Why I Like Her

I read some negative article about Her. I hadn't watched the movie at that point so I didn't know what to make of it; the arguments seemed reasonable but, after having watched it, I disagree wholeheartedly.

But let's have a disclaimer first. I like this movie, most likely, because I see myself very much like or prone to becoming like Theodore. He is a character that had love before the boom of technology; he had a wife whom he loved very much in a time when people connected with people in person and hookups didn't happen over an app on your phone. A time before our lives revolved around our devices.

Theodore is arguably a wiz at technology and yet isn't that great at social communication using that technology, in a world where the paradigms of meeting people have changed to cold, unfeeling devices and odd "choke me with a dead cat" cyber/phone sex. Theodore hasn't kept up with the curve of how to communicate with his fellow humans in our ever evolving world.

And the film illustrates the disconnection of most couples; Theodore is the one who writes their "heartfelt" love notes and keepsakes, so the actual couples don't have to have real feelings or emotions for each other or do any real, passionate work. Instead, they can merely call up a company to essentially make memories for them.

There's also the instance of Theodore's friends in the elevator; demonstrating sterile thought only in terms of what is "good" in relation to facts and data ["Eat your fruits and juice your vegetables" - as your body wants the fiber from the fruits which it doesn't get when you juice them]; not thinking about what might make someone happier as a person, a human being, regardless of the "data."

The video game mom simulator, brings to light an idea I've thought about in the past. The absorption and obsession of "achievements" in games while quite possibly neglecting other parts of our lives. Whether we have to harvest our virtual vegetables or start a virtual cafe; we can live entire lives without doing or achieving anything real. There's no benefit to being a virtual farmer or faux entrepreneur, it won't yield you any recognition or income; it's merely a life and time suck. That's not to say that you should never unwind with a video game; but the absorption some of these games take over people seems unhealthy or, at best, anti-social.

Theodore, with his outward and repeated declarations of "I'm going on a date", is a man-child; he's fairly mature, as you'd expect of a 30-something, but also doesn't interact with people in a socially normal way. He is different; overly self-conscious, reserved. If there's no sympathy for a man like him; there's none for a guy like me.

There's also a scene that I find defines a big problem with modern society. The man and woman separation that tells us that "men" are this way and "women" are that way; Theodore's co-worker calls him "part-man and part-woman" and that is presented like a subtle insult when it should be something celebrated. But instead it seems like society prefers defined lines; men are strong, women are sensitive. Even if we try to extend strength to women; men are still pretty much relegated to being strong if they are to be considered "men" at all. As if to say, a man without strength is a woman.

But then, much like Theodore, perhaps I don't understand humans at all...or we don't understand ourselves. Or I don't understand myself.

But it should be noted, in contrast to the linked article, that Theodore isn't a hero; his ex-wife calls him on his desires "to have a wife without the challenges of dealing with anything real." From there, we know that Theodore isn't just the pathetic, little puppy but a human being; a sensitive human being who doesn't really know how to "correctly" be with people.

Theodore is afraid. I think more men are afraid than are willing to admit it. I know I'm afraid. And everything in society and about men repeatedly tells me I should just "be a man." But I can't. I can't just "man up." With each passing day, society gets scarier and scarier; connections with people seem less and less organic and if you don't know what you're doing, then the whole world is going by in a whirlwind while you're sitting on grass roof, looking at the view of skyscrapers around you. But for some of us, that's all we know how to do.

Pulling back entirely, Her may just be ahead of the curve; society is always changing, perhaps we are not too far from a world where people are falling in love with artificially intelligent operating systems. Not as a rule but slowly-by-slowly, more and more people embrace the idea of loving a computer until it becomes the new normal and something else is the new "freak."