Reality TV and the Ethics of Cloning Part 2

Reality TV and the Ethics of Cloning Part 2

Just some concluding thoughts on how reality TV shows like the old Temptation Island made me cautious about the idea of cloning…I hear a cold spell is coming to LA. Will angelenos now have to wear socks? enjoy…

In order to guide our thinking towards a global ethic of cloning, it is important to consider both modern popular television and the ancient traditions. The ancient traditions may be the more reliable source of wisdom because reality TV such as the old series, Temptation Island, may lead some astray, intellectual lure that it is. Several couples separated and placed on islands or love boats loaded with hunks and babes. Who will fall to temptation? Who will remain true? And the one million dollar question, who will be stupid enough to go on this show?

You can meet them on Temptation Island. And they will make you stop and think.

But, since history is traveling in an unprecedented two directions at once, into the now present future and into our distant and shrouded past, into the bio-electronic and tribal-primal, it is advisable to both look [ok, ogle] at the present and learn from the past to better create the future.

One prime example would be the contestants of the original island of temptation, Adam and Eve. They were able to mismanage their relationship even though they were the only two players. The power struggle was intense, though they did suffer from the lack of an audience. And most people know the mess Adam’s genes got us into. A lesson seemingly lost on 21st century creators. Guided by the “more must be better” principle, the modern spin off and its creators opted for the potential to shatter multiple lives rather than just the two, threw in group dynamics for good measure, and added multiple “tempters” to complete the batch.

Not as well known as the temptation in the garden is the temptation of a lone rabbi named Jesus set in a Middle Eastern desert. This was truly a disaster in the annals of temptation. First of all, it should have been obvious that there would be absolutely no ratings without bikinis. But, the fatal flaw was a misunderstanding of the basic rules of the game. People will not want to watch if the contestant refuses to play fairly. We want the salivacious possibility of witnessing a major fall, and slowly. After all, this is not Overcoming Temptation Island. This is Temptation Island.

Modern day in vitro fertilization experts and specialists in cell biology may also feel a sense of kinship between the state of the art in genetics and the biblical account of mankind’s creation. On the sixth day, the ancient record tells us, God created man out of the dust of the ground. The 21st century is an equally fertile crescent of time, a time in which scientists will soon call a person into being out of nothing more than the cell of another human.

Legislators around the globe and experts in these fields will want to consider the fact that the contestants on Temptation Island and others like them will eventually want to reproduce themselves. And you want to clone them too? Enough already.

Comedian Stephen Wright has noted, “The problem with the gene pool is, there’s no lifeguard.” In our moment of history, that is no longer true. You are the guardians of the deep end. Think about the dilution of an already shallow gene pool. Often twice is not better than once.

Doubtlessly, when you take time away from your work to sit before the TV, your mind will spin as you discover that people all over the place are watching these shows. Like Romans who thronged the infamous coliseum games of days gone by, we have demonstrated that we too like to watch, and to be there to give the thumbs. We came in droves and waited for casualties. Sure, maybe there’s very little you can do to stop the frantic rush to genetically reduplicate human life, but shouldn’t you at least screen for contestants and maybe even fans of reality TV? Take advantage of your position and look out for the best interests of the species. If we add these genetic structures to the pool not once but twice, to what spin offs will this lead us? Adultery Island for married couples?

In truth, Reality TV takes us to a fertile place, a primal place, where we meet the essence of who we are and …surprise! There’s nothing new under the sun, except the size of the audience.

When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, some educated elites were alarmed and hoped that if it was in fact true that man and ape were related, that this would not become widely known. The creators of Temptation Island have come out of the primordial closet and proclaimed on prime time TV what we don’t have to be an Einstein to know, stupidity is in the genes.

It is a reminder that even with the world that is coming, a world populated by both clone and nonclone alike, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

So, please accept this most urgent appeal to protect the human gene pool in the spirit of the man who, when giving instructions about the use of his swimming pool, liked to say, “I don’t go over to your house and swim in your toilet. So please don’t come here and …” Well, you get the picture.

into the mystic

© alex mcmanus, 2005


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