posts 1 - 15 of 17
Boston, US
Posts: 366

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: 17

One of the most undeniable facts about humans is that we will always separate ourselves into groups so that we can assert our superiority over others. It's visible everywhere, and while sometimes it's harmless, Attaca displays a version of this that is soon becoming reality. The really scary part about it is that there is a kernel of good to the whole idea. On paper, genetically removing bad traits sounds great, the only issue is what the word "bad" means. You don't get very far before you start arguing over what should and shouldn't be selected for.

Watching this movie reminded me a lot of Brave New World, which is a phenomenal book that covers a very similar subject. The only way the society functions in that book is enforcing a class system like the one in Attaca. It was even tested, in the book they describe an experiment where they populated an island with only "Alpha" citizens (The intellectuals) and immediately it deformed into chaos because nobody wanted to do blue-collar jobs and the basis of the society collapsed.

When we only screen to make people as "good" as possible, we end up in a world where we find we have to make people of lower class, and how do you choose who's going to do those jobs? In the movie it's simply if you're a designer baby or not, but imagine a version of it in the future where everyone is a designer baby.

If I was in the world of the film, I'd love to say I'd be noble and be an in-valid, but that would be disingenuous. It's clearly better to be a valid, and the lengths Vincent has to go through along with having to rely on other people covering for him to get close to what valids can achieve would leave most people not as fortunate as him stuck in the lower class their whole life.

Posts: 20

It seemed to me that, based on the film and the research I’ve done, to attempt to eliminate flaws only results in tragedy. In the movie Gattaca, it seemed to start with wanting to eradicate the possibility of a certain disease to keep your child healthy to being able to choose the child’s gender, hair color, and any other specifications the parents wished. The want to give your child a safe and healthy life makes logical sense; parents should work to care for their children, but then there’s the question of if that action is even equitable. What if the parent decides they don’t want their child to be neurodivergent? Could they change that? Could they whittle the kid into exactly what they see as ‘desirable’ and prevent something, simply processing things in a different way than someone who was neurotypical, that by all means wouldn’t have even harmed the child if they had just been given perfectly reasonable accommodations?

If I were alive in such a world, I wouldn’t like to be either option if I’m being honest. Those who were “faith babies” faced unemployment and rampant discrimination on whether or not they could succeed in life. Those who were genetically modified were constantly compared against a scale of perfection that they often could not perfectly reach until their flaws were all they could see, as Vincent pointed out to Irene. The “faith babies” were told they could never be anything while the genetically modified were told if they didn’t fulfill their potential in the exact way that had been prophesied, they were nothing.

How do you thrive in a world so rigid? You can’t. You fill a bubble, a checklist, and do nothing more. It’s the impossibility of spontaneity that stuck out to me the most, even art was regulated. Some pieces were written so only genetically engineered people, pre planned to be prodigies and have six fingers on each hand, could play them.

The issue is that some of the want to genetically modify human beings comes from a genuine place of empathy. Like, the want to make someone’s life easier. That’s a good sentiment and a good moral reason.

But do you want to make someone’s life ‘easier’ based on how you interact with the world? It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the things someone might want to eradicate would be deafness, which makes me think of a documentary I watched a while ago. I remember that the woman being interviewed was a deaf musician and, when asked if she was sad that she couldn’t hear her music, she pointed out that she experienced music much differently than a hearing person. It was all about the rhythm, the sensation and the feeling behind it. And she said, “I’m sorry that you can’t experience music like I do.” And if you take away deafness, or something similar, you take away that unique experience as well.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 14

The Promise of "Perfect People"

I think that having the ability to alter genes definitely provides many positive medical benefits. Parents are able to lower the chances/prevent life-threatening problems. Who would want their child to develop cancer or a crippling condition that would seriously affect their life and their child’s quality of life? Not only would I want that myself, I would want every kid to be healthy and have the ability to do whatever they choose. However, fundamentally genetically engineering evokes a whole other set of moral dilemmas. How far is too far? What can be fairly deemed as undesirable and desirable? Is there/should there be a limit to what humans can morally change? How can healthcare professionals and the government enforce such laws and regulations around genetic engineering? The genetic engineering, in a way, reinforces current drastic economic gap. Since the procedure would be costly, lower economic classes would not have the means to afford genetic engineering. Therefore the cycle repeats itself as those at the bottom are stuck at the bottom with fewer opportunities and quite literally the lack of abilities in order to climb to the top.

In a world of genetic engineering, individuals can be altered and curated to excel in certain areas. People would certainty be healthier, which corresponds to physical strength. However, mental strength and character are variables genetic engineering cannot control. I also wouldn't go as far as saying that genetic engineering would reduce crime as it will only perpetuate current socioeconomic classes–the crimes though might look a little different.

I hope that my parents choose to modify my genes to an extent, so that the chances of developing serious health conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s, etc are low/close to none. Furthermore, if I were to live in this Gattaca world, I would want “superior” genetics. I mean look at how easy it was for Vincent to get into Gattaca. There wasn’t even an interview, it was solely based on your genetics. Although I disapprove that individuals are solely defined by their genetics (something they couldn’t even control), one's genetics provides opportunities and privileges that are similar to white privilege in our society. I have also always wondered what it would be like if my genes were altered to be perfectly suited for my sport. How much more could I accomplish? Yet, at the end of the day, one of the biggest factors that define how far one goes is how much one wants it. Genetic engineering and talent can only go so far. And I think that the film was commendable that it shows hard work and passion ultimately surpassing genetic advantages.

The futuristic society echos the justification for eugenics during that time. The entire film displays the strength and the power of the genetically engineered–better genes = a smarter, faster, stronger person. It focuses on Gattaca, a place where only the ones with "valid" genetics can thrive. It is reflective of societal beliefs that only "superior individuals" (white men) were able to handle certain tasks/professions. Women and people of color fall into the "in-valid" category where they are deemed as "inferior" solely based on their gender or the color of their skin. Favoring one particular group of people above another group is discrimination. Biases are evident early on as Vincent’s parents clearly favored Anton. From his very first breath, Vincent was deemed unworthy of his father’s name and time after time, Anton was praised for his psychological and physical capabilities. Additionally Vincent faced discrimination in the workforce. He was automatically cut off from entering certain circles and professions. His “in-valid” status labeled him as untrustworthy, unintelligent, and weak. These labels are detrimental because they fail to recognize Vincent’s drive and personality. Genetic discrimination is illegal in Gattaca like racial discrimination in our world, but the biases exhibited by Gattaca's "valids" are reflective of discrimination and biases present in today's society.

Curious George
Boston, MA
Posts: 21

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

It really depends on what is considered valid or in-valid. In the scene where Vincent's parents are considering choosing valid eggs, they discuss serious issues and non-life threatening "issues", such as pre-mature balding. Though we might not want to start balding early on, that is not a real issue enough to decide to have a baby who's genes are modified, and sightly poor eye-sight should not warrant being in-valid.

The people would probably be healthier and stronger, but I would not say they'd be more capable of dealing with challenges of modern life because of their superiority complexes. Vincent's brother, Anton, could not stand the fact that he had lost a single swimming competition with Vincent, while Vincent worked his whole life to win that one match. Vincent, a faith baby, was able to overcome the challenges of his modern life. I personally would prefer to know that my genes were chosen because I'd know I was given the best chance possible to have a successful life. If I was as passionate about something as Vincent was with space, I'd be willing to fake my identity because I'd hate to not be given any options except for low-level jobs. Obviously, I'd risk being caught and arrested, but what's the difference if I had to live my real life as an in-valid.

I would consider my genes and my partner's to see the possibility of serious health issues, such as Vincent's heart defect. Although he is able to overcome it, the 99% possibility of dying by early 30s is not something I would want to encounter as a parent. If my child did not have such serious issues, but non-life threatening issues, such as poor eyesight, I would consider the issues they'd face in adulthood. Vincent was not able to get any good jobs, but the second he was "valid" his interview was over.

In real life, eugenics is used to increase the population of "desirable" people, which are white, heterosexual, and able bodied. Disabled people now still struggle to function day to day because public structures do not keep their needs in mind and do offer solutions.

The job discrimination Vincent faced reminds me of the discrimination immigrant POC face and the case of employers throwing out resumes with "black" names.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

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

While manipulating genes and cultivating a "perfect" population may promote more "positive" physical traits, it introduces far more damaging false biases. In "Gattaca," many characters, particularly Anton, believed that gene sequencing was final; a person's worth was determined solely by a sequence of nucleotides. Most genes are not fact, just a predisposition. Often, one can be predisposed to a trait, but it truly is the environment that leaves this trait dormant or forces its expression. For example, many carry the "alcoholic" gene, but childhood trauma and other social triggers are much more pertinent to the development of this disorder. In Gattaca, however, the genetic predisposition is law–one's entire life is determined just minutes after birth. There is no room for growth, and Vincent tells Irene, "They have got you looking so hard for any flaw that after a while, that's all that you see" (Gattaca 1:26:19). They completely invalidate the lives of "invalids," telling them nothing but their ensured inferiority, forcing most into "lesser" jobs. As a child, Vincent dreamed of going to space, but his parents tried to quash his ambition, telling him not to aspire to anything more than a cleaning job. In a society built on genetic manipulation, "invalids" are thought to be worthless. People as brilliant as Vincent are pushed down to janitorial work and their potential is disregarded because of their genes. Genetically perfect people, however, are placed on a false pedestal–despite being physically manipulated into perfection, Anton still loses twice to Vincent in their games of "chicken," needing to be saved by his "lesser" brother. Eliminating certain diseases would have a positive effect on society, but the overall impact of genetic manipulation would be far more detrimental due to the excessive mapping that would occur.

While I don't support the process, I would most likely reproduce using the genetic modifications. In a society like Gattaca, a "faith baby" is almost ensured a difficult and unrewarding life–not because of genetic inferiority, but because of the society in which it would grow up. Vincent remarks after being rejected from countless jobs that they now "have discrimination down to a science" (Gattaca 19:10). I wouldn't want to put my child through the difficulties of a "borrowed ladder," forcing them to commit fraud and lead a fake life. A "faith baby" would have to fight an uphill battle every day, and I would prioritize my child's success over my moral objections to the process.

Gattaca is based around similar principles to eugenics–the idea that certain genes code for a "better" person. There is no way to truly map the worth of a person, but both Gattaca and the pseudoscience of eugenics strive to do this. They try to define a person's characteristics, things shaped by one's environment, by what's in their cells. While people can be predisposed to certain traits, there is really no code for the "perfect" person, and to assign levels of superiority based on genes is to invalidate the existence of many capable people. In Gattaca, it seemed that racial and sexual discrimination had largely been eliminated, although there were a few references to parents' specific desire for a fair-skinned baby. They replace racism and sexism, however, with a new type of discrimination–genetic code. Both our society and Gattaca determine peoples' worth off non-consequential traits, falsely labeling certain groups as inferior and placing them in lower positions of society. The film questions this labeling, showing an "inferior" person reaching immense levels of success, proving his family and the system incorrect about his capabilities and potential. This is synonymous to the discrimination women have faced throughout time. They are told they cannot achieve as much as men, that they are physically incapable of "mens' jobs," but in the last centuries, women have shown this to be incorrect, proving their equality time and time again.

Genetic manipulation is unethical when taken to an extreme. It can be helpful in eliminating many fatal diseases, but will inevitably lead to a dystopian society like Gattaca. Initially, processes like CRISPR will show positive results, but will prove to be a pandora's box of discrimination; once we start going down this path, there is no end–there will always be a scientist who takes it too far. Understanding one's genes can be helpful, but we must always remember that one's true worth can never be sequenced.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Gattaca and the Promise of "Perfect" People

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?

I think the effects of genetic modification create a moral gray area. On one hand genetic mutation could help to eliminate deadly or extremely damaging genetic mutations when it comes to a persons health and well-being. However it is virtually impossible to draw a line at where gene editing is potentially saving lives, and where it is creating discrimination. As seen in Gattaca, and especially with the completion of the Human Genome project, it isn’t far fetched that we could edit the genetic code of an embryo down to the smallest detail, creating “designer babies”. As society as shown time and time again that especially when given an opening, discrimination/preference takes hold. This would inevitably create decreased diversity in all regards. In a social sense, I believe this would actually make people less capable of dealing with challenges. Research shows that diversity in any aspect of society is extremely beneficial, and so removing it would be detrimental. In a scientific sense, this could also get tricky as genetic diversity is important for evolution and maintaining a stable population.

I also think genetic modification is only part of the story. As mustardspider mentions, environment also has a big impact. Nature vs Nurture has always been a big debate, and as they mention, the way you grow up can completely change the genetic risks you face. In Gattaca, Vincent has a 99% risk of a heart condition yet we only see him struggle with this once after running on a treadmill. Despite this, he is completely excluded from higher society.

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?

The choice between “faith baby” or modified baby would be difficult for me. While being a baby with modified genes, as seen in Gattaca, obviously came with vast amounts of privilege and opportunity, Jerome shows where that can create difficulty. I think I, like Jerome, would struggle with living up the high expectations that being genetically modified would create. The pressure to be best would be enormous. In addition, I’m not sure how I would reckon with the way my parents would’ve picked out every detail about my existence.

As a result, I think I would end up in a situation like Vincent. He deals with a lot of discrimination and opposition from his parents and peers, but he’s able to have his own identity. I would want something similar. It was extremely risky and he was almost pinned for the director’s murder, but in the end he was happier than Jerome, and was able to fight for his dreams.

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?

Gattaca’s whole plot revolves around eugenics. Eugenics is defined as “the study of how to arrange reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of heritable characteristics regarded as desirable”, which is exactly what the people in Gattaca do, though the genetic modification of embryos, to weed out “undesirable” traits to the smallest degree. Gattaca demonstrates discrimination both through genetic modification and in daily life. By creating extreme genetic preference in embryos, the people are discriminating against “undesirable traits” even before the baby is born. For “faith babies” discrimination is a part of their everyday life, as they are deemed to be less than their modified peers. Vincent must take a job as a janitor at Gattaca while all he dreams of is to work there as an astronaut. By taking on Jerome’s identity he proves that he is just as capable as anyone else to just that even though he is not “perfect”.

The success of Vincent when he pretends to be Jerome, despite his status as an Invalid, contradicts the supposedly 100% sound science the rest of his society emphasizes and uses to legitimize eugenics and genetic modification. The wholesale discrimination of specific traits and large groups of people, especially with characteristics deemed “negative” which have little to no real value, is extremely problematic. Gattaca clearly shows that eugenics is harmful and creates an inevitable discrimination which is based on false pretenses.

As we look toward a world in which the situations of Gattaca become more and more likely, it’s important to address these issues which are bound to come up. Where, if anywhere, do we draw a line when in comes to genetic modification? How sure are we in all the implications of each gene?

Posts: 18

Manipulating genes could be seen as effective in terms of physical traits, but someones gene sequence does not determine what they can and cannot do. In the movie "Gattaca" we see that some of the character believe that the life that's determine for you right after birth is the only life you can live. But this puts a limitation on those who are considered "invalids" and they can't fully live their lives like the "valids" can, they aren't able to truly fulfill their dreams.

I go back in forth on whether I'd want to have my child modified, and I don't support the process but I do realize that this could potentially put my child at a greater disadvantage. If the society would be anything that Gattaca my child could lose many opportunities based on their genetic makeup and I wouldn't want my child going through those difficulties.

Eugenics is this idea of "planned breeding" where someone's DNA could be genetically modified to make them "better", this idea is heavily portrayed in the film, Gattaca. We can see the two brothers Anon, genetically altered and considered valid, and Vincent, not genetically altered and considered "invalid", constantly fighting to see 'who is better'.For example they did swimming competitions that pushed them to their absolute limit just to prove a point, putting their lives in danger This is all because the parents were given the opportunity to "pick" their child, Anon, before he was even born.The "main" types of discrimination in today's society are race and gender, but in this film we don't really see much of that. Instead we see discrimination based on a persons cells and genetic makeup.

Boston, US
Posts: 19

A society like in Gattaca is definitely a nuanced one. Objectively, the genetically edited "valid" people are more genetically fit, they are healthier, they are stronger, among other things. The "in-valid" babies, like Vincent, have no chance to move up in society, because of their energetic. This creates an incredibly restrictive system based on genetic "perfectness". This is a heavily flawed society, where your role in society is predetermined by things you cannot control. The second you are born, and even before hand, there is a specific path that you must follow.

In this society, no one wins. If you are a "valid" member of society, you have extreme amounts of pressure on you to be perfect at everything you do. You can see this with Jerome, who has kind of lost his will to live once he is crippled and is no longer "perfect". I feel like living as either class within this society would come with it's own kind of awful. If you are a member of the "in-valid", you are treated as a second class citizen, one who will never be anything and is never appreciated. If you aren't, you have to exceed at everything you do. There is constant pressure on you to do everything right, and if you aren't, you might as well be "in-valid". I would still definitely rather be "valid", because they are ultimately the ones who reap all of the benefits of this society. If I were to be an "in-valid", I definitely would not go to the lengths that Vincent did. It was a non-stop cycle of faking his life just to live in a society with more pressure to be perfect, as someone who is literally the opposite of perfect.

I feel like most of this film is a direct criticism of eugenics. The idea of "superior" people, and creating classes based on how "valid" you are is central to the society in the movie. This is also the way that the validation of eugenics affected our society in the 1900s. It created all kinds of gaps and divides within society that led to more discrimination. People started viewing each other as worse based on completely false "good" and "bad" genetics that had no basis in reality. There are no genes in people that make them more or less fit to be a member of society, and this is shown by the failures of a society where genetics determine everything.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Determining the value of individuals based on their genetics and probability of not facing certain challenges in life is not the best way to create a positive result for society. A person’s health can be better through methods not produced through genetic manipulation, and a person’s drive for being better in society can vary. Due to this aspect I would say many people could be healthy and stronger in this world but there would still be an array of variables that are not being viewed or considered which could lead people to act in undesirable ways.

If I was alive in such a world I would want to have modified genes for the sake of being able to fit into society, but at the end of the day that isn’t the only thing that matters. Most people who were “valid” in the film have a very one sided mentality and deliberately discriminated against people with undesirable traits or the “in-valids”. I would not want this way of thinking but in a world that only portrays that message, it would be difficult to see otherwise which is a pro of being a faith baby because then you can strive to do the best in society because of your wants instead of your makeup. When Vincent uses another person’s identity he is cheating his way into being accepted by society. Of Course this is risky because his real identity could be found very easily if not precautious and also people have opposite feelings towards valid or invalid individuals and so that could create a dangerous situation for him.

The plot takes us through Vincents journey in protecting his new identity in order to avoid a murder charge and also to reach his goal of traveling to space. Throughout the film we see how eugenics is the determining factor of a person’s acceptance into society which results in many people being discriminated against for something they don’t have the ability to change as adults. While investigating the murder in the movie, the investigators assumed the prime suspect was the invalid which they identified as being in the area. They completely diminished any other suspects because of the stereotypes and misconceptions formed about invalids in their society. This can be connected to our real world because these actions are seen towards marginalized groups like poc in the criminal justice system.

Posts: 19

If I was alive in a world built around genetic engineering, I would rather be a "faith baby". I think the world is a lot closer to this reality than we realize, but I don't think it would make people valid or invalid based on if their genes are edited. As a parent, I wouldn't genetically engineer my children either, especially if it's a newer method that hasn't been around long enough to see the potential side effects. I find it somewhat morally wrong, and a big part of having your own child is that it's YOUR, own child. Editing genes is basically taking a part of you away from your child. If I'm being honest, in the case of Gattaca, I would much rather be deemed valid, despite the moral issues it could arise. The invalid was often unemployed, and looked down upon, living a life of tragedy.

The unemployment issue the invalid faced, or in our society the "undesirable", can connect to colored, disabled, or past criminals being denied jobs. America isn't as straight up as Gattica is in terms of racism in the work field, but there are clearly biases during the hiring process for most companies.

I think living in a world of "perfect people", would bring more problems than it would solve. There are clearly undesirable jobs in America, that are practically designated for the "undesirable". If we lived in a perfect world, people would feel above themselves to be things such as garbage men, custodians, or cashiers. Although everyone should have equal opportunity, I believe it is important to have a class system, where different amounts of money are being made and undesirable jobs are being filled. If everyone was on the same playing field, society wouldn't function properly and more conflict would be created than solved.

Similar to Vincent, people born with severe disabilities live in difficulty and unemployment. As Vincent was suspected of murder, the criminal system looked only at the invalid, just as the murder case from class yesterday only looked at black men, when the murderer was the "victim".

There were many scary similarities between Gattica and the real world, and I beleive we are much closer to this reality than most think.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions of right and wrong

In theory, eliminating undesirable traits sounds like there would be a positive result for society. Especially as a parent, you would want your child to have the least probability of having a challenging life. However, if we are able to control how a person is going to be born, it sets a standard for human life, one that puts value on someone’s genes and already determines what they can do with their life. As seen in Gattaca, the ability to manipulate people’s genes into the best possible version of themselves leads to extreme discrimination and ranking, as people’s obsessive comparison allowed them to predetermine who was worthy of living their life. Gene manipulation doesn’t make people better people, it makes them physically more advantaged. I would say that people with “ideal” genes may be healthier, stronger, or less criminal, however if someone has nearly perfect genes in Gattaca’s society, they wouldn’t have much experience with facing challenges, so I wouldn’t expect them to be good at it. Gene manipulation and classification into “valids” and “invalids” sets certain expectations in these groups, but they aren’t always accurate. Victor wins twice when playing chicken with his genetically elite brother, despite having a heart condition. Despite his strength and ambition for space, his brother is able to go much farther in his life, simply because of his genes. Even Irene, someone whose genes were modified, still had a heart condition despite having otherwise “perfect” genes, taking away opportunities from her, such as traveling far into space.

If I were alive in the world in Gattaca, I think I would prefer to be a baby whose genes have been modified. While I may not agree with the societal outcomes of it, I wouldn’t choose to have a possibly shorter and less rewarding life because of my genes. It would give me opportunities that would likely never be within my reach if I were a “faith baby”. When faith babies are born, they are almost guaranteed to be inferior to the rest of society. At the end of the day, leaving it up to chance on whether or not I am a “valid” or “invalid” is not a risk I would be willing to take in that kind of society, for myself or my children. I think that if I was labeled as an “invalid” and had such a strong ambition for something like Vincent, I would consider using another person’s identity. I think that in a society where a job interview is a blood test simply to see if they have “perfect” genes, I wouldn’t feel like I would be going against my morals if I lied about my identity. The main problem that I would consider is if the risk of being caught outweighs the feeling of leading a more fulfilling life. If I were as miserable as Vincent, I don’t think that being caught would matter if I could live part of my life as someone who people who respect.

In Gattaca, where eugenics is so normalized, the justification for eugenics is simple: people don’t want to inherently be an invalid member of society. The film highlights how humans constantly want to classify themselves into those that are inferior and those that are superior. Discrimination is so deeply imbedded in society that humans move on to not only discriminating against physical appearance but also genes. When Vincent disguised as Jerome applies for the job and the only requirement is a urine test, it can easily be paralleled to today’s society where white men already have an upper hand, especially in a professional setting, simply because of their appearance. Vincent was able to prove that he was worthy of being a successful engineer only by pretending to be someone else. He was told “no” one day and “yes” the next because of the assumptions that people would make based on genes.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

After watching Gattaca, I think that manipulating genes could be a good idea, with the right intentions. However, it can be taken out of context, and this could turn into discrimination. People could start interpreting good/desirable traits in different ways, which is very dangerous. I think that if we manipulate genes that relate to illnesses, this could be a good thing, as people will generally be healthier and stronger. But . I think I would have preferred to be a "faith baby" or "in-valid". Just because someone is genetically more "desirable", doesn't mean he should get an advantage in society. Vincent faced enormous challenges, and made incredible sacrifices while trying to get in to Gattaca. He got lenses, shaved his own body hair off, replacing his vials of blood with Jerome's, just for a chance to get to go to space. He was born with an unavoidable heart condition, but nothing is ever guaranteed. He even exceeded his life expectancy by a lot. I think that if you cut down the gene qualifications so much, there will be almost no one left for Gattaca. Even Jerome, with the "most perfect" genes, had no desire to go to space. Vincent constantly was putting his identity at risk, especially while getting his blood taken, oral swabs, or even when Anton had to do a home visit, because of an investigation into the directors death.

(a) At the end, it was surprising to see that the doctor still let Vincent go to space, after finding out his real identity, not fake Jerome. Also, after Irene found out about Vincent, at first she was angry, but more about him lying to her. I think these events show that even during times like these, where there is "mass hysteria" about in-valids, there were still good people, who had empathy for others, even "in-valids".

(b) Most of the people in Gattaca were white, as well as male. In the whole film, the only female we learn about is Irene. I think this shows what that society thinks of as "superior people". Even though, like in the documentary about the Genome Project we watched, there is no genetic difference between a person of color and a white person. Could the officials at Gattaca be factoring in more than just genes? Gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

I actually don't agree with genetic modification pretty much at all and I think the message of Gattaca would support my opinion. Here are some points against it:
- Genetic modification would be expensive, basically something only rich and wealthy people can obtain. So the upper class population would grow and be more genetically fit than the lower class. They might live longer, become almost inhuman, the elite would become godlike. Can you imagine a society like this? The lower class already has a harder time obtaining food, housing, and healthcare. Many of them suffer from chronic illness, disability, or other problems that would be alleviated at least slightly if they were upper class.
- Humans are imperfect by design. We should already know the dangers of simulating evolution. Look at some of the dogs we've bred into existence. Is breeding pugs even ethical? Can you really trust every parent to worry about the well being of their child or would they rather focus on beauty? Would they project who they wished they were onto their child? Could their child even live its own life? For the first few generations, maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but as genetic modification becomes more normalized what would the human race look like?
- Then of course there is the issue of severe ableism raised in Gattaca. When the slightest imperfection will label you an in-valid, what is to become of people like Jerome, who are physically disabled? Are they to become more undesirable, more overlooked, than they already are? A society which is built around how much someone can contribute is inherently ableist. Humans would become machines meant for one purpose. No free will, no creativity, no exceptions. Why contribute resources to a broken machine? If your goal is for all of society to eventually become "valid", why even keep the "in-valids" alive? What determines who will be born valid and invalid? Parents, wealth? Not pure chance. These genetically modified kids wouldn't even have a chance to try. Obviously there is very little empathy in Gattaca, humanity has been dehumanized.

For these reasons I think the world of Gattaca is unfortunately very realistic and an intelligent prediction of what will most likely happen should humanity open genetic modification to the public. Who would you be if your parents chose every detail of who you are? Yes, obviously cancer is bad, but do you really think parents would leave genetic modification at that? What about kids with ADHD, Autism, down syndrome, dwarfism, other "disabilities" from birth? If you could prevent your child from having one of those, would you? Why shouldn't other parents? Do these people not deserve to exist? Yes their lives are harder, but who are you to decide if that means their lives aren't worth living? Genetic modification is basically saying "there will be no more autistic people" when you get down to it. And even if a few people choose not to modify their kids and those kids, by some small chance, end up being autistic, would the government really do much to help such a small minority? Think of the long term implications.

The society in Gattaca created its own moral dilemmas by design. In that situation, like Vincent, I would be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. And I am aware of the risks. The risks wouldn't exist if everyone decided genetic modification was bad from the start.

Dorchester, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18
  1. If we were able to manipulate/give preference to certain genes, I highly believe a lot of people would take advantage of this opportunity. And I am not going to deny that if I was given an ultimatum, where I or my would have disease gene possibility, I would probably alter the gene. I would only do this though if it were in a manner where it wouldn’t harm me or the baby or be painful in any way. Being able to control and alter specific genes does have a net positive result on society, because we are able to eliminate so many bad things, like disease genes, and others. But we also have to think about the fact that this would most likely not be accessible to everyone and this would cause an even greater divide between “rich” and “poor” in society. It would implement a new form of discrimination, topped onto the so many types that are existent already in our society(racism,sexism,ageism,etc…).
  2. If I were alive in such a world like in this movie, I would prefer to be a baby whose genes have been modified because after seeing what Vincent and those other “faith babies” went through, and how they were never given chances to pursue their dreams or rise up in society simply because they were not genetically modified and there was a predicted chance that they had a disease. The system is simply rigged for someone who is a “faith baby” to fail, and Vincent realized that and went to extreme lengths to achieve what he knew he couldn’t if he just accepted his status. I don’t want to go to lengths like Vincent did, so I would simply just want to start out as a genetically modified baby, because it is the smart choice because I wouldn’t want to make life hard for myself.
  3. The whole idea of Eugenics in today's world is based on a racist ideology of white superiority and it being backed up by science. When we were discussing Eugenics in class, I thought about what I was learning in Apush about Charles Darwin and Thomas Jeffereson. These two people are seen as great people in our history, but have written statements saying that being non-white=being inferior. And the idea of eugenics got support from colonialism, imperialism, and slavery. So this justification for Eugenics, being that it will help improve society and wipe people of errors does not come from scientists wanting the best for society, but instead draws from the idea of non-white people being inferior and the white mans burden. The methods of Eugenics itself are also immoral; forced/involuntary sterilization of people of color(what happened to the Native American women), because they were deemed inferior.
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