Free to be you and me and me and me and me
The brightest minds at Harvard are working on cloning the long-extinct woolly mammoth, best remembered as a shaggy-haired elephant.
The brightest minds in Hollywood are working on cloning the long-extinct “Magnum, P.I.,” best remembered for a mammoth woolly mustache.
In both cases, the relevant question is “Why?” And answering “because they can” isn’t any more relevant now than it was when your parents asked if you’d follow Billie Joe McAllister off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
We all have times when we wish we could be two (or more) places at once, or have the transporter split us into identical selves — as it did with Captain Kirk or Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott. We should know by now to be careful with wishes.
The idea of creating new versions of those lost to time seems particularly odd. We might realize that kindergarten through graduation was the best time of our lives — but would we really want to relive those years, and everything that came with them? In other words, if you want to see dinosaurs roam the Rogue Valley, wait until Jurassic Quest returns to The Expo.
Cloning has evolved since we learned of Dolly the Sheep a scant 20 years ago. We've discovered a tiny 18-million-year-old asexual worm (no names, please) that clones itself. In Australia, scientists want to use DNA from three "parents" to create a child free of disease. We’ve cloned dogs, cats, mice, goats, horses and deer; heck, Dolly’s own DNA was used to create four “daughters” … no relation to the Medford restaurant where, last I checked, they don’t serve mutton.
Daisy, Debbie, Diane and Denise pale in comparison, however, to the two-dozen clones Sarah Manning encountered through five seasons of “Orphan Black” — then again, Hollywood always has taken a compact idea and stretched it beyond belief. How else to explain the 2049 replicants of “Blade Runner”?
There are more than 150 clones of extinct TV shows in some stage of development — including “The Munsters,” “Supermarket Sweep,” “Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future” (me neither), “The Honeymooners,” “Miami Vice” and a live-action version of “The Jetsons” (so, finally, someone will get the flying cars we were promised).
And if that isn't evidence that Hollywood might benefit from a DNA implant for creativity, there are plans for 60 or so films serving as the template for eventual TV movies or series.
Somewhere in the bowels of a studio, a junior executive is prepping a series based on the remake of the miniseries that was an adaptation of “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension.” Yes, Shakespeare gets rebooted all the time … but “Dirty Dancing” isn’t exactly Shakespeare (well, maybe).
In actual movie theaters you can anticipate “Replicas” — a film featuring Keanu Reeves as a neuroscientist fiddling around with cloning. Didn’t he learn anything from battling an army of Agent Smiths in the “Matrix” movies?
Hollywood’s fascination with cloning reached its zenith in 1996’s “Multiplicity,” in which Michael Keaton kept producing less-and-less successful clones of himself until, eventually, one of them starred in the tepid remake of “RoboCop.”
That's one of the fundamental issues with cloning (other than it leads to Keanu Reeves as a neuroscientist) — to quote the philosopher W. Alfred Yankovic, “every pair of genes is a hand-me-down.”
For all the lifesaving possibilities waiting to be discovered in DNA research, meanwhile, full-creature cloning remains the shaggy-haired elephant in the womb. Moral and ethical questions are raised (and worse, answered) by those not only without any medical or scientific gravitas, but with little in the way of sound moral or ethical judgment.
Look at our political landscape. (Go ahead, spread apart your fingers, open your eyelids and take a quick peek.) As we devolve into a fringe-led society where the litmus test for being elected becomes ever-restrictive, isn’t it rich to worry about segments of society marching lockstep toward a real-life remake of “The Boys From Brazil?”
There ought to be clones? Don’t bother … they’re here.
— Mail Tribune copy editor Robert Galvin (thankfully one of a kind) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.