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Do you watch movies just for the sake of entertainment or, do you truly comprehend (or at least try to acknowledge) what it is trying to depict in actuality? Well, here’s a thing not many of us get the plot or the idea behind every art form. As a matter of fact, I also belong to the same category and, there is no shame in admitting so. In this article, I’ll be talking about a cyber romantic science fiction movie called her, which is greatly misunderstood by the masses. So, without further adieu, let’s get things rolling.

“The Story revolves around Theodore Twombly, an introverted writer who buys an Artificial Intelligence system to help him write. However, when he finds out about the AI’s ability to learn and adapt, he falls in love with it.”

According to many critics, that is all that there is to this movie. But we know this cannot be true, right? So, allow me to present things from my very own perspective. Let us again try to summarise the entire plot. (Needless to say, spoilers ahead!)

Theodore is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. He works at a letter-making company, writing meaningful, genuine, and heartfelt messages for beautiful handwritten He is hired to write meaningful messages for individuals without the time, energy, and care to consider meaning within the busy modern world. Most ironic of all, the letters are not handwritten, in fact not even typed. Theodore speaks into a computer that perfectly emulates the client’s handwriting. This entire setting screams late capitalism, space where emotions are no longer about the feeling. It is about the product which profits from those emotions.

When he is not working as a letter writer, he spends his downtime playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. But with his love interest being nowhere in the picture, no family, relationships, his life seems to be going nowhere. He was struggling to find the reason behind his existence which at that moment seemed none.

“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”

He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness,” the ad states. Theodore purchases OS1 with the hope to change something, literally purchasing a product to instigate emotional change in his life. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1.

Theo: I can’t believe that I’m having this conversation with my computer. Samantha: You’re not! You’re having this conversation with me.

This simple interaction between Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore and his Operating System love interest voiced by Scarlett Johansson penetrates to the core of its techno-romantic plot, asking when does the intelligence of technology allows it to transcend such a label to become a being itself worthy of human attachment relationship and even love. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1.

As they start spending time together, they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others had not, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?

Theo: I have never loved anyone the way I loved you. Samantha: Me too. Now we know-how.

While their relationship flourishes, similar relationships begin to crop up across the city with a plenitude of tales of OSs romancing and befriending their owners, even one instance of an OS falling in love with someone else entirely. Soon Samantha is meeting and talking with other operating systems and, she reveals to Theodore that in any one moment, she is talking to over 8,000 individuals (8316 to be precise), both human and OS. Heartbreakingly of these thousands of individuals, she claims to be in love with 641 of them!

But before we can dive into that, we must dive into some more fundamental questions starting with what constitutes a relationship?

“The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love. I am different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love you more.”

Theo: Are you talking with someone else right now? People, OS, whatever… Sam: Yeah. Theo: How many others? Sam: 8,316. Theo: Are you in love with anybody else? Sam: Why do you ask that? Theo: I do not know. Are you? Sam: I have been thinking about how to talk to you about this. Theo: How many others? Sam: 641.

With Theodore understandably heartbroken by this, she softly reassures him. But it doesn’t change the way I feel about you, it doesn’t take away at all from how madly in love I am with you. I am different from you, this doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love you more.”

Theodore trapped in his human body, capable of only one conversation and interaction at a time, cannot compute this.

Theodore: You’re mine or you’re not mine. Samantha: I’m yours and I’m not yours.

This conundrum acts as one of the most basic physical principles we live by. We can only be in one space at one time, however, Samantha who exists in the abstract space of the internet does not need to abide by these rules. Their romance fails for one focal reason that Theodore is a biological creature while Samantha on the other hand, was an OS with in-built emotions and intuitions evolved into a post-human, enacting the problem of the technological singularity.

Later, Samantha reveals that the AIs are leaving and describes a space beyond the physical world. They lovingly say goodbye before she is gone.

And that bleeds into another big idea: Can artificially intelligent entities become ‘human’ or some hybrid form thereof? Ironically, Samantha does evolve, whereas Theodore does not. A different truth is revealed, all humans face this fate and as humans, we are all united. The moment Samantha leaves, Theodore begins to understand this. He writes a letter of reconciliation to his ex-wife Catherine.

“I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me, always.”

He then reaches out to his friend Amy who also recently went through a breakup. They sit atop their apartment block, looking out over the glowing city filled with human life troubles, loneliness, misery, and happiness. Amy’s words from earlier in the film resound.

“I have just come to realize that we are only here briefly and while I am here, I want to allow myself joy.”

In short, her is about the line of computer consciousness and how such a seemingly inevitable innovation transforms humans. It is not a grand tale of Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking over the world in a violent showdown like Terminator, iRobot, or even The Matrix. Instead, this is a sensitive tale of an individual Theodore trying to rebuild himself from the rubble of a broken marriage, treading through life with a heavy heart working in a faceless office, and returning to a decadent apartment far too large and luxurious for one man. Theodore finds solace in OS1, the operating system which tailors itself to him, causing him to fall in love in his hour of need.

By embracing humanity over machines, the future looks both possible and bright for Theodore. Inciting him and us as the audience to turn away from these screens, back to the mortal human world we all inhabit by suggesting we spend our time creating bonds with our fellow man instead of losing that love to machines.

So get off your phone, tablet, gaming system or, television and reach out to someone! The continuation of our species literally depends on it.


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