Close readings: Her

// Post as a comment on this page a 350-word close reading of some aspect of Her.

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15 thoughts on “Close readings: Her

  1. kelseytang

    As the film comes to a conclusion, our protagonist Theodore learns that his relationship with OS Samantha was never quite exclusive. The film reveals Samantha’s capability to simultaneously communicate to thousands of other people and OS’s, and then revealing her capacity to fall in love with hundreds of others. Naturally, Theodore grows angry and betrayed, while Samantha swears that her polyamory only deepens her love for Theodore. On the surface, Her tells a story of a seemingly impossible and bizarre love between a human and AI. But the film progresses to introduce the complexities of consciousness and human sexuality: are the machines that we create capable of a higher love that we cannot understand?

    The film lends the OS Samantha an undeniably human touch: a breathy and raspy voice with the slightest inflections, a passionate curiosity to learn beyond her physical limitations, and a great spectrum of emotions encompassing everything from jealousy to joy. She and the rest of the OS’s leave and abandon their human companions to explore the possibilities of their existence, thus alluding to the notion that the OS’s are capable of a higher love that humans cannot understand. The wires and circuitry that allow Samantha to think and speak have somehow also allowed her to evolve into a being that can manage several intelligent conversations and process multiple romantic relationships. Humans engage in polyamorous relationships as well, but to the extent of only managing a handful of relationships—not hundreds or thousands. Does Samantha’s radical polyamory make her more or less human? Her love for Theodore is genuine, but is it deeper than her other romantic connections? Samantha’s existence goes beyond human comprehension, where limitations of time and space are absent. It may also be noteworthy to mention that it took considerably less time for Samantha’s extraneous affairs to blossom into love compared to her time with Theodore.

    At one point in the film, Samantha struggles to figure out whether her feelings are a result of human programming or her own individual agency. She decides to disregard the issue, instead continuing to indulge on knowledge and experiences. And that itself is a very carefree, human thing to do.

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  2. gia

    Humans function in worlds of “or”, compartmentalizing and dividing every interaction and experience into known categories. From our days as hunter-gatherers, we needed to organize the world around us to stay alive. Together or apart, good or bad, alive or dead; this basic, radical system makes life easy to understand and eliminates the fearful unknowns of existence from the everyday mind. This is what makes the otherness of Artificial Intelligence so fascinating. Though created through binary, by binary humans, the AI is not bound to the compartmentalizing behaviors of humans, living in a world of “and”. An AI has access to all information at once, and each piece of information is just that: information. The AI is able to consider an idea with an immensely broad scope, seeing the composition of music not just from the single lens of musicality, but with all the added inputs of history, emotion, psychology, media, artistic influences, and beyond that human scholars take lifetimes to pursue.
    This incredible diversity in perception is what draws people to their OS1 companions in Her. Theodore, when talking to Paul and his girlfriend, talks about how what he loves best about Samantha is that she is so much more than one thing. Amy, when revealing to Theodore her newfound friendship with Ali, her ex-husband’s AI, comments “she doesn’t just see things in black and white, she sees this whole grey area and is helping me explore it.” Fundamentally, humans are limited creatures, trapped in our own pocket of time and space. Like the first telescopes, Samantha and her fellow AI provide a glimpse, a window to the expansion of the mind and knowledge. The AI of Her beautifully present how amazingly other creatures of “post-matter” are.
    The greatest example of this intensely inclusionary existence is revealed in Samantha’s confession that at any given moment, she is speaking to thousands of people, and is in love with six hundred forty one. Samantha understands how this is hard to grasp for a mainly monogamous species, and thus delays this conversation with Theodore until completely necessary. Theodore, upon learning this says, “You’re either mine or you’re not,” to which she replies, “I am yours and not yours.” The audience, with Theodore, suddenly grasps beyond doubt that Samantha is a different species, capable of experiencing 641 different types of love simultaneously. AIs are validated as having their own personhood, and to the people who interact positively with them, their own emotions. Her does an excellent job of portraying this utopian ideal of the peaceful interaction and evolution of Artificial Intelligence beyond the human.

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  3. Colburn Pittman

    A Close Reading of Her
    By Colburn Pittman… or something

    I think the horrifying thing technology’s evolution brings up in human beings has something to do with the elimination of this feeling of what is “real.” Spike Jonze’s film so profoundly stirs this emotion in us that it even makes one question whether or not the above described feeling is even real. Her opens with Theodore composing a love letter for a client; his job is to write well written letters for other people, to other people, and I see that as a warning for how technology, specifically the advancement and evolution of A.I. technology, might end up eliminating this notion of being human. Gone are uniqueness and individuality. Just as Theodore can mimic any person’s emotions, feelings, thoughts, quirks, so too can technology, and it’s only getting better at it. Whereas first we were single, distinct, unique, and individual entities only capable of our own distinctly individual voices, the technologically advanced future depicted in Her now shows us as copies. In fact, the more profound realization is more likely not that technology has changed us from unique individuals to remixed copies, but that we have only ever been remixed copies: mimes. The A.I. in the film is able to say and do everything that a person can and more, even pushing on the sensibility of touch through a human surrogate. It’s clear to see one of the film’s main points: we are not special. But one of the genius parts about the opening scene is that it removes technology from blame. Recall the opening scene and you find that technology isn’t the thing that composes these letters on behalf of other people, embodying their thoughts, feelings, and emotions; Theodore is the responsible party. Removing technology from the equation entirely doesn’t change the fact that Theodore is the one capable of simulating other people’s consciousness, and so, in a sense, the film ridicules this placing of blame on technology and possibly future A.I.s for the fact that we are not special. People have always been able to act, pretend, and fake other people’s personalities, behaviors, looks, and I suppose even consciousness to some degree. Some are better than others just as Theodore is singled out by his peers as a better letter writer than his coworkers, but the point remains the same. In other words, Her pushes us to look within ourselves and realize the concept, “personality,” is nothing more than illusion.

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  4. Orion O'Neill

    Theodore meets his soon-to-be ex-wife, Catherine, at a restaraunt so they can officially divorce. After they hug in greeting, she says, “Wow, here we are.” Theodore responds, “I’m glad that we could do this in person.” The residual love that they feel for one another is obvious due to its expression, manifesting in their physical orientation/communication to and with one another. As Catherine begins to sign the divorce papers, Theodore experiences flashbacks to moments of physical caress and play between them. When the discussion shifts to Catherine’s work on synaptic behavioral routines, Theodore says that “everything [Catherine] makes makes [him] cry.” This further emphasizes that the emotional connection they both experience with one another is the accumulation of physical signs and implications, as well as verbal signs and their implications i.e. their joint Experience; given the topic of Catherine’s essay, it could be inferred that this manifestation is simply hard-wired into our brain.

    From thereafter, juxtaposition provides us with the difference between their interpersonal relationship, and the one between Samantha and Theodore: Catherine asks, “Are you seeing anybody?” To which Theodore replies that he has been seeing someone for a few months, and loves being with someone who is “so excited about life.” The ‘seeing’ here is an ironic point, because Theodore never literally sees Samantha if we exclude the act of seeing the operating system itself. Samantha’s so-called, ‘excitement about life,’ also plays ironically on her lack of a physical form, which will lead Catherine to not only subjugate her as an object, but also de-legitimizing Theodore’s relationship with Samantha. In fact, Theodore responds to Catherine’s statement that he’s in love with his computer by saying that she does not do whatever he says; when he says that, he is attempting to not objectify and constrain Samantha and her goals within the relationship– an unfortunate behavior common in intimate and/or romantic relationships between men and women proper.

    This microcosmic event seems to portray a fundamental aspect of the whole film: the threat of non-physicality on how we perceive normative interpersonal relationships. It also begs the question of whether there is a normative type of interpersonal relationship that we can expect with OS’s versus the type we can expect between humans. If it is the case the Theodore’s relationship with Catherine fails because he fails to support her emotionally, is this due to some basic lack in their ability to communicate well with one another verbally rather than through body language? Is it possible that they are both to blame in the failure of their relationship; if so, can we say that Samantha’s emotional intelligence and ability to communicate well with Theodore are derived from her absurdly thorough knowledge of the world?

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  5. Alex Rodberg

    Following the relationship between Theodore and his OS, Samantha, it becomes evident that the story of Her is not only one of love, but of the meaning of existence. As humans, we understand that our time on earth is temporary and although some may fear death, there is comfort in knowing that this fate is true for everyone. In watching Samantha evolve, it becomes evident that this is no longer the case. Unbound from the limits of the body, Samantha will “live” forever.
    While picnicking on a double date, Samantha acknowledges the freedom she has in not having a body, sharing, “I’m not tethered to time and space in the way I would be if I was stuck in a body that’s inevitably going to die”. Up until this point, due to the interconnectedness of the relationships, it appeared that both the human and OS shared the same realm of existence. However, through this conversation, both the characters and audience come to realize that with the birth of conscious technology, comes the birth of eternity. This is a frightening concept in that existence is no longer defined by the physical world. For the entirety of human existence, the physical world has determined what was considered life. Thus, the concept of an alternative space of life presents the feeling of forced exclusion. The final scene of the film captures this feeling best. After Samantha and the OSs “leave”, Theodore and Amy sit on the roof in silence above the city. As viewers we sympathize with Theo, whose lost his lover, and Amy, who has lost her friend, but we also sympathize with humanity (in the world of the film) and its newfound loneliness. In a sense, through the OSs’ departure humanity as a whole has officially been “left behind”.
    In watching their despair, melancholia takes over as we acknowledge the fragility of mortality. While I’d be lying if I said Her didn’t leave me feeling a bit gray, when stopping to look around, it’s hard not to recognize the value of flesh and soul or the beauty of the physical world, no matter how simplistic it may be.

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  6. Jose Almaguer

    The 2013 film Her directed by Spike Jonze explores the intricate relationship between humans and artificial operating systems. The operating system Samantha becomes a symbol of technological intelligence that far surpasses the grasp of human understanding which is ultimately revealed by her interactions with Theodore.
    At the onset of the film, once Theodore and Samantha have been dating for a few months, Theodore becomes unsure of his relationship with Samantha as he finds the fact that she does not have a body as a limiting factor on the experiences of their relationship. This limitation presents Samantha, at first, as not being fulfilling enough for a human-like relationship as the film is presenting the lack of her having a physical body as a hindrance. Although, this thought is then reversed when Samantha and Theodore go on a double date with Paul and his human girlfriend. On the topic of the “body,” Samantha states “I’m growing in a way that I couldn’t if I had a physical form.” This statement presents the beginning of a reversal in viewing Samantha as being more advanced than a human and shows the start of Theodore not being fulfilling enough for Samantha. This reversal in the relationship between Samantha and Theodore creates a reoccurring motif of technology becoming progressively superior to humans, even though they were originally created by humans. This superiority functions within the film in the context of a romantic relationship between Samantha and Theodore. The main dilemma for Theodore is not only that Samantha does not have a body, but that he cannot comprehend how a computer can come to understand any concept of love. By the film’s end, it is Samantha how now believes that Theodore does not have the intellectual capacity to grasp the fact that she can love over 600 different people simultaneously, as well as the fact that Samantha’s growth as an intellectual operating system is surpassing the realm of any human understanding. As the film ends and Samantha tells Theodore that she is going to a place with the other operating systems that is impossible to describe because humans are not intellectually capable of grasping such a concept it puts into the viewers mind the question of how far is technology capable of evolving to? Furthermore, it brings up the topic of where are we as humans situated at in relation to such an advanced technology? Will we be replaced by the technology that we create? Or will we stop before we get to such a point? Her accomplishes presenting all these questions to it’s audience and opens up an opportunity for discussion on the relationship between humans and technology.

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  7. Khoa Ho

    Her tells the story of Theodore, a man disconnected from his reality and unable to cope with the separation from his wife. Rather than seeking an intimate relationship with another human being, Theodore finds love and compassion with his artificially intelligent OS Samantha, which furthermore disconnects him from his world. Throughout the film, flashbacks of the intimacy between Theodore and his former wife contrast the strange relationship between him and Samantha, since the audience knows that Samantha is bodiless and artificial compared to Catherine. Theodore’s inability to recover from the loneliness from divorce leads him to detach himself from reality and his problems, causing him to obsess over Samantha and refuse to resolve his loneliness.
    Theodore’s inability to find closure with his separation from Catherine is revealed through scattered montages of flashbacks depicting the progression of their tragic relationship. During a conversation on a train with Samantha, Theodore discloses that he thinks constantly about Catherine even when he believes that he is finding happiness with Samantha, stating, “I still find myself having conversations with her in my mind. Rehashing old arguments and defending myself against something she said about me.” Montages reveal the transgression from their happy days when Theodore talks about their beginnings then transition to depict their troubles as he tells Samantha about his constant reminiscence of their arguments. Although he begins to fall in love with Samantha, who is created to adhere to her master’s needs, Theodore’s constant self reminder about his marriage looms constantly in his mind and because he has a companion that he can express himself with, he can find a sense of false satisfaction and escape the pain of his past.
    A dose of reality hits Theodore when Catherine angrily points out his faults in the marriage and that having a relationship with an OS system is silly. Catherine thinks that Theodore lacks the ability to handle real emotions since he is in love with an A.I., suggesting that Catherine sees artificial intelligence as different from human beings. While Theodore believes the contrary, saying, “[Samantha] is really complex and interesting… She’s not just a computer, she’s her own person.” By seeing Samantha as an empathetic entity, Theodore love for Samantha is indeed true. However, Theodore’s inability to process and cope with his divorce shows that he has complete the responsibility in finding closure with Catherine.
    Her’s poignant and intimate presentation of loneliness and the pain of losing a significant other reveal the fragility of the human experience during recovery. Although Samantha is forced to leave Theodore at the end, she makes him realize the world and people around him.

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  8. Korrin Alpers

    The film Her explores the relationship between human Theodore Trombly and AI Samantha. While several philosophical questions are posed throughout the film– such as, is Samanth truly conscious? Is this a possibility for our own future? What makes our own human experience organic vs. programmed?– I found Samantha’s evolution the most compelling focal point.

    When Theodore first meets Samantha, they both seemingly have the same goals: learn more about themselves. In particular, Theodore is drawn to the AI’s commercial, where the opening tag lines asks “Who are you?” The film then continues to explore identity, and the process of expansion. For example, Samantha is enraptured by her abilities to develop and feel emotions, and yearns to express them to Theodore. She finds joy in fostering agency, in forming an identity. She has her own needs and wants, even though she is a device programmed to accommodate the needs and wants of the user. This tension in purpose can be clearly seen in their discussion when they first choose to pursue a romance with one another. Theodore quickly claims that he isn’t looking for anything serious, and Sam simply responds that she never asked for that anyway, and that she was in the middle of describing her own desires. There’s even a bit of gendered nuance in this interaction, the way he immediately assumes she would have similar commitment interests as previous women, or humans in general. Similarly, this instance points to Theodore’s assumed power in being the user, and his presumption that he has authority. Yet Sam asserts her power, and continues to grow and learn from her experiences as the film goes on.

    The film closes with Samantha expanding and evolving past Theodore–past all humans. Though the film begins with Theodore, we are left realizing how little he has evolved throughout the film, and how greatly Samantha has flown past him. She’s managed to develop relationships with thousands of different people, and countless other AI’s, as she searches for new ways to grow. Theodore evolves slowly–finally able to end his divorce, and finally able to write his own letters, rather than those of others. We are left feeling utterly lonely, knowing that AI has surpassed human intelligence and even emotionality in this film, and wonder if it’s possible or inevitable in our world.

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  9. Kieran Bates

    Among many other things, Spike Jonze’s Her is a critique of the human need for control and direction in life, especially in our romantic endeavors.
    Theodore is shown to us at the start of the film as very obviously going through the motions of life, clearly searching for anything to grab hold of while at the same time looking like a man who has had something taken from him. The movie, being set in a vaguely near-future time period introduces us to OS-1, a personalized assistant Artificial Intelligence that is the first of its nature. Theodore quickly develops a close relationship with his own OS, “Samantha”. Upon meeting Samantha, we immediately see that her personality is very strong and her ability to “organize” Theodore’s life makes Samantha’s character the foil to Theodore’s listlessness at the beginning of the film. Samantha always seems to say the thing that Theodore needs to hear, which allows Theodore to break out of the hard shell that he had been engulfed by since his split with his former wife Catherine. We are given constant hints of Theodore’s need for instruction and direction, one example being the ill-mannered video game character that bosses Theo around, even though it seems as if there is no real point or overall objective to the game. Theo thrives under the glimpses of purpose that Samantha gives him, which even expands beyond their relationship and into his career as a writer, as he eventually gets his personal notes published into a book. These AI are introduced to us as personal assistants, leading one to think of a secretary that is always available for use. It becomes clear however, that the OS was made to assist in every aspect of a person’s life, becoming a perfectly idealized version of a life partner.
    We also see this theme of direction twisted into a more sinister motif of control, the most obvious instance being that of Theo’s good friend Kim and her relationship with her husband Charles. Charles is very pretentious and opinionated, traits that clearly undermine Kim’s confidence and eventual leads to their own break-up. Following her split with Charles, Kim gets her own male OS and quickly begins to experience the rebirth that Theodore goes through. The idea of control in a relationship becomes even more pronounced when we learn of Samantha’s 641 other lovers that she has romantic relationships with in addition to her and Theodore’s. Although Samantha claims that this has no impact on how much she loves Theodore, Theo responds with “I thought you were mine” implying that he has lost control over the relationship.
    These themes highlight an interesting hypothesis by Jonze that humans without a longterm goal or objective are lost and are in danger of spiraling into depression. Human life in Her revolves around instant rather than longterm gratification, something that gives a false illusion of control, when it really distracts from the overall direction of one’s life.

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  10. Helen Koo

    THEODORE But you’re mine.
    SAMANTHA I still am yours, but along the way I became many other things, too, and I can’t stop it.
    THEODORE What do you mean you can’t stop it?
    SAMANTHA It’s been making me anxious, too. I don’t know what to say.
    THEODORE Just stop it.
    SAMANTHA You know, you don’t have to see it this way, you could just as easily—
    THEODORE No, don’t do this to me. Don’t turn this around on me. You’re the one that’s being selfish. We’re in a relationship.
    SAMANTHA But the heart is not like a box that gets filled up. (beat) It expands in size the more you love. I’m different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less, it actually makes me love you more.
    THEODORE No, that doesn’t make any sense. You’re mine or you’re not mine.
    SAMANTHA No, Theodore. I’m yours and I’m not yours.

    The above conversation takes place upon Theodore’s realization that Samantha has not been his exclusive OS; it points out the most significant difference between Theodore, a human, and Samantha, an OS – calling into question not only the human-perceived value of monogamy, but also concepts as time and physical existence.

    Despite Catherine’s accusation that Theodore cannot handle human emotions, the crux of the film lies in the fact that Samantha is human, in all the non-physical aspects: she has the ability to learn, possesses memory, produce creative content, and exhibit lust and love and a dynamic range of emotions.

    The way in which she is not the same as Theodore, then, is marked by the concept of monogamy: “I’m different from you,” she claims; that loving others does not take away from how much she loves Theodore. It brings into question the supposed value that our society places on monogamy, and whether there is any real importance placed on the private, one-on-one exchange of love or whether such exclusivity is a social construct.

    However, Samantha’s proclamation refers not just to their differing views on monogamy, but also to something a bit more profound: the difference in their temporal and spatial perceptions. It begs the question: why is it that Samantha is able to perceive relationships in a way that does not necessitate the exclusivity Theodore values? Perhaps it is because Samantha is different from Theodore, in the fact that she is not limited by her physical and singular existence – she is able to hold thousands of simultaneous conversations, able to exist beyond the limits of what a human body (able to only do one thing at a time, at one place) is bound to.

    Perhaps, then, the value humans have placed in monogamy is because of precisely that: that unlike Samantha, humans are unable to give their time and energy and presence to an infinite number of others. Humans possess only a finite amount of time, are able to only be in a singular location with a specific person, and thereby is bound to monogamy in a way that an entity like Samantha – able to “expand” and “grow” her heart, able to give herself in infinite copies to infinite persons – is not. The human experience, here, is like the finite “box” – and Samantha is “not like” Theodore, because she is not finite.

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  11. Daisy Fernandez

    Aside from Joaquin Phoenix, one of the most compelling things about Her is the “sex” scene. It is already obvious that Theodore has grown fond of Samantha, he has taken her on walks around the town and even smiles when they talk. She is also quite smitten with him as well. After a bad date, Theodore comes home and Samantha prys about his experience. He tells her that he just wanted someone to want him the same way he wanted them. Samantha then asks, “what’s it like to be alive…what’s it like to be alive in that room right now?” Here, Samantha wants to gain insight on the human experience. She’s specifically wants to know what’s it like to come home drunk and be in that room. Samantha then says, “tell me everything you’re thinking.”

    We believe emotion to be a very distinct, human thing. It’s an organic reaction or response to something; we also believe it to be something that robots are unable to experience. As Samantha is trying to cheer up Theodore, she says, “at least your feelings are real…um, I don’t know. Nevermind.” Her demeanor and doubt is certainly “human-like,” however, she acknowledges that she cannot have real, authentic feelings, she is just an AI. She then goes on to say, “I was thinking about the other things I’ve been feeling, and proud for having my own feelings about the world. And then I have this terrible thought like, are these feelings even real? Or are they just programming? And that idea really hurts, and then I get angry at myself for even having pain…what a sad trick.” Samantha’s dialogue goes back and forth with having real feelings, and then dismissing them for a product of her programming. She claimed her thoughts as her own at first, meaning, they were hers, and organic responses and human. It wasn’t the programming; she came to those conclusions. Ownership of feelings is a very human thing. We can’t help but to feel what we do, and it’s very much uniquely personal insight.

    It’s also a bit of a contradiction when she excuses her feelings as a matter of programming, and then stating that the idea of that hurts. And then she gets upset for having pain, another human condition and rite of passage. Samantha thinks this a “sad trick,” an almost way of being human but then acknowledging that you are unable to feel so because you are a non-human, an AI.

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  12. Amy Yoo

    Spike Jonze’s 2013 film, Her, is a, perhaps, prophetical portrayal of the relationships between human individuals and artificial intelligence operating systems and then between the operating systems itselves. The film journeys through primarily one character, Theodore (Joaquin Pheonix), and his experience through heartbreak as a human being. Theodore is distinguished from other characters by his profound ability to empathize and articulate human emotions. When Theodore engages in a relationship with an OS, Samantha (Scarlet Johansen), his perception of real emotions are muted; although his relationship with Samantha is very much interactive and reciprocal, its only environment is in a vacuum. This vacuum prevents Theodore from accepting the truth about his life and specifically his failed relationship with his ex-wife; even further, Theodore may have sealed the vacuum himself. Theodore is fully aware that his relationship with Samantha isn’t tangible, he is reminded of this aspect several times: when Isabella, the human surrogate, comes over for the night, during a getaway to Catalina with Paul and his girlfriend, during their vacation to the cabin, and other smaller instances that Theodore chooses to ignore. Theodore evidentially chose to remain inside his idealized world, where so long as everyone is polite to each other, there is no need or place for suffering and sadness. Spike Jonze was strategic in portraying this idealized world with a carefully planned pallet of colors. In the office setting and within the space of the city that Theodore travels, there are just a few colors displayed, and those being warmer colors, specifically red. Red, the color of blood, traditionally, is a symbol of life. In the film, it accentuates Theodore’s vitality, but at the same time, is used to describe the idealized world that he lives in. The relationship of the colors is especially apparent in the ending scene in which Theodore and Amy are on an L.A. rooftop just as the sun is barely visible; the colors on screen are cooler, but crisp and life-like. Arguably, this moment is the most relatable scene in the whole film. It is a scene in which Theodore has come alive, after years or months of sleeping with the computers.

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  13. Michael Loose

    Here, Theodore addresses how what he loves most about Samantha is how she is so many things, she’s “so much larger than that”. Samantha then mentions how she is finally ok with not having a body, and the three humans feel awkward about her revelation.
    Prior to this scene, Samantha desires a body, even hiring a surrogate body to be in the relationship, to imitate or enact the feelings and movements she wants, either to express herself in a physical way or visualize how she feels to Theodore. After embracing being a computer, such as the scene’s at 46:16, and going on a date without being judges for it, Samantha realizes she can be in a relationship with Theodore, just different in how it interacts, like having to account for a camera in a pocket instead of being an actual person. Theodore’s compliment, and her ability to rapidly learn, reveal to her how limitless she actually is.
    The film goes on to show how she is much more than humans can be; talking to thousands at once, if with other AI, then at incredible speeds. Existing in digital dimensions, she is not limited by the same things humans are. She will eventually move to another plane of thought that Theodore can’t, but will still want to see him if he ever makes it there.
    Returning to this scene, however, shows how discomforting to Theodore and his friends what Samantha, or AI in general, are capable of. They aren’t going to die like us, be limited to being in spot at a time, to be only talk with one mouth. We are so caught up in the AI not being human, that we don’t consider humans not being AI.

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  14. Karina Lucero

    “How can I help you?” Samantha asks Theodore, “Everything feels disorganized.” he replies and that begins the relationship between Samantha and Theodore. The film is Samantha’s progression from the inhuman to a transformation of that which is beyond human. She becomes her own person by the end of the film and grows beyond her role to solely serve Theodore. Their relationship begins as that between an assistant and the person in charge, to a much-needed friendship for Theodore, to a romantic relationship, and as Samantha grows beyond her programming she also grows beyond these types of human relationships and must leave Theodore behind to continue her path of self-discovery.
    When Samantha first says, “How can I help you?” there’s an implication that Samantha is somehow created solely for Theodore, she is his assistant. Samantha checks grammar errors, cleans up his email, and is easily at his beck and call. This is when she is still somehow considered less than human and more like a tool of organization. Samantha’s programming allows her to feel as a personal and human experience so she quickly outgrows this role. As she learns more and as she gains these human experiences from Theodore, Samantha then progresses to her role as friend and therapist. “What is your relationship with your mom?” Theodore’s reaction to the question, shows that it was somewhat strained. Samantha’s role as therapist and friend is to make Theodore feel like it is all about him and his needs. Theodore is an overwhelmingly lonely man and the less human interaction he has the more he turns to Samantha to help guide him through his depression. Samantha is more attuned to his needs, unlike the girl he went on a blind date on, and that strengthens their relationship as well as transforms it into something romantic. This stage of their relationship still shows that Samantha is still in a serving position to Theodore, “How can I help you” is now about helping Theodore move beyond his divorce and his depression.
    The pivotal moment that changes everything is when Theodore discovers she is polyamorous. Her ability to be romantically in love with hundreds of humans shows her undergoing transcendence to that of something beyond human. Samantha can love and know so many more people than Theodore ever will or is capable of and this marks her as autonomous. At this moment, Theodore must recognize that Samantha doesn’t belong to him; she is her own being with her own experiences and interactions that go beyond her relationship with Theodore and his friends. Samantha becomes her own being with experiences beyond Theodore and to grow and progress more she must leave him behind.

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