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Film Name: GATTACA
Director / Writer: Andrew Niccol
Producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher
Co-Producer: Gail Lyon
Main Characters: Ethan Hawk as Jerome Morrow / Vincent
Uma Thurman as Irein
Jude Law as Eugene / Jerome Morrow
Summary of Film:
The film starts out in the “not-too-distant future”. The setting is a dark almost surreal view of Nineteen-Fifty Retro. In fact, every object in the film has a Fifties look to it, yet every thing was operated with future technology. For example the car that the main character Ethan Hawk drove was a vintage model automobile with an electric motor. The main idea of the film was centered in the technology of gene manipulation in the fetus to create a more desirable socially acceptable child. The genealogist could take the zygote and determine sex, potential for disease and physical characteristics. Then change any of these at will. In the case of the main character, I will refer to him at this point as Vincent, was referred to as an In-valid, Faith Birth, or Utero because his parents conceived him with out the help of a genealogist with less than desirable results. Vincent had a “bum ticker” with a life expectancy of only 30.2 years. All of his flaws were pointed out seconds after his birth with only one-drop of his blood.
Over the years of a less than productive life Vincent realized that he wanted to become an astronaut but knew he would be rejected. You see he wasn’t rejected because of the color of his skin or his sex these are a bias of the past. He would be rejected because of his DNA or because he had a less than desirable gene code. A new way of discrimination was born out of technology with the same prejudicial outcome.
Vincent decides to seek the help of a person in the black market of “gene reassignment”. This man finds the people who have been dealt a bad hand by fate instead of by genes. Enter Jerome an excellent specimen of perfect health, which broke his back after stepping in front of a moving automobile. Jerome is given the status of Valid, Maid Man, or Vetro in society. Now Vincent assumes the identity of Jerome in public while Jerome provides Vincent with all of the necessary body matter needed to pass as Jerome. This includes blood, hair, dead skin, urine, and any other body matter you can take DNA samples from. Vincent who now is Jerome is now a week away from his lunch date and a murder occurs. Upon the recovery of one of Vincent’s invalid eyelashes the search for the murderer turns to an in-valid. The rest of the film is more of a murder mystery and that’s not what where here to talk about.
The content of the film GATTACA suggests a close relationship to the social-conflict paradigm. Basically the conflict is shifted from our current levels of social inequity in race and financial status to whether or not an individual has the best DNA helix. The persons, in the case of the in-valids, are doomed to a life of inferiority due to a lack of the more desirable genes. These people are no less capable than we are today yet given the technology society has created based on nothing more than whether you are genetically predisposed for socially unexceptable characteristics. On the other hand, individuals with the more favorable genetic traits are handed their lives on a silver platter only because technology can give them the best DNA. And when an individual challenges the higher up person they are considered deviant. In this case the are considered degenerrate.
This film in particular stood out because of the vivid fifties imagery and the obvious class distinction between the Valids and the In-valids. I wonder if the intent of the film was to point out that even when we make significant leaps in technology we would always have social stratification. Even if we go back, as most conservative people say we should, to a simpler time much like the fifties. I think that is exactly what the film is saying about society. At the beginning of the project I was considering the structural-functional paradigm but it was lacking in social inequality issues that the
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Genetics, Films, Gattaca, Genetic engineering in fiction, Nucleic acids, DNA, Race, Gene, Introduction to genetics
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