The critics are for once unanimous and correct: Aeon Flux is a bad movie.

Besides the problems elaborated by the critics, there is a larger problem with the story and one that hits closer to home. Cloning is not bad, at least not for the reasons argued. The movie is a polemic against cloning, which is weird: MTV doing a movie that has at its core a message the Republican Party has at its core (does this answer the ‘liberal biased media’ hypothesis?: a Nader-esque answer that the disputants are both so conservative that any disagreement is really whitewashing?)

Conservatives and MTV think when a person is cloned, there is something else that transfers into the younger besides the elder’s genetics. This something is the X Factor, which some will call soul and others consciousness. In this movie the X Factor is manifest in dreams of previous incarnations and an accelerating unraveling of reality because those dreams are becoming worse.

This is nonsensical. Dreams spring from the brain and the changes that occur to the brain over a person’s life and not from a wellspring of data in the brain at birth. Dreams are the effect of environment and not of genetics. If dreams were genetic then they would be common to a species and not a specific DNA pattern, at which point they would not pose a threat to people. Dreams are material, the soul is not. What makes the soul so special is its immateriality, which then begs the question of how a copy of genes can also replicate a soul? A genetic copy could co-exist with its parent and they would still be unique individuals. They would have different ages, different memories, different experiences and even different souls. If the soul is so special and powerful and immortal then how can it be effected by mere mortals?

But there is a larger issue with this cloning problem. If it is true that cloning can capture the soul then that is exactly what makes cloning inevitable. The main villain of the movie shows that he wants to preserve the cloning procedure precisely because of its ability to capture the X Factor. The preciousness of the X Factor makes people want to capture that power. So, either way we have it, cloning will happen, either because it does reproduce the X Factor or because it does not reproduce the X Factor.

Once we come to a realization that cloning is inevitable then we can move beyond this debate and instead figure ways to make cloning safer and more ethical in its treatments of others.

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