Being born into a certain generation is like being chained to a certain train of thought or set of ideals. Today, people can’t be expected to live without computers or cell phones. In the Middle Ages, it was caste systems and disease. If I spend too much time thinking about this, I’ll only get depressed because I realize that freedom is only an illusion that can be attained within a certain set of rules.
But sometimes I can’t help it. I often find myself wishing and daydreaming about living in the past. I think that part of this has to do with the fact that I’ve been watching people slowly drifting apart because of technology for my entire life. I’ve seen marriages- the ultimate of all intimate relationships- end because partners no longer live with their spouse; they live with their phone and their group of friends on Facebook. I’ve seen entire families sitting in the same room, all on their phones, barely noticing each other. These people spread their time thin over a hundred or a thousand people, instead of investing it into the person or small group of people that they really love. It’s not that they are trying to place distance; it’s just the world that they are chained to.
Beneath the cool new shit and crazy special effects, movies almost always re-enforce this problem with technology, too. I remember one disturbingly funny scene in Demolition Man in which Sandra Bullock says she wants to have sex with Sylvester Stallone’s character. He agrees (duhhh) and gets ready for her to get naked. Instead, she hooks them up into a computer????? It’d be funny if it wasn’t so real.
This weekend, I watched Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. The movie was funny at moments and incomplete in others, but its main focus is the role of technology in interpersonal relationships. Theodore Twombly- played by Phoenix- is an isolated, recently divorced man that leans on his operating system for comfort in the face of loneliness. Over time, he evolves with the “consciousness” (as it’s called in the movie) and falls in love. A pretty wild concept?
As I watched the film, I could hear other members of the audience scoffing at Phoenix as their laps lit up from cell phone lights. Other characters in the film roll their eyes and give him dirty looks as they have an earpiece in and they talk to themselves. It was surreal and funny and ludicrous all at the same time. The movie was mocking the audience and their destiny.
Today, people are already in relationships with their technology. Sure, for some, there are people on the other end of that line or computer screen. But this is superficial and distant. As people become more comfortable with technology, it’s going to take up more of their time. As technology is perfected, it’s going to become the tool that they rely upon for comfort. After all, why would anybody get too close to another person that is only going to hurt their feelings or make them confront something that they don’t like about themselves? Nobody. We’re a species that is all about minimizing pain. Why wouldn’t we cut that out, too?
In the end, Jonze’ film spends most of its time showing that getting too close to anything (computer or person) will only leave a person wounded. Everything is just evolving too fast and in too many directions for two beings to stay on the same path for an extended period of time. What Jonze says is a good point, but he seems to be of the group that is overly in love with technology and thinks that this destiny is inevitable. I, however, think that that is just a cop out. But who knows? I might just be too in love with the past.
Movie Grade- B