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Ty Morris

Sociology
21 September 2014
Project 1: Video/Dvd Analysis
Gattaca (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl9PfyoQW6s), is a science fiction
film that depicts a a future where everyone has the capability to knows what illnesses
they will have, what weaknesses they will have, and their defects and talents from the
first day they are born. This is due to fact that they have now developed the technology
to genetically modify humans. However, those who are not genetically modified before
birth end up with a far higher rate of defects in comparison to those children breed
through genetic selection for more desirable traits. The main character, Vincent, is born
without modifications due to his parent's choice and ends up with
very negative health predictions switch stifle his place in society which would normally
be higher with better genetic placement through genetic notification. Although this
society prohibits genetic discrimination, it does allow profiling of abilities for certain
careers. This profiling initially prevents Vincent from following his dream of being
genetically accepted as an astronaut, legally at least, until he comes up with a clever
plan of deceit.
I think Comtes ideas of statics (Witt 13), and dynamics (Witt 13), would
create a very interesting analysis of this film. Things like the choice to have children
through genetic modification or through natural birth might be posed as two statics for
the society in Gattaca. Additionally, the selection of people based on genetic abilities
would be placed into the category of statics as well. Whether or not these children
follow these guidelines would be the dynamics of change in Comtes laws of society.
For example, Vincent chose to illegally bypass the gene identification system by utilizing
the DNA of a valid genetically modified human for all DNA testing in order to gain
employment at the space station. This dynamic of change proves the law of the
society in Gattaca wrong in the circumstance of Vincent being incapable of manning a
flight to space, and proves that those who were thought to be invalid can most
definitely do the same things as those who are modified and valid.
Marx on the other hand, would probably view the inequality of jobs and treatment
for the genetically less gifted as the upper vs lower class (Witt 14) idea. Those
considered invalids do not have the same access to the resources of the upper class
valid with perfectly coded DNA, despite potentially have the same ability to execute the
same tasks. He would probably view this inequality as the perfect grounds for a revolt
against the way the government operates the job system through DNA/genetics at the
hands of those who are legally prevented from taking on meaningful jobs that they want
to pursue.
Durkheim would probably view the society and law of Gattaca as disastrous. And
quite frankly, in many way it is. There are essentially two outcomes for professions in
the world of Gattaca: one where you are able to choose your job, the other option is that
you are placed into a menial job that you have no control over. Vincent is placed into
cleaning rooms. Others even, higher up socially, are almost forced into choosing to do
certain tasks or abilities based on their modified DNA. For example, one character in
Gattaca that is highly gifted with long limbs is a swimmer, but after getting 2
nd
place in a
race, he chooses to try and commit suicide, feeling that there is little to no meaning left
in his life if he cannot win every swimming race. The society has deemed that is what he
is good at, and that is what he should do. But when he feels like he is unsatisfactory, he
feels exactly what Durkheim defines as anomie (Witt 13), which is defined as
essentially losing all hope and direction when placed into a highly individualized place in
society. This creates despair and potentially suicide in those who are captive in anomie.
There is a loss of Durkheims theorized shared experiences between individuals in
Gattaca. They are good at things, but all very specialized, preventing mutual understand
between humanity.
I think this movie would fall most under the "Conflict" perspective due to the
dualistically class based society that denies equality to all its people. Those who are
born through genetic modification are on top and are valid. Those who choose to let
birth occur naturally, are born lower class and fight to raise in ranks as invalid in
employment system. The lower class, invalids maybe never rise above the jobs they
are assigned by the law. This is implemented through legal law and several societal
enforcements, such as DNA checking at work places to ensure only valid are employed.
The society in Gattacca indeed maintains a society that fights to keep the invalids" in
their place and the valid on the up and up by providing more economically important
and valuable jobs for the valid. These classes are not provided the same tools to attain
wealth and opportunity. This is an excellent example of the repression that can occur
and lead to revolt at the hands the lower class towards the institutions implementing all
these laws and guidelines for employment. Overall, the society presented in Gattaca is
one with great inequality based on factors out of ones control, ultimately leading to a
society that alienates the supposedly inferior invalids.