This spring, we held our first Humanities & Ethics Center Student Competition. We invited Drury students to submit a reflection, of no more than 300 words, on a record of the human experience that has affected them.
A “record” here could come from any of the following categories: books, films, essays, historical objects, religious texts & objects, artworks & digital media, languages and cultures, authors, philosophers, religious or historical figures, monuments, or memorials.
During the next four Mondays of the summer, we will be publishing one of the four winning entries on our blog. We begin with Bre Legan’s reflection on the film Her below. Bre won first place, and a prize of $75. The additional winners included Sarah Fuller, whose “Layers of History” on her time in the Roman Catacombs, won second place ($50). Reflections by Madison Stehele, who wrote on a history class in Spanish and Picasso’s Guernica, and by Olivia Thompson, who wrote on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s poem “La Marioneta,” tied for third place ($30 each).
We are proud to present their work to our readers, and delighted to have such strong students in the Humanities at Drury.
Her (2013), directed by Spike Jonze The premise is simple enough: a lonely man falls in love with his computer. Throw in a near-future world and the dangers and delights of artificial intelligence, and you have the makings of a trope-filled, cliché-driven science-fiction film! However, Spike Jonze’s 2013 drama, Her, signals a rapid departure from mainstream media with a serious sensitivity to meaningful content, documenting the true human experience.
Her follows sensitive introvert, Theodore, who handwrites personal letters for strangers in an era of fast-paced technology. He purchases an Operating System (OS) named Samantha, and throughout the course of the film, they fall in (and out) of love. This modern love story not only explores a broadening scope of sexuality, but also how technology creates disconnectedness and a false nostalgia for a world of connectedness that may have never existed. Jonze ultimately urges viewers to stop mystifying technology because it is created by human beings based on human values to fill human needs and desires.
The ending of Her finds the OS leaving the confines of earth for an intangible, unknowable plane of existence, or perhaps nonexistence (we humans cannot know for sure). We too are at an intersection of love and technology that is becoming increasingly intertwined. The magic of Her lies in seeing our own world reflected in Jonze’s vision of the future. The only difference? We have the privilege of time to analyze our trends and habits and make informed decisions of what our future holds. How we approach technology, how we choose to embrace and/or limit love and sexuality, and how we communicate and connect with humans—Her urges us to consider these questions as we hurtle towards a co-existent aliveness and openness to possibility with and through our technology. What is more human than that?