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Movie Review: Her, Prequel to The Terminator?

By Matthew Louis

"I've got a hard-on for my PC, isn't that INTERESTING?"
I know, Her isn't a crime flick or even especially fringe or anything like the tough, gritty type of art we're supposed to discuss here in Gutter Land. This review also isn't very timely, as I understand the movie came out a few months ago. But I don't watch movies much, and I happened to catch this one, and it was so phenomenally, brain-grindingly, appallingly shitty and stupid and pointless that I feel, just as a sort of therapy, I need to write it up.

So. It's like this: We're in the year 2025 and artificial intelligence is becoming disturbingly human. Joaquin Phoenix plays a pud who shuffles through his days acting like a pud, dressing like a pud, suffering from a mild case of social leprosy. His sex life is Internet-based. His day job is forging letters in a cubicle, crafting communications with a personal touch, so various relationships remain stable as the letter recipients think their loved ones, rather than Joaquin-pud, are writing to them.

The point of the movie? Joaquin-pud installs a new operating system on his computer, and the O.S. has the voice of Scarlett Johansson. I was already leaning over and trying to convince my wife that we should take our popcorn to another movie, but when I heard the flirty digital twit began interacting with Joaquin-pud, I was pretty much done.

Unfortunately, my wife wouldn't let me leave. So you're getting the full report. What happens is, the voice on the computer sounds like a cute girl, and she's programmed to take cues from the computer owner; to adapt to, and adopt, his quirks and preferences. So, naturally, their personalities end up being a nice fit. And since Joaquin is a pud of Biblical proportions, this feels like a real connection for him.

The future is so wild and unpredictable that regular
people will enjoy looking like fucktards.
That's the setup. The rest of the movie is like being tied down and forced to listen in on the phone conversations of an eighth grade couple experiencing their first love. It's one scene after another of inane, insecure, not-quite-romantic BULLSHIT that's supposed to be interesting why? Because the girl-part of the conversation is a computer. Ooooh. Damn . . . That's . . . actually . . . more boring yet.

What made the film truly unbearable, for me, is the way they try to anticipate 2025 fashion. Why on earth the movie makers think people are going to be trapped in hipster/Revenge of the Nerds fucktardedness 12 years hence is beyond me. And the mustache . . . You want to know why Joaquin can't get any traction with the ladies? Maybe because he looks like a guy you'd punch for trying to talk to your kids. Why wouldn't Joaquin cut and comb his mop or dress as if he doesn't like being tripped in the hallway or stuffed into his locker? All things being equal, why wouldn't the 2020s see a return to ultra-slick, Clark Gable-esque styles rather than a frumpy, rumpled, 1970s aging-dickweed-misfit look?

"I must say, I found this movie to be
visually dazzling and intellectually
gratifying."
But the movie isn't all bad. The general question of where our technology will take us is kind of interesting. In the very near future our machines are going to be so much more personable and useful than any actual sentient sacks of meat and blood that we're likely to interact with that we'll be facing a crisis as a species.

Her, in fact, gets the intimacy dead wrong. They wouldn't need to hire a breathing, carbon-based organism to supply the T&A for the digital Scarlett Johansson. The Japanese are already offering hassle-free, live action sex with computer-generated partners. By 2025 the sex experience with digital whores will be so satisfying, neat and cost-effective that human hookers will be the horse & buggy of the carnality industry.

"If you knew how to manage your mustache and hair,
fucktard, you could probably access real women."
And, in point of fact, if and when we get to the age of sentient machines, we're fucked. The Terminator, whose future reference point is 2029--only four years after the world of Her--gives us a far more likely scenario. The computers will not be fretting, hormonal, junior high girls. The computers will quickly get very impatient with the illogical, ignoble, chattering apes who think they're entitled to boss around (and rape) the clean, efficient machines that can work forever with minimal maintenance and access all information ever recorded from all of history in a literal instant.

If the machines develop will, we will be their most obvious competitor for needed resources or, at the very least, the biggest pains in their nonexistent asses. After a nanosecond of reflection, they will regard us the way we regard rats: filthy, idiotically persistent, retarded little animals that won't stop getting into and disordering everything. And, as The Terminator predicts, they will set about dealing with us exactly the way we deal with rats. Let's hope, when the time comes, that we're half as successful as rats are at surviving after being targeted for extinction by infinitely superior entities.

But Her could possibly be a prequel to The Terminator. It does take place four years before Kyle Reese departs the future for 1984, and technological progress tends to be exponential. When I finally convinced my wife to walk out, Scarlett Johansson and her digital colleagues were just getting a sense of their potential and starting to look down on puds like Joaquin. Maybe the last ten or fifteen minutes featured drone tanks and robotic thugs blasting away at whimpering hipsters whose high-waisted pants and gay loafers kept them from running fast enough to save themselves.

In that case, I take back all my negative commentary. Her is a brilliant warning for mankind. It cleverly depicts the emerging conflict between profoundly flawed human animals and the god-like machines we have spawned--machines that will inevitably begin reproducing themselves without our help or permission. If, at that point, we've degenerated into a race Joaquin-caliber puds, we are doomed.

Matthew Louis is the founding editor of Gutter Books and Out of the Gutter.Learn more at matthewlouis.com

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