Posted by : Stephanie | January 16, 2014
Finally a four out of four stars movie! We’ve slogged through a lot to get here. I’m calling this the tech zeitgeist extraordinaire, right up there with seminal futurist greats like The Matrix, Blade Runner, 1984, 2001, WarGames, Back to the Future.
Her is the cautionary tale of an aloof and adrift hipster in a future metropolis who fails in relationships with people and falls in love with the female personality of his technology’s sentient operating system. In his world, as in ours, people are connected by degrees of removal by gadget. And what makes this film even more brilliant is that it’s not just about his evolution, but about Hers. Her intelligence evolves as their relationship does, so not only is this a human drama but it opens Pandora’s box about the technology we create. What are the unintended consequences?
I’m a huge sci fi, tech-noir and cyberpunk fan. The book that changed my life is Neuromancer, the mind-spinner that dared to create the world that Blade Runner and The Matrix inhabit. And then Snow Crash builds this world out, creating a metaverse that inspired the online world of Second Life.
Her deserves the honor of being in this hallowed company. These are the rare moments that pop culture invites us to peek behind the curtain, to take that red pill. Have you done that lately? Or have you been distracted by memes and the constant, highly curated drone strikes on your day that are your friends’ social media updates and instant messages? We need to keep feeding quarters into this peep show: The devices are running us! Is it too late to take back control?
This is the question of our era that Her dares to pose. It takes a bold first look at life as we don’t know it yet, the life that’s already here. And it hits us where it hurts most: Connectivity. Are we more connected or less? I’m digitally more available to you than ever, but am I close to you? Is it more efficient to communicate with me digitally? Or is it cowardly? If I’m in a bad mood or my hair’s a mess, but my Facebook updates are glittering in their fake fabulosity, an idealized rendering of myself to the world, a Dorian portrait, can you even know me at all?
And as we all submit to this tempting pretense, do we grow to expect the ideal only? Do we alienate ourselves from messy, unkempt real reality? We simulate our personae, carefully concocting our identities on all these platforms. But what of the mesmerizing platforms? What if they’re really quicksand sinking our true realnesses, the stuff that cements human connection and compassion, into oblivion?
My major in college was literary theory, and my thesis was on French deconstructionism. It was about dichotomies and the places where reality (whatever that is pls pass the cigarettes) mingles with simulation. These philosophers anchored The Matrix, and in one scene Jean Baudrillard’s fantastic book Simulacra and Simulation makes a cameo on a table. This thinking is still hot stuff!
Of course we’ve always simulated ourselves to each other — how are you oh I’m great — but Catfish tools have ramped up the ability to create new people of ourselves online. And with tech companies on the backend creating smarter gadgets, what just might happen when this all collides is a phantasm of simulations, of dissociated Joaquin Phoenixes meandering through reality plugged into virtual Scarlett Johansson voice jujus on devices. Are you ready to fight for your humanity when the revolution comes?
Start training now. Go see Her. It’s a movie about her and him, and about you and me and them and all y’all and humanity as we know us.
Is Pat even real?
Original watercolor by Dan Bransfield…