(Warning: this article contains spoilers for Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet)
World War II. Hitler. The holocaust. The events that happened concerning Nazi Germany are still etched into people’s minds. And with good reason. Not only is the murder of so many horrifying in and of itself. It also showed the most ugly side of humans. The side that looks on another human being and thinks that they are inferior. This aspect of human nature occurs on multiple levels throughout life and art. But true to its Gothic origins, science fiction can’t help but push the concept to its limit: genetic manipulation.
Genetic manipulation actually already occurs today, although this is mainly in plant life. Multiple crops are now grown using genetically modified seeds designed to keep yields high, produce more food and resist disease and pests. How ethical this kind of action may or may not be is still debated today (especially as there aren’t any current laws in the US requiring companies to tell you if the food you’re buying has been modified or not). However, genetic tampering with animals is a bit more complex. Experimentation exists, of course. But the results are not as clear and the battle over whether or not it should be tried at all is even more of a hot button topic.
Enter science fiction, skipping right over animals and going straight for the throat: human genetic manipulation. In shows that address this, as in Gargantia, the mentality of those modified runs right into Hitler territory (for the record, the ideas Hitler propagated were not new. Many others had come up with the same thing, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the most extreme historical example: Hitler). The idea that someone can claim superiority over another simply due to an uncontrollable factor, such as genetics, is frightening enough. But the implications of what genetic “modification” might do in the long run is even worse. Even though in Gargantia’s case the issue is only touched on and never fully resolved, what is seen on the issue is enough to cause more than a few chills.
Deep down, most people know they are judgmental at heart. We not only judge books, but also other people, simply by their covers (first impressions, anyone?). This is one of the many reasons why I think topics like this are so much more scary to us. Because we could be that monster we fear so easily. We could become Hitler. And if our technology advances faster that our humanity does, we might very well see a future where the human race itself is fractured into different “species,” some believing themselves better than others. And willing to destroy anything we deem “beneath” us.