It would be impossible to discuss the Spike Jonze film and Best Picture Nominee HER without discussing our (humans) complex relationship with technology. But at it’s core, HER is a love story. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an Operating System (think Siri on crack) voiced by Scarlett Johansson. They fight. They go on dates. They have a ‘real’ connection. Check out the trailer:
The first time I watched HER, I couldn’t get over the whole concept. It was so crazy that I just constantly wanted to yell at the screen: “BUT HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THAT SHE ISN’T REAL AND YOU BOUGHT HER FROM A VENDING MACHINE AT THE TRAIN STATION?!” But upon a second watching, I got over it and truly appreciated the beauty of both the actual film and the story.
As much as I’d like to think that this is a unrealistic story, I couldn’t help but see parallels to what already exists. Like many people, I have a smart phone. And while my phone is pretty ‘smart’ (can tell me the weather, traffic updates, etc.), it’s nowhere near scanning my emails and knowing which to delete (or is it?). It’s a one-sided relationship. I rely on my phone for everything and it relies on me for nothing. It doesn’t care about me. Then again, I’m quick to upgrade to the next model and I’m sure that doesn’t feel great.
So how far off are we from the Operating Systems of HER? My Mac hasn’t asked me about my relationship with my mother (yet) and it sure hasn’t asked to watch me sleep. But wouldn’t it be nice to have someone clean up my harddrive or organize my desktop? How about knowing what song I like to hear when I have a bad day? Or taking my OS on a day trip to the beach with me?
The real question is, are we so lonely that we could eventually need machines to be our friends and even our significant others? Could we get to that point? Could we be so disconnected from each other that these machines seem to have the human connections we can no longer foster? And then when they inevitably fail us, how will we cope? I can’t get anywhere without my iPhone. After a weekend without my laptop I might as well be those poor people on LOST. But a boyfriend who is a computer?
My question to you is this: What is that sweet spot between technology being useful (i.e. helping us connect, be more efficient, remember things, etc.) and it being a crutch (i.e. keeping us from actually connecting, making it so we don’t really have to remember anything)?
And by the way, the film is beautiful and I loved it.
HER is in theaters now and nominated for 5 Academy Awards.