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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.

FlyingCelestialDragon
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

If we were to manipulate certain genes in order to cultivate what are perceived to be good or desirable traits, it would result in a society that is healthier and more ideal to what we would want now. But I’m not sure if it would be a net positive result for society because many people can be against this and cause fights. People would absolutely be healthier and stronger physically. But being less criminal and capable of dealing with challenges of modern life depends on the person.

I would prefer to be a baby whose genes have been modified, because life would be easier for me in that specific society. I would have more opportunities and be treated more respectfully. I would roll the dice and hope I’d be a “valid” as opposed to an “in-valid” because using another person’s identity is really dangerous and since I’m a clumsy person, I would get caught right away. If I was an invalid I would not take the risk, because either way I would get caught such as Vincent in the film.

This film revolves a lot around eugenics. Before birth, your parents can choose if you are naturally born or genetically altered. You don’t have a say in this and you grow up in this position that you didn’t choose to be in. Just like Vincent in the film, Vincent’s parents gave birth to him naturally. Vincent had dreams of going to space but because of his genes, his chances are very slim. But he didn’t choose these genes, he didn’t want to have heart problems, Vincent was basically forced into a role in society for his genes. But because of the naturally born and genetically altered babies, there is a lot of discrimination against the two. The genetically altered babies are treated as superior because they are healthier and stronger than the naturally born. But only because of their genetic advantage, the naturally born are treated as dirt. As seen from the film, the faith babies can only get jobs as cleaners and are treated rudely. Such as the time when the detectives were looking for clues, a cleaner came by and the detective yanked the garbage bag out of their hand and yelled at them because they were taking away the “evidence”. This raises the question: will our society become like this when we start genetically modifying ourselves? Recently, we have been researching ways to genetically modify humans to become a better version of ourselves. Maybe this would get rid of racially discrimination, but we would be faced with genetic discrimination.

the_rose_apple
Posts: 10

Gattaca is an interesting movie that brings up many good point on why genetic modification is good and bad. Vincent is proof of how the "impossible" was possible - a "faith baby" that wasn't supposed to live very long ended up living a full, long life without any of the issues he was told he would have. Likewise, Irene (a "valid" person with a heart condition) had her life planned out for her which prevented her from doing what she had originally wanted to do with her life. Because of her supposed heart condition, she could only make one trip around the sun if she was lucky, even though she wanted to go to other planets and moons, like Vincent.

Genetic modification has its benefits, including a better chance at being healthy and possibly a longer life but even with modifications, everything is still left up to chance. (This can easily been seen by observing Vincent - a faith baby - and Anton - a modified baby - and the competitions they had with one another.) Plants/food crops are another organism that has been genetically modified. When food was in short supply, scientists genetically modified crops to produce much more food which fed many during a famine. But this modification (although I don't have specific scientific evidence to prove it) has been linked with the rise in diseases and poor health.

Personally, I would prefer to be a "faith baby" because although I could be healthier (in theory), I would prefer to leave my health up to chance and life a full life, not a modified full life. Either way (modified or not), my health and well-being would be left up to chance considered that genetic modification, like most things, is far from perfect.

Discrimination is always wrong and unfortunately many types discrimination exists today. The most popular is racial discrimination, but finding out the "most favorable" genes and changing our genome, aka what makes us us, to those "more favorable" ones would lead to intense competition between genes and those who possess them. Once we found the "most favorable" genes and their owners, the system of "valids" and "in-valids" (or de-gene-rates as they were called) would be put in place, changing the way people perceive themselves and others in society. It would make the "valids" become more prominent people within that society and the "in-valids" more likely to become lower-class members of society - like in the movie where they were forced to be janitorial staff and not astronauts. The intense competition in the search for the "right" genes would lead to the exclusion of many people for not having the genes and would make many think of them as being "less than" the "valids" because of their genes, which they had no control over choosing and would be left up to chance.
sapyazo
US
Posts: 8

Gene Editing or Modern-Day Eugenics?

The main issue I’d like to highlight before discussing Gattaca and eugenics is the deceptive language surrounding such things. I want to make it clear that humans have essentially been doing the same thing eugenics proposes to engage in with humans with plants and animals for thousands of years. This process is referred to as domestication: breed out the traits which don’t benefit humans, and strengthen those which do. Now, is eugenics a very different moral question? Different people may have different opinions, but for the sake of this argument, yes, it is. However, in the last few decades, a different set of terms has emerged with the advent of gene editing and CRISPR, a tool which is basically used for replacing specific nucleotides. This can literally be used to change a person’s genome, and could practically be utilized to shape a child’s genes before birth as well. Let me reiterate here- this is typically not referred to as eugenics in public discourse. CRISPR could literally be exactly the sort of tool eugenicists always wanted- and it’s here. It’s usable. In 2019, He Jiankui and two others misled doctors into implanting gene-edited embryos into two women, and the babies were born successfully. While little is known about the children now, this case demonstrates that, essentially, the society of Gattaca could develop at any point if a country were to implement the technology and allow it by law (the only thing that kept He from continuing his research). He has argued that gene-editing tools could be used to positive effect to eliminate harmful genetic diseases, as have many other scientists. Whether they are correct or not is up for debate, but I’d argue that yes, gene-editing has many positive applications, but arguably just as many negative ones. The world of Gattaca is not a utopia, that much is clear, and genetic discrimination is terrible, but the most worrying thing is that there are situations worse than Gattaca. Imagine a world in which gene-editing is so expensive that only the very rich can afford it, allowing themselves to alter their bodies until they have unlimited life spans or superhuman physical or mental capabilities, leaving the 99% of society to be slaves. The key issue with gene editing is that there needs to be a limit to its use- medical usage is fine, but eugenics is not- and who’s going to establish and maintain that line? The government? My bet is on probably no one. So there is a very, very good argument for simply not touching gene-editing at all.


Gattaca is, in my opinion, more of what I just described than traditional eugenics, which is essentially the idea that preventing certain people from having children will lead to a better and more ‘pure’ world. That’s scary, since, as I just explained, a gene-editing-determined world is closer than many expect. If we were to live in such a world, I would 100% want to be a ‘valid’ as they put it in Gattaca, because, as FlyingCelestialDragon iterated in their post, who wants to be discriminated against? Life would be leagues easier in such a world if I could simply choose a career path and then go down it with no resistance.


My final point, however, to tie up my rambling, has got to be that we’re already basically Gattaca. No, designer babies aren’t a thing yet, but discrimination is. Whether it’s by biological sex, melanin levels, orientation, or blood type, societies around the world have always discriminated, and (in my view) Gattaca makes the argument that if one were possibly eliminated, we as humans would find another way, or maybe just implement both into institutions. People already draw a lottery ticket when they’re born, so why provide another way to do so?


Sources:

https://www.science.org/content/article/chinese-sc...

SillyGoblinMan178
Brighton, MA, US
Posts: 10

If we lived in a world where we could manipulate every genetic detail before birth, then I think we would see a massive decrease in the number of harmful diseases that afflict people. However, it would not necessarily make the world less criminal or capable of dealing with modern societal issues. If I was alive in such a world, I have to admit I would prefer to have my genes modified. I am forced to deal with so many medical and mental issues daily, so getting the opportunity for a normal and successful life is extremely appealing to me. If I were a faith baby, then I would not be able to go through with what Vincent had to do, even if the person whose identity I was stealing was okay with it.The immense physical pain of adding height to myself, as well as the constant stress of being found out for who I am is not something I would be able to handle. A common justification for eugenics is that it will lead to the eradication of all harmful conditions humans can face, which is something that occurs in the world of Gattaca. However, the practice of eugenics can easily lead to discrimination. The society depicted in Gattaca discriminates against those born through "traditional" childbirth (now called "faith babies"), who, despite the legal presidents against discrimination based off genes, can only achieve low paying labor jobs due to their genetics.

Martha $tewart
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The Promise of "Perfect" People

I agree that people would be healthier in a world controlled by genetic engineering, but in my opinion there are things that you can’t control with science. A person's personality and their likelihood to do certain things with their life could be guessed by looking at the genes of their parents, but humans have free will. Someone who is told at birth that they are genetically more likely to become a doctor could easily decide to become a cook, likewise someone who is told they won't ever be as strong as someone else might just work harder than the other person and achieve it, like Vincent. In the Gattaca world I would definitely not want to be a “faith baby”. In our world, yes, but in that one I would have so many less opportunities. If there could be a combo world where health is modified but people are not designed to have certain tendencies, then I would be ok with being a science baby.


For me, this film raises the questions of: Does eliminating “weaker” genes remove whole groups of people or target a group? What can be considered inferior? What happens to the people who aren’t “perfect”? If some people are given perfect genes or not based on if their parents can afford it, are they getting better opportunities in life?


Vincent will do anything, including risking drowning, to prove that he is better than his brother. He scrubs himself raw to get rid of DNA evidence, wears fake blood and urine pouches, and gets his legs painfully stretched to take on a new identity. This reminds me of the stories we watched in the Dawnland film where the Native American children would scrub themselves or sit in bleach to try to make their skin seem more American. However, being genetically perfect doesn’t stop Jerome from becoming paralyzed and being shunned by his world. Everyone has to live in fear that they aren’t perfect enough, it doesn't matter whether they were made or manufactured. Vincent is always afraid that they will find his eyelash or if he can kiss Irene without risk of her getting his DNA sampled. Though all of the genetically manufactured people are in great health, everyone seems the same at Gattaca, they all have bland appearances and personalities. If we were all the same skin color with the same history, same strengths, and same weaknesses, we would all be the same person. Sure health can be passed down based on genes but personality and creativity are developed on your own. The whole movie lacks color and is mainly gray or a hazy orange, giving it a very dull and sad feeling and highlighting that the world is not a utopia. The movie also shows how Vincent and Jerome are polar opposites yet they get along and have the same goals. People only recognize Vincent’s genius after he takes on the identity of Jerome. Eugenics is built off of the same ideas as Gattaca, but with some racism mixed in. If eugenics became widely accepted and our society started to look like the one in Gattaca, I feel like it would be less about health and more about race and wealth. Those who owned the genetic technology would get to choose what was seen as a perfect baby, it would always be political.

Snailaligator
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

I believe that manipulating genetics to some extent could be beneficial to the human species but once a hierarchy can take shape within who gets to be genetically modified and to what extremity, then a big problem arises. Additionally, being able to genetically modify humans so that they will be less likely to die from disease, increasing the average life span, may have much more detrimental effects in the future. Stronger and healthier humans will in turn add much more to the population, and the Earth is only resourceful for so many of us.


Whether I’d want to be a “faith baby” or a baby whose genes have been modified is a challenging question to answer with many factors that would alter my response. Firstly, it would depend on whether I believed the process was ethical. In the movie it is not very clear how accessible gene altering is to everyone and whether certain people are discriminated against to alter their genes in the first place. I think that if the process was exclusive to a small elite group of people in the world but was not equally given to all people, I would feel some moral obligation to go against it. If I believed it was ethical, I think that I would prefer to have genetic modifications that would reduce risk of certain diseases that I could develop in the future, or modifications that made me healthier in general, but I would be opposed to alterations of my appearance to fit a societal standard. I do not think that I would be willing to go the lengths that Vincent went. I respect why he chose to use another person’s identity, but I think that I would be too overwhelmed and the risks would not be worth it for me.


A big question that came up for me while I was watching the movie was whether genetic modification really leads to a better life. Can we truly make that judgment? If there were two identical people and their only difference was that one was more likely to die of a genetic disease, could we say who has the higher chance of a more desirable life? I would argue that we could not do that. I think that the movie makes it clear by juxtaposing Jerome’s expectation of perfection and him coming in 2nd place with when Vincent said that he was able to keep swimming longer because he did not save energy for the swim back. In some ways, the genes that were seen as inferior to society that Vincent had, were the very genes that fueled his determination to prove that he was just as capable. I therefore think that eugenics is more of a normalization of discrimination that just has more “concrete” science as a justification. It is discrimination that is just masked in a different way, but we already have these same practices all around us, they just have different labels.

palmtreepuppy
Posts: 7

The Promise of “Perfect” People: Reproductive Technologies, Genetic Engineering and Questions of Right and Wrong

No, there would be no positive result for society if we were able to filter out the bad nuts of society. In the movie we saw that with the right skills, technology and luck those who were seen as “in-valid” became the elite of the elite in the filtered society. No, this also doesn't make people more equipped to handle the issues in life because regardless if a person has a better life expectancy or better build, that doesn’t make someone better at dealing with real world problems. Additionally, being trained to be a certain way can cause people to not be able to think outside of the box which can not help to fix some of those problems in life that are inevitable.


I think that if I were a parent in that society I would have peace in knowing that my baby is “perfect” and has nothing “wrong” with them but I also think knowing exactly what is going to happen with the child and everything that goes right and wrong in their life takes away from the fun and chance in life. I think that being able to know that I would have a healthy child would be the priority, not knowing that they would be someone who was changed to be like everyone else. Personally I would take the risk of being “valid” or “in-valid” because as I previously stated, I think that having your life predetermined from the moment it started ruins the fun and chance that comes with life. I also think that going to the lengths that Vincent did to become Egunene makes a person lose themselves and in this case we saw both men lose themselves in this lie and only one person made it out while hurting others. Not only did they run the risk of breaking the very thing that was keeping their society together but they did at such a caliber that there was no individuality.


This film really highlights discrimination by showing that with just a drop of blood a person can be denied out of a life and by a urine sample they can be given one. It also touches on how the people at the bottom will always and only be viewed as lower. In addition to being seen as only the bottom but people also don’t think they are smart. This can be seen when they say that there is no way that an in-valid, Vincent, would be smart enough to pull off being another person when in actuality, he was. Similarly to discrimination, this film raises questions about eugenics because it was “planned breading”, which is was the gene altered children really were. Additionally, it shows how people were both scientifically bred and separated. The two things, eugenics and discrimination, together in a way that is tangible and subtle enough to be somewhat believable to those who arn’t necessarily looking for the eugenics in this film.

autumnpeaches
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Gattaca and the Promise of "Perfect" People

If I’m to be completely honest, I would rather be a genetically modified baby. In Gattaca, no matter how smart you are or how hard you work, if you’re an “Invalid”, then no one will hire you. On the contrary, if you’re a “Valid”, you’re basically set for life. In the movie, Vincent went in for a job interview after getting Jerome’s genes and the interview was just them seeing if he’s a Valid or Invalid, and how “perfect” of a Valid he is. No other questions were asked. The lives of Invalids are significantly harder than Valids, and I don’t think I’m half as hardworking or half as smart as Vincent is, so I’ll just rather be a genetically modified baby. #SetForLife. Just kidding, when we’re talking about being the perfect Valid, we also have to look at Jerome. He was, what everyone called, “perfect”. He was tall, smart, handsome, athletic, strong, need I say more? Yet, he still wasn’t happy with his success. He was depressed and suicidal because if he was so perfect as everyone says, then why did he get second place? Jerome felt as if he wasn’t good enough even though he was a Valid. Him and Vincent are two ends of the extremes, yet somehow they are so similar to each other.

Of course, it doesn’t just boil down to being “perfect”. Every parent wants their child to be healthy, but how does one define “healthy” in the first place? For some people it means no disabilities, for others it means being athletically fit, and some don’t care about the appearance of their child as long as all their organs work normally. That’s why “Eugenics” becomes such a big problem. If every child is perfect, then the children who are “imperfect” will essentially be ostracized. People will only look at the “Perfects” and disregard the “Imperfections”. They will try to prevent those “imperfect people” from having kids to erase them completely. Eugenics still exist today, albeit a little more obscure. I mean go ask Iceland why they have almost no cases of Down Syndrome (hint, they abort all fetuses that test 100% positive). I’ve even heard some people (online) say that ugly people shouldn’t have kids because their kids will come out ugly and they’ll suffer for the rest of their lives for being ugly (which is crazy).

But science is never 100% correct. Vincent’s parents were convinced that they had outlived him, his brother was convinced that he could never go to the sky, and even Vincent himself at one point was convinced he’ll never be able to make it. But look at him. He had a 99% chance of having heart problems, yet he was a part of that 1%. He also beat his genetically perfect brother twice during their game of Chicken. Real life is not the same as a movie, but miracles do happen. A 75% chance of getting a disability doesn’t mean there’s no 25% chance of not getting a disability. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble.

johndoe
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

If I was alive in such a world I would prefer to be a baby with modified genes. I think that it would allow me to fit in with almost every other child, and that it would be a relative benefit to my every day life. I understand that that is not how the natural order of the world works, but in a world where basically everyone is genetically modified, it would be a disadvantage to be "normal". I would go to the end of the earth in order to be "valid" in this world. It isn't about being "valid" per se, rather than the risks of being "in-valid".

One connection to eugenics that I can make is China forcing athletes to have sexual relations with each other in order to create a superior human. A specific example of this is Yao Ming, a former NBA player. His parents were two of the best athletes in their respective sports, were forced into having a child, then Yao was forced into playing basketball because of his height, and he eventually accomplished the goal of the Chinese government and made it to the NBA. A connection to discrimination I can make is ableism. "Genetically superior" babies, or babies who's genes have been chosen are more able to adapt and manage their lives in this world than people who are "faith babies". I feel that it is kind of like ableism because disabled people get discriminated against for not being what society deems as normal, when in fact they are functioning human beings who do not deserve to get treated sub humanly.

sand
Posts: 10

Manipulating/giving preference to certain genes to cultivate what are perceived to be good or desirable traits and to eliminate undesirable traits, seems like it would be a positive thing for society, but it completely ignores who/what is determining what those desirable traits are. Sure people might be healthier and more capable of dealing with the challenges of modern life, but in order to move forward we can't ignore the teachings of the past. Atrocities have been committed in the name of "bettering" mankind, all of which have stemmed from very bigoted ideals. What we may agree are "good" traits today are absolutely not the same as the "good" traits of 100 years ago, and who's to say they'll remain the same for 100 years to come? It's a very slippery slope that I think we need to approach with caution, because not all that glitters is gold.

That being said, if I was alive in a world like that of the movie Gattaca, I would prefer to be a valid. In that world your future is already predetermined for you the second you are born. Nothing- even your job- is left to chance to begin with, so why take the risk of not being allowed to do something you have your heart set on by essentially tempting fate? Would I be willing to go the lengths Vincent did? Absolutely. Would I actually be able to pull it off and not get caught? Absolutely not. In a world that has already pushed me down the ladder so much, I don't see what punishment I could be given that would be enough of a deterrent. Vincent and Jerome's punishments were their own. If they wanted to keep up the façade a bit longer, they theoretically could. Despite becoming different people, neither "Jerome" nor Eugene were able to control their lives, but they were finally able to take control over their respective deaths.

While I do think the film was unrealistic in terms of plot, I think the questions and themes echoed throughout were very real. It shows the difference in treatment in the outside world, as well as within the home. Vincent and Anton are constantly pit against each other throughout their childhood, and Vincent's parents almost seem to resent him for something that was their choice, not his. I feel like a big aspect in how the film justified discrimination was through loopholes- which are also very prominent in wholesale discrimination in our world. In Gattaca, everyone had the opportunity to genetically modify their kids, but that still doesn't mean every modified kid turned out the same. The movie also ignores intersectionality, and how race, gender, sexuality, etc. would play roles in determining the "ideal" person. Overall, Gattaca does a decent job at poking holes in arguments justifying eugenics, but it only starts the conversation; the rest is left to us to continue.

fucia_diascia1536
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 7

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

If I was alive in such a world, I would rather have a baby whose genes had been modified because a "faith baby" has a very high chance of having some sort of disease that would cause them to be invalid. When a baby is a "faith baby" and they have any diseases or a chance of having a disease, they are seen as that disease, but with genetically modified babies, they are seen as perfect, and better than the invalids. When Vincent was born, his parents were going to name him Anton, after his father, but when they were told what his chance of disease was, his father didn't want Vincent to be named after him because he would be deemed "invalid" and wouldn't live up to his father's expectations. When Vincent was first trying to get a job, they got some of his DNA, tested it and when it came back invalid, he was rejected. It didn't matter how high someone's IQ is, all that matters is how perfect their blood is. I would roll the dice and hope that I am "valid" because faking your identity seems like a lot of work, and I would have to be aware of everything going on around me every second. Vincent became Gerome so that he could live out his dreams and be who he always wanted to be, but he had to live that through someone else's body. The risks of this is that if Vincent was caught, he could get into serious trouble and probably have to give up his life as Gerome and as Vincent.

The relationship between eugenics and discrimination is that people used to try and make the "perfect population" by producing babies with no abnormalities. In the movie, people are categorized by their genes, and when getting a job, their resume doesn't matter, their real resume is in their cells and blood. Also in the movie, discrimination was no longer about skin color or gender, even though most of the "valid" people that were shown were white men, it was about science. Vincent proved that it didn't matter about the idea of "valid" or "invalid" when it came to best fit for a position, because he was deemed invalid, but was one of the best workers at his job. Vincent also proved this when competing against his brother while swimming, and his brother had almost drowned twice and Vincent saved him.

Bolt
Posts: 8

The promise of "perfect" people

I think that eugenics is especially interesting to discuss because, at least to me, the reasoning behind it makes sense. If we have the ability to make sure that people are born healthy and "normal" then why wouldn't we use that ability? There are plenty of people who were born with genetic diseases that cause them to constantly be in pain, or to be in and out of the hospital, so on some level it would make sense to prevent babies from being born with those kinds of differences that are going to cause them to have difficult lives or be in pain. However, it is not as simple as just preventing suffering. One of the biggest questions, is how far do you go? If you are going to fix problems that cause pain and suffering, you might as well change other impurities too, so how do you know how far is too far? Or can you go too far? I think this is the point in which we turn back to the issues in our society, because who is perfect? To me in this sense, perfect is who society is built for, and those are the kinds of people who would be "built" by these genetic processes. It also brings up the issue of how the people who aren't "perfect" are treated, like we saw in the movie. There was a part where Vincent was saying something about how in this society, people reduce the "imperfect" people down to their imperfections. I think this statement is very accurate to what occurs in the movie, what I think would happen in real life, and what already does happen in the real world. Vincent is not allowed the same opportunities because he was conceived naturally, and mostly because he has heart issues and is not predicted to live very long because of them. But in some ways, it kind of makes sense why he would not be as valued as other members of society, especially at Gattaca, because he carries more risk and may not be there to contribute for as long. However, I don't think that makes his time or impact there less significant. There is also only so much that is determined by genetics. Like Anton, who is "perfect", could have died the day that he swam out into the ocean with Vincent when they were young. Or Jerome, who was paralyzed, but is still considered "perfect". If Jerome had had a genetic condition however, that caused him to not be able to use his legs, he would not have been "perfect" and would most likely never have been born. In addition, being "perfect" does not necessarily guarantee you a better life. Jerome was considered "perfect" and still ended up committing suicide while Vincent got to live out his dream while being a degenerate.
Sharka
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

GATTACA and Eugenics/Discrimination


I think that the ability to cultivate “good” genes would be a terrible thing. In the movie GATTACA, they portray how this would be terrible. Vincent Freeman is barred from pursuing his dreams because he is considered “genetically inferior”, as he was a “faith baby” and underwent a natural birth with no genetic modification. It’s not enough that discrimination based on genetics has become illegal, because the “good” jobs use genotype testing to ensure they only employ “good” people, whereas the rest are left to the menial labor and low income occupations. On top of this, genetic modification is portrayed as a bad thing as opposed to natural birth; Jerome Morrow explains that he threw himself in front of a car because he was expected to be perfect as a result of his genetics. He won second place in the Olympics, causing him to have an existential crisis: if he is scientifically made to be perfect, how could he possibly not be?. Overall, it would be a terrible reality to live in, and not a net positive for society.


People would not necessarily be healthier or stronger. One of the reasons that Vincent is discriminated against is the fact that his heart condition predicted a shorter lifespan. However, young and healthy people die all the time. Accidents, disease, murder, and much more are always threats, even to the most able people on the planet. On that note, non-lethal but debilitating accidents happen all the time. Jerome is handicapped, but genetically perfect, because he was in a motor accident. On the other hand, some people are portrayed to be genetically Valid but still have a capacity for disability, such as Irene with her heart condition. Even aside from accidents or surprise conditions, there are two scenes where Vincent saves Anton from drowning— despite the fact that Anton is “genetically superior”. Beyond the fact that genetic modification of human beings would not be effective in terms of ability or strength, there is no evidence that it would help people be less criminal or more capable of dealing with the challenges of modern life. First of all, criminality is not determined biologically. There is no correlation between genetics and criminality. Nobody is inherently criminal due to their genetics. Criminality is a moral failure, or an act of desperation, and therefore access to “good genes” would not eradicate or even slow it. Second of all, the challenges of modern life are things that can be faced by anyone regardless of genetics. In the movie, Vincent makes it to space. He exceeds society’s expectation of him, he gets a dream job and achieves his greatest desire. He does all of this as someone who is “genetically inferior”. The only things that hold him back in this process are genetic discrimination. In summary, genetic modification would not improve the human experience. It would only drive us apart.

If I were alive in the world of GATTACA, I would rather be a “faith baby”. I know that my life would be harder, that I would face discrimination, and that I would suffer for it. However, I also can recognize that in the world we live in, I also am subject to discrimination and struggle. I am disabled, and the world is difficult to access. As a wheelchair user, I have been left on the top floor of a burning building. I have had to crawl my way up and down stairs in crutches or in a boot. I have had to forsake surgery in consideration of my family’s financial situation. If I were to be born again, I would hope to be an “invalid” just as I exist today, in this world. I would not want to give up or erase any part of myself just to be accepted in a world that refuses to accept me, or people like me, or people who have it worse. However, I don’t think that I would go to the lengths Vincent did in the film. The primary reason is that I have never been as ambitious as him, and I am content living on enough money to sustain myself and help out my family. I don’t think that I would ever go to space, or work for Google, or work some office job pulling in 6 figures a year. I will be glad if I end up in a situation like that, but I am also realistic enough to acknowledge that it's something I don’t want too badly, and that it is very unlikely I will find myself in that situation. On top of that, in the world of GATTACA, it would be very risky. I don’t think I would risk prison and the consequences of breaking the law for any job, but that’s just me.


I think that the film has a very clear cut connection to the topics of eugenics and discrimination. The film is about discrimination based on who is considered “genetically superior” versus “genetically inferior”. Eugenics is the belief that some people are genetically superior, or more evolved, and therefore are better than everyone else. This has been largely applied through white supremacy, where the Aryan race of blonde blue-eyed people are more evolved than people of color and Jewish people, and therefore racial and ethnic minorities are closer in proximity to animals than human beings. It has also been applied through ableism, where disabled people are forced into sterilization, so that they may never reproduce and bring more disabled people into the world, or have been historically “euthanized” so that they would be “put out of their misery”. Regardless of how it is applied, eugenics has always meant violence and even death against different minority groups. On that note, discrimination is the unjust treatment founded on someone’s identity. This exists in the film through genetic discrimination, but I think genetic discrimination goes hand in hand with racial and disabled discrimination. After all, whose genes are “good”? Whose genes are “bad”? In GATTACA, they take more of a disabled route, with those that have chronic illnesses, disabilities, or disorders all being treated as genetically inferior, impure, and invalid. In the real world, the “genetically inferior” have been Black people, Asian people, Latine people, Indigenous people, disabled people, Jewish people, Romani people, etc. Every single one of these groups has had violence against them justified with “They are inferior.” The Nazis considered these groups less than human, and less than animals. Under white supremacist and ableist institutions, all of these groups face discrimination based in genetics. This is why the film raises questions echoing justification for discrimination and eugenics. It is because one must debate whether or not GATTACA is a dystopia or a utopia, and the conversations surrounding that fundamental question are really answering how they feel about discrimination rooted in eugenics.

green64
BOSTON, MA, US
Posts: 8

The film was very interesting, from my perspective it was a more classical movie storyline that uses this utopia as a catalyst to attempt to get a message across. But the way they depicted the valid as first-class citizens and invalid's as grime of the earth was really thought-provoking leading you to question what you would have done or if society will truly go down this path. If we did start requiring gene editing the world would either be much healthier, safer, and advanced, or the complete opposite would happen where people in power would create a "super race" that would be built to follow orders leading to a bunch of slaves being ruled by a singular group and the world would extend into chaos. The result of either one of these outcomes would still be incredible discrimination most likely there will be a group such as the invalids that are forced to work bad jobs and there will be a preference towards certain regions and races.

I would prefer to be a faith baby if there wasn't any preference set in law but since there is, I would be modified because it would allow me so many more opportunities that I otherwise wouldn't get. I wouldn't roll the dice to see if I'd be a valid or invalid. I would go to the lengths that Vincent did in order to have hope of success because the risk of living in the slums would be too much for me. You could get caught leading to potential imprisonment as well as damage all the bonds you've made as your alter ego.

There are comparisons to be made to the nazis and the Gattaca. Such as when the parents originally took Vincent to the daycare and they turned him away because he was too much of a risk similar to how the Germans shunned away Jews. Both governments and scientists view themselves as superior, such as in the discussion the director had with the detective stated that no exceeds their potential the nazis held very similar beliefs about people of other races and their genetic inferiority. This is proven wrong when Vincent states that he is 10,000 beats over death. In both Eugenics philosophy and the film, the governments attempt to quantify the intangibles by discriminating against certain groups leading to years of potential for the human race to improve, going to waste.


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