Recently, the class watched Gattaca. The film is set in a future where nearly everything revolves around eugenics. From job availability to insurance coverage, genetically engineered people had the upper hand. Those who were born naturally were discriminated against for being “inferior”. The “in-valids”, or those who were not genetically engineered, were determined to be not as smart, disease-prone, and less attractive by their genetically engineered peers.
The main character of the movie, Vincent Freeman, is a naturally born person who aspired to go to space since his youth. Even with the disadvantage of being naturally born, he was not expected to live past thirty. He had been diagnosed with a heart condition right after birth; he had his genome sequenced to find any possible genetic diseases or conditions. Vincent found life to be more challenging due to his two different disadvantages.
As he became old enough to work, he was only able to get low income and socially low jobs. For the majority of his career, he had to work as a janitor. For his last janitorial assignment, he cleaned Gattaca. Gattaca was the space program that Vincent had always yearned for. Even though he had a job at the place he wanted, the job was not exactly what he wanted. He wished to be in the rocket, not to clean the areas that hold the rockets and command modules. Unfortunately, due to illegal genetic discrimination, or “genoism”, Vincent would not be able to achieve his goal as he stood. Even though he had equal, if not better, education on the subject as his peers and an extremely high work ethic, he was not given the opportunity to succeed in the field he wished to be in. Vincent was considered a liability and financial risk for such a prestigious career. The perception that hiring genetically engineered workers is understandable, as human imperfections were considered to be erased and the edited individuals to be at their best potentials. Although, this does not mean that they are the best suited for the job. Genetic engineering does not affect determination, mind-set, work ethic, or individual backgrounds. Vincent was in peak physical condition, for having a heart condition, and had the mental capability to excel at the trade. Yet, under normal circumstances, he would not be considered for the role in the slightest. Without the intervention of genoism, Vincent had the capability to be the best of his peers. Even with all the benefits of genetic profiling, Gattaca would miss out on a valuable employee just because he is “in-valid”. Since Vincent is one of the best suited for the job, not hiring him would cost the company more because he would have better efficiency than the other option.
Luckily, Vincent was able to find himself an identity lender. Jerome Morrow was a genetically engineered individual, who was extremely smart and physically fit. Before Morrow sold his identity to Vincent, he was an extraordinary swimmer. Unfortunately, Morrow had been hit by a car, paralyzing him from the waist down. Although reluctant at first, Jerome decided to sell his identity, dead skin, urine, and blood to Vincent, in return for assistance at home and money. This gave Vincent the opportunity to get the job he had dreamed of. Once he was accepted into the space program, he shined. He had to be extremely careful not to give up his identity. Vincent could have been arrested for fraud. He had many close calls, but did not give up his position and was able to go into space.
Being “in-valid” and having a heart condition were not the only challenges Vincent faced as he grew up. Vincent had a younger brother, Anton. Anton was a genetically engineered individual. From the start, everything between the two was a competition. Almost everything leaned in Anton’s direction: the parents favor, physical advantages, and their favorite competition, swimming as far out from shore as possible. Anton consistently would outpace and swim farther than Vincent. Since Anton was bigger, stronger, and faster than Vincent, keeping up was challenging for Vincent. Although, Vincent had more perseverance and continued to race Anton. Eventually, Vincent kept pushing and beat Anton. He even had to save Anton from drowning.
When Anton was first thought of, their parents decided to have him sequenced and genetically engineered. The parents wanted a natural child, but wanted the best for their child more. They had experienced the troubles of “in-valid” first hand already with Vincent, and did not want their next child to have the same difficulties. During the engineering and embryo choosing process, the parents wanted to leave some things to chance instead having the “perfect” child. They wanted the child to be as natural as they could while keeping the genetically engineered title. When they approached the doctor about this, the doctor said, “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.” Against their judgement, the parents were influenced and chose to follow the doctor’s advice.
Choosing to go against the doctor would have gave the impression that the parents were irresponsible. Personally, I do not believe that they would be irresponsible for choosing to leave things to chance. It is understandable that they would want to leave some things to chance. Not only does keep the suspense of wondering what the child would be like, the child would still not have any genetic disease. The child would still be very healthy, he would just not be, what society deems as, “perfect”. His athleticism, intelligence, and character would be up to chance. The parents would still be responsible since they avoid all diseases.
Anton carried a grudge on Vincent ever since he was beaten. Anton was one of the cops who was on the case of Vincent. Due to his longing to beat Vincent, he wanted to expose him. When the two approached each other, they decided to have another swimming contest after a heated argument. Vincent ended up beating and saving Anton from drowning again. Accepting defeat Anton let Vincent’s case go. Not only did Vincent become one of the best in the group going up space, he had beaten his brother multiple times. Vincent, as an “in-valid”, did everything the world refused to let him do.