The Oscar for worst depiction of technology goes to Her. Released late last year, this movie’s premise is that an introverted guy (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love, seriously in love, with his new operating system.
Maybe I’m still feeling used and dirty after Windows 8 came out, but seriously, in love with his operating system?
The whole story is laughable. He’s lonely. He gets his new operating system. During the setup, he gets asked impertinent questions, not the usual ones, not about his wifi, not about agreeing to the fact he doesn’t own the software but only leases it (check your End User Agreement) but gets asked about his relationship with his mother.
Of course the new operating system with the voice of Scarlett Johanasson who names herself Samantha gets into all his business including his work (he works at a Bring Your Own Device kind of company). She knows all his passwords and reads all his emails and work documents. She’s basically Clippy on lots and lots of estrogen.
Then the inevitable problems from installing Girlfriend 2.0 over top of ex-wife 1.0 arise. He yearns for his old operating system, I mean, wife Catherine, whose bits are warm, soft and real.
But he continues on with the electronic harpy. One of the more chilling aspects of this movie is all the humans seem more glued to their devices than they are to other humans. She begins to evolve beyond him (doesn’t take long given how shallow a character he is) and starts affairs with other folks on the Internet. Hasn’t she heard of Internet transmitted diseases?
And then finally she leaves his computer. Does he restore from backup? No, the movie ends while he mopes with one of his neighbours whose operating system left too.
This movie panders to the worst kinds of beliefs about computers: that they are somehow independent from humans, have a mind of their own and that we are powerless. Computers are tools programmed by humans, operated by humans and we are responsible for them.
Scarily, this movie won an Oscar for best original screenplay.