10DoO #6 – Her (2013)

by Jaime Grijalba.

‘Her’ (2013) is the best movie of 2013. One just can’t deny the interest that it has provoqued in the people who like it and the irksome hate that it manages to stir in those who don’t, it’s a movie that, in the end, you just don’t feel indiferent about. It’s the first movie that is written solely by Spike Jonze, and in a way it shows how his visual flair, present from his short films, music videos and his feature length films, also translates to the written word, as some kind of delicate ambition, a precious nature of something that seems to shine from inside while not being exceptionally pretty in the outside, but it always seem to shine, either it be a brightness or a darkness that you can’t fathom. The movie might be called under the character voiced by Scarlett Johannson, but the movie is about the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix, and its relationship with a being that really isn’t alive nor should have feelings, an OS (operative system) that has been built around the concept of company and human personality, under an advanced algorythm, as announced in the futuristic programmed holographic announcements that Theodore (the protagonist) sees in the street. Yes, this is the future, but it seems that it’s not really that far away, just how really close are we to an intelligence that is created to that kind of detail and perfection that it seems as if it was undistinguishable from a human voice that is trying to connect in some way with us? It’s scary to hear the advancements and projections that this movie has managed people to do, experts in the matter, just to tell us that we aren’t really that far away. Why did I say scary? I don’t want anyone to live what Theodore went through.

For the people who have seen the movie, I think that I’m clear enough when I say that the concept of the relationship that Theodore ends up with Samantha (the OS names herself that), is maybe one of the most heartbreaking things that you could possibly hear, but in a way it manages to become real (as impossible as the concept of that happening with a real person is, as slutty as they try to be, that would be impossible), it doesn’t matter if it’s one or thousands, the concept of relationship that I have as something akin to an ownership, but not one of the body or the thoughts of your loved one, but of certain feelings and acts, that should only be inflicted upon you, the same goes with you, for that to become known to another person, that is what makes it shattering. The way I see relationships, is that if there’s love involved, that love implies a secret, there are certain things that you know about each other that no other person should know, because it would be impossible to feel love if two people know the same secret at the same time (yeah, exes don’t really count, but it should at the same time feel unique in its own way), and maybe the people who saw this movie and can’t find themselves involved with it don’t think that way, maybe they concept of ownership (more physical than in what I speak of in the case of the movie) is what makes them icky, what makes them in a way fearful, anything remotely or conceptually referencing the elements of that you own anything about your other one is something that bothers them, and that makes them hate it, as I’ve heard that they absolutely despise the attitude of Theodore towards the end, while I found myself sympathetic.

I haven’t had the chance to speak a lot about the movie with people, those who have just don’t have anything to say about it except that they love it (at least those near to me), and I think I know the reason why this movie is connecting with me in a deeper way than any other movie did in the recent time, and the same thing is happening to the people around me, friends from school and university are all falling for it, while slightly older people are just downright furious with the concepts presented, and younger people are less impressed (if they have an interest in seeing a movie like this). I think this might be the perfect movie for my generation. Hell, I could say that this might be THE movie of my generation. at least in this decade, as it expresses and manages to present certain elements that make it closer to our perceptions. I am 24 years old and my friends age range from 22 to 25, and I think they can all relate to a simple list of things: we are maybe the last generation that wasn’t given an iPhone when we’re just born, or any kind of technology for that matter, the majority of us didn’t have a computer in our house until we were teenagers, and internet was a scarce and expensive medium of communication, hence we are maybe the most heavy users of new technologies (under our own preconceptions and limitations, we know when something won’t work and when something will) because we can still be wondered by them, and the concept of the talking personality in ‘Her’ (2013) is a fascinating and interesting prospect for the future; then there’s how we were sorrounded and grew up seeing the visual style of Spike Jonze take over everything that we liked or didn’t like, but we always found it interesting and inventive enough for it to be memorable and remembered for years to come; we lived on the verge of what was one of the most promiscuous ages in terms of what you could do with your body, I’m guessing we’re one of the last generations that could still fall in love without having the shame to admit it, and while there’s obviously some exceptions, we still know the feelings, we know the urges to talk to that certain person, to be near it, to try to touch them with our words, fingers, arms, to feel them around us, that individuality that was later changed for just the necesity of a body is what makes us connect to the relationship that Theodore has with Samantha, she seems to be tailored for him, even though she really isn’t, but she is unique and seems to be the only one that he needs, and it doesn’t matter that she isn’t even a human with a body, we didn’t care, we are the generation who dates boys and girls independent of our liking, and even the transgender people aren’t a problem if we know how to see them (as the sex that they want to be, no more no less); and I think that there are certain sequences that make this film memorable, because while we aren’t as promiscuous as other generations that came later, we do know how to have fun in any way possible, we know the way to have sex without having to be with that person, so those scenes seem targeted specially to us, who seemed to be the first teenagers to find the technology to talk with other people without the need to ever see them, Samantha is like a catfish, someone we don’t really know because we haven’t seen them, but we already love them because we love the way that they speak, the things they can still do for us online, but in the end it can all be a sham, as it ends up being in the film.

This might be running a bit too long, but I have to share something. Kevin B. Lee made a stupendous video essay on the movie, a spectacular little film to explain the issues and strengths that he finds in it, and I wish that you see it before what I have to say.

This is the email I sent Kevin after I saw it:

“I love the concept, how you make a “spectacle” out of this video, you projected and then you used fake siri and the final montage (similar to the montages in “Her” that chronicle the past finished relationship) of your past iphones and the years, a mixture of Jonze and Wes Anderson.

There’s a lot to like in your video, I like how the text comes from a conversation (a fake conversation) with one side of the argument not really being fair or that it even should take part of the conversation, almost as if you had it with Spike Jonze or a producer of the film.

There’s also an understanding of what love is to you (and me), because you’ve lived it in a way (love the last “thanks to”) that makes you think that it’s the right way to love. The movie might have the right feelings, at least when it comes from the human character, because we must never forget that the other element in this relationship doesn’t really have human emotions.

I like how you hint at something that I really liked in this movie, how the ending seemed to almost be set at the same time as Terminator 3 (hear me out please) as it seems that the OS’s and the computers have gained some kind of sentience (the singularity I think it’s called in science fiction jargon) and they rebel against us.

Maybe Her is the chronicle of the end of the world. And Samantha is their John Connor.

I’m gonna tell you something about what made me connect to Her, and seeing your video made me remind it. I had a girlfriend, my first girlfriend (I was a late bloomer you could say) and she cheated on me about three times. Her speech was something similar to the one by Samantha near the end of the movie, and that made me realize something about what I had with her.
Maybe she just didn’t really care about the feelings I had or even she had, she was somewhat robotic you could say, she was some kind of cold. It’s not that Samantha was similar to a human being (aka my ex), but it was she who was just using the logic of a machine.

hope you find this useful, and I was really surprised to see my name in it, it had a weird feeling inside me after I thought of all that.”

And I hope you liked this as well.

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