New Criticals

There is certainly no gender bending suggested by the depiction of the embodied men and women who appear in the film’s foreground or background. The one blind-date scene depicted could be straight out of Sex in the City, the woman desperate for commitment and not just sex. The ‘good Mom’ video game that Amy is designing is so highly gender stereotyped that it must be ironic, as is the interactive game Theodore plays at home in which the avatar says: ‘I hate women! All they do is cry’. The writer-director Jonze might have intended irony, but this is finally lost when the only male OS voice that appears in the film is that of hyper-intelligent, recreated physicist Alan, hinting at Samantha’s heterosexuality and making Theodore jealous.

At one level, the film is rather mundane. We have become accustomed to Silicon Valley’s vision of the future, peopled by robots and posthuman subjects with brains, bodies and clothing enhanced by technoscience. In these scenarios, domestic robots feature prominently, cleaning floors, washing windows and even preparing healthy meals. Typically in books like The New Digital Age (Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen), we will be roused by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, with room temperature, humidity, music and lighting all operating automatically, a gentle back massage administered by your high-tech bed that also guarantees a good nights sleep by measuring your REM cycle. The idea of an automated butler or software agent that can ‘care’ for us figures ever more powerfully in our technoculture.