posts 16 - 23 of 23
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

The Promise of "Perfect" people: Reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and questions right and wrong

If we ever existed in a world similar to that in Gattaca we may be able to manipulate the genes to make society function more productively and work better as a society. Some people may be able to lift heavy things and do everything perfectly, but I believe that it takes out all the fun in being alive. Because after you do that you are no longer yourself, but were forced to become someone you're not, and I believe that if this happened the world would be very boring. However, even if I was in the movie, and wanted to get my genes altered, yes I would be healthier and have an easier life, but at the same time that life isn't something I would necessarily want because I would want to be different, and it has occurred to me in the past that I would hate to have a twin, and if this was a similar experience to that I would hate it because I would want to be my own person not altered to fit society, but someone different. Plus even if I don't want to be different I would still need to figure out what you need to get your genes altered because they didn't specifically mention what you had to go through to get the modification, and it wasn't even a 100% rate of working so I wouldn't know if I would want to risk it in the first place. Eugenics is a big topic in Gattaca, and the people who aren't genetically modified are treated, however, a lot of the modified people are just the same in terms of strength, and health but I would want to be different, and not be the same as those around me even if I end up having heart problems like Vincent. If people were searching for the right genes in our society today it would lead to discrimination among the masses, and it wouldn't end up well because the people would be looking down on others, and it would cause huge problems in our society if we already had multiple wars over the color of our skin we could have more wars due to the modifying of genes in the future.

East Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

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

The world would be a better place if it was based on genetic engineering but how far can that really get you, as one grows up their environment and community affects their personality as they grow up which is something beyond one's control.

Honestly, I would like to be the baby whose genes have been modified because I would be more fit in society, and this would also allow me to have a bright future ahead of me. I would rather be a "valid" than an "in-valid" because I do not want to have a better future for myself. Vincent in the movie a faith baby had to go through so many challenges and stress just to not be found out for who he was.

Eugenics comes up a lot during the film because your parents choose whether you are naturally born or genetically altered which is crazy. Vincent though was born naturally but when he got older he had dreams of going to space, but only because of his genes he was at a disadvantage to the others who were genetically altered. In the movie, a baby that was genetically altered would have a more positive fate than a naturally born baby because they are healthier. The Eugenics also ties into the discrimination which was againts the people that were naturallly borned which is unfair because it is not their choice and it's like their parents picked their faith for them on the day they were born. I wonder if we start using this what percentage of people would do this? Would this get rid of racism in the society?

Steely Gibbs
Posts: 23

I really enjoyed Gattaca and its approach to the idea of being genetically perfect. I also really liked the duality that it explored with the "valid" vs. the "invalid". Genetically modifying people can only get society so far, as seen in the movie. Even Vincent was stronger than Anton, despite being at a disadvantage genetically. Vincent out-swam Anton twice, so it isn't a fluke. For this, I believe that manipulating genes doesn't help society. If anything, it creates even more separation and discrimination.

If I was alive in a world were genetic modification was at this advanced, I would prefer to be a baby that is modified. I think that it would end up being more beneficial in the long run. If I had to, I would roll the dice and hope to be a "valid". No part of me would willingly want to face the reality that an "invalid" faced throughout the film. I wouldn't be willing to take on someone else's identity because I feel as if I would be biting off more than I could chew. The risk to reward just isn't there for me. Even the slightest things like losing contact lenses could lead to my demise. There's barely any room for error and I don't think that I would be able to maintain that status quo. The risks of using someone else's identity at the very least is paranoia. At most it could be being stuck in the dead end job for life, or jail, or death. I also wouldn't want to keep up with the routine Vincent and Eugene had.

It relates to eugenics by being a step ahead and trying to achieve a "genetic overclass". There seems to be a lack of morals that takes place both within eugenics and modifying genetics in the film. It also relates to discrimination by separating people based on their validity. Questions in the film relate to the overall justification of eugenics because the end goal is making a world full of perfect people. This isn't moral nor fair, not only because it turns into weeding out people that don't fit the mold, but because some parents may not want to take that route and would rather leave it up to chance. Eugenics reinforces prejudice and in history, was justified by saying that healthy, wealthy Whites were the peak of the human race.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 26

The Imperfections of a Perfect Human

Sure picking and choosing the most desirable genes would have an immediate effect on improving the status of each human, however as director Yosef described at the beginning the credentials for which people are recruited, are constantly changing. If we as a society continue to pursue perfection, then we will put ourselves into an unimaginable chokehold that will prevent us from improving as a society. I also personally think that no human is perfect and even with all the genetic modifications that can be made, there is sure to be an equal drawback, whether it be an underlying brain condition that is obtained as a result of certain injections, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction"- Isaac Newton. Overall it seems fair to say that people will not be more capable of dealing with everyday challenges as their time and energy may become more focused on striving to be more perfect than the person next to them. Inevitably creating an egotistical society.

I would prefer to be a modified baby just based on the climate in which I am living. What I mean by climate is that faith babies will have more access to jobs when they are older and will be more likely to become economically successful. Although it doesn't completely rule out the chance of illness, being born as a modified baby makes me genetically stronger and more fit than I would be if i was a faith baby. I would not like to roll the dice and be born as a faith baby just because of the potential trauma that it could put my family into as a result. In context with the movie, Vincent and his parents constantly were worried about the smallest of injuries and fractures as they knew his days were numbered and he had many underlying health conditions. I also saw the emotional trauma that it put Vincent through and although fictional, the scenario felt very real as there could very well be a world in which I or anyone dies of the most preventable diseases. In the end, if I did have a condition as a result of taking the risk and becoming an invalid baby, I would not go to the lengths to which Vincent did as I would most likely be hopeless and counting the days until my death. Impersonation is a big risk because, in the context of this society, it most likely would result in jail time. When your days are numbered, it is not worth the risk to die in a jail cell.

After watching the film I have begun to corroborate the theory that Natural selection is all around us, whether it be in animals, or in humans, this is always used to push a narrative that one group is superior to the other. Just look at how Vincent's father favored Anton at the beginning of the movie. Because Anton was genetically modified, their father already had a predetermined idea that this child would be fit enough to carry out the name of the. Something as simple as that clearly upset Vincent as a child and caused him to feel insecure about himself, like I had mentioned in the first paragraph, these insecurities are clearly prevalent in family dynamics. The insecurities Vincent dealt with further drive the idea that discrimination went beyond race and drove much deeper into the relationship between the family. The film is able to question the idea of Eugenics and discrimination by questioning the validity of the DNA checks that are done by their scientists and computer systems. If a man like Vincent was truly unfit, how was he not able to make it into the space program and become one of the top members of his group? These are questions that I cannot answer nor do I think anyone can answer. Then again, this movie is made up and it could very well be unrealistic. However, I do think it is important to recognize again how much worse genetic discrimination is than racial discrimination, as genetic discrimination will most likely separate the home.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 23

Reproductive Technologies and the Questions of Right and Wrong

Even more so than when Gattaca was released in 1997, the question of whether prenatal genetic modification should be allowed is an ethical dilemma that we are currently struggling with, and need to find a solution to soon. The ability to edit genetic information is now very easily accessible through CRISPR technology. Last year in my AP Biology class, quite literally down the hall from our Facing classroom, my classmates and I used this process to combine genetic code from bioluminescent jellyfish with that of yeast to create bacteria that would glow in the dark. Afterwards, we had a similar discussion about the growing field of bioethics, which is trying to wrestle with the types of moral problems surrounding our rapidly growing knowledge of gene editing.

In January of 2019, He Jiankui, a researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, was fired due to the controversy surrounding his research that led to the birth of twin girls, who had been genetically edited in the embryonic stage to reduce their risk of catching HIV. While people have already undergone gene-based treatments to treat genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia, the main difference in this procedure was that it affected the girls’ germline cells (which can pass on their genetic code to any children they might have), instead of somatic cells (which comprise everyone’s body mass and are not heritable). The other most important difference was that this treatment took place in the womb, far before they could consent to their genes being edited.

In my eyes, this problem of consent is what the ethical dilemma hinges on. While anyone should be at their own liberty to undertake treatments, genetic or otherwise, on their own bodies, they should not be able to make that decision for future generations. From my perspective, the question of gene editing is a very slippery slope. Picking and choosing what genes are “undesirable” seems like it would create a situation that could quickly spin out of control, and lead to the type of discrimination that Vincent faced in Gattaca.

If I were in Vincent’s place, I would prefer to be a faith baby, and in the event I was decided to be an “in-valid,” I would continue to make my own decisions about what to do in that situation. I don’t know if I would go quite as far as to steal Jerome’s genetic identity, but I do think that I would prefer to have that sense of agency.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

The promise of "perfect" people: questions of right and wrong

I think that we are, and always have been, giving preference to certain genes for the sake of cultivating good/desirable traits. For example, in class discussions last week we talked about our preferences when it comes to choosing who we’d want to have children with. Whether we admit that it’s for a certain reason or not, this criteria that we create for ourselves inevitably affects our children’s lives. I think that gene manipulation for the sake of curing traits or illnesses which would significantly decrease a child’s quality of life definitely has positive aspects, but who gets to be the judge of what that is? At some point, it turns into the old definition of eugenics: which traits are beneficial to get rid of, and which ones just seem that way because of societal preference? I think that although people would be physically and potentially mentally ‘healthier’, it is all very subjective to the society that they live in.

If I were alive in such a world, I think I would rather be a “valid”. Given the choice between guaranteed health and a ‘perfect life’ vs a chance at health and certain discrimination, I’d choose the former. Even though many of the “in-valids” had health issues that were obviously survivable and technically gave them a normal life (health-wise), the way that their society is structured prevented them from doing so no matter the actual effects of their ‘defects’ or ‘undesirable’ genes. The problem isn’t with people’s actual health, as we see in the comparison of Vincent and Irene, but rather how their society exaggerates it. If their society wasn’t structured to favor those who fit the blueprint of what they’re ‘supposed’ to be, then I definitely would not have as much of a preference. I think that the differences are more figurative than literal, and even though that distinction may not seem significant, it actually plays a large role in determining people’s lives in the movie.

Eugenics is built on discrimination and the purposeful designation of certain genes as ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘inadequate’ to support it. I think that although this movie is focused on genetic modification, the ideas behind the social hierarchy it has created are based in eugenics. This is the main issue with genetic modification in the modern world– who gets to decide what is the good and what is the bad? As I mentioned earlier, how are we supposed to distinguish between what is a genetic ‘disadvantage’ and what has just been turned into one because of what society thinks. An example of this is Vincent’s height and how he has to undergo painful procedures to make him taller. His height wasn’t affecting his health in any way, but the fact that it was crucial to making sure he fit in with the other “valids” shows how much impact societal views can have on scientific decisions.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Gattaca and the Promise of "Perfect" People

It’s really hard to know what it would be like to live in a society like this. I don’t know if I’d want to unnaturally create my child so that they are guaranteed to have perfect genetics. There’s no such thing as a perfect world. If every single person on Earth was created in a lab to be genetically perfect, would there really just be no problems? Soon the system would fall apart. There can’t be a world without flaws. Instinctively I would want to pick to have a faith baby, but when I really think about it even if they ended up super healthy they would be living a much worse life than all the people around them. And if they ended up unhealthy I would blame myself for the discrimination and lack of opportunities they would face for the rest of their life. Eugenics are freaky and would mess with the functioning of humanity way too much.

If I had to choose for myself, I think that would be even harder. I am so against things that are unnatural and I want to know that it is because of me and my hard work that I’m successful. But if it were my fault that I ended up like Vincent I would never forgive myself and my life would literally be miserable. In that movie, all people who are “invalid” are completely unable to live a full life because of the way society works and closes them out. I wouldn’t want to experience that but I could NEVER risk what Vincent did by taking Eugene’s identity. He was so slick with sneaking Eugene's blood and urine samples, I could never do it. A scene I have in mind specifically is when he was getting blood drawn from his vein and he pretended it hurt him and he jumped out and somehow managed to secretly switch the vessels of blood so that they took Eugene's. Also, the scene where he was running on the treadmill with Eugene’s heart beat thing on his chest instead of his and he had to hide the fact that he was getting out of breath and nearly died. I could never be strong enough for that, physically and mentally. So with all things considered and with what my options are regarding each option, it’s a lose lose lose situation.

Finally, to speak on the topic of discrimination, the entire movie was a metaphor on all types of discrimination we see from day to day and the effects on the groups who are discriminated against. It was depicted in a very obvious and more extreme way.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

The promise of “perfect people”

If I were living in a world like the one depicted in Gattaca, I think yes, I would hope to be born one of those “perfect” genetically modified children. Simply because of the privilege that comes with it. Realistically, I can’t think of anyone would choose to be less privileged if they were given the option. However, if I was living in this world and was born a “faith baby” I would definitely not go to the lengths that Vincent did to achieve that level of privilege. I’m a big believer in being grateful for the life you lead, and that no matter your economic or social status there are more important things about living. Love, for example. Vincent himself recognizes this at the end of the movie, as he hurdles through the galaxy, and for the first time in his life, misses the people he had back on Earth.

Although this movie is technically a dystopian sci-fi, it portrays the very real implications of privilege and how discrimination (of any kind) affect people, and their dreams. Gattaca also proves the falsehood in eugenics, throughout the movie, but especially nearing the end, when Vincent beats Anton swimming for the second time. Despite Vincent’s pre-determined likelihood for certain diseases, mental conditions, etc, he beat his odds and wasn’t defined by his statistics at birth. His dream meant so much to him that he was willing to go to lengths to achieve it, even if it meant committing identity fraud in order to even be considered a viable employee at Gattaca.

posts 16 - 23 of 23