Week Two Response (I just got added) Gattaca and genetic modification

Hey Vis 159, now that i finally am able to post on the blog, i would like to discuss the issues Gattaca presents on the subject of genetic modification as they relate to the natural order and the consequences of such modifications. In the film, people use their friendly neighborhood geneticist in order to help them create the perfect baby, or the best possibly version of themselves with the genes they possess. This yields a generation of of individuals that view excellence as ordinary, not something to be attained through rigorous schooling and very hard work. While i see the potential for such a workforce, i cannot help but wonder if more harm would be done through such modifications than good. If excellence is the ordinary for such individuals, what do they have to strive for? What drives them to be better if they are already the best? What is above excellency?

The character of Vincent really displays the core of the human desire to succeed. He has an impossible dream, a dream that he hears his whole life will never come true. And yet, he finds a way. That drive, that will to succeed, to make your wildest dreams come true, is in my opinion essential to the human race. Without it everything will turn into the ordinary; there would be no excitement in life, no feeling.

Which brings me to the comparison to another similar film about an idealistic future society called Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale, Jim Bean, and Taye Diggs among others. In this film, all war and human strife has been eliminated. To accomplish this, the powers at be developed a serum which all the individuals of this society take 3 times a day. This serum eliminates the humans ability to feel, yielding a robotic workforce incapable of creating conflict, falling in love, or even creating art. In fact, all art is considered contraband and possession of it is punishable by death. By shutting of the areas of the human brain used to feel, the rulers of this society maintain control and productivity. Christian Bale’s character is basically the head of security and goes around finding what they call “sense offenders” or people that have stopped taking the serum and are now feeling, and bringing them to justice. They overall theme of the movie is his journey from being the somber unfeeling right hand of the government, to discovering what it is like to feel and realizing that without feeling life is pointless.  In the following clip, he is on a raid and accidentally turns on a record player and hears music for the very first time. As a music major, this is one of my favorite scenes in the movie and i love the emotion it captures.

The common strain these two films share is that both societies have taken genetic modification to such an extent that the very things that make us human have been lost. While genetic modification is fascinating and will undoubtedly yield much for the greater good of our race, it is my hope that we will be able to see if it gets out of hand.

~Jonathan Yergler

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One thought on “Week Two Response (I just got added) Gattaca and genetic modification

  1. It makes me wonder if you think there is an alternative to a genetically modifiable equilibrium that is enabled by biochemical control, standardization, or regulation? Is another kind of equilibrium possible? How?

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