Oct 292013

gattaca-movieRand Paul recently lifted large sections of the wikipedia entry on Gattaca during a speech. I guess this is being called plagiarism? I can’t find anything to get upset about, not even enough to quirk an eyebrow, so I won’t be commenting on that. Seriously, there are PLENTY of awful things about Rand Paul to actually attack, who cares that he didn’t write his own movie synopsis?

What does draw my ire is that people keep referring to Gattaca as a dystopia. Um… what? No.

I will preface this by saying it’s been around a decade since I last saw this movie. But I don’t think my memory’s faded to the point that I could confuse Gattaca’s society for some 1984 totalitarian nightmare. So why do people insist that Gattaca portrays a dystopia?

We already do in-vitro genetic screening to prevent the births of children with terrible deformities and handicaps. This is a GOOD thing. Why not ensure that your children get the best genes you can give them? Don’t we want the next generation to be better? Don’t we want our children to be smarter, stronger, healthier, happier, and live longer lives than we do?

And the NASA program in Gattaca was entirely correct to screen out astronauts with faulty hearts that were liable to fail under the pressure of launch and thus risk the lives of everyone on board.

Yes, it kinda sucks to be the guy born without those benefits in the future, just like it sucks to be the guy born with Down’s Syndrome in the present. But having more healthy people and less sick people doesn’t strike me as dystopic in any way.

I will grant – the main character is discriminated against terribly. Even after proving he’s as mentally capable as any other adult, in relatively good physical shape, and possessed an astounding work ethic, he still can’t get anything more than janitorial work because he was born “the old way”. He’s an in-valid and therefore he’s obviously less trustworthy, more violent, etc.

But that’s just good ol’ fashioned prejudice. It’s just a metaphor for racism. We already agree that prejudice is bad. But we don’t call movies set in the 50′s “dystopias”, despite the rampant society-wide racism/sexism. How does one jump from “prejudice is bad” to “genetic screening leads to dystopia”? Seems like an unfounded leap. Mad Men is far more of a dystopia than Gattaca.

I suspect someone who disliked genetic screening found a movie that has genetic screening and an unfairly treated main character and now they’re pointing at it and trying to say “See! Genetic Screening is Evil!” This is only one step above the old “You know who else was a vegetarian?” argument.

I’m annoyed that they are taking a good movie (and Gattaca is quite good, give it a view if you haven’t seen it) and trying to make it say something it didn’t.

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