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freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 318

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.

BigGulpFrom711
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Gattaca: A Film of the "Perfect" People

Gattaca is a film that answers the question of “what if humans could manipulate our own genetics/DNA?”. Early on in the film, we notice the doctor telling Vincent’s parents that they can easily remove violent tendencies, genetic disorders that may run in the family, and have the child be as healthy as can be. Yes, people would be much more physically and mentally capable in society, but those who are excluded from that sort of process would have to go through extreme discrimination. It becomes a case of discrimination based on science, based on fact.


If I was born into that sort of world, I would prefer to be a baby whose genes have been modified. Yes, it goes against the natural order of the world and having genetic variation, but the discrimination that I would have to face in society is too much. As soon as Vincent was born, his father didn’t even want to name his first son after himself (Anton), but rather Vincent Anton. He didn’t want his own child who had “disabilities” and was “in-valid” to be associated with him. We saw more of this discrimination later on in the film, where Vincent had to constantly jump from job to job just to survive. Vincent himself even stated that society didn’t discriminate on race or class anymore, but rather genetics, a given fact and a product of science.


If I were to be a “faith baby”, I do not think that my chances of being “valid” are high. However, I do not think that I would go to the lengths that Vincent went through. It’s a very strict and thorough routine every single day, with an eyelash causing Vincent’s identity to be almost revealed. There’s also the nit-picky things, such as the blood tests, having blood sacs of another person on my finger-tips to pass a simple gate, or even just trying to shake someone’s hand. There would also be the constant paranoia and anxiety for every single thing that I do. Ranging from shedding a dead skin cell at my table or leaving my fingerprints on a keyboard, there is a very delicate process that needs to be followed.


Regarding Gattaca’s connection to eugenics and discrimination, it is very clear that Gattaca is a play on eugenics, but from the perspective of one who is deemed “unfit” and willing to do what they can to fit in society. The word “eugenics” isn’t mentioned within the film, but it instead focuses on the idea of eugenics becoming a “factual” science, rather than pseudo science, combined with technological advancements. As I stated previously, Vincent had stated that discrimination shifted from class and race to the genetics of someone. It creates the idea of a “perfect” human, establishing the idea that people who are slightly different, whether it’s a physical condition, medical condition, or state of one’s mental health, are far below the rest of the population. Focusing on discrimination, we can see this with Jerome Morrow. Jerome had everything: vision greater than 20/20, a heart so large that it’s comparable to an ox, and he was an extremely strong swimmer. However, because of an accident that caused him to lose his legs, he suddenly became no one. One small “flaw” that wasn’t in Jerome’s control caused him to become relatively unknown. Due to this situation, he decided to watch someone else accomplish their dream: Vincent Anton Freeman. Shifting over to Vincent, he had an immense passion for space. In the very beginning of the movie, you can notice that the director walks up to Vincent and is very impressed with Vincent’s work, as he completed a million keystrokes without a single flaw. Yet, the director was addressing “Jerome”, not Vincent. Vincent rose from the bottom of Gattaca and was going to be sent to Titan, one of Saturn’s largest moons, but it was under the identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow, not Vincent Anton Freeman. Vincent is extremely talented and wants to delve deeper into the concepts of space, but because of his “disabilities” and “invalid” status, he is not given a single opportunity to prove himself. This can be linked with our very own modern society, where people are denied economic or educational opportunities because of discrimination regarding their race or class. Gattaca is an example of a situation between those who fit in and those who don’t. If you fit in, you’ll have every opportunity right at your fingertips because of your “perfect” genetics. If you don’t fit in, it’s a living hellhole.

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 12

Gattaca

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.


1) This question is a really tough one. On one hand, I've seen a lot of news and updates about biological advances we are making to eliminate things like cancer, use CRISPR to cure genetic diseases, etc. I think that is a good thing. I think though there is a reason why Ms. Freeman included the clause "what are perceived to be good or desirable traits" because these are 1) not necessarily better traits 2) also undercovers the subtle discrimination that this grouping of biological superiority and inferiority can bring about. I think it really depends on how society uses these advances in tech. If we use it to cure diseases, I think that is good. If we use it to sort people on some type of hierarchy, I think it is bad. I also think even if we cured all diseases, humans would not magically have better lives. Virtually every developed country and novel that touches on this issue displays that humans will always have challenges in some way or another.


2) I would definitely want to be a modified baby. Just look at the plot of the movie, there is privilege, more fitness ability, etc. from these babies. I think most people would choose this too, we are very self-seeking beings by nature. I do think there would be a little reward from living a "in-valid" baby life and knowing 1) I was not modified, and am organic and 2) I am challenged to live my life just as well as others. I would definitely not use someone else's identity. Beyond my own ethical qualms, it feels too unstable and risky.


3) This movie is strongly linked to the ideas of eugenics and discrimination. Eugenics is a psuedo science that attempts to classify superiority and inferiority based on human characteristics. This leads to discrimination by for example believing that black people have a higher pain tolerance which is currently a serious problem in the medical field. The beginning is incredibly thought provoking. Anton narrates that his entire life he has been "inferior" to his brother, a baby who was genetically modified. As such, the movie shows his weaker body by the swim race and his inferior eyes with his glasses. The movie make its best showing of the absurdity of this system when everyone is essentially grouped by the readings from their blood and that determines their job and future. Respect is given when you have certain genetics and not given when you have "inferior" genetics. This is a very scary world because it systematically justifies inequality and structures of oppression within science and government. The language of "Valid" and "In-valid" is also a form of hierarchal violence and inequity within society. It reinforces this new genetic-ism, and dehumanizes those that did not decide to have their genetics changed. I also find it sad that the dad decided to pride over the genetically modified son more than the non modified son. Parents should definitely value both. Also, despite Anton's amazing brain power and dreams, he is unable to achieve his dreams unless he steals someone else's identity. That is unfair and illogical, even with the "scientific" backing. I will add that the movie was splendid to watch, and was highly entertaining.


glass
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

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 to the lengths Vincent did by “using” another person’s identity? And what are the risks of that?


I feel like if humans as a species weren't so greedy and cruel then something like this would be genius is used simply for health benefits, who wouldn't want to solve and cure cancer? The issue is I think we all know that it wouldn't be widely available at first anyway so unless you were loaded it would be waved under ur nose with a laugh, furthering the economic divide between races and monetary groups, and it would reinforce beauty standards and cause mass discrimination. I have no doubt children would be kicked out for being an in-valid and such at a rate 10 times higher than now. People would start trying to modify babies to the point where all the pros are overcome by the cons and we yet again find more ways to further destroy society and our planet. Not to mention the environmental impact that could result from the experimenting, largely on animals too.

I think it would be better for everyone if instead of trying to further our technological advantage in modern society we go back to the roots and fix all the inherent racism and discrimination in our government and societal views. I say this knowing that in this society I would spend literal decades thinking about whether or not I would eugenically alter my child, probably resulting in no children because while I would want to give them the best life they can have I do not believe there is any moral justification to be found in doing so unless for cancer and other life-threatening illness like diabetes and such. I would rather just not contribute to the whole thing and go live in the woods somewhere to think about how messed up it all is.

I personally would not go to the lengths he did simply because I think I am incapable of doing so, but I fully support it and if my child had to do so I would help in any way I could. There are so many risks but I would take the fall for it all if caught and do whatever I could to make sure I was the one punished and my child was simply not allowed to have the fake identities life anymore. I think Vincent's choice was completely valid. I would not want to be altered since I would much rather be natural and not catalog picked out by my parents like a children's toy or house decor.

lil breezy
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Gattaca and the Promise of "Perfect" People

If the world were like the movie, I think overall, the population would be healthier and people would be stronger, but I don’t think that crime rates would go down. In fact, I feel like crime rates would worsen. First of all, there are bound to be many angry “invalid” people in the world, seeking revenge. I even think that the “valid” people would feel jealousy because they aren’t good enough. We see this in the movie, the murderer ended up being the Director, because he threatened the mission, so even crime among the “valids” was present. The entire movie is based around fraud, which the character Vincent, or Jerome commits. Although understandable, it is still a crime, and it is obvious he isn’t the only one who does this, considering there was a specialist for it. So while the crimes may be done in secret, they are still crimes. Overall, it wouldn’t be an ideal society because there would still be intense pressure and discrimination.


If I wanted to live a good life, I would choose to be a modified baby. I think it is the smartest decision, considering that was basically the only way to find success in life. I would hope that I would still have empathy for those who aren't as lucky as me. But I think that as BLS students, we can all agree that even if we were “valid,” we would still feel extremely insecure. I think there would be competition to see who is the “most valid.” We kind of see this in Irene’s character, who has a heart condition. So even though she is considered valid, she still has her share of insecurities. I think that no matter what, there really is no way to win in the world of Gattaca.


If I was a “faith” baby, I don’t think I would do what Vincent did. First off, it seems like a very tiring process, especially because he had to have height surgery. It all looked very exhausting, the constant scrubbing, and testing. I would also definitely not be as careful as Vincent was. He made sure to clean everything off. He was also very clever with how he deceived people. For example, when he had to take off his contacts, he just pretended to wipe his eyes. I was worried when they were drawing blood that he would blow his cover, but he still found a way to trick them (even though the doctor knew all along). I also wouldn’t want to do it because I feel I would be paranoid all of the time. I would be scared and cautious of everyone I spoke to. It just seems like a lot.


I wasn’t really too educated on eugenics before this film, and our Facing discussion was probably the most I had learnt about it. I am pretty sure that the Nazis believed in eugenics, which is pretty crazy, considering this was considered to be scientifically viable for so long. The truth is, it so invalid. We see in the movie that Vincent isn’t given much hope, even from the second he is born, but he is able to deceive everybody. He was smart, which in reality, he shouldn’t have been, considering he is “unfit” for the world. He was also able to outswim his brother, even though he had a heart condition. The movie was definitely trying to comment on the fact that genes don’t define a person. I can definitely see how this connects to discrimination. The world is literally built upon a hierarchy, very similar to the real world. I think it especially relates because people born as “invalids” are set up for failure since birth. Even Vincent’s parents had no faith in him, telling him that he would only ever be good for cleaning. I think it is interesting that they seemed very excited to have a kid, but once they found out he was “invalid,” they had little love for him. This relates to discrimination because people often will see someone’s race, gender, disability, etc, rather than who they are, which is a comment that is frequently made in the film.

enterusernamenow
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Gattaca Discussion & the Issue of Eugenics based Discrimination

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?


After watching the movie, I would prefer to be a “God-baby” or “faith-baby” whose genes would not have been modified. Upon Vincent's birth the doctor printed a report of all the probabilities related to difficulties and health effects he would likely face in his life, as well as saying that he was 99% likely to die at age 31 (I think it was 31, either way it was in the 30s). However, throughout the movie, the genetically modified people prove that their lives are all perfect and pristine as one may imagine. The film also goes to show that human beings, and their human capabilities are completely capable of overcoming their lack of “perfection”. We see this when Vincent races his brother while swimming in the ocean. Although Vincent's brother is the typical winner of these races for most of the brothers' childhood. It is the adversity that compels Vincent to test his limits and eventually come out on top, whereas Vincent's brother's expectation blinds him, making him ignorant of his capabilities and he eventually drowns and loses to Vincent— Twice! Also, Jerome, the genetically modified disabled man is clearly not as perfect as one may imagine. He struggles with depression and feels he lacks a purpose after an incident leaves him just “short of perfection”. The inability to get first and constant second places makes him feel inferior and leaves him believing he cannot live up to his genes' expectation of his perfection. Because Vincent doesn’t have these expectations, he is able to strive and thrive like no other. I believe that that is the beauty of being human. I wouldn’t mind being dealt the “in-valid” and if achieving my dreams meant using someone else's identity, I would be willing. I think Vincent proves that “in-valids” can, although he uses another identity to do so, he paves the way and shows that “in-valids” are “valid”.


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?


I think that seeing the hardships that Vincent and Jerome face in the movie go to highlight discrimination and eugenics. Certain attributes of both men deem them lower, leaving Vincent and “in-valids” to be janitors and hold no higher position, and disabled individuals like “Jerome” to be called “a crippled” and forced to hide and be ashamed of their disability. Even though one needs only intellect in order to work in the higher up scientific jobs Vincent ends up getting, Jerome’s disability leads the security investigator to question why he would have a non-menial job. A lot of people don’t know that Hitler committed genoide against disabled people as well because eugenics like himself falsely believe that certain individuals should neither exist or be able to procreate. Thus, the film raises question about the relationship between society and discrimination on the basis of eugeneics and whether it is logical, ethical, or moral.

purplehibiscus
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

I would rather be a modified baby even though its a little weird it far outweighs the discrimination the in-valids faced. This is eugenics creating what is perceived as the best and weeding out the “bad genes” Genes aren't what define a person its only their chemical makeu it doesn't have anything to do with what they are like as a person. The film mentioned Vincent had ADD and a heart condition along with other things but still beat and then had to save Anton when they were swimming, even though he's seen as genetically inferior. Eugenics is discrimination it takes traits people perceive as negative and try to wipe them out with genetic modification. What people perceive as bad traits are rooted in what we systemically believe as a society whether thats race, physical ability, mental ability, gender etc thats where these issues stem from and we need to fix those in our society in order to grow.

JnjerAle
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Eugenics and Gattaca

If we were able to manipulate a person’s genes as heavily as described in the film, I’m not quite sure if that would actually result in a net positive change for society. Sure, certain changes such as getting rid of a fatal heart condition could help people live longer and maybe even happier lives (though it really just depends on who the condition affects), but getting rid of certain mental conditions such as ADD could very well lead to the discriminatory society shown in Gattaca. Additionally, taking away these types of mental conditions does not guarantee that a child would be perfect. You don’t need a mental condition to steal. Getting rid of these conditions would only work to perpetuate the stereotype that those with mental disorders cannot overcome their struggles on their own in the real world. Also, you don’t need to be genetically perfect to be a strong, healthy human being. Perfection is not a necessary factor in achieving happiness.


If I was in the world of Gattaca, I would 100% want to be born a modified baby. First off, because of their genetic makeup, they are born into the world insanely privileged. If their parents had a faith baby as well, the baby with the “better” genes would most likely be favored between the two. Being a faith baby in the society of this film seems absolutely terrible. You are never given a chance to prove yourself in anything and it seems that no matter what, you will be stuck working a menial job with an undesirable life (unless your dream is to be a janitor, which is a job that seems quite popular for faith babies). Faith babies are also treated terribly by other people even though Vincent’s experience proved that faith babies - if given the chance - can still go very far in life. Taking another person’s identity just to have the chance to achieve my goals. Being a “borrowed ladder” just seems so complicated; living a life plagued by the fear that I could get caught at any moment is not a life I would want to live (he literally has to scrub himself raw every morning just to not get caught). If you were caught doing something so risky, it is likely that you would be jailed for a very long time (which is disheartening considering those that become borrowed ladders just want an equal chance to better their social standing like everyone else). There are also just logistical perks to being a genetically modified baby, such as the fact that they are evidently much more athletic and also are less at risk for life-threatening health conditions (for the most part, at least). However, in addition to these perks, I still think it is important to mention the pressure that genetically modified children have to be perfect, especially if their genes are considered better. It is not enough for them to be second best, and even though I say that I would be a genetically modified baby, I don't know how well I would handle the pressure of always having to be perfect (Jerome is a perfect example of this, with how he's so distressed at getting second place even though he should be "perfect")


This film brings up a very interesting question: what if we allowed eugenics to decide our social standing? Either way, if there is a popular belief that one group is superior to another, there will always be room for discrimination to take place. This film just happens to replace racism with genoism. The idea of certain people being born privileged is also an important theme in the story. Vincent did not choose to be born a faith baby, but you have no choice on who your parents are or what they decide to do before your birth. The idea of eugenics and how certain people are born superior is also largely based on what society believes are superior traits. Vincent was born with many health conditions and was therefore thought to be inferior, but his time at Gattaca showed that he was just as capable as a “valid” person to advance space travel (mentioned at the start of the movie that Vincent rarely ever made errors). The belief that some are born superior just leads to discrimination off on no real concrete evidence (in our society, lots of eugenics arguments involve differing intellectual capabilities, but there isn’t proof that this is in any way related to race). This immediate discrimination from birth gives people no chance to prove themselves to society because they are already seen as inferior.
smeeworg
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 11

If I were living in a society like the one in the movie, I would choose to be a baby whose genes have been modified, and I feel that parents who choose otherwise would be doing the child a disservice. The child would have a harder time doing the same things as everyone else and would be disadvantaged for its entire life just because of one choice they made. If the same choice were given to me in today’s world, I might choose to be a faith baby since I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage, but it’s different being in the movie’s society. Secondly, I think there may be benefits of genetically removing certain things, like susceptibility to cancer, heart disease, etc. I think people could be better able to handle modern day life without these and we would also see lower allocation of resources to these illnesses.


I don’t think I would have the daringness to go the lengths Vincent did, so I would probably just hope I'm “valid”. There were punishments if you an invalid, and the only reason Vincent didn’t get punished was because he had a brother in law enforcement, had the support of the doctor, and made a friend, Irene, who also had genetic defects. However, I understand why Vincent did what he did. He had a fascination with science as a kid, and being told by your own parents that the only way he could only see the inside of a rocket was to clean it must’ve really hurt.


Eugenics and the societal structure in the movie are similar in that they separate people based off of inherited traits, but they differ in that the structure in the movie is actually backed up by science. Although the dystopian society creates a miserable living experience for many people, there is tangible evidence to back up its cause, unlike in eugenics, where “scientists” made up claims that justified the lower position of certain racial groups. I think the movie shows discrimination really well. People being separated based on genotypic differences is pretty much the definition of racial discrimination.


The film brings up the question if discrimination could ever been used in a justifiable context. To be in space, the elite workers needed to be in very good shape and also couldn’t have any risk of heart disease, or else it may place both the mission or the astronauts at risk. This begs the question: under these circumstances, is it ok for their society to discriminate against certain people? I think people who believed eugenics probably wondered the same thing, although they were probably more willing to discriminate.

bubbles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Gattaca

  1. I think that, objectively, it would make sense to eliminate all of these undesirable traits. Society would benefit from not needing to set aside funds to things such as Epipens if allergies were eliminated from the world. However, since we’re all so used to society with these flaws, it’s really weird and difficult for us to picture a society without these flaws, especially since we don’t really consider some of these issues as flaws. However, to discriminate against these peoples for these “traits” that are out of their control, especially the ones that aren’t objectively better, makes no sense. When the parents were deciding to have a second, modified child at the beginning of the film, the doctor told them that he’d have fair skin, so that his life would be easier. This isn’t a genetic fault; it just plays into colorism and racism. If these are the types of “flaws” that we eliminate through genetic modification, then it’s not an improvement at all, it's just plain racism.

  1. If I was born into this society, I’d honestly rather be genetically modified instead of a faith-baby. The genetically modified, or “valid” people reap all the societal benefits, while all the invalids are looked down upon. If I had a choice, why wouldn’t I want an easier life? The invalids are genetically prohibited to move up in society and some, such as Vincent, weren’t even recognized by their own parents because they were a faith child. The thought of living in a household and not even being recognized or loved by your own family because you weren’t genetically modified is sickening that it hurts to think about.

  1. As a faith baby, I would definitely not go to the lengths that Vincent went through. Yes, I would try to better myself and fit into society by being well-mannered and groomed and whatnot, but I definitely wouldn’t do the height surgery or have someone pee in bags for me. I also wouldn’t have the ability to be as careful as Vincent was, and my hair sheds way too easily for me to remain undercover for that long.

  1. I didn’t know much about eugenics, but the parallels between the Valids and eugenics are clear as day, especially with Jerome changing his name to Eugene when Vincent took over his identity. The “truth” that eugenics provided was really just a load of baloney, used to enforce whatever standards society believed in at the time. In the movie, Vincent was way smarter than his brother, and was even able to outswim him numerous times, yet was discriminated against because he wasn’t a Valid child. It was also unfair how they treated Jerome, and the expectations that are set on Valids and how lofty they are. Kids should not be expected to place first and only first, and the way that he was so willing to harm himself for placing second at the Olympics was appalling. Societal expectations should not weigh so heavily on one’s mind, and these beliefs held by the common people are some of the most self-destructive things present in society, even today.
Augustus_Gloop
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Gattaca

I think that altering genetics like this would be a net positive on society as a whole. While I think that there is a case to be made that it would be unfair to the individuals without the genetic altering, I think this argument is overshadowed by the benefits of this system. In a world where one could instantly know what their skills are, it would make optimization in the workforce much easier. Additionally it would probably improve the average well-being of people, as they would have fewer diseases, better mental health, and be all around stronger and healthier. Thus I think that altering genetics would be a good thing.

Personally, I would definitely pick being genetically altered. Right now, in the real world, I sometimes feel I am held back by my genetics, especially in physical sports. However, if I could remove the advantages of my peers, and have the determining factor of skill be one’s work ethic, I think my life could be more rewarding. Additionally, while it would be a nice boost in this world, it seems it would be more like a necessity in the world of Gattaca. If I was a faith-baby, I would certainly be discriminated against and ostracized by upper class society.

If I was in Gattaca, and I wasn’t genetically altered, however, I don’t think I would go as far as Vincent did. As a child, he had one specific goal which he had decided to dedicate his entire life towards. I, on the other hand, do not have a single goal, as I want to simply be a generally happy and satisfied person. Because of this I don’t think that I would risk losing everything and I would definitely “save room to swim back”. On the other hand, if I did have a goal like this, then I probably would go as far as Vincent. If one is able to go as far as to dedicate their life to something, then they can bend the rules a little bit.

Finally the relationship between the plot of Gattaca and the themes of discrimination and eugenics are clear. To start, the entire universe of Gattaca is based on eugenics. Generally, only the best genes are passed down, with the others being lost. However, in Vincent's case, he does not receive such genes. This leads to the extreme discrimination he faces when trying to become an elite at Gattaca. This unfairness permeates his every action as he continually attempts to overcome the obstacles which face him. In the end he is able to overcome this discrimination and go to outer space. The theme of eugenics is shown through selective breeding, and the theme of discrimination is shown through the denial of Vincent's attempts at being an astronaut.

arcoiris18
BOSTON, MA, US
Posts: 10

Gattaca and the Promise of “Perfect” People

I think if I was put into this world I would prefer to be a genetically modified baby because I would want to have an upper hand. Since in their world these types of people are celebrated I would want to be one, and they aren't seen as an abomination to nature, but rather normal. Only if I was put into this world would I feel this way because in real life. I also think it would be easier to be a genetically modified baby because they are given more in life and it is nicer to live an easier life than one where you are seen as valid. I wouldn't want to have my whole life determined by my modified genes. I also think people in general shouldn't have to modify their genes just to get ahead in life. I think being put into the two categories of valid or invalid would get to be if I was in this world because of the constant comparison to people.

Seeing all the work Vincent had to go through to be deemed genetically valid seems like a lot of work that would be very risky. I would rather be genitally modified rather than take someone else's life. He put his all into it, even changing his height to align with Jerome's genes. I don't think could take another person's identity just for my gain, especially with the risks Vincent took knowing he had to do so much to sustain his lie. I wouldn't be able to put all that time and energy into something as dangerous as using another person's identity. Also, I would hate to live a life that wasn't mine, especially since Jerome's genes were valued more than his, so he was constantly reminded he wasn't good enough.

This entire movie shows the privilege of the elite. Also, it shows that we base people on their natural make, and value people who happen to have different make-ups as less than others. This is the definition of discrimination because people don't choose to be born a certain way, and leaving them when they are born solely based on those charities is disgusting. Vincent's urge to work so hard to change who he was just so he could follow his dream of going to space connects eugenics and discrimination. This is because based on certain world standards he isn't genitally made up correctly so he is not allowed into his program. The movie justified eugenics because it is supposed to be stretching the strong people in their world increasing their place in life. Overall the film provides an interesting looking into a more extreme superelastic world that our society isn't too far from.

luminaraunduli
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Gattaca & The Promise of "Perfect" People

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.


This film left me with many thoughts so I'll try to keep this brief and to the point.

If I were alive in a world like that in Gattaca, I would choose to be a modified baby. I would go the strengths that Vincent went through if I was born a faith baby, though it would be FAR easier had I been modified. The risks would be vigorous, and possibly fatal, but what would the other options be. Be a janitor? Watch your dreams slip away from you? I wouldn't. Vincent made his dream a reality in a world pitted against him in every way possible. But he shouldn't have had to. It should not be that way. It is discriminatory in every way, and to the highest degree. The modified babies have more of an advantage: they are more privileged because their traits and genes have literally been morphed and transfigured to conform to that society's perceived "most desirable traits". This isn't natural, and it defeats the definition of what it means to be human. The faith babies are normalcy. But when comparing normalcy in Gattaca to the real world, a correlation can certainly be drawn. Normalcy isn't enough for what society yearns for. The faith babies are human, they babies are unique, they are natural, they are different, they are what humanity is. Natural humanity and natural human traits can't be considered "perfect" because there is no such thing. Humanity is not perfect, and what is perceived to be "most desired" is not what humanity is at its core. By modifying everyone's traits, yes, you can improve quality of life, you can stop disease, etc etc... but in doing so, by modifying the genes as a whole, you unnaturally modify what it actually means to be human. And by modifying what it means to be human, humanity becomes nothing more than a squalor of a seemingly imperfect race. Just something to think about.

ok i pull up
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

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 to 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.


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Before anything, I would like to point out that, unlike most homework assignments I receive, I am actually very fond of this and enjoyed the movie to a surprising extent. Anyways, the be a faith-baby, or not being one is a hard question to answer, because then you would be different from the rest of society, however, the point is to live an easier life. I believe that if I were a modified baby, I would have no incentive to push myself further because I would think that I am the best that I could be already. Given that I was a faith-baby, I would push myself harder and find that there is a lot more possible than what I thought I could do, and exceed not only my own expectations, but the expectations of those around me, just like Vincent did. The risks could include being excluded from society as an outcast and stranger.


At the beginning of the movie, Vincent never gave up hope, and tried his best to succeed, unlike Eugene, who revealed to us in the middle of the plot, that he was entirely sober when he got into the car accident. The modified babies seemed to have more ego than the faith babies, demonstrated clearly by the interaction between Eugene and Vincent in the first part of the movie, where Eugene thought Vincent could never be him. With Eugenics, people are going to have a superiority complex against those who decide to be born by today's standards. The discrimination between those who are and are not is going to be extremely high, simply based on health conditions and IQ, people are going to choose the more abled people, rather than the people who might work harder and even better than those who had the advantage.


I don't think our technology could reach this in a while, however, if it did, there could I imagine be a heated debate about this subject. On one hand, we could improve as a society in a quicker and more efficient way. On the other hand, this would create separation in society and could be reversing our tracks like in segregation, with all due respect. People would try to find people with similar genetics because the "upper class" wouldn't want to mingle with the "lower class". This movie taught an important lesson though, as shown by Vincent and His Brother Anton, it isn't so much about genetics, however, the mindset, which Vincent has proved to show is a tad important. (Sarcasm)

renaissance
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

The issue with genetic modification in the world and Gattaca

Everyone has a different idea of what is “Valid” and what is “Invalid.” The idea that everyone that is healthier and stronger is happier and better for society is just wrong. The world is not meant to be perfect, and humans will never be perfect — no matter how hard we strive to be. Take Jerome, or better known as Eugene in the movie, who placed himself in front of a car out of anger that he came in second place. The elimination of undesirable traits leads to the idea that your goal in life from birth is perfection, which is impossible for a human to achieve.


Health and strength does not equate “less criminal” and “more capable.” In fact, it is often those viewed as the least capable to be the most. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when Eugene uses his arms only up the stairs to avoid Vincent from being caught as a borrowed ladder. Furthermore, it is the Director who ends up being the murderer. The criminal was a Valid. The idea that bodily features define who you are as a person simply does not make any logical sense.


I don’t believe that it would be a positive net for our society. To be realistic, if it were the case today, it is likely the rich who would pay for genetic modification, and the services will trickle down to people. I’m sure that, with a capitalist society like ours, gene editing would have various tiers and add-ons that would be so expensive that the rich would be able to make their child the “perfect” baby while the child of the poor is “imperfect.” Gene editing would result in, as Vincent says, “discrimination down to a science.”


I would choose to be a faith baby. I’ve seen many comments on the discussion board on how much more effort it would take and how Vincent had to take advantage of Jerome, which was a big hassle. To feel like part of this herd of people who were expected to be “perfect” and unable to make mistakes would be too much for me. It would be powerfully rewarding to be able to play the system and to inspire others after me to show that this binary of “Valid” and “Invalid” is a false binary. Everyone hopes to be a Valid, but all Valids perpetuate this system of segregation, hierarchy, and superiority that I simply would not agree with. Vincent beat Anton when swimming out of his own strength and hard work, not out of his DNA helix.


We see themes of segregation, eugenics, and scapegoating here that have a stark parallel to historical and current events in society. For instance, when Anton and the investigator were trying to find the murderer of the previous Director, they looked only to the Invalids based off of an eyelash near the scene. They did not bat an eyelash(!) thinking that the murderer could have been one of the Valids, instead halting work at Gattaca and casting a blood-testing dragnet of the Invalid neighborhood to find out if anyone was a secret Invalid. This reminds me of the scapegoating of communities of color and specifically, the Charles Stuart case that we discussed in class. The police spent all this time ruining people’s lives by accusing them of being a murderer for having the same clothes and skin color, when the answer was directly in front of them.


Furthermore, we see Gattaca in parallel with eugenics in society, where people were advised to choose who they have sex with wisely and to ensure that their child was perfect, strong, tall, and healthy — as if that is the golden standard of society.


This idea that the world has to be perfect and that there are standards for what is perfect — the idea of genetic modification itself — is entirely a Western-centric, elitist, and ableist idea that is perpetuated by capitalism. Everyone, no matter their ability, skin color, class, has the capacity to succeed and to exceed all expectations. Perhaps that is the issue: our world has set standards and expectations upon everyone, to maximize profit and to make the most gain, that these homogenous rules that don’t apply to everyone seem to forgo the gray area. In other words, the world has become chock-full of false binaries — Valid or Invalid, as an extreme instance — with some “exceptions,” when really we should view everyone as valid and capable of achieving what they can in whatever lifespan and whatever body they have.

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