After Watching The Movie Gattaca Philosophy Essay

Madeline Collins

After watching the movie Gattaca and taking this class it really made me think. I have seen the movie before but never even considered the ideas that we have learned in Medical Humanities. Throughout the movie it really deals with a lot of things that we deal with today and how the problems aren’t going to be solved but are just going to turn into something completely different but that is based on the same problems we face today. There are so many positives and negatives that go along with liberal eugenics. Some of them deal with humans being more healthy and the fact that discrimination will always be present in our culture, even in the future.

The movie is based on genetics and how they affect human beings. They use a process called liberal eugenics. Liberal eugenics is used so that only the parent’s best genes are passed onto their children. Every person is put into a database that can identify and classify people. People that are created through the natural process are considered "invalid". With out being able to pick and choose the genes that are passed on to their children the human being becomes more susceptible to things like illness, mental illness, and have a much shorter lifespan than the "valids". There is a great deal of discrimination against the invalids. They are only given the lowest jobs and are considered to be in a lower class than the valids. There are even laws in place to prevent the discrimination of the invalids but that doesn’t stop the people or even companies from discrimination. Vincent Freeman is a guy that was conceived naturally and because of that he faces many more challenges in his life. He was born nearsighted, with a heart defect, and his life expectancy is only in his early thirties. His brother however was born using liberal eugenics and even though he is younger he is in much better shape and is moving much further in his life than his younger brother. Vincent has always dreamed of becoming and astronaut but due to the fact that he is invalid he won’t even be considered for the position because of gene discrimination. He then meets a former swimming champion who has been paralyzed from the waist down and buys his identity. He uses the swimmers blood, hair, and tissue samples to pass the interview for becoming an astronaut. He has to be very careful and scrub his whole body head to toe to get rid of his identity so he can dust himself with t he other DNA. He is scheduled to take a trip to Jupiters moon Titain when someone from Gattaca is found dead. They find one of his eyelashes and Vincent becomes the prime suspect but is found innocent when someone else is found guilty. He keeps having numerous close calls in being found out and is trying to be as careful as he can until he gets on the spaceship. After the person admits to the murder the chief detective turns out to be Vincent’s younger brother who knows who he truly is. His little brother tells him that he is not worthy of going to space and was going to tell everyone who he really is. When they were younger Vincent saved his younger and more superior brother from drowning during a swimming contest. His brother didn’t want anyone to know that his older and less adequate brother saved his life. They do another swimming contest and again Vincent saves his brother from drowning again and his brother agrees not to tell anyone who he really is. The swimmer gives Vincent enough DNA to last "two lifetimes" and Vincent doesn’t know how to repay him, only to find out that the swimmer didn’t get paralyzed in a car accident but instead trying to commit suicide by jumping in from of a car but was only paralyzed and didn’t die. On his way to the launch station he is forced to take another urine test and doesn’t have any of the swimmers DNA with him. The doctor administers the test and quickly realizes who he really is, that he is not actually a valid but an invalid with quite a few problems. The doctor however has a soft spot for invalids because his son is one as well and also aspires to becoming an astronaut. He changes the results and Vincent is free and clear to go on the ship and go to Titian. The swimmer gives Vincent a card and tells him not to open it until he is on the ship and on his way. The swimmer then proceeds to put on his swimming metals and climbs inside of an oven and dies. Vincent opens the card and it reads "They say every atom in our bodies was once a part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving; maybe I'm going home." And that is where the movie ended. The social dilemmas that this movie shows are in a different time and deal with different things that people discriminate against but it parallel a lot of with what we deal with now a days and even in our past. Also the use of picking and choosing genetics is another thing that could be a very real possibility and would eliminate a lot of human imperfections. The way that they deal with mental illness is kind of in a background but in the movie even someone that is valid and not supposed to have mental disorders still chooses to end his own life. Unhappiness is not something that genetics can control.

I really enjoyed watching this movie the second time around. There are really so many things that I never even paid attention too before I told this class. The idea of picking and choosing what genetics a child gets kind of intrigues me. I like the idea, but only to a certain extent. I think it would be great to eliminate things like deadly diseases that often affect children and unborn children. One of the many problems that I see with the idea of picking genetics is population control. If people do not get sick, have any problems, or even have almost every child born live could really become a problem with population. Even today we are struggling with things like feeding people, transportation, living, and natural resources. I don’t think that our earth would be able to handle that kind of population boom. It may also help people reach their dreams and possibly make it much easier for them to do so. Maybe a person could also hold it against their parents for the genetics they picked because whatever they picked doesn’t allow them to reach their dreams or may even prevent them from doing it. Say someone wants to be a doctor but the genetics that were picked for them was for them to be physically strong and not necessarily have the mind for medicine. The whole idea of people constantly being scanned to make sure they are a valid is kind of messed up. It really feeds into discrimination. Our world already had to deal with discrimination on so many levels. Most of the United States has laws that prevent discrimination. Even being women today is tough. Most companies will hire a male over a female, promote a male over a female, and even pay a man with the same qualifications as women more. Being of any color, gender, sexual orientation, or what you dress like will get you discriminated against. I don’t think there is any way to prevent discrimination. As human beings we notice things about each other and make judgments and assumptions before we even know someone. No matter how perfect a person is there will always be something to pick apart. Discrimination definitely prevents people from fallowing or reaching their dreams. If more people were to think about what advancements in medicine mean to the world and that they may not always be good. I feel that discrimination could definitely become less of an issue if the big companies/ people started truly not discriminating and that would trickle down to people who want to be like them. It’s the whole lead by example idea. There should be a very strict set of rules in place to help prevent discrimination. The laws and rules right now are more relaxed than I believe they should be. If people had to take a punishment for their actions and it not to just be a slap on the wrist or paying a fine it would make someone think twice than to be discriminative against someone. I think it could really help a lot of people and maybe if it wasn’t for just picking the genetics but just for making sure that we may have a chance of making it through sickness and mental illness rather than completely preventing it. It could also help with epidemics like AIDS/HIV that cause mass deaths. There is always something that is going to be out there that is not going to be able to be cured and will constantly evolve. It will always be one step ahead of us and the technology can’t keep up. So even if we were able to make sure that our genes make us have a super human immune system there will be something out there and it could potentially kill off nearly the whole population if we all have the same immune system, so instead of this technology helping us it could possibly also be the total end of us. I know it may seem kind of extreme but biologically I don’t think that there will ever be a cure for every disease or illness. The topic of mental illness is also touched on. Even with someone that is a valid and supposed to immune against mental illness it still presented itself in a person that was a valid. Being genetically perfect doesn’t prevent everything. Everyone was still a human being and still had to deal with life and all of the good and bad things that come along with it. The swimmer was an Olympian who was very popular and the best at what he did but that didn’t prevent him from hating his life and eventually ending it. Our minds are so complex that I don’t believe there will ever be a world without mental illness. All of our flaws that make us human and each unique would almost be completely taken away from us, making us all the same. The world would be a very very boring place if we were all the same. Being different is what drives the world and we would miss so much. People like Einstein would have never done what he did or a sports star like Michael Jordan would possibly have never been and if they were they couldn’t fallow their dream and make the world a different place. There are so many positives and negatives to this whole liberal eugenics idea has so many positives and negatives that go along with it.

I think that more people should watch movies that deal with problems that could potentially affect us or even our children. I do not think that I would chose to use liberal eugenics even if it was available. I think that people should be who they are, good and bad. The good and the bad is what makes us all unique and different and the world a wonderful place to live in. Even if we all were perfect we would find something to discriminate against each other about. It would be nice for people to be sickness free and have amazing opportunities. To me the negative aspects of it completely outweigh the positive aspects. Discrimination against the "imperfect" people isn’t much different from the discrimination we see today. Discrimination is never going to go away, no matter how perfect we all seem.