March 26, 2010
During the South by Southwest Film festival, I attended a special screening of the film Google Baby. Don’t be fooled by the name, Google Baby had little to do with Google and more do with babies. As in freezing embryos, fertilization and surrogate mothers. Yikes, I learned a lot more about baby making than I ever expected to learn, especially right after a modest sized breakfast.
The documentary was directed by Zippi Brand Frank and takes a look at the technology of making a baby via global outsourcing, and stretching the process across three continents for maximum profit potential. The main character, Israeli entrepreneur Doron Mamet, is creating a startup company that makes custom ordered babies. Custom ordered babies … yes, you read that right and Google Baby shows you just how it is done. The film documents the process from finding an egg on Egg Donor Inc for $7-10k per egg, then gathering the male sperm (which may be from the adopting father or not) and implanting it into a surrogate mother in India, and then the birth. Google Baby is a somewhat disturbing look at where technology and the creation of life are on a crash course. Ultimately, money proved to be the motivating factor for everyone involved in the process. And in the case of the surrogate mothers in India, many came from the streets and were able to have health care, cooked meals and homes for the first time. A sad and risky method for certain.
Overall, I was extremely surprised by Google Baby and though it was not what I expected, it was still an interesting documentary. It stirred up the emotions from other movie goers seated around me as it exposed the process, affected lives and highly-questionable ethics behind Internet ordered babies.
Needless to say, I was happy to exit the theater into the bright sunshine of Austin as it was not as playful a film as the name might lead one to believe (yes, I should have read the description). It really should have been called Internet-Order Babies, Making Babies or Baby Startup. Come to think of it, I wonder how Google feels about the use of their name?
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