“We decided that the movie wasn’t about technology, or if it was, that the technology should be invisible,” says KK Barrett, production designer of the movie “Her”. From I’ve seen in the trailer and what’s described in the article, technology in the future becomes somewhat invisible and integrated in normal objects. Even though the AI is somewhat like a robot for Theo, it’s represented in a “art deco cigarette case”. If the AI was made into a life-size robot and followed him around, the technology would have a different effect in the movie. Technology in the world of “Her” isn’t obnoxious and constantly present; it’s just advanced.
This way, Theo can fall in love with the AI and it’s totally okay because at some times, you feel as though it’s a person too. The way it asks questions and wants to know more of the world seems like it has thoughts and feelings like a real human being. This reminds me of the Disney Channel Original Movie “Pixel Perfect” where 16 year old Roscoe makes a holographic rock star to help bring his friend Sam’s band to fame. The hologram’s name is Loretta and they address several times in the movie that she is an individual and has her own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Eventually, Roscoe starts developing feelings for Loretta and ignores Sam’s affection for him until he realizes that Loretta is in fact not real.
This idea that a program can have it’s own mind and can be fallen in love with is incorporated in countless movies. It makes me wonder why Hollywood and media in general promotes this trend of falling in love with the unreal. In “Her”, Theo finds it hard to be social after a bad divorce and connects more with Samantha than with real people. Is it possible that subconsciously we are losing the ability to connect with other people? Perhaps technology is getting in the way of making these connections. Many people turn to online dating to find a match for them, so instead of talking to someone to find out your shared interests, a program does it for you. Obviously this way is more efficient and expands the range possible matches from the people in your immediate area, but maybe there’s something about striking up a conversation with a complete stranger in your grocery store that creates a stronger connection. Nowadays, there seems to be a social stigma of talking to strangers in real life because the online seems so much safer. You can click away, unlatch, or block someone you don’t like anymore.
Maybe that’s our issue: we are too scared to be vulnerable with others, so we turn to technology. Technology can’t break our hearts or date our exes, so it’s the safer option. It’s easier to fall in love with something that can’t hurt you, and Hollywood feeds into that idea when it produces movie after movie about a romance between AI and a human being. Subconsciously, we all don’t want to go through the pain that a lover can put us through. But we can’t depend on the warmth from technology forever–we have to be able to break that barrier eventually.