GATTACA Reflection

  • Wouldn’t every parent want to ensure that their child was perfect and had the attributes of physical attractiveness, intelligence and athletic prowess to be able to do whatever he or she wanted in life? If so, why is the society portrayed in this film so devoid of happiness, vitality and fun?

The film GATTACA takes place in the future where society has grown out of natural reproduction (having babies through sexual intercourse). The new method of reproduction is through in vitro fertilization, where the egg and sperm are derived from both parents and developed into embryos. The parents now get to choose which embryo they would like, after the geneticist tells them which one has the best traits (e.g genetic diseases, gender, athletic ability, intelligence, physical appearance). Because this new method of reproduction has become the norm, it became more common for parents to choose embryos that had the best traits they would want for their child to have. However, natural birth had not completely stopped. Unfortunately people who were born naturally were seen as more unfit to society than people who had preferred traits. These people were called “de-gene-erates”. This discrimination grew to a point where workplaces conducted genetic tests because they were in favor of hiring people with high quality traits. This is the reason why Vincent went through all the trouble to impersonate a person of “higher quality” so that he could work at a place that favored people born in vitro. People also looked down on people who were born naturally, because they had a bigger chance of having less powerful traits or genetic diseases. Society began to attempt to get rid of not only diseases, but the chances of getting them, regardless of whether those chances would actually happen. For example, Vincent was born with a heart problem which led him to seem less capable than other people, even though his heart condition only had a chance of becoming fatal. This chance closed many doors for Vincent.

Although society felt like it has advanced in regards to traits of high quality, it has caused a lot of discrimination and hate. People began to live under extreme pressure to be valued solely because of how they were born regardless of who they have become based on their interaction with environmental stimuli, which enhances many acquired traits throughout life (e.g exercising minimizing the risk for heart disease in someone born with that risk). Everyone is always so focused on becoming the best at anything they pursue because they have been expected to from the moment they were born. This prevents people to be able to enjoy themselves in life because they were born believing that their purpose in life is to live up to the preferred traits given to them by their parents. People have stopped helping each other, interacting with for enjoyment, and have become overall selfish. There is no pleasure, and no activities done for fun. In the film, this has led society to forget what happiness is. This film demonstrates the difference between perfection and happiness. Everyone strives to be perfect that they forget how to be happy.

  • When Jerome’s parents went to a genetics center for a second child, the geneticist stated “I have taken the liberty of eradicating any potentially prejudicial conditions – premature baldness, myopia, alcoholism and addictive susceptibility, propensity for violence and obesity.” The father then asks “We were wondering if we should leave some things to chance.” To this the geneticist responds, “You want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built-in already. Your child doesn’t need any additional burdens.” Would it be irresponsible for the father to want to leave something to chance?

Vincent’s father might want to leave something to chance because he would like his sons to not be so different. He would like to make this birth feel almost as natural as the first one despite the fact that they chose certain traits. Vincent’s parents did not seem to care for the additional cosmetic traits, they just wanted their baby to be healthy. When the father said he wanted to leave some things to chance he might not have been talking about life-threatening diseases but rather traits that might not even occur during the baby’s lifetime (e.g the chance for alcoholism). This is deemed by the geneticist as irresponsible of the father because he encourages as little imperfection as possible, which is a belief that has been implemented into society when in vitro fertilization became possible. In the present day, since natural birth is the most common way to have children, it would not be seen as irresponsible to want kids naturally. The chances of the child inheriting genetic diseases is more accepted, and when they are born there is no judgement of the traits they were born with. The main focus today is people wanting children of their own. Once in vitro fertilization and the ability to choose embryos with the best traits became the norm, there was less acceptance for any chance of the child having undesirable traits, and children with “higher quality” traits were favored and encouraged. Because parents had the ability to choose favorable traits, and because society encouraged parents to pass on their best traits to build a stronger society, it was considered wrong to “leave some things to chance”. People in favor of choosing “higher quality” traits saw these chances as a risk for bringing unfit people into the world intended for the new higher class. People that were born naturally were already seen as people of the lower class, and treated only as such.

Society would not be happy in a world where we would be able to choose traits of “higher quality” because of the social pressure that comes with this scientific advancement. Leaving some possible “negative” traits that may or may not arise in later life to chance is only seen as irresponsible in a society that encourages parents to choose “perfect” or “the best possible” traits.