Genetic engineering has nothing but negative effects on society as a whole. In both Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and Gattaca, genetic engineering has grown out of control until it is all that matters. People are created rather than born, constructed by humans rather than leaving life to its natural tendencies. One’s personality and intelligence becomes secondary to the DNA contained within one’s cells.

In Brave New World, people are manufactured in bottles along an assembly line, their future and lifestyle predetermined by other humans. In Gattaca, parents who wish to have a child simply see their “local geneticist” and order a baby that fits every whim and hope in their minds. Nothing is left to chance in either society. This is intended to produce stability in each society, although it does not work on every citizen.

For example, in Brave New World, Bernard and Watson are not satisfied with their cut-and-paste lives filled with meaningless “happiness,” where the truth has been sacrificed to create an artificial semblance of Utopia. Bernard seeks to find a deeper meaning to life and expand his mind by trying to understand things forbidden to his society, such as family and monogamy. This causes him endless pain and feelings that he does not belong. The people who come in contact with him try to explain his behavior by saying too much alcohol was added to his blood-surrogate to avoid feeling uncomfortable themselves.

In Gattaca, Vincent is displeased with the constant discrimination against invalids such as himself, and strives to do everything in his power to rise above and beyond his predetermined potential. Of course, it is said that no one can rise above his or her potential in this society, or else it was simply not gauged correctly in the first place. Vincent endures all sorts of pain and suffering to become Jerome Marrow, a “valid.” He has surgery performed to make him taller, leaving him unable to walk for quite some time. He wears contacts, dyes his hair, and spends most of his free time making sure no one will ever discover who he really is.

Intelligence has become second-place to other factors. In Brave New World, literature and ideas are banned if they threaten to corrupt the stability of society. “The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published” (Huxley 180). Mustapha Mond admits that the writing is superior, but he withholds this information from the people because it has the potential to destroy the ideas implanted in every infant’s head through hypnopaedia and genetic engineering that lasts a lifetime.

In Gattaca, Vincent’s intelligence and desire to succeed at becoming an astronaut are not even considered. As he says, “The best test score in the world wasn’t gonna matter unless you had the blood test to go with it.” He cannot rise within the society because he is an invalid, a “degenerate,” a god-child. If just anyone were allowed to succeed, stability, practicality, and common stereotypes would be breached, leaving the genetically engineered society with nothing to base their morals upon.

In both societies, genetic engineering has countless negative effects on living the best life possible for each individual. When the ideals and prejudices of society are placed above each individual person, great minds are lost in anonymity.

based on info from the movie Gattaca
and the book Brave New World (Huxley).

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