In Spike Jonze’s Her, there are several parallels that can be drawn between Theodore’s job and Samantha’s artificial intelligence. These similarities provide insight into the message that movie tries to convey as well as the reaction that the creators of the film expect from the audience. Theodore’s job involves writing letters on behalf of others so that they can then send them on as if they had in fact written them. The letters are supposed to be heartfelt, meaningful, emotion-driven messages and Theodore finds joy in the fact that he can make someone happy or help a relationship with his letters. In one scene Theodore tells Samantha about specific details he added into one of his love letters that seemingly only the man sending the letter would be able to know. Theodore uses clues and bits of information that he has gathered over his time writing for this specific relationship in order to make his letters seem more genuine over time. What Theodore does at work is very similar to the way in which Samantha is able to simulate human speech, emotions, and intelligence. Samantha was created by humans who have programmed her to respond appropriately during human interaction. She has the ability to collect data from her interactions with humans such as Theodore and “learn” more and more about how to replicate the human brain.
Both of these examples involve taking emotions and thoughts from an outside source and giving the impression that they are genuinely coming from the computer, or the person sending the letter. Jonze creates two scenarios that are meant strike the film’s audience as uncanny and to upset them. People are used to having to deal with real human emotions every day. This is never an easy thing as people are so complex and it is difficult to try and understand how others are feeling and to communicate your own feelings to them. In the film, the people who Theodore writes for do not have to deal with the complexity of human emotions because they have hired an outside source to interpret them on their behalf. Theodore also avoids the struggles of dealing with the human mind as he claims to be in love with the operating system of his computer. Just as Theodore’s ex-wife is angered when she discovers that Theodore is in a relationship with his computer, the audience of Her is expected to be upset as they see people try to feel the pleasure of loving relationships without having to endure the difficulty of communicating and interpreting real emotions. Toward the end of the film, Theodore speaks to one of his co-workers who often praises his ability to write heartfelt letters. Theodore responds to him by saying, “They’re just other people’s letters” (Her). By this point in the film, Theodore has realized that he cannot really take credit for the emotions that he puts into his letters because they are not his. Similarly he cannot consider his connection to Samantha to be genuine because the “emotions” that she shows him are really not hers. The film as a whole attempts to show its audience the despite the vast capabilities of technology, it will never be able be as advanced the minds that created it.
Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Warner Bros., 2013. Film.