The Ghouls are diving headfirst into the future to talk about human clones. Do you feel like human cloning is some far and distant sci-fi future we'll never see? Well, guess again! Get ready to get schooled on science and ethics this episode. We watched Never Let Me Go and the Island to back up our very logical fears for clones (not of clones, for clones.)
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Kat's Facts - The Moral Dilemma of Clones
Hey society, Kat here….you prob don’t know me, I spend most of my time inside, but I have some stuff to say about how horrible you are, and as per usual i’m gonna back it up with some factuals. After much deliberation, in my reanalysis of the “people are trash” movement, I deliver news that we all should expect people to continue to be trash for many, many years to come! In fact, technology is helping us be the best, most harmful trash we can be! So….let’s get to the bulk of it...ultimately, as tech progresses, and the morally well to do people do their smart people stuff with their very strong drive of “this will help people, no one could possibly twist this wonderful thing to do horribly awful things with it”, other people go on ahead and take that as a challenge accepted and find a way. So All the films we’ve watched center around this idea, even if not explicitly, that when you give people a good thing, they’ll ruin it. God gave us earth, and well, you’ve all seen that place lately and it’s not looking good. So how’d we get here? Where are we going? Ima tell you: WE WANT OUR FAVORITE THING, AND DO NOT CARE HOW WE GET IT. We sit on our little “i’m a good person” petastals, and take things from the world, off of shelves, off of websites, and don’t question how it magically gets to us. So my argument, and honestly the films argument, even if indirectly is that, even if we knew all the blood and tears our favorite things were drenched in, we’d still look the other way. Why? BECAUSE WE NEED OUR FAVORITE THING...it’s so convenient, it’s so much easier, and it’s leading us to be complicit as we watch the world turn to crap falsely thinking we aren’t the reason. This rant is a perfect segway into the Hey what if we cloned people? argument. So for anyone like, “Kat they aren’t gonna clone people, shuddup.” NO YOU SHUDDUP. Cause THEY ALREADY CAN. This is one of those I totally had no idea we were here moments, and maybe you’re joining me in that. So let’s run through what we know.
1. They been out here cloning dogs and horses for a minute...like the article I read was from 2018...So we’ve BEEN late to this scary party. Barbara Striesand cloned her dog for only $50,000...which is a lot of money yeah, but like way less than I thought it’d be to get a WHOLE CLONE. ALSO, Antonio Regalado’s, in the article “Pet cloning is bringing human cloning a little bit closer” Originally published in MIT Technology Review but I found it on the Guardian, he states: “I shot a question to Jose Cibelli, an animal cloning scientist at Michigan State University: is it time to worry about human cloning again? Cibelli quickly emailed back: “Yes.””DRAMATIC PAUSE Also because of scientific advancements from Yi Zhang, they’ve figured out how to increase the success rate from 1% to 10% by using Stem cells to unlock previously blocked genes. IN 2018!!!!
2. They know we can do it so they’re making laws banning it! Arkansas lawmakers voted to prohibit state funding of human cloning or destructive embryo research, stating that the “prospect of creating new human life solely to be exploited or destroyed has been condemned on moral grounds as displaying a profound disrespect for a human life.” from USA Today article *YAAAAS AMERICA YOU PREACH YOUR FALSE MORALITY, Y’ALL OUT HERE EXPLOITING AND DESTROYING LIVES EVERYDAY...like CAUSE BLOCKING THINGS WILL MAKE IT GO AWAY? right?! Yeah the gov’n won’t be funding it but sure as Jeff Besos is rich billionaires are willing to foot that bill. LIKE Y’ALL JUST TOOK THE REGULATING OF IT OUT, and gave the reigns to ...I mean alright yeah y’all both evil...so... The entrepreneur behind the horse cloning, Texas businessman D Alan Meeker, told CBS that he’s “been asked by some of the wealthiest people on the planet to clone a human being”. Meeker said he’d refused. His reason: no one would tell him why they wanted a clone. 2018!
So to wrap this up….STOP ACTING LIKE PEOPLE JUST GONNA DO THE RIGHT THING, THEY WILL 100% ALWAYS DO THE WRONG THING AND THINK IT’S THE RIGHT THING. Some MF is gonna stroll up like I figured out how to cure this that and the other, and a private company is gonna fund that ish and we’re gonna have the island and NO ONE WILL KNOW. IT MIGHT ALREADY EXIST.
Gabe's Film Analysis - More than just clones
Hey listener/viewer, I hope you brought your media analysis glasses because guess what - clones don’t just mean clones. -fake gasp-
Remember when we talked about how vampires, Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon all were representations of the “other” which oftentimes meant someone of color or an immigrant or someone from a different class than the social norm? Well clones aren’t that different. Yes they’re a bit more science fiction-y than horror but when we think about what humans would do with such a scientific advancement then we can clearly see the horror of it all. To find those conclusions, we need to look no further than our history as a human race and how we’ve treated people who were made the same way as us. Clones also serve the purpose of the other in these narratives and they continue to perpetuate the clockwork function of society where we manipulate the rest of the populace to work together to subjugate a specific type of person by deeming them “less than” human. On this week’s episode, it’s clones but swap out the word clones for literally any other minority or underprivileged population and pop them into the synopsis for the films we watched and you’ll get a documentary not a science fiction film.
I don’t want to give too much merit to Michael Bay’s action-packed dystopian film, the Island. One - because he’s Michael Bay and if it isn’t exploding it doesn’t matter to him. But also because this film is actually an amalgamation of several other sci-fi films with similar dystopian/clone people premises. Such as the George Lucas odd-ball sci-fi film, THX 1138, Logan’s Run and according to a great article Clones, Car Chases & Carrousel by Michael Curione on talkfilmsociety.com, so much like the film Parts: The Clonus Horror (so much so that the Clonus filmmakers received a large settlement for copyright infringement). I looked it up and it’s not too far off. Same ol’ white jumpsuits, emotional manipulation and the fear of the other. I think the use of the term, “Lottery” in this film is the most telling commentary of the film. In other films we have things like the Carrousel (where the 30 year olds go in Logan’s Run to die!) but in this film we have the lottery, which itself is a tool used to keep vulnerable populations down and obedient. The lower class won’t ask questions or seek change when they have the chance to win the lottery (just buy your golden ticket and all your troubles are gone!). I watched a documentary in college, don’t recall the name, but it was about the lottery system in South Africa and how it was used to manipulate and control the populations there. How people who barely had money to buy bread would scrape pennies to get a lottery ticket because the hope was so strong. People will remain obedient if there’s a fragment of hope and that hope seems as attainable as simply getting lucky enough to buy the golden ticket. Karl Marx said, Religion is the opiate of the masses but I think that qualifies for the lottery as well.
In the Island we have obedient, childlike people who are fed, clothed and controlled. They keep their heads down and behave because who knows, maybe one day they’ll win the lottery and get that coveted space on the Island. Keeping people in check!
Now, let’s talk about Never Let Me Go. According to an article I found the book is a metaphor for racism and the institutions that manipulate, restrict and hinder them. Mimi Wong on Electric Lit goes on to explain in her article, Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ Is a Masterpiece of Racial Metaphor, that Reduced to their mere expendable parts, Kathy and her fellow students represent those marginalized figures of our collective unconscious. Their embodiment of the unspeakable may even be biologically encoded onto themselves. Kathy’s friend Ruth theorizes: “We’re modeled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps. Convicts, maybe, just so long as they aren’t psychos. That’s what we come from.” Because ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty compared to white people in the UK, the source population for these clones would have almost certainly included people of color. And given the very real history of how Western medicine has exploited black bodies specifically, there’s a strong case to be made for Ishiguro’s characters being non-white both figuratively and literally. For other modern-day metaphors for enslavement, look no further than commercial surrogacy or the indentured servitude sanctioned by our immigration laws.
She goes on to explain how we’ve swapped out our usual suspects for the newer model of clones to do the menial and sacrificing tasks we expect of the minorities in our society. She says, Never Let Me Go transforms the approach to racial subjugation in the name of scientific progress, which has created an entire sub-race of clones to service the needs of the greater whole of society. Just as notions of racial hierarchy have been used to promulgate colonial systems throughout history, the perceived nonhuman status of the clones seemingly justifies their sacrifice. The novel reframes the history of imperialism as a conflict between those considered human and those who are not.
We essentially have a new other that we, as a society, have convinced ourselves are less than us - therefore we shouldn’t feel as bad when we use them to improve upon our own lives. There’s a scene towards the end, where the Madame and the Headmistress talk to Kathy H and Tommy, explaining that if you asked people to go back to the days when we had cancer and disease - would they allow it? Knowing these people were being harmed and the answer is no, they wouldn’t. In today’s world that looks like the sweatshops and inhumane working conditions of Amazon that we are all informed about and yet, we still have Amazon subscriptions and buy things from H&M. (I cancelled my Amazon subscription bc I’m better than you people).
Another comparison to the experiences of clones and people of color is this quote from the book, “So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realize that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you — of how you were brought into this world and why — and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.”
Most POC in America have had this moment, when you first notice you are different and that the world will always see you differently, no matter who you really are - people will already have preconceived ideas and notions about you before they even speak to you.
Another note to be made is that the film features some talented white British actors but their races aren’t specified in the book and if we rely solely on the story/history of these clones then we could be easily led to believe they are of color.
Media from this week's episode:
Never Let Me Go (2010) Director: Mark Romanek Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s science-fiction novel Never Let Me Go The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking. (LOL THIS IS SO CHILL FOR WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS)
My name is Kathy H. I'm thirty-one years old, and I've been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year."
The Island (2005) Director: Michael Bay lol
A man living in a futuristic sterile colony begins to question his circumscribed existence when his friend is chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated place on earth.