Uncanny Feelings

Her, directed by Spike Jonze is set in the near future of 2025. The protagonist of the movie, Theodore Twombly is a professional writer who writes intimate love letters for those who are unable to do so. He works for the company Beautiful Handwritten Letters company which uses software to transfer the author’s work into the hand writing of the one sending the letter. After going through a divorce Theodore purchases the first operating system with a talking artificial intelligence, Samantha. The movie follows the relationship between the pair as they adapt together.

While most of the movie focuses on Theodore’s interactions with Samantha a point that is often hidden in background of the movie is the uncanny feeling of Theodore’s job. While the most common usage of uncanny, or strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way, is towards human like resemblance. The uncanny feeling from Beautiful Handwritten Letters is instead more of a, what is happening to society, uncanny feeling.

Theodore is attracted to Beautiful Handwritten Letters for the same reason that many people choose to use their services. He is solitary individual who finds it difficult to open up. Throughout the movie we watch as he opens up truly for the first time to Samantha. He is not alone in doing so. Many of the employees at Beautiful Handwritten Letters also begin to date their A.I.’s. Having an A.I. allows them to open up for the first time like they have always wanted to. Prior to having an A.I. they opened up through the letters that they would write for others, it gave them a release.

Technology has brought many amazing things into society and given it tools to achieve things that would otherwise be unimaginable. However it also changes the way people think. It has changed people to be more focused on the end result rather than the journey and experience in getting there. In relation to Her, people are less concerned with the process of learning to love someone and opening up their heart to them instead they care more about “being in love” with someone and the destination, marriage.

Beautiful Handwritten Letters is a tool used for the same end point mentality. Why open up to someone when you can pay for someone to do it for you. One could argue that Theodore or another writer could write a better letter however it’s not so much about its quality but about the meaning behind it and the act of opening up. By paying someone else to write it then that gets taken away.

This idea can be seen across society even in the way that the education system works today. Education is no longer being taught for the point of being enlightened it is taught to a test or to a system, with the end goal of getting into the next system of higher learning or getting a job. Knowledge that is considered worldly but at the same time pointless to that goal is often removed altogether under the same ideology.

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