360° Coverage : Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The...

2 Updates
Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar

Mar 1 2014, 11:33am CST | by

A few weeks ago, I went to grab lunch at a takeout food spot near the office. It’s the sort of place where you move down an assembly line, telling the servers behind the counter what to add to your...

Filed under: news


26 weeks ago

Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar

Mar 1 2014, 11:33am CST | by

A few weeks ago, I went to grab lunch at a takeout food spot near the office. It’s the sort of place where you move down an assembly line, telling the servers behind the counter what to add to your plate at each station. Immediately ahead of me in line was a woman about my age looking intently at her phone. Over her shoulder, I saw that she was scrolling through photos on Instagram.

She reached the first station and looked up. Rice or greens? “Greens,” she said, barely looking up, and resumed scrolling as she shuffled to the next station.

Protein? “Chicken,” she said. Resume scrolling and shuffling.

Three sides? “Uhh…Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato.” Scroll, shuffle.

Then it was time to pay. The woman handed over her credit card. As she waited for the cashier to return it, she scrolled through a few last Instagram photos.

I don’t know why this scene made such an impression on me. Like you, I probably witness something like it every day.


Twenty minutes into watching “Her,” Spike Jonze’s film about a man who falls in love with the Siri-like artificial intelligence program that manages his digital devices, I thought, How the hell is this going to work as a two-hour movie? Specifically, how did Jonze think he was going to keep viewers’ attention for that long with a narrative that mostly involved a man interacting with a wallet-sized piece of plastic, glass and metal?

That Jonze succeeded — that “Her” is not just watchable but visually beautiful, emotionally honest, resonant, funny and deeply moving — is exactly why I’d like to see it win Best Picture at the Academy Awards this weekend.

If the Oscars were like the Winter Olympics, and the Best Picture category was figure skating, “Her” would be heading into judging with a huge advantage, having selected for itself a program with the highest difficulty and then pulled it off flawlessly.

In fact, the Oscars are a bit like Olympic figure skating, but mostly in that an inherent conservatism in the judging tends to encourage the same sorts of acts year after year. In skating, we get “Carmen” and “Bolero”; in film, it’s period pieces and tales of triumph over disability. Politics and politicking also play a bigger role than they’re supposed to in both competitions.

The plugged-in prognosticators seem to think it’s a three-way race for this year’s Best Picture award, among “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “American Hustle.” “Gravity” was absurd but boasted some technically bravura sequences. “American Hustle” felt like too many other ’70s crime capers and didn’t leave much of an aftertaste.

As for “12 Years a Slave,” well, this is the part where I admit that I haven’t seen it yet. I know. But even without having seen it, I’m willing to grant that it has that most crucial quality in a Best Picture: It is Important. By almost every critic’s lights, it’s thoroughly deserving of the Academy’s recognition.

It’s hard to compete with slavery for Importance. But “Her,” in its own ways, is an important film, too. In the low-stakes context of early-21st century Western culture, the relationship between humans and their technology may be the most important subject going. The way that smartphones have not only entered the fabric of our lives in the last few years but come to dominate it — what could be a bigger story than that?

That “Her” succeeds as well as it does is due to a sneaky bit of misdirection. Watching Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore lose himself in his phone and his video games while the flesh-and-blood people around him fade out of focus, we know there’s a lesson in there for us somewhere.

But when it arrives — spoiler alert, for those who haven’t seen “Her” yet — it’s not the one we’re expecting. Theodore’s mistake isn’t falling in love with something that’s less than human. Just the opposite. Although she’s only an operating system, Scarlett’s Johansson’s Samantha ultimately achieves a fuller, richer humanity than Theo himself, because, unlike him, she’s willing to do the difficult, scary work of making authentic connections with people who understand her. The phone is only the form factor; Samantha is very much a person. Theo’s mistake is in using technology to avoid doing that work./>/>

“12 Years a Slave” may have something important to teach us about our past, but “Her” has something important to say about the present. Are we listening — or are we too busy distracting ourselves with our screens?

Source: Forbes Business


3 days ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the wor ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


4 days ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedie ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Experiential purchases more satisfying than material ones
New York, Sep 2 (IANS) Spending money doing things or buying experiences makes people feel a lot more happier than spending money on material things, a study says.
Eat fruits daily for healthy heart
London, Sep 2 (IANS) Daily fruit consumption cuts the overall risk of death by 32 percent and cardio-vascular diseases (CVDs) by up to 40 percent, a study shows.
NASA building traffic control system for drones
New York, Sep 2 (IANS) NASA is developing a drone traffic management programme that would work as a separate air traffic control system for drones flying low to the ground at 400 to 500 feet.
App that enhances smartphone battery life
New York, Sep 2 (IANS) Are you frustrated by the limited battery life of your smartphone? No need to fret any longer as a US professor has created a free app called Estar that reveals how certain apps drain a smartphone battery faster.

Latest from the Network

Eight policemen killed in Egypt explosion
Cairo, Sep 2 (IANS) At least eight policemen were killed and four injured Tuesday in an explosion in Egypt's Sinai region, a security official said. The blast occurred when a police vehicle went over a planted...
Read more on Politics Balla
Coach Orenga content with Spain's basketball World Cup performance
Madrid, Sep 2 (IANS) Spanish basketball coach Juan Antonio Orenga said he was happy with his team's performance in the FIBA World Cup till date and was all praise for veteran Pau Gasol, who has been a star for the team...
Read more on Sport Balla
Hateful content on Facebook bad for your brain
London, Sep 2 (IANS) Are you exposed to reading homophobic, racist, misogynistic or other hateful content on Facebook? It may have a harmful effect on your brain in the long run. According to a recent Italian study,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Two policemen killed in Afghan suicide attack
Kabul, Sep 2 (IANS) At least two policemen were killed and two others injured Tuesday in a suicide car bomb attack in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, an official said. "The attack took place in Ghani Khil district...
Read more on Politics Balla
Rihanna pays £6k for nail technician
Rihanna has paid £6,000 for a manicure. The 'Rude Boy' singer, who is currently enjoying some time off from her busy schedule on her luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, flew out A-list nail technician Jenny Longworth to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Kelly Brook: Simon Cowell thought I was a singer
Kelly Brook says Simon Cowell didn't know who she was when she was asked to appear on 'Britain's Got Talent'. The 34-year-old beauty starred as judge on the show in 2009, before she was unceremoniously dumped by the '...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Cee Lo Green tweets controversial rape views
Cee Lo Green has deleted his Twitter account after allegedly tweeting some controversial views on rape. According to an article on BuzzFeed, the 39-year-old singer posted several comments about the subject on his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Ariana Grande hits out at nude photo leak
Ariana Grande insists reported nude pictures of her are fake - because her bottom is ''a lot cuter'' in real life. The 'Problem' hitmaker took to her Twitter account this morning (02.09.14) to address rumors that a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Ryan Fletcher opens up about Ashley Roberts romance
Lawson's Ryan Fletcher has opened up about his romance with Ashley Roberts. The bassist has confirmed that he's dating the former Pussycat Dolls singer - who was previously romantically linked with TV presenter Declan...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Kanye West avoided dress disaster before wedding
Kanye West avoided a bridesmaid disaster before his wedding to Kim Kardashian. The rapper became a hero before he had even tied the knot with the brunette beauty at their May nuptials when he stepped in at the last...
Read more on Celebrity Balla