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Gattaca Film Analysis

In: Film and Music

Submitted By dbp13
Words 1043
Pages 5
Joshua Barott
Professor Peterson
Writing 121
30 July 2012
Four Little Nucleotides
In an age of rapidly advancing technology, there are those who argue for slowing it down, so it can be critically and ethically examined. However, there are many who believe the opposite, and that there should be as few restrictions as possible. The movie GATTACA is an example of a dystopian future where the advancement and role of technology in our society has been allowed to run unchecked. Ironically, GATTACA, through its obsession with perfection, has created a world less perfect than the one that came before. The value of human life, individuality, relationships, and morals are corrupted.
In GATTACA, we are presented with a society where genetic engineering and perfection are worshipped, and anything less is unacceptable and is discriminated against. As Vincent says in the movie, “We have discrimination down to a science.” Every aspect of a person’s life is determined by their genetic code: their job, their personal relationships, and even their basic civil rights. Yet even the genetically advanced suffer from “the burden of perfection.” The world of GATTACA is so totalitarian in nature that human rights are trampled upon and individuality is suppressed. Surely, this is not a perfect world.
Vincent would certainly agree. He laments the ways in which society has changed in the ongoing pursuit to create perfection. Old values can no longer contain the same message and relevance. The belief of what it means to be human has changed and diminished, with human life not valued in the same way that it used to be. That term, human life, takes on a new meaning. “If we can design people, human life is simply a commodity to be bought and sold” (GM.org). This is displayed by the German, who makes a handsome living trading in genetic material.
We must also look at the moral implications of parents choosing the life their child will lead: “If parents are able to remake a child’s genetic makeup, they are in a sense writing the genetic instructions that shape his entire life. If my parents give me blue eyes instead of brown eyes, if they make me tall instead of medium height, if they choose a passive over an aggressive personality, their choices will have a direct, lifelong effect on me. (The Stanford Review)” This seems to say that genetic enhancement is immoral because it artificially molds people’s lives, pointing them in a direction they may not have chosen for themselves. This inhibits their right to freedom of choice.
Without freedom of choice, life has little meaning. In GATTACA’s society, life is seen as expendable. The director has no qualms over murdering a colleague who opposes his vision. He shows no compassion or remorse over his actions, only pride that his mission is moving forward. This is indicative of the declining morality values in this society.
Vincent, a faith birth, is discriminated against by schools, potential employers, and even his own family. Immediately after birth, when Vincent’s genetic ‘deficiencies’ are known, his father changed his mind about giving the child his namesake, Anton, so Vincent is refused his father’s name. The family’s second child, born in the way of geneticists, gets that honor. In a society where perfection and a faultless DNA pedigree are valued, morality has little place.
Enormous pressure is placed on valids such as Jerome and Anton. Both characters have a neurotic sense of failure, which gnaws away at them. Even though they are both given the best possible genes to start their lives by their local doctor, they are unable to meet their own expectations, and that of society’s, and the pressure becomes too great a burden. Irene, who is also a valid, suffers from a heart defect, like Vincent. Unlike Vincent, she doesn’t overcome it. She waits for her death. All three main ‘genetically superior’ characters lack the inner strength and spirit that only Vincent possesses. All three fail in some meaningful way in the way their lives have gone, while Vincent, the disadvantaged one, is the most successful of all of them. GATTACA, through its characters, displays constant suffering, which is certainly not a credential of a perfect world.
What’s alarming in GATTACA is the lack of individuality in the people. With the constant pressure to succeed in life, manufactured human beings are sapped of their spirit, ultimately leading to a discontented and empty life. The image and culture of GATTACA influences this. All valid characters wear strongly almost identical suits and work in identical workstations. People’s faces are also surprisingly similar and generic. There is also a lack of communication amongst people, with periods of very little dialogue. Add to this the constant competitiveness between staff, and the result is a chilling, depressing workplace, which is an indicator of life itself in this world.
Not only is the value of the individual debased, human life itself is denigrated. The use of genetic engineering to achieve a physically superior human being reduces humans to machines simply required to perform particular functions. Discrimination and suffering of humans beings is frequent, yet ignored in GATTACA. Positions aren’t determined based on merit, but by genes. There could be an intelligent person with a heart failure, such as Vincent, who has great intellectual power, but is discriminated due to genes. This can be drawn to today's society where people are discriminated against on sex, social status and disabilities.
Together, the opening lines, “Consider God’s handiwork; who can straighten what he hath made crooked” (Ecclesiastes 7:13) and “I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think Mother Nature wants us to” (Willard Gaylin) offer insightful ideas about our not too distant future. Gaylin discusses the obvious temptation in tampering with biology and technology, while Ecclesiastes emphasizes the impossible task of creating perfection. Inevitably, GATTACA ultimately demonstrates that the obsession with perfection can only lead to an imperfect world. Works Cited
GM.org. 4 Major Arguments against Genetic Modification of Humans. 19 March 2009. 29 July 2012. .
The Stanford Review. Arguing For and Against Genetic Engineering. 8 July 2007. 28 July 2012. . Ecclesiastes. The English Standard Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

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