Gattaca: The Illusion Of Perfection In A Dystopian Society
Gattaca, a dystopian society, creates the illusion of perfection by hiding under a mask of a utopia. Every individual knows their place in the social hierarchy and is passive and accepts it. A brutal system has been unintentionally created by the simple thoughts of man and their utilisation of new scientific inventions. Underneath this clean and “perfect” society, is a dark world degrading under the simple matter of genetic perfection and lack of individuality.
Genetically engineered individuals such as Eugene and Anton are labeled “valids” and are considered society’s elites; while those born by natural means or “invalids” are treated inferior. Valids are genetically modified to have the best potential of their genes. From birth they are been favored and prioritized over others, giving them the impression that they are superior. Hence, valids place themselves in a higher position within the society. Their modified genes allow them to perform specific tasks that are to be considered impossible by an ordinary human. For an example, the 12-fingered pianist was genetically engineered to have that physical trait, as it is rare, or almost impossible to find an individual with perfectly functioning 6 fingers in both hands.
Individuals are constantly reminded of their position in the hierarchy and is strongly discouraged from excelling their restrictions as it disturbs the “perfection” of the society. For example, Vincent’s father stated that “The only way you’ll see inside a spaceship is if you’re cleaning it’ reminding Vincent, that as an “invalid” his true position in society is always going to be a second-class citizen.
A perfect utopian picture is painted of the society where every individual is aware of their specific role. Therefore, the individuals are forced to believe that they are nothing more than their genetic makeup. This hamper both valids and invalids from exceeding their genetic potential and constrains them in their respective social position. For example, even though Irene is considered “Valid” and is able to work at Gattaca, she isn’t allowed to take part in any space mission due to her heart condition. “the best test score wasn’t gonna matter unless it has a blood test to go with it.” is another example. As an invalid, it is impossible for Vincent to get into Gattaca even if had every other required qualification.
Society is also rich in discrimination as valids holds power over invalids in terms of genetic superiority. Therefore, valids having better opportunities creates a gap between the two social classes which subverts Gattaca from the original theme of utopia. During his first flashback Vincent stated that “Of course, it was illegal to discriminate, ‘genoism’ it’s called. But no one takes the law seriously.” Reflecting that underneath the surface, Gattaca is indeed a society with many flaws. The protagonist was able to identify this fault in society; however, he cannot act against this as he is an invalid himself. “I belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the colour of your skin”. This provokes the question, If meritocracy of an individual’s worth is completely determined by their genetic makeup, is Gattaca really a perfect society?