New Criticals

Ultimately, Theodore feels betrayed by the machine as he has indulged in the fantasy that ‘she’ was specially configured for him and him alone. Even worse, Samantha grows apart from him. She develops needs of her own, with echoes of Frankenstein’s monster learning human emotions and longing for them to be fulfilled. The difference here is that the operating system surpasses human capabilities to the point where Samantha declares that not having a body is an advantage. She really can be anywhere/anytime. As in Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of singularity, artificial intelligence finally achieves consciousness and, so doing, abandons us humans as inferior. Not the weeping monster pining for our love, but superior entities leaving us behind.

Who, then, will look after us? And what does this mean anyway? Feminists have long argued that we need to rethink ‘free’ housework and caring as forms of emotional and physical work in the sense that they are a necessary part of intimacy. Japanese engineers may be trying to solve this problem with nursebots for the aged, but this scenario is one we are skeptical about and wonder if it is a future we desire. We smile knowingly at old people stroking furbies but we feel a bit uneasy about Theodore falling in love with Samantha. Why do we consider the need to connect of the young so differently than the loneliness of the old? Are our social media-saturated lives really as isolated as the film suggests. Or is this film playing on the easy media trope of a postmodern culture in which everyone is always electronically connected and yet very alone.