The movie Her was designed in many ways to irk us as watchers and give us a look into a possible future that may not be too far away. One more subtle point the movie made had to with Theodore’s job. He worked for the Beautiful Handwritten Letters company, a company that specializes in exactly what you would expect: making hand written letters for people. Theodore’s job is similar to Ed Dante’s; he was paid to write letters for people. However, the comparison ends there and what makes the concept irking and controversial is the intimacy of the letters and that they are perceived to be hand made while they are in fact made by a computer.
First, the idea that in the future people will be too busy to write letters and they will need people to do that for them is something very hard to believe. It is also bothersome at how intimate these letters are supposed to be. I know, if I found out my mom or grandma had been hiring someone to write notes to me and I found it, I would not look at those notes the same way again. There is something heartwarming about getting a handwritten note. First, you know that whatever is written was put on the paper by your loved one specifically intended for you. If someone else is writing it, it loses a sense of intimacy and personally would shatter my perceptions about what people thought about me.
The other major irking factor about Theodore’s job is that is done solely through the computer. In Her it clear that computers are doing more and more. They are acting in many ways as humans should be, most prominently shown by Samantha. While this trend is very obvious today, the movie takes it to a new level showing that no level of human activity is safe. Theodore’s letters aren’t written by a person, but a machine and in my opinion this destroys part of the magic of hand written notes. In our increasingly digital age, we very rarely get letters that are made by hand anymore. They are displayed digitally or created by computers and machines. That’s part of the reason why handwritten letters have such a major effect on us. They are often reserved for the most emotional and special times. They are often used to express caring and concern. These are warm and human qualities that today we don’t think machines could come close to emulating.
In Her the authors and directors are in many ways trying to make the audience feel uncomfortable with the future, They are trying to show that traits and actions expressly reserved for humans are becoming more and more relegated to machines. One example of this is the Beautiful Handwritten Letters company. What was once an intimate human task between two people has been outsourced and is now heavily done by machines, which I believe destroys much of the magic these letters usually contain.
Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures,2013. Film.