DISCUSSION: “Her” & “Becoming Human”

Choose a scene from Her and discuss its significance to the movie as a whole. Feel free to use Gross’s essay in your response if it’s helpful (or if you disagree with her).

7 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: “Her” & “Becoming Human”

  1. The scene from the movie that I found most powerful was when Theodore came online to talk to Samantha about a physics book that he was reading and Samantha wasn’t answering. In a panic, Theodore rushed to his computer, desperately trying to make contact with Samantha. He runs through the streets, with no destination in mind, but the sheer panic he feels is palpable. In the end, it turns out that Samantha’s software was simply updating, and Theodore didn’t get her message that she would be offline.

    To me, this scene shows the connection that Theodore and Samantha have and that it really is true love. Theodore was shocked and scared at the fact that he might never talk to Samantha again, showing how much he cares about her. This relationship is powerful because it is the first time that Theodore has opened up to a women since his breakup with Catherine. I agree with Gross’s comment that the OSes help bridge the gap between dysfunctional and functional relationships, serving as a type of “emotional rebound” for both Theodore and Amy. Samantha prepped Theodore for his future relationships by allowing him to be more vulnerable and open up to someone. Theodore was able to be himself and develop as a person when he was with Samantha, something he never got with Catherine because they grew up together and only existed as a couple.

    What Theodore once viewed as a new gadget that was fun to talk to evolved into an actual girlfriend. What makes their relationship even more powerful for me is that Samantha doesn’t even have a body. Their relationship was purely intellectual, which is refreshing to see when many relationships now are based on the physical aspect. Overall, I think it is amazing that Theodore was able to develop a healthy relationship with a being of Artificial Intelligence.

  2. First of all, this movie was wild. Incredibly well done, but it made me quite uncomfortable because of how realistic this scenario may be as time goes on. But I thought that the scene that was most representative of the movie as a whole was the scene where Theo was laying in bed one night talking to Samantha. More precisely, the moments before and leading up to their intimate moment. Theo made a comment about he was worried that he already felt everything that he could possibly feel in his life and that he feared that every emotion moving forward would only be a fraction of the intensity of what he felt before in his life. I felt like this comment portrayed the theme of the movie really well, which is about emotions and how one feels. Theo feels that after his ex wife, no feelings would ever match how he felt with her. And in love, one is able to feel this eternal high of emotions and everything else pales in comparison. It is this fear that creates hesitance in Theo to move on in his life or to pursue another relationship of any kind. He thinks that his happiness is dependent on other people and his love for them and without this, there is no use trying.
    Just afterwards, Samantha made another comment that I felt portrayed the entire concept of the movie and the idea of pursuing artificial intelligence romantically. She was telling Theo about how she had felt upset earlier and how that made her proud, because she was capable of feeling emotions. But then she made a crucial point, which is that she was unclear if this was her own personal feelings or if it was just what she was programmed to feel. It is this that sets AI apart from humans — AI may be capable of feeling emotions, but there will never be a way of knowing whether or not it was just a part of the programming or if it was their own conscious decision. Throughout the movie though, Samantha is defying what we may know to be the limits of programming which suggests that she is indeed capable of feeling emotions and creating them on her own. The entire movie does focus on Theo and his quest for love and happiness, but it is also a movie which shows the journey of artificial intelligence becoming their own selves and growing more and more human like.

  3. Honestly, I think one scene that best summarised this movie and its themes was the one where Samantha and Theodore were walking together and talking about the people they saw in the crowds.

    Theodore points out a pair of people and their children, and asks Samantha to describe what their relationship with one another was. She assumes they’re just a happy family together, but then Theodore tells her that that wasn’t the impression HE was getting from them. Instead, he believed that while the family was undeniably happy and stable, the woman was a new wife to the man, and that she may have gone through several bad relationships before ending up in a good one with him.

    And this connects to the themes expressed in the film as a whole (and the fantastic and realistic acting certainly helped further these themes). That people are multifaceted and complex, especially when it comes to relationships. That people have different perceptions of others and themselves due to their life experiences. That because of all of these complexities, misunderstandings and misinterpretations can happen, leading to relationship bumps or breakups or creating unintentionally negative impressions.

  4. I thought that the scene between Theodore and Catherine when they meet to sign their divorce papers was once of the most interesting of the movie because it is the only time that another character reacts negatively to Theodore’s relationship with Samantha. Catherine puts into words the aspect of Theodore and Samantha’s relationship that I found most odd and upsetting when she tells him, “it does make me very sad that you can’t handle real emotions.” I discussed a similar idea in my first essay when I argued that humans and robots should not be allowed to marry because robots are not capable of authentic human emotion. This is what I found most troubling about Theodore’s relationship with Samantha: that I could never fully believe that Samantha’s emotions were authentic and “uncalculated” because I knew that she was actually an operating system.

    Catherine’s reaction to hearing about Theodore’s relationship with Samantha is interesting, especially when compared to the way that the other characters in the movie reacted. Catherine was the only one to question the emotional validity of a relationship with an operating system. When Theodore tells his coworker that Samantha is an operating system, the coworker simply says “cool.” Similarly, Amy does not seem phased and later develops a friendship with an operating system. In my opinion, it seemed kind of unrealistic that Catherine was the only character to find the fact that Theo is dating an operating system to be strange/alarming/concerning.

  5. To start, I largely disagreed with the reading Gross has in her essay. I don’t think this movie is about how technology can teach us to have real relationship, or thanks to the ever helpful OS, Theo and his lady friend can now finally be together! I think using Samantha as a way to justify a theory that two characters, who never showed anything towards each other except platonic love and support, should be smashed together in a romantic relationship. It feels trite and, honestly, a little gross.

    Instead, I think the movie is speaking to the ways in which past relationships, especially ones that played a substantial role in your life, can change you and affect the rest of your relationships thereafter, both platonic and romantic. Theo is struggling with the dilema throughout the movie, which the audience can see when he’s talking to Samantha or his blind date or whoever and flashes back to scenes of Catherine. “Sunlight-drenched” was an excellent way to put the flashbacks because it shows that he has elevated these moments in his mind past a simple memory, giving them special meaning. The sunlight literally alters the way the audience sees Catherine–casting shadows at times and making her glow at other–which shows the way the idea of “Catherine” was altered in Theo’s mind.

    He seems to be struggling to find a way to justify those memories with his current relationships. How much of that was real? What exactly were the good parts and did they lead to the bad parts? Do the bad memories of a past relationship necessary negate the value of the good ones? What parts of a relationship should he keep with him as he moves on and starts dating new women and which parts should he let go? These seems to be the central questions that the movie is trying to answer to me. Saying Samantha was a teaching tools feels like a weak cop out that ignores the value of these important questions and the discussions that surround them.

  6. One scene from Her that really stood out to me is when Theodore confronts Samantha that she will never witness or truly feel pain or suffering. For me, this scene of the movie really stood out to me and was a turning point in my opinion. Suffering and pain is a huge factor in a relationship, in my opinion. Yes, Samantha might have been able to feel “emotions” with Theodore and those “emotions” might have been some of pain or suffering; however, does she truly feel the pain that human beings like Theodore feel? This is a huge indicator as to why Theodore and Samantha couldn’t have a lasting relationship, even though they really loved each other. In my opinion, that’s solely the reason Theodore ends up connecting with Amy on a different level. They both have gone through similar hardships which allows them to open up to each other and empathize with each other’s experiences. Like Theodore, Amy had gone through a long, difficult divorce. As Jessica Gross stated, Amy was a woman “with whom he (Theodore) shares an easy familiarity”. Towards the end of the movie, we notice how Amy and Theodore reunite after Theodore grows apart from Samantha. A human being can’t be in love with someone who constantly has a perfect life, is awarded all time, and isn’t capable of experiencing the journey of pain and overcoming it. We feel most human when we’re in pain; it is when we are most vulnerable and are in touch with our emotions. It’s very bizarre and interesting to me how we are able to connect with other human beings based on our struggles. I am not denying the fact that Theodore had a true and passionate connection with Samantha; however, Theodore subconsciously knew all along something was missing- something didn’t feel entirely right.

  7. The scene that I found most significant in the movie was when Samantha found the girl for Theo to have sex with. Although the relationship was very bizarre for me from the beginning, this scene reminded me how strange it really was. It is very interesting that Samantha was the one pushing this set up the whole time. In Gross’ article, she analyzes the movie by saying Samantha is somewhat of a therapist for Theo, and they grow together. If this is the case, I am curious why Samantha was pushing for this setup scenario between Theo and the girl. Theo was very hesitant and eventually shut the whole thing down, so I don’t understand how this scene fits into the theme of Samantha being a part of Theo’s sub-conscious.
    Additionally, for me, this scene showed how the relationship would never really be able to work. Both Theo and Samantha wanted a more intimate physical relationship and this scene showed how impossible that would be.
    This scene also made the movie even more difficult to wrap my head around because the girl was so strange. She was so invested in this relationship with people she didn’t know. As Gross’ article mentions, this movie is set in the “not far off future,” however, this scene seemed extremely unrealistic in modern times.

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