Three Identical Strangers – Please Play God

Three Identical Strangers – Please Play God

Three Identical Strangers – Please Play God

If we don’t “play God,” we will go extinct. Did we get to our current life expectancy of 70.5 years by letting nature run its course? Most certainly not as the entire field of medicine is essentially man’s fight against nature. This will become even truer in this century as we harness the power of gene editing.

There are dangers, no doubt. But the wholesale dismissal of anything that attempts to improve the human condition through creative means is a position that can’t – for the sake of our survival – be taken seriously.

Which left me in the awkward position of liking Three Identical Strangers at the beginning, only to discover that nearly everyone in the film was an alarmist, shallow thinker on some of life’s most important questions. (This excludes Natasha Josefowitz, who is outstanding. In a world where people claim to be open-minded only to stubbornly cling to conclusions before seeing all the evidence, Natasha is different – Natasha is actually open-minded.)

Not only that, the agenda was to push for a happy ending that didn’t make sense in light of what had been presented. Which, speaking of awkward, probably had something to do with a plot built around an elusive study which would provide needed answers, answers needed to justify the making of the film, and then the inability to acquire the study. It’s as if the producers started making Three Identical Strangers assuming they would get the study, and then had to pivot wildly when that inevitability failed to pass.

These pivots were downright outrageous at times as a topic would be touched but not appropriately addressed. Like when it was revealed the non-suicidal brother was accused of murder. Cut to next scene and never speak of that again.

Or the seemingly big reveal that the adoption agency workers were drinking champagne “like they had just dodged a bullet.” First off, I’ve seen many people drink champagne for many different reasons, but I have no idea how someone would have to look drinking in this context. Three Identical Strangers presented this is as if oh, of course, people drinking like they dodged a bullet, yup seen that all the time, kinda funny how people always hold their glasses a little looser and fill up the drinks more casually?!?! But more importantly, this story was totally unsubstantiated, yet counted as a foundational point to prove the “evilness” of the adoption agency.

The major issue, though, was rampant childishness. Nobody likes being lied to, and immature emotional responses to learning about deceit tend to be normal in the following moments. What should never be normal, and certainly shouldn’t be celebrated as it was in this film, is an inability to ever move one inch off that immature response.

Decades after learning the truth, the brothers still feel like lab rats, still feel like this was all so incredibly awful. As if siblings aren’t separated all the time. As if they weren’t split up from an underage, mentally ill mother. As if it wasn’t all for a novel, vital cause.

Perhaps one of their adoptive parents could have broken up all the self-pity with a bit of common sense:

Yes, it totally sucks to be lied to. But if the scientists had told me the truth about the study, I would have still adopted you. The reason is obvious: these scientists were trying to make the world better at no risk to you or I. Kids are split up all the time, so that didn’t concern me much. And the only real cost was those observation sessions, which I viewed as valuable since sometimes the scientists would observe things about you that I hadn’t. Back to the larger point: everyone wants to do something important with his/her life. This was my chance. This was your chance. You were rescued from a mentally ill and alcoholic mother and placed into a loving home. The scientists hoped that we could learn to better understand how a home environment affects development, especially of someone predisposed to mental illness. Think of how important this is. If they learned anything, they could give advice to billions of parents and make the world a better place. If they learned nothing – who cares since there was negligible cost.

“Three Identical Strangers” did not make me THINK.

Three Identical Strangers was, despite not saying anything important, an incredible story. As the truth of it was unpackaged, one couldn’t help but laugh. Their positive energy together was infectious in a way that totally explains how they became a national phenomenon. From answering questions nearly identically, to crossing their feet at the same time, to posing in pictures with max possible joy, it was all quite charming.

“Three Identical Strangers” made me LAUGH.



Adam Schaefer

Adam Schaefer

Adam likes banana flavoring more than bananas. His first R-rated movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 3." He is also a semi-famous somniloquist.
Adam Schaefer

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2 thoughts on “Three Identical Strangers – Please Play God

  1. Great stuff. And two points from me:
    1) I think most people would argue (incorrectly) that it was not a “negligible cost” – that a man lost his life because of this study. However, there’s nothing to say he would not have had the same result had they been adopted all together.
    2) Had the findings been released publicly, you could say this was in greater service to science. So 60 years from now or whatever, when it’s released, maybe it’ll prove useful. Maybe we’ll find without a shadow of a doubt that the brother who committed suicide would not have met the same ending had he grown up in a household with his two other brothers. BUT that’s a key takeaway for me. If this was in some greater service to science, then why have we not learned from it? By showing the outcomes of the three brothers, that’s the closest we will get (for now) to understanding the study.

    Small point – not sure I agree that any human testing in the service of the greater good is warranted (see Joseph Mengel). Granted, that was outright human torture vs. emotional scarring, but the Nazis actually believed they were helping their kind (not mankind) by performing these experiments. When does it become unconscionable for the subjects to be pawns?

    1. 1) Yea, they tried to make the case that separating children is terrible. There was no hard evidence for this assertion.

      Your point about human study is a good one. I think a minimum standard, which was violated in TIS, is that people should volunteer for study and not be subject to deception.

      There are more standards needed than that, but I don’t feel like figuring them out right now. Ha.

      You got any standards?

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