically modified.

- The second prompt is also extremely difficult. I think that everybody would want the best for their kid. If everyone could have a genetically modified baby so that their health and other traits would be perfect, i would assume that most parents would go for that. As seen in the movie though, this creates such a big gap between the quality of life for people that were "faith babies", and those that were made in a lab.

Me personally, I would love to have been genetically modified so that my life was fair, healthy, and favored. But then at the same time i wouldn't. I wouldnt want to just be another number in the system. I would want to be special (is that narcissistic?). I know I wouldnt be considered special, and i would actually live a challenging life with constant discrimination, but thats why this is a difficult question. If i was given the choice i honestly think i would just roll the dice. If I got the good genetics then thats great, but if i didnt, then i would figure it out. I wouldnt neccessarily want to go through the whole process that Vincent did in order to change his identity, but it low-key seemed like fun. Vincents life was actually interesting! He had constant thrill and adrenaline going through his head everywhere he went. I think i would definitely prefer to live a life more like Vincents. Obviously there are risks; but the risk is what makes life fun. Why does anybody do anything risky? It's because those risky behaviors can benefit your life exponentially. If things backfire and i get caught switching identities or couldnt pull it off for some reason, then that would be a different conversation and i would probably despise being a faith baby, but we're talking all about hypotheticals here.

- The plot of this movie is that a man named Vincent, who was born as "un-valid", wants to get a job as an astronaut. being 'Un-Valid" means that his genetics are seen as less superior. People born genetically modified are seen with perfect genes and are therefore "Valid". Vincent has a job as a janitor due to his status, but ever since he was little he wanted to be an astronaut. This is a job for only valid people, so he will never even get the slightest chance to chase his dream. He decides to do something about it, and he changes identities with a crippled, but "valid" man. Straight off the bat, this movie has a lot to do with discrimination. As soon as Vincents brother is born with modified genes, Vince is immediately seen as inferior. His parents dont show him as much love, and there is constant competition between the two. This competition almost turns deadly. For the rest of Vincents life, he is discriminated against. He has a bad job, and he is told that he will never amount to anything. He was born into the world unwillingly, yet he is forced to deal with these unfair conditions and discrimination for the rest of his life; unless he does something about it. It makes one think about what would happen if we actually took eugenics serously in our society today. I know we have been interested in eugenics in the past, but I'm not so sure about what the world is thinking right now in modern times. I feel like eugenics and discrimination go hand in hand. If you actually look at the people in power who have made comments with positive feedback on eugenics, you will see a pattern: those people don't tend to have great reputations and have previously participated in some form of discriminatory-acts. I dont actually see how we could take eugenics seriously and then not have to deal with descrimination issues later on. I think that although there were some unrealistic parts of this movie, they got it spot on when it came to how big the gap would be between those with, and those without modified genes.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The promise of “perfect” people: Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions of right and wrong

Having a society with all perceived good traits seems to be a net positive right? Wouldn’t everyone look their preferred way and—for more or less—be of an equal standard to the rest. Well, not exactly, and Gattaca does a great job of exploring this phenomenon. You see, people would technically be healthier, stronger, less criminal, and more capable of dealing with challenges in life. However, what about if someone unfortunately faces a setback in life—ultimately hindering their ability to succeed. Take, for example, Jerome. He was gifted with desirable genes and found great deals of success with them. That was until he got into an accident and lost the ability to use his legs. In this, he started off equal—if not above—to most others, but an experience of failure put him at a setback and large scale disadvantage. Now, regarding our ideal society, if everyone in society were comprised of “good” genes, that would be a relative success; that is until one of them happens to face an accident so crucial that it limits any sort of future success because they are deemed on the same “level” as those with perfectly good genes and conditions. Taking a step back, creating a society that mimics the ideal situation may slowly shape into a mundane and repetitive world. With everyone on an equal level, there is evidently no diversity and differences of experiences, consequently limiting our understanding of life and the true hardships it can bring. Additionally, the off chance of someone born without any desirable traits may result in a case of identity theft in order for them to find success.

Despite what I just said above, I would likely prefer to be a genetically modified baby over a “faith” baby if the decision came down to it. I know this is very hypocritical of me just criticizing this very same idea, but Vincent serves as a great portrayal of this. In life, I wouldn’t ever want to be set at a disadvantage because of the way I look or because of the genes within me (saying this is ironic as I read it over again…). Vincent had dreams and aspirations of traveling into space, but knew he could never fully obtain them simply because of something he was born with. By putting on a false identity, he could finally be deemed “normal enough” by society and live his dreams into reality. This kinda defeats a big aspect of life—x, that it—and I would want myself and my kids to avoid discrimination or restrictions in life because of the way they were born. Regarding the question of if I would be willing to go the lengths Vincent did by using another person’s identity: short answer, no. I don’t think I could possibly put myself through the stress of constantly being someone else than who I actually was. Not only is this dangerous in and of itself, but also opens up so many possibilities for trouble. Like the events that took place in the film, Jerome had to cover for Vincent so many times and Vincent was often so close to getting his cover blown. I definitely wouldn’t be able to hide my DNA so carefully the same way Vincent did. Because of that and the stress factor of never being able to truly be myself, I could never successfully use another person’s identity. Overall, I would choose to be a genetically modified baby, but if the choice comes down to it, I would certainly not choose to put on another person’s identity to find success; instead, I would play the chance card by being a “faith” baby.

The society Vincent lives in is one largely defined by eugenics. Gattaca highlights the question of whether engineering certain genetics is moral or not. In a pretty direct manner, it establishes a hierarchy among people. Sitting atop are the people whose traits are deemed superior than the rest, followed by those who have desirable traits, then finally sitting at the bottom are all of those who are genetically modified (otherwise the “faith” babies). In addition, it becomes evident in the film that changing eugenics is an expensive process. This creates the division of those who can afford it and not—a choice separated by socioeconomic classes. Within this exists discrimination. People who don’t earn enough money won’t be able to afford genetically engineered eugenics, thus putting them at a disadvantage against the rest of society and setting them up for failure. Even in this ideal world, society still discriminates. Just a quick scan of someone’s DNA can scare people away because they know the real you. Because of this, Gattaca ultimately serves as a critique for a society that is composed of people with all desirable traits.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 17

Gattaca and the promise of "perfect" people

Eugenics is always a very difficult topic to discuss because we don't know what “perfect” is. Yes obviously being tall, not having a disease, and having a long predicted lifespan is our idea of perfection, but is it true? And if everyone was to say “perfect” how would we ever find new things or have people try things different ways. The prime example for this was the two scenes where Vincent and Anton have a swimming race. When they were kids and when they were adults of course Anton is supposed to win like usual but he doesn’t and Vincent has to end up saving him. You’d think the person who was “perfect” would win every time right? Also my favorite quote of the movie is when Uma Therman’s character Irene was talking about the piano player with six fingers and said, “Well you can only play that piece with 6 fingers' '. Implying that you had to be “imperfect” to do such amazing things and that even the degenerates could make something beautiful like music. Also when the real Jerome shows Vincent his silver medal. He was supposed to get first place because he is “perfect” but doesn’t and for his whole life is reminded that he came in second when he was never supposed to. It was very powerful that he wore it when he died because in a way he came in second to Vincent who was a degenerate and “beat” him in life by becoming someone who made it on the Gattaca. So the question is hard to answer. Yes, making everyone have the “perfect” genes sounds great, but how do we measure “perfect” and know that they are capable of achieving everything that an “imperfect” person couldn’t?

I would definitely choose to be a baby who has been modified just simply by the fact that I wouldn't be held back by anything. Obviously you would chose the path to life that creates the most opportunity for you and you can’t be denied anything just because of who you are. Are Vincent's parents wrong for bringing him into the world with this “disadvantage”? That is a question I was asking myself the whole movie. I am still not sure of the answer and I would definitely be willing to be faith baby if that guaranteed I would be able to achieve things unachievable by the modified people. I would go to the same lengths Vincent did even though changing your whole identity and constantly having to be prepared for a surprise D.N.A test is insanely stressful and takes away your humanity. I would be willing to do it just to prove the point that there is no “perfect”.

The whole plot of the movies is based on eugenics and discrimination. Vincent is born normally and when he comes out the doctors immediately run blood tests on him and start spewing out his imperfections. The major one is that he has a ninety nine percent chance of heart disease and that his estimated lifespan is about thirty years. His own father doesn't even want to name Vincent after him because he deems him not worthy of the name as a degenerate. He saves his name for their second child who was genetically modified. As the movie goes on Vincent is kind of pushed to the side by his family and also by society. His family sees Anton being perfect and growing to the heights they want and doing the things they want while Vincent is kind of doing his own thing and isn’t up to par. Vincent tries his hardest to study to get into the Gattaca but he knows he is simply not good enough because of his genes and no matter how smart he is will be denied. This is where the big theme of discrimination and the connection to society that they writer of the movie made comes in. To highlight that just because the way someone was denied them the best jobs and the best opportunities in life. And to show how hard you have to work to achieve what a “perfect” person does without even trying.

Freight Farm Enjoyer
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

The promise of “perfect” people

In all honesty, I don’t think I would care if I was born by genetic modification or not aside from the obvious discrimination that “faith babies” experience in this fictional society. Obviously the discrimination would be awful to endure, aa it basically prevents you from being able to do anything important with your life, but I don’t think that outside of societal factors, the quality of life would be affected very much by one’s genetic makeup. That being said, I would probably just prefer to be genetically modified for the purpose of having more opportunities. I acknowledge that this system is intensely corrupt in nature, but the life of someone considered “valid” seems much easier than that of someone deemed “invalid”.

Given Vincent’s situation, I think the most realistic outcome would be for me to just accept my situation as what is basically a janitor. I’m not a very bold person, and it seems to force Vincent to live an exhausting existence, as it’s shown that he has to scrub his skin down on a daily basis to prevent any samples of his “invalid” DNA from making it into the “valid” world in which he has found himself. I think that, at the end of the day, I would be a lot happier living Vincent’s humble life depicted in the beginning of the movie, where he is openly “invalid”, than having to work tirelessly to preserve a lie. I’m also a generally anxious person, and I think that I would always be wondering when I was going to get caught using someone else’s DNA to work at a job which, by society’s standards, I was completely unqualified for. This almost happens near the end of the movie, when Vincent lacks “valid” urine for one final DNA test. I understand that, for a lot of people, this might not be the case, however it would be a tortured existence for me.

It’s pretty obvious throughout the film that it has a very negative view of Eugenics and it intentionally paints them in a very bad light, showing how they are inextricably linked to discrimination, as the idea that some genes are innately superior to others naturally gives way to the idea that some people are as well. The way it is explored in the movie, the discrimination is, for the most part, on purely genetics alone, but it’s easy to see how the film could be interpreted as a metaphor for racism or any other appearance-based discrimination, as society determines people’s worth in life based on something which they cannot control. Furthermore, the film promotes the idea that Eugenics will not improve society, as the only real effects of the rampant genetic modification in this future world is the discrimination that the movie centers around and, aside from preventing people from having shorter lifespans, no real benefits of the genetic modification seem to be shown. From Gattaca’s perspective, Eugenics is a completely useless exercise in futility which only serves to increase and justify discrimination in human society. All of these ideas being brought up by the film echo the same questions that have been asked since Eugenics has been around regarding whether or not it’s necessary in order to improve the human condition, and Gattaca wants to make it absolutely clear that it is the opposite of that.

Posts: 21

The Truth About Gattaca

I thought this was an extremely interesting movie for a multitude of reasons. For one, regarding eugenics, it didn’t include class or race on the question of a “superior” person. When eugenics was popular, that’s all it was about. It was deemed that the white people were racially superior, and no one else could ever amount to that. In this movie, it all depends on genes––and genes that make sense. Just like we were talking about in class, if it was even remotely possible to eliminate all of the “bad,” like disease or mental illness, or disabilities––why would we not do it?

Nevertheless, in Gattaca, they discriminated in a totally different way. If someone was born the “natural” way, the only way they could get ahead in life was if they were a janitor, like Vincent, or something similar to that. Any “difficult” job was reserved for the genetically superior, and the “de-gene-erates” were left behind. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with this… if everyone was forced to have genetically superior children, then I would agree with that because everyone would have similar opportunities––you’re getting the best genes out of two parents’ gene pools.

If I had to choose the best way for my child to have the best life (in that society), I would prefer a genetically modified baby (that sounds so creepy). Yet, it would contribute to rising inequalities and discrimination in that specific society when people have natural births vs “scientific” births. It reminds me of one part of the movie where Vincent said that it didn’t matter how perfect his test scores were because he didn’t have the genes to go along with it. This is so similar to the ridiculous testing that people had to do back then (like the one we did in class), although in their case, it didn’t matter if their test scores were perfect if they were a different race/class.

It was really ridiculous and overwhelming how obsessed people were with genes, and scary how accessible it was to get a gene reading. For example, there’s one part of the movie that really shocked me: a woman had her lips swabbed after a kiss to get the person’s DNA. WHAT? If I truly had a dream and it was inaccessible to me, I might go to the lengths that Vincent went through… but me now? I would never. He was working in a huge government “corporation” or whatever it was that required DNA checks all the time. I would be extremely anxious all the time and would not be able to go through with it.

Despite everything I discussed, I truly believe that eugenics in this society can never be “valid.” By that I mean, the only way that genetically superior people can be created, is if we really start from scratch––and even then I wouldn’t know how people would go about that. If genetically superior babies were created, then everyone now (all of us) would have fewer opportunities just like in the movie. It’s a really strange subject to talk about, but I just don’t think that can ever be a thing without discrimination.

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