Bioethics Blogs

Cinematic Cautionary Tales

As a Netflix aficionado, I have seen more than my fair share of movies that are centered around the dangers of misusing biotechnologies. To the undiscerning eye, they are nothing more than thrillers or action movies with great CGI, but a more in-depth look will reveal that these films act as cautionary tales. Tales that are often ignored.

I could name dozens of movies that fit this description (the horror genre was basically founded by cautionary tales), but a few major examples will suffice.

Let’s focus briefly on Jurassic World, the new Jurassic Park move, coming to theaters this summer. From the preview (linked above) it seems that while the movie maintains all the ethical issues identified in the first three movies (cloning, genetics, biotechnology, and ethical research standards) it adds in speculation of government involvement. What started as a theme park now looks like it is intentionally being turned into a weapon. We see velociraptors running in formation and heeding orders, which seems specious and unnecessary if its purpose is primarily to entertain. We are told upfront that they have intentionally created a hybrid dinosaur that is, “highly intelligent . . . she’ll kill anything that moves.”

In the movies, no matter how many times people warn that cloning dinosaurs is dangerous and unwise, scientists continue to pursue it. We, as the audience, sit on the edges of our seats as we watch these experiments go awry. We want to scream advice at the screen. “Don’t do it!” “Don’t go in there!” “Stop!” And when the film is over, we wonder how anyone ever thought this was a good idea, yet we never see how the moral of the story applies to us today.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.