Alright, I have to admit it. When I first saw previews for the Spike Jonze film, "Her," I immediately thought it was going to highlight the very raw and realistic depiction of what society is slowly becoming: physically and emotionally dependent on our technology to the point of forming intimate connections with it. However, while in my seat at the theater, I found myself thinking differently than what I had originally predicted this Oscar-nominated flick would be. The relationship between Theodore and Sam felt strangely real, and my preconceived notion of what defines a "real" relationship flew out the window. I was able to feel empathy for Theodore and his strong need for intimate connections. Played by Joaquin Phoenix, Theodore has just gone through a pretty rough breakup. He purchases a new operating system and falls in love with it. Literally. Her name is Samantha and she too develops feelings for her user, Theodore.
Both Samantha and Theodore encounter the typical hiccups that inevitably occur within a romantic relationship, such as the barrier in communicating with one another and the usual misrecognition of the partner's needs. In a few scenes, the intimate side is revealed, which left me with a bit of an uneasy feeling at the bottom of my stomach. The whole storyline feels so unnatural, and yet it's portrayed in a light of reality, as if a man in a committed relationship with his phone seemed plausible.
As a true sufferer of technophobia, I was delighted to see that there are others who share my same fear of technology and its disastrous consequences (e.g., Spike Jonze). However, after discovering the truth behind his intended story, I am left feeling a bit misguided. In an exclusive BBC interview, Jonze clearly states that his movie is a love story and "not about technology or software." He further explains that his film is set in the slight future, and that this future is more of a "heightened version" of our world today. So the whole situation of the girlfriend being a phone and the boyfriend as a real human is simply irrelevant. According to the director, this relationship simply illustrates our loneliness and our "need for connection."
To be honest, I was really looking forward to writing about the divide between "real" and "make-believe," and how it cannot be possible to truly feel something real for something that is so unreal in all aspects, and how imitating a real life relationship is inferior to the actual thing. However, after hearing Jonze in his interview, I begin to question my own thoughts on relationships. Maybe the line between "real" and "make-believe" is becoming thinner and thinner as we know it. As human beings, we are mostly in control of our own thoughts and inner feelings. If we feel something to be real, then it must be real. Right?
I guess it really is not important as to what type of external stimuli is influencing our emotions, just as long as we feel it. It could be that love and emotion have developed into wider definitions than they once were, and we should stop focusing on the "who" we love but rather shift our attention to the emotion itself. Although I am left somewhat puzzled and intrigued after watching "Her," maybe the answer is just simpler than what I had originally expected. In the famous words of Cat Stevens, "Love is where all of us belong," and perhaps all of us really are just longing for a connection to someone or something.