Gattaca And Immersion: The Use Of Fictional Futures To Comment On The Present

Science fiction texts use multiple conventions to explore fictional futures. These conventions work together to extrapolate the effects of scientific advances from today’s limited use, and imply the ethical issues that may arise from it. Immersion (2012) by Aliette De Bodard and Gattaca (1997) by Andrew Niccol are two texts that use themes of identity and belonging, as well as conformity towards dominant societal ideals. These themes help speculate about future worlds that reflect the ramifications of society’s overreliance on technology. However, whilst Immersion uses these conventions to suggest the assimilation of society through technology, Gattaca warns of the discriminatory social strata created when human worth is solely determined by genetic makeup.

In Gattaca, identity is reduced to genetic information, leading to a rigidly constructed two-tiered society of the valid and the invalid. There is a constant motif that genetic inheritance is equivalent to predestination, which is explored by the character-driven style of the film. Through the journey of the two protagonists, Vincent and Eugene, we see an exploration of what it means to be human. Vincent represents the idea that part of the human experience is to strive to overcome whatever obstacles stand between us and our desires. This can be shown through sibling rivalry in the progression of the game of “chicken” and the commitment to harsh daily procedures in order to stay in Gattaca. Eugene on the other hand has been promised everything by the fact of his enhanced genetic superiority. But the failure to achieve what he was destined for destroys his spirit and effectively makes him a reject from society. The shame of second place at the Olympics leads to a failed suicide attempt and a spiral into self-destructive behaviour. Through his character we see the ‘hollowing out’ of the human spirit, or ‘spiritual emptiness’ that Niccol suggests is the consequence of a fictional future in which everything is pre-determined.

On the contrary, Immersion explores a fictional future where individual perceptions of the world are taken over by technology rather than leading to the separation of society in Gattaca. Rongs (the minority culture) are unsure of their true identity. This issue is explored through the lens of Agnes. Being narrated in second person, Agnes’ disconnection is augmented by an exterior view of the world from herself. At the beginning of the story, wearing an immerser makes her seem like a highly projected persona which imitates the cultural standard of attractiveness. But upon second glance, she sees her old self which she views as diminished in every way. This could possibly be the most disturbing part about Agnes’ detachment from her true self: her extreme dependence on the immerser leads to being assimilated into the Galactic culture. This illustrates the detrimental effects that the burden of forced behavioural and physical modification can have on an individual. The cultural Galactic domination in Agnes can be related to the spread of western cultures or colonisation in recent times. Bodard is saying that cultural norms from dominant cultures are infecting minorities or essentially brainwashing them.

Gattaca further explores fictional futures by depicting a society engineered to perfection through the notion of scientism. At first glance, the world of Gattaca appears to be a highly organised society with a desire for impeccability. But on closer examination, there is a pressure for uniformity and conformity to dominant scientific ideals. Director Andrew Niccol employs a range of film techniques to underline these themes at the beginning of the film. In terms of camera, long and wide angle shots establish the setting of Gattaca as very symmetrical, suggesting order and attention to detail. These shots are juxtaposed with a number of close ups of technical equipment, drawing our attention to the ubiquity of machines in the lives of the workers. Notably, much of the equipment is used for surveillance purposes, such as the seemingly routine blood test machines that form a barrier excluding the 'invalids'. In addition, costume is used to suggest conformity and uniformity with all the workers being dressed in identical outfits. Overall, Niccol explores fictional futures of a highly ordered world dominated by technology, which its subjects seem to accept. There is clear evidence of surveillance and a controlled environment.

Similarly, Immersion depicts a future world in which everyone is manufactured to become the same being. This results in a society which lacks individuality or novel ideas.

In conclusion, Immersion and Gattaca explore fictional futures to comment on the present in a range of ways. Both texts use identity and conformity to consider the complex ways our current choices and interactions with technology contribute to generating the future. It warns of possible problems with such extreme ideologies. On the surface, both societies seem like a utopia, but on the underside, almost all individuals suffer from the loss of human qualities and creativity. Effectively, Immersion centres on the detrimental effects stemming from addiction to technology, and Gattaca investigates the ethical dilemmas concerned with pre-determinism before birth.

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now