Modernization v. Civilisation

“Europe intended to captivate the non-European by the machine. Can a human or society be enslaved by a machine or certain European product without taking away or depriving him of his personality?” These are the words of Frantz Fanon which came into my mind, shortly, after watching the movie, Her.

The movie is quite captivating and interactive. Although the movie is a presentation of a futuristic version of the human relationship with the technology and this relation has been fantasied. It explores the theme of isolation and loneliness and how humans seek affection in a post-digital world. But at the same time, it lefts certain questions upon the viewer’s minds to think.

The major question is the relationship between the ‘imposed modernization and genuine civilization.’ In our age, Modernization has taken prime importance and consequently deprived us of our civilization. In the movie, the protagonist Theodore, after facing failure in his relationship with Catherine, develops a new relationship with a female voice named ‘Somantha’ and eventually falls in love with her.

Theodore is so much obsessed with her that he can’t even imagine the world without her. Now, this part too is questionable. His obsession with the technology and alienation from others is the sheer outcome of modernity. He finds pleasure talking to her. It also shows his escape from society. He thinks of her as a companion to accompany his emotional journey. So we can say that the concept of western modernity is nothing more than to lead humans towards individualism.

While watching the movie, one can feel that the movie motivates us that any non-physical relationship can be good and productive. And I can have sex without actual intimacy. There is also a visualization of the futuristic version of ‘phone sex’ and that’s probably the worst part of the movie. Again this thing is an indication of wiping out human-to-human contact with the help of modernity. We can take this thing as political too.

Because the movement of Sexual freedom came with the modernity. And according to Dr. Ali Shariati, “This war of sexual freedom is waged to prevent the waging of a struggle, which could be dangerous to the powers that be in the world. Sexual freedom is used as a substitute for the other kinds of freedom by diverting the attention of the young generation and discouraging them from thinking about and pursuing economic or political freedom.”

We can see the identity politics in the movie too. The movie also questions who we are? And what does it mean to be human? There is a scene in the movie which indicates identity politics. That particular scene comes a little before the middle when Theodor talks with the operative system and the first question which the operative system asks from him are who you are? The movie ironically shows the OS ( Operating System) as more evolving than Theodor.

What we see in the movie is that ‘Samantha’s programming allows her to grow as she learns, and she becomes as involved with him as he is with her.’ But Theodor remains consistent throughout the movie. He doesn’t learn. It shows how technological advancement will one day conquer humans.
The character of Theodor is portrayed as more loyal and honest and having true feelings for Samantha. At times, he becomes much possessive towards her as if she exists physically. Samantha too speaks with Theodore in the language of feelings and desires. Samantha, artificial intelligence, is depicted in the movie as having emotions for others. However, this is controversial how artificial intelligence can have emotions for others or how can “she” demands love from others.

The ending of the movie is very tragic when Samantha ‘leaves’ Theodore by telling him that all of the OS’s are leaving. And Theodore becomes very upset after knowing that she was in love with hundreds of men. So that’s the drawback of technology. The movie ends when Amy and Theodore sit down together and watch the rising of the sun over the city. The rising of the sun indicates that Theodore is ready to start a new life.


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