In a perfect world. September 1, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: discrimination, Gattaca, genetic engineering, genetic tinkering
Last night, Silence Dogood and I watched one of our favorite films, “Gattaca.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a dystopian future in which only genetically engineered children are allowed to climb the ladder of success, while “natural births” are consigned to jobs like janitors.
Yet even genetic engineering has its shortcomings. Despite the latest and greatest scientific developments, sometimes the genetic links break down, creating children with defects their parents hadn’t anticipated. Sometimes even the most perfectly engineered children find that they’re not really good enough, such as the genetically perfect Jerome Morrow (brilliantly portrayed by Jude Law), who “only” gets a silver medal in a swimming competition and tries to kill himself as a result.
And sometimes, a natural-birth child, despite his imperfections, is more brilliant and more worthy than his genetically engineered counterparts. This is the story of Vincent, a nearsighted kid with a serious heart defect, who loves the idea of space travel more than anything in life and is determined to get into the space academy, Gattaca, and head for the stars. With every odd against him, he succeeds, and the last we see of him, he’s taking off into space.
The film is illogical, which drives our friend Ben and Silence crazy. Vincent can’t see without his contact lenses, so how is he supposed to get away with his space mission, observed as he is by his fellow astronauts? He has to dye his hair to pass as Jerome Morrow; how can he do that in flight? And while his black-market sponsor wouldn’t let him get his eyes lasered because of fear of discovery, he forced him to have his legs cut and extra implants added so he’d be as tall as the original Jerome. Think you’d really get away with that without somebody noticing the scars?
Illogic aside, the film is extremely inspiring. And Silence, who was extremely nearsighted and now can see thanks to laser surgery, notes that the scenes of Vincent’s struggles to navigate without his contacts are extremely realistic. She still talks about waking up and being able to see the details of the ceiling after her laser surgery.
In a perfect world, we’d all be healthy, happy, brilliant, and beautiful. But in the most perfect world, we’d all have the spiritual maturity to accept and respect each other exactly as we are.