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Human avatars

by Critical Commons Manager

In this amazing scene from Spike Jonze's Her, an artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) enlists the help of a human avatar to have virtual sex with her human lover (Joaquin Phoenix). The Hollywood trope of cybersex nearly always involves the use of technology as a surrogate for physical sex between (heterosexual) humans. Visions of future sex articulated on the film and television screens of Hollywood focus on the idea of disembodied and/or non-carnal sex as stereotypical of sexual relations of the future or of technologically enhanced sci-fi narratives. In Her, Jonze instead continues his cinematic investigation of humans controlling other humans as if they were puppets or physical avatars, especially as seen in Being John Malkovich (1999). This scene is also nearly unique in its eschewing of the titillating pleasures offered by cinematic depictions of technologized sex. Instead, Jonze plays the scene straight, with the human male unable to accept the idea that an anonymous woman wants to have sex with him as a surrogate for his operating system. This is true of the primary relationship depicted throughout the film between Phoenix and his OS, which follows a heartbreaking trajectory that is all too familiar from cinematic dramas outside of the techno-sci-fi genre.

An inversion of the cinematic genre of cybersex in Her

An artificially intelligent operating system enlists the help of a human avatar for sex with her human lover

from Her (2013)
Creator: Spike Jonze
Posted by Critical Commons Manager