Genetic Discrimination in Gattaca: Repression of Human Potential

Categories: GattacaSociety

Section 1: Question 1 – The society of Gattaca works to repress rather than to enhance the potential of human beings. Discuss.

In a society where genetic superiority and engineering to create the ‘perfect’ person is a priority over all else, it would be a normal assumption that society would be a better place and people would be much happier, but in Gattaca it is quite the opposite. From the beginning of the film we see haunting images of the uniformity and soulless behaviour of the Gattaca employees.

All people regardless of race, gender, class or age should have an equal opportunity to strive to their full potential if desired, but the society of Gattaca represses the potential of many capable people simply because they are conceived the natural way.

From the moment Vincent was born he was faced with a list of negative problems he would have to overcome in the future: “ADHD, manic depression, heart failure, and an early fatal potential of 30.

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2 years”. Those unfortunate enough to be born as an INVALID citizen were automatically assumed to be worthless and were never given the opportunity or choice to reach their true potential or even think that they had the capability to do so. For Vincent, life became more and more difficult as he got older; he was refused the right to enter kindergarten, and every job he tried to get he was immediately rebuffed after a DNA test was taken.

Vincent had his heart set on travelling through space and becoming an astronaut but was laughed at and consistently put down by even his own father who said “Son, the only time you’re going to see the inside of a spaceship is if you’re cleaning it .

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Anton was always favoured over Vincent as he was ‘superior’ to him in many ways; he was stronger, taller, a better athlete this is a good example of how much of a minor thing such as someone’s DNA can have such a huge impact on society.

Good genes define perfection in the society of Gattaca, all individuality and personality becomes practically inexistent and obedience and conformity are obsessed over. The Gattaca community revolves around discrimination against the INVALIDS in a twisted racist act called genoism. When the mission director is murdered and an INVALID eyelash of Vincent’s is found the idea that an INVALID committed the crime consumed the detectives. Images of INVALIDS rounded up like animals behind cyclone fences shows the extent of this discrimination.

Even in a job interview an individual’s position in the company is known before they have left the room, DNA could be collected off a door handle or the seal of an envelope and if not a ‘random’ drug test can be requested. As Vincent says “Of course it’s illegal to discriminate. ‘Genoism’ it’s called, but no-one takes the law seriously.” This shows the importance of perfect genes to society. It appears as if people have forgotten that many brilliant people accomplished astounding feats without genetic engineering for centuries beforehand.

Irene is a prime example of repressed potential in Gattaca, she is an obedient and productive worker who has the potential to become someone great, but is told by her superiors that she will never be able to achieve her goals. Vincent is the only person who can see past the DNA and see the hidden potential, he shows her that just because somebody assumes she is incapable, doesn’t mean she actually is. “They’ve got you looking so hard for any flaw, that after awhile that’s all you see! For what it’s worth, I’m here to tell you it is possible. It is possible!” This shows how brainwashed the Gattaca society is, people have been taught to believe that they cannot achieve anything of value without a valuable DNA.

Jerome is lucky enough to have superior genes, thus giving him the opportunity to achieve his full potential. Throughout his whole life he was expected to succeed at everything he was faced with, and being an Olympic swimmer, he was expected to win but “for the genetically superior, success is easier to attain. But is by no means guaranteed. After all, there is no gene for fate.” But what does this prove? Genes don’t change personality or fate, they just allocate your future for you in Gattaca.

The society of Gattaca has been destroyed by cruel selfish acts of genoism when if only they could just look past the difference in DNA and accept human nature then Gattaca could come together as a whole. Vincent is a good demonstration that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything, even when ‘destiny’ is against you.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Genetic Discrimination in Gattaca: Repression of Human Potential. (2016, Apr 14). Retrieved from

Genetic Discrimination in Gattaca: Repression of Human Potential essay
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