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Critical Analysis of “Gattaca”
In the film “Gattaca”, the destiny of Vincent is such that he belongs to second class. His conception was natural rather than scientific. He finds himself in a society that bases its discrimination on genetics and not gender, race or religion. He thus laments his mother’s misplaced faith upon his conception and eventual birth. He says, “I’ll never understand what possessed my mother to put her faith in God’s hands, rather than her local geneticist” (“Gattaca”, 1). This shows the height of discrimination in the society. In the introductory part of one of his works, one scholar named Jean Lau Chin states, “…discrimination permeated all levels of society, specifically its institutions, legislation, government, education system, and neighborhoods, and limited access to society’s institutions and positions of leadership” (Chin, x). In the case of Vincent, he faces cultural discrimination. In his quest to seek for equality, he goes to unimagined extent. He takes on the identity of another character named Jerome so that he would be allowed into “Gattaca” Corporation. In spite of being a cripple due to an accident, Jerome has the ideal genes. Vincent passes all the company tests using Jerome’s skin, urine, blood, and hair. He believes that his genes should not determine his destiny. He deserves equality and diversity. “This emphasis on diversity soon expanded beyond race, ethnicity, and gender to include other dimensions of diversity, including sexual orientation, ability status, social class, and religion” (Chin, x). Vincent is on the verge of success when suddenly the director of the mission is killed. An eyelash belonging to him is picked from the scene and this implicates him in the murder. He is however found innocent as the real murderer turns out to be a director of the company.
In his efforts to transition into a superiority culture from a second class one, Vincent experiences culture shock. As has been noted, he has to take on Jerome’s identity since the latter has superior genes. In this process, he has to grapple with certain cultural dissimilarities. “The cultural dissimilarity example for understanding immigrant know-how sets up dual oppositions between tradition and modernity, East and West, and First World and Third World” (Oji, 38). In the case of Vincent, the honeymoon period marks the first culture shock stage. He undergoes this experience before his meeting with Jerome. He is filled with expectations of achieving his dream of cultural transition. For some moment though, he is engulfed with fear as he loses confidence in what he is just about to do (“Gattaca”, 1). However, Jerome himself manages to convince him and promises to help him succeed in his mission. Such like situations are prevalent in organizations whereby employees would go to great extents by, for example, stealing, cheating and lying in order to succeed. The major challenge that Vincent has to deal with is that he has to present and accept himself as Jerome because essentially, he seeks to change his identity to that of Jerome. This is the only way that would see him succeed at “Gattaca”. Another aspect of cultural discrimination that Vincent depicts in his quest to effect cultural transition is that minority children would not be proud of their cultural values. As stated by Oji (38), “…developing in a society where parents’ values pertain to a minority group, immigrant children can feel an intense sense of embarrassment in practicing their parents’ culture in an environment where mainstream people have different values and norms”.
The aspect of cultural stereotyping is evident in the “Gattaca” Corporation’s culture. The culture is a clear show that human beings often tend to stereotype in whatever situations they would find themselves. This aspect of stereotyping is also discussed by Dr Perry Hinton in one of his works. The scholar states, “A young black man who witnesses a crime is treated as though he is a criminal rather than a witness” (Hinton, 2). He adds, “A middle-aged man applying for a job is not judged on his experience and wisdom but is regarded by the interviewers as ‘too old’, and they appoint a much less qualified younger person” (Hinton, 2). In the case of “Gattaca”, new applicants are discriminated against by their assessors on the grounds of the desirability of their genetics. This is contrary to normal expectations where a job applicant would be assessed and hired based on their capabilities and qualifications. The assessors in “Gattaca” gauge the applicants’ expected performance levels by relying on their preconceived opinions about the applicants’ genetics. An ideal stereotyping instance in the movie is when the real culprit in the murder of the mission director is initially excused owing to his genes being desirable (“Gattaca”, 1).
Chin, Jean Lau. The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2010. Print.
Gattaca. Hollywood: Andrew Niccol, 1997. DVD.
Hinton, Dr Perry R. Stereotypes, Cognition and Culture. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Print.
Oji, Kalu. Managing Culture Shock and Conflict. Xlibris Corp, 2014. Print.