In the movie Her, Theodore’s occupation conveys a familiar, but provoking message. Theodore works for a letter-composing company called Beautiful Handwritten Letters where he has the task of constructing letters on behalf of his clients. It is obvious that this job was presented in the film with the expectation that the audience would react in pure, utter shock. The notion behind Theodore’s job seems inexplicable as the whole objective of writing letters to express and exchange genuine emotions is lost; however, what difference does the role of social networking in modern society play in the process of developing intimate connections with other human beings?
Over the course of the film, the audience is able to realize that Theodore’s job is not something undercover or kept in secret. The company he works for has hundreds of clients and composes letters of all kinds, from birthday messages to personal love letters. At one point in the movie, Theodore’s letters are even offered to be published as a book, further supporting the fact that this occupation is not considered to be out of the norms within the setting of the film. I believe that the audience would react very uncomfortably towards the Beautiful Handwritten Letters company. It would be quite difficult for anyone in our society to grasp and fully accept the concept of a professional letter writer to express our individual and raw sentiments. Many would probably be outraged if they had received a “professionally-composed” letter as the words written on the paper would become absolutely meaningless.
Although my initial reaction to Theodore’s job was similar to that of the expected, I was able to gradually draw a connection between his occupation and the current role social networking plays in our society. I recall the years when texting was frowned upon by the older generation. They viewed it as another foolish trend along video games and television for teenagers to become further distracted and distant from their families. However, as technological advancements were made in cellular devices, texting was no longer viewed as an irrelevant means of communication, but something people of all ages could participate in. Through this phenomenon, social networking services flourished, uprising a positive reaction from the general public. Today, social networking is not perceived as an inhibitor of communication, but a grand source where ideas and messages can be exchanged and shared all over the world.
After deeply reflecting on Theodore’s job, I was able to realize how social networking is still not a natural method of expressing true, genuine emotions between human beings. How can mentioning a friend in a post along with the hash tag, #bestbirthdaygiftever, be compared to physically meeting up with that friend and expressing your thankfulness over a cup of coffee? How can a few heart emoticons be possibly compared to the sentiments conveyed when someone says the words “I love you?”
I believe Theodore is given this job for the audience to think not only about the way they communicate with others, but also the way in which they connect with other people. In the film, Theodore’s occupation becomes a mirror where viewers are able to see themselves composing the same unintimate messages they express in their own realities and are given the opportunity to reflect their actions.
Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaquin Phoeniz, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures,2013. Film.