Every Wednesday, we watch a film that relates to science, or policy, and discuss our thoughts surrounding the film. From Gattaca to Black Mirror, the films have covered an expanse of topics in the scientific realm. Many of the films have been focused around marginalized subjects who are being held back by bureaucracy, such as in Lorenzo’s Oil, or discrimination, as in Gattaca. Honestly, I have a hard time with finding what I believe to be meaningful contributions to these discussions As an able, white man, I always feel a need to defer to someone else who shares more connections with those onscreen. I do not want to come across as an arrogant, objective critic on subjects that are inherently personal, such as disabilities or systematic discrimination. I think this dynamic is interesting, but definitely gives the power to those who can relate (not necessarily empathize) more with the film.
Last week, we watched a film entitled Three Identical Strangers. The plot revolves around triplets who were separated at birth by an adoption agency at birth for the purpose of a psychological experiment. The boys find themselves during their teenage years and uncover the experiment. The film delves into the idea of free will, nature vs. nurture, and genetic determinism in regards to mental health. As an identical twin myself, I finally understood the power of representation on screen. As the discussion began, I felt a peculiar sense of detachment. I knew that as the only twin in the room my statements of opinion would be taken as law, essentially overriding the ideas that others had shared on the topic. With this in mind, I decided to step back from the conversation lest I shut down such a valuable space for conversation.
After understanding the other side of this power structure, I felt compelled to act in the opposite manner that I had previously predicted. I was forced to reflect on our past discussions, with this new frame of mind. I gained a new perspective from that discussion, and will move forward into our last two weeks more engaged and confident about the space we have created for dialogue on tough issues.