Hollywood has previously made movies involving robots interacting with mankind. They typically do well in the box office and of course, they are all works of science fiction. Movies like the Matrix trilogy or the Terminator series are action packed where the robots revolt against their masters and wage war against us. But not all robot movies need to depict violence in order to do well in the box office; the movie, Her, tells a story of a man falling in love with his computer. Writer and Director, Spike Jonze, is highly renowned for creating other surrealist works such as: Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and oddly enough, Her is Jonze’s most realistic movie.
The setting takes place in the near future where human beings become much more reliant on electronic devices and the protagonist, Theodore, is a recently divorced introvert who writes love letters for a living. It may seem farfetched, but I believe that Jonze is critiquing the way social media has greatly impacted the way we create intimate relationships with each other. The company he works for sells his writings and allows the purchasers to authenticate them as their own. This reminds me of Marx’s theory that capitalism alienates us from our labor. As Theodore is regarded as an excellent writer who tightens the bonds between couples with his poetry, he then becomes alienated from his own species being due to the nature of his job. Finding affection and romance with an operating system that builds a personality on his preferences becomes one the only things Theodore can relate to.
If you ask me whether I think computers can replace people for social support or companionship in which they can be regarded as “persons,” then I’d say hell no. I’m tired of this argument of whether a corporation or an orca whale at Seaworld is a person. In my definition, a person is an individual (not a collective of individuals) that was conceived by the unification of a male sperm and a female egg. This argument needs to end in order for humanity to progress. If machines were given the same rights as us, then the plots of the Matrix or Terminator might actually happen. My last sentence was obviously a joke, but in all seriousness, the notion of human beings finding passion and affection with machines would lead to the end of humanity as we know it.
While watching this film, it reminded me of another movie I watched called Noah (not the one with the boat and animals). In this short film, the protagonist undergoes a breakup with his girlfriend due to the paranoia he created from facebook. He later finds a girl on chatroulette who gives him an honest conversation about experiencing the world without social media. This ending is very similar to the ending of Her as Theodore realizes in the end that it is people that matter, and not machines.