Senior English 4
25 April 2012
Are We the “Brave New World”?
Gattaca, a movie released in 1997, is about potential children being selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis to ensure they carry the best hereditary traits of their parents. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those created as "valids" while those that carry traditional means are known as "in-valids". This movie easily corresponds with the use of science and technology in today’s world. Many probably didn’t think much of this movie, just as they didn’t with the Aldous Huxley’s Novel Brave New World, which is based on a very similar dystopian future. The societies in the novel and movie are considered “perfect” worlds with their genetic engineering, young people and drugs, and human conditioning. This sounds shockingly similar to what America may be becoming.
Most individuals would say they are insecure or unhappy with at least one of their physical traits, especially women/girls. According to an article by Batul Baxamusa, “Women have a craze to look young and maintain their beauty for all eternity. The benefits of genetic engineering in humans may make it possible to slow down or reverse certain cellular metabolism, that may be able fulfill this desire to remain 'forever young' for many dreamers in the near future” (Baxamusa 1). Girls want to look like their favorite celebrity/model they see on television or in magazines with their perfect looking, skinny airbrushed bodies and long voluptuous hair. In today’s society, so much is done to alter your appearance, such as surgery to permanately change your eye color, Botox, and hair extensions. This is just one of many signs that this society is becoming a Brave New World. In the novel Brave New World, every individual is genetically engineered to look and act like the world leaders want them to. “ Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability”(Huxley 7). This just goes to show how much individuality is lacked in both the novel’s society and real life. It is impossible to not argue that America is on its way to becoming a Brave New World.
The popularity of drug use in America dramatically increases more and more every day, especially in young adults. Teens take drugs for multiple different reasons. According to an article on Drug Info, “Alcohol and other drugs may be used as a means of avoiding problems associated with family life, school or work frustrations, friendship and relationship difficulties, low self esteem and/or depression”(Young People and Drugs). Just as drugs seem to be encouraged for many reasons in America, the novel Brave New World is the exact same. Soma is a drug encouraged by the government in Brave New World to be consumed by the citizens. The main reason is to go into deep numbness and void all feeling and emotions. In the novel, a character that is feeling emotional takes a dose of Soma to rid themselves of any odd sensations. “Glum, Marx, glum.” The clap on the shoulder made him start, look up. It was that brute Henry Foster. “What you need is a gramme of Soma” (Huxley 54). Both societies rely on drug use a little too much, could this also be a sign of a Brave New World?
Conditioning is used in many ways in today’s society, animal training being one of them. Trainers look for specific responses, such as detection, protection, companionship, or entertainment. According to an article by Stacy Braslau, “You can classically condition with a clicker by clicking it and delivering some desirable treat many times in a row. The click sound becomes a signal for an upcoming reinforcement” (Classical Conditioning). In Brave New World sleep learning or hynopedia is used to convey information to sleeping children by repeating words or phrases to them multiple times. “They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three a week for thirty months” (Huxley 28). It was soon realized that hynopedia could be used to effectively make suggestions about morality. Conditioning is used in similar ways in both worlds in order to be trained to do what others/ society thinks one should do. Could this be a connection between these two worlds?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. A counter to what was previously stated could be that the world is constantly changing for the good and bad, so nobody can tell for sure what will happen next. The government may have everything under control, who knows. The world may be safe and going decently at the moment, but we are definitely slowly approaching a Brave New World.
For a book that was published way back in 1932, Brave New World has shockingly depicted what our world is becoming. Genetic engineering to alter looks, drugs to cover all kinds of feelings, and conditioning leading to a loss of individuality are all factors demonstrated in today’s society. America has been taking one wrong path after the other, leading more and more in the wrong direction for too long. The familiar predicted future in Huxley’s novel will become reality in a blink of an eye.
Baxamusa, Batul. “Genetic Engineering in Humans.” Buzzle. N.p. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. Braslau-Schneck, Stacy. “Classical Conditioning.” Wagontrain. Starting Point. 12 Nov. 2003. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. “The Fact About Young People and Drugs.” Drug Info. Salsa Internet. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012.