Gattaca (Part I)
By Mike Derderian
A human I am. All the rest is naught. What about society? Are you willing to lose your identity as a unique person with a beautiful mind and a beautiful soul despite of its being encased in a rotting shell of flesh and blood just to be part of the system?
For the human like me, a prolonged stroll downtown Amman every now then makes me feel alive again, as I mingle with the rushing crowds, whom appear to be preoccupied in a world of their own. As I walk, my mind picks up stray thoughts coming from around the alley, how on earth will I be able to bring supper to the table, the children are hungry, fuel rises, Haifa rocks, money and taxes. Don’t think. Die silently, for it’s easier that way.
I love the stench of the mashed vegetables lying on the ground mixing with water, dirt and blood in the old market where peddlers shout their lungs out. Don’t they get tired of repeating the same words night and day?
A week ago, the search for a shoe-shiner for a “day in the life” next to a mosque proved futile, why? When it comes to talking to God, all formalities are dropped and such is humanity. If you want to be human, forget your past, language and creed, just like a reporter willing to nail the story at any cost.
A reporter is a person looking for a story behind the human; a ‘what’, a ‘when’ and a ‘why’ for our fellow snoop are more significant than the all-sacred ‘who’. I’ve seen faces, been into lives and witnessed a few tears here and there. Where is the lie, my lady fair? A day or two, that’s how long I am involved in the lives of my subjects before they turn into faces imprinted in my exhausted mind.
My name is MSD-1215. I have a plastic card that I use to punch in and out of my workplace.
Yesterday I heard that they’ll replace the punching machine with another that draws your blood as an identification card just like the one at Gattaca. No use crying over spelt blood, it will rejuvenate, they say, but don’t expect us to pay the difference in currency. If Vincent Freeman pulled it off, why can’t you?
Wow, if you’ve reached this far reading then you certainly appreciate the column and if you haven’t guessed what I am talking about then please allow me; this week’s film is the 1997 Gattaca that was written and directed by Andrew Niccol.
In the core, Gattaca is about the human soul that was lost within the folds of an artificial society so submerged into science that it no longer gave importance to a life conceived naturally.
In ancient Greece a perfect state was measured in accordance to its citizens’ mental and physical health. The ancient code deemed that the weaklings were to be left outside city limits whereas the healthier and stronger babies were given the full attention. After all, they are the flawless future men and women of mother Greece—cruel but true.
Who are we to judge? Who gave us the right to stifle the life out of a newborn in his crib without giving him the benefit of the doubt?
The films opening lines that were taken from the Old Testament has a better wording from the above, “Consider God’s handiwork; who can straighten what He hath made crooked?”
In Gattaca, the weaklings are dubbed invalids, contrary to the genetically constructed babies. In this futuristic metropolis, the invalids are left to live; however, they aren’t allowed to prosper or excel on the basis that they aren’t genetically fit.
Vincent Freemann is one of them, yet unlike those who took their ill fate for granted—deprived of any type of success in society—and threw in the towel. This one has a dream. You won’t believe the hardship he had to undertake in order to pursue his dream—traveling to outer space. Alas, this could only be achieved by joining the Gattaca institution, where exceptional genetically flawless humans are recruited, trained and taught to be more perfect.
In this bleak future, blood is used as an identification card that allows the authorities to keep track of its good and bad stock. How will Vincent (Hawke) evade this predicament?
I’ll tell you in next week’s column so until then I’ll leave you with Vincent’s own words, “They used to say that a child conceived in love has a greater chance of happiness. They don’t say that anymore.”