Not Liking “Her”
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 6, 2014
“Her” is a Spike Jonze movie that seemed psychological and technological at the same time. What if artificial intelligence could produce a voice which was attentive, sympathetic, and seductive? What if the feelings elicited felt like love, even though there was cognitive dissonance to suggest that it is “crazy” to be in love with an operating system? So, the movie unfolds with a melancholic character named Theodore, who is brought to life by Samantha, the new “OS”. Unlike “Lars and the Real Girl” where a fantasy relationship felt to me to be moving and deep, the relationship between Theodore and Samantha, in my mind, proved to be shallow and predictable. Yes, if someone says everything you want to hear, then good feelings will ensue, but does this, or can this, compensate for the lack of an individual who has his own thoughts and needs? It was not that Samantha was an “OS” that was the problem, but rather the “OS” was limited in her ability to go deeper into Theodore’s psyche, such that her responses were predictable and trite. Theodore was too melancholy to have us laugh at the premise, such that he created pity in me, rather than connection. Similarly, Samantha was always polite and giving that, as with all unidimensional people, I began to wonder what else is going on. She had no layers. The best part of the film, and yes, that is not saying much, was a video game character who was programmed to be an adolescent, making us laugh at ourselves for enjoying the sarcastic anger that adolescents bring into our lives. The futuristic notion of an OS serving as a human companion seems reasonable and helpful as a tool for many folks who have, for a variety of reasons, have become islands of loneliness and despair. This movie, however, was not a good selling job for the future. I want my OS to have more complications. Of course you do- I hear my readers say aloud.