Charlotte Lozier Institute’s mission is to explore and provide science and statistics that are useful in public conversations about the sanctity of every human life. As this website amply demonstrates, the range of issues that can benefit from this kind of analysis is already large and is steadily growing: it encompasses genetic engineering, abortion, cloning, human-animal hybridization, transhumanism, euthanasia, assisted suicide, health care policy, and many other topics, including some, we are sure, yet to be envisioned in the world’s imaginative labs.
We also recognize the vast influence that culture plays in our understanding of the starting points – the givens – for exploration of issues in bioethics and the life sciences. It occurred to us in the process that there is, on the whole, a bias in favor of caution and humane values in one form of cultural expression – science fiction. While it is unwise to make sweeping assertions about any genre, it is reasonable to hypothesize that the most successful works in this realm, at least among those that have been converted to film, reflect a desire to protect the individuality and value of each human life against the external forces that threaten to homogenize or destroy it.
Several years ago, the Susan B. Anthony List used a futuristic theme and visuals to underscore the reality that not all women think alike on the matter of abortion. Responding to efforts to portray opposition to President Obama’s reproductive services mandate as anti-woman, the ad displayed the fictionalized handiwork of the “Bureau of Womanhood Conformity,” a government agency devoted to ensuring that all women think and act alike on such issues as mandatory coverage of birth control, sex selection abortion, and conscience rights. That the ad successfully captures the ethos of the science fiction genre is a tribute to the tradition of such works as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, which stand as sentinels, championing the right of dissent, the individual over the statist, the human spirit over the Utopian visions of the conformists who so often hail themselves as models of progress.
What follow here, beginning with Daniel J. Engler’s review of The Giver, are fresh looks at significant science fiction films released over the past few decades that explore these themes in an arresting and almost always visually interesting way. Dan is a former writer for President Reagan at the White House, where we had the honor to serve in one of the most interesting jobs and best work places in the world. After his Reagan years, Dan co-scripted Hollywood animated films for children. Today he writes for pro-life publications, including television reviews for the National Catholic Register.
My personal favorite among the films with forthcoming reviews (expect a new review every Friday) is Gattaca, with its outstanding acting and stark scene setting, including the futuristic site of the space academy in the story, which turns out to be a real place – the Marin County Civic Center, erected in the early 1960s and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957. Yes, the future has already arrived – and it has been with us for many decades. We hope you enjoy this out-of-the-ordinary CLI series – offering new reviews and ample food for thought.
So, here’s to enduring favorites – to popcorn, boxes of Dots, and soda – and to challenges to think things through, very carefully, before we plunge into a post-human world.