Good essay about john smith

One of the most basic elements of human behavior is sociability. We thrive in the ability to communicate and interact with others. It is essential to the continued propagation of our species. We meet, we mate, and we survive by companionship. There are even studies that show that companionship is almost as important to our health as food and water.
What makes humans different than almost every other creature on the Earth though is that we can gain our companionship from varied sources, and sometimes different forms of companionship fulfills different emotional and mental needs. Male lions don’t need the companionship of drinking buddies. They have no need of other male lions to meet up at the watering hole and complain about how the gazelle are doing this year or brag about how they took down that zebra last week. Instead, they fight other males for dominance only. Chimpanzees don’t go around making pets of mice or smaller animals; they eat them.
What makes humans especially unique is that we are able to form necessary relationships across cultures, across distances, even across species. In Spike Jonze’s Her, Jonze takes the next step, with the creation of companionship that crosses into artificial companionship. In addition, he explores the concepts of communication, self-expression, isolation, and emotional fulfillment within the framework of this exploration of human companionship.
The first concept that Jonze brings to the forefront is communication. His hero, Theodore Twombly, works for an online company that specializes in people overcoming their hesitancy about communication by composing ” hand-written letters” that are actually ghostwritten and composed offsite in a typical office. Theodore is quite adept at communication when he can separate himself from his intended audience, but frequently struggles when communication is face to face. In his composing of letters, and his initial communications with Samantha, Theodore is able to communicate clearly, with a poetic voice that shows his depth of character, his sense of humor, and his intelligence. However, when it comes to his interactions with his co-workers, his friend Amy, or his blind date, Theodore is far less adept. He struggles with getting beyond shallow generalities, leaving behind the impression that he is, as his date puts it, ” a really creepy dude.”
Another issue of communication that Jonze explores the need for self-expression. One of the biggest challenges that Theodore struggles with in the movie is his deep seated desire to feel listened to. In most of his daily interactions with other people, he often feels disregarded, a placeholder for other people’s conversations. Every time he tries to take his communication past the shallowest of levels he is interrupted. This leaves him with a mental bucket that is overly full, full of ideas, of thoughts and feelings, that he cannot let out. Because he cannot let out his own feelings, he is unable to listen and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others. It is only through his interactions with Samantha that he is able to probe his inner feelings for himself and his own self awareness. Once he is able to ” empty his bucket,” so to speak, is he able to find the ability to listen to Samantha and her own evolving thoughts and needs. He is able to listen and understand the feelings that Samantha is developing, and appreciate her thoughts and mindset.
This translates later into his work and his interactions with real people. He is able to discern even more about people, composing better letters, more realistic and emotionally involving. In addition, he is able to listen to his friend Amy, and form a deeper connection with her. This proves important later in the movie as it allows Theodore to come to grips with letting go of his marriage, and eventually Samantha leaving him.
Another theme that Jonze explores about human companionship is isolation. Through much of the movie, Theodore’s interactions are very isolated, even when he is in a large crowd. In the opening scenes, as he is going home Theodore is surrounded by people on the subway. Yet, even with these hundreds of people surrounding him, Theodore is isolated. His constant usage of his earpiece and small screen interface means that he rarely is paying attention to what others around him are doing. In an ironic twist that highlights his isolation, when Theodore decides on the subway to look at risqué photos of a celebrity, he hunches over to hide his screen. However, with everyone else on the subway being in their own isolated worlds (some computer generated, some through books or newspapers, some just in their own heads), Theodore’s privacy and isolation were guaranteed regardless of his hiding the screen or not. Repeatedly throughout the movie, this theme is repeated as Theodore either interacts exclusively with Samantha, ignoring the crowd, or also being ignored by the rest of the crowd while they also talk into their own earpieces.
This is a concept that has come under increased criticism as the growth of computer technology has spread. As people interact more and more with electronic media, our abilities to interact with our immediate surroundings shrinks. In one humorous example, Japanese researchers estimated that if every person crossing the world famous Shibuya crosswalks were carrying a smartphone and interacting with it, almost 2/3 of them would be involved in some sort of accident, whether it be collisions, tripping, or something else (Himmel, ” Japan’s smartphone ‘zombies’ wreak havoc on the streets”). When we are speaking of other forms of transportation, the dangers rise even more. Every day there are stories of car accidents, often with fatalities, where one or more of the drivers were distracted by a cell phone, a text message, or a video screen.
These dramatic results underscore a deeper problem. The increased reliance on electronic media and communication has led to more isolation in other areas of life as well. Approaching strangers to find potential new friends, or even love, has been replaced with online dating sites, blogs, and other forums. While the immediacy of such interactions increases the initial chance of success in finding what you need, it also reduces the complexities that make the real world intriguing and satisfying. It also leads to a sense of impermanence, in that relationships can be turned on and off with the click of a mouse. In two separate scenes, Jonze highlights this through use of cybersex. In Theodore’s first attempt at cybersex, while he quickly finds a partner (after discarding a other choices after listening to only a few words), his experience is dissatisfying and humorously frightening as his partner demands to be choked with a dead cat. Later on however, Thoedore’s sexual event with Samantha was dramatically different. Since he had formed a bond with Samantha through their sharing of thoughts and ideas, his experience was tremendous and enjoyable. Jonze even highlights this through the fact that Theodore’s first unpleasant encounter is accompanied by visual scenery of an attractive women, while the meaningful event with Samantha has nothing but a black screen.
This leads to the ultimate overarching theme of Jonze’s exploration of human companionship in Her, that of emotional fulfillment. Theodore’s marriage falls apart mainly due to lack of emotional fulfillment. Whether it was, as Theodore tells Samantha, that they grew apart, or whether the troubles were due to other areas, Theodore starts the movie emotionally dissatisfied. He has a yearning desire to connect, and to find that fulfillment, but is unable to do so. He doesn’t have the relationships he wants, and there is insinuation that he finds his work emotionally dissatisfying as well. He used to be a writer for LA Weekly, and now he’s ghostwriting letters to someone’s grandmother or husband or girlfriend? Regardless of the pay, he finds the work dissatisfying as evidenced by the fact that he kept over 1000 e-mails from LA Weekly. He is unable to find emotional fulfillment from relationships, so he hangs on to the memories and the ghost of his marriage, even though he knows intellectually that it is over.
Through his interactions with Samantha however, Theodore is able to find emotional fulfillment. It started with their first conversation, in which not only does she fill the tangible need of organizing his e-mails and his desktop, but also fills the intangible need of recognizing his worth as a writer by remarking about the humor in some of his old LA Weekly articles. Samantha reinforces this intangible need by not just filling immediate needs such as proofreading letters for spelling or reminding him of e-mails, but also frequently asking how he feels about interactions. Samantha’s interactions with Theodore increasingly fill this need, one which he was unable to grasp or perhaps even identify early on in the movie.
Samantha herself also goes on a journey of emotional fulfillment through the movie. Content at first to the limits of Theodore’s hard drive and interactions with him, she soon branches out, asking to be taken to various locations such as a fair or the beach. She also goes on her own journey of self fulfillment by exploring her interests, whether it is first enjoying music and eventually attempting to composing her own, or pondering her own limitations. In the middle section of the film, around the time of her first romantic encounter with Theodore, Samantha willingly admits to feelings of jealousy and insecurity because of her lack of a physical body. She attempts to overcome these feelings first through self reflection, then outside exploration, joining book clubs and eventually networking with other artificial intelligence OSes. In the end of the film, she and the other AI-OSes decide that, regardless of the short term emotional pain, they have to go on their own separate path from their human companions, in order to satisfy their own emotional needs.
The concepts explored in Spike Jonze’s Her are not unique. Science fiction has long served as a medium in which we explore the human condition through the mirror of science. Even as far back as Metropolis, film makers have used the concept of artificial intelligences to speak about the human emotional condition. Growing up, one that sticks with me is Arnold Schwazenegger’s Terminator in T2, when he states ” I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do.”
In Her, Spike Jonze uses the concepts of artificial intelligence to speak again on the human condition. His use of Samantha and her interaction with Theodore to talk about the needs for humanity to communicate, to live not in isolation but in interaction with others, and our needs for emotional fulfillment and their relation to humanity’s need for companionship creates a poignant, sometimes sad or funny, but ultimately thought provoking commentary.

Works Cited

Himmer, Alastair. ” Japan’s Smartphone ‘Zombies’ Wreak Havoc on the Streets.” Yahoo News. 12 November 2014. Web. Accessed 1 December 2014
Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, and Edward Furlong. Carolco Pictures. 1991