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guarantees the successful embodiment of perfection; its fragility is the only certainty. Jerome thus represents the desired masculinity of genetic selection while simultaneously marking the fragility of its embod- ied capacity.But Jerome’s masculinity is reauthorized in a later scene, appropriately enough through his impersonation of himself. Jerome leaves his wheel- chair and hauls himself up the double helix staircase to greet the detective,1868 ❙Jackie StaceyAnton (distracting him from the technologies of impersonation on the floor below).21 As he accomplishes this almost impossible feat of passing as his previously able-bodied self, dignity, self-respect, and masculine in- tegrity are restored to Jerome. Ironically, it is through impersonation that masculinity is repeatedly deauthorized and reauthorized throughout the film; its varying degrees are articulated in the two men’s identities in highly relational terms.22Queering kinshipThis complex relay of transferable identities brings with it a series of associations of kin relatedness. Although this is a nonbiological relation- ship in the traditional genealogical sense, it is nevertheless all about shared biogenetic substances. Repeated close-up shots of bodily substances invoke a sense of shared embodiment through a nongenealogical kinship bond. If the blood tie has been Western culture’s mark of genealogy through kinship, then Vincent and Jerome reinvent kinship through the use of the borrowed ladder. In this distinctly unconventional exchange of genetic material through prosthetic embodiment, the permanent and enduring ties of genealogy are replaced by a new relatedness.Contrasting traditional notions of kinship ties as “unalterable biogen- etic connections [that] accounted for the permanence of this very special sort of social relation” (1998, 58) with new forms of relatedness, or “fictive kinship” (1991, 105), Kath Weston explores the enduring loyalty and commitment of queer kinship
systems. In Gattaca, Vincent’s adoption of a new biogenetic identity occurs not only in the context of his rejection of his biological family but also, in the end, through a filial power struggle that he wins: in all the loyalty tests, “fictive kinship” wins out over ge- nealogy. But perhaps improvised kinship is a better term for Vincent and Jerome’s relationship. As in all improvisations, this new form of kinship relies both on experimentation and risk and on a mutual trust and a shared knowledge. While it is at first a pragmatic business deal in which the borrowed ladder is a commodity, the intimacy between the two characters soon stretches beyond purely commercial necessity. Vincent and Jerome’s21 This scene echoes Scottie’s famous attempt to overcome his anxiety and climb the steps of the church tower in Vertigo (1958). See Modleski 1988.