One scene shows how accepting humanity has become by this point. One of Theodore’s friends invites him on a double date and Theodore accepts. He brings his phone (aka Samantha). The three humans and the phone sit on a blanket enjoying a picnic. When the two men go off for a walk, the woman carries on the conversation with Theodore’s phone as if Samantha is a real person. This comes across as very creepy.
This scene reminds us of the very thing missing from Samantha — fleshly incarnation. Jonz gives us several sex scenes in this film, from porn to chat sex but each of these leave Theodore missing something essential: the feel of another human. When Samantha realizes this is absent, she brings a surrogate sex partner to Theodore’s door. This is yet another creepy, though effective and essential, scene. Samantha is using another (real) woman to satisfy Theodore’s fleshly passions and needs, while herself seeking to learn from this vicarious experience.
Samantha is somewhat like God in her “virtual omniscience.” But as she grows her needs move beyond relating to just Theodore. Another scene gives us a peek into this and perhaps into God’s ability to communicate with us. As Theodore talks to her, he sees other humans around talking to their headphones like him. He asks Samantha if she is talking to anyone else and it turns out she is. She is holding simultaneous conversations with 8316 other humans all the while expressing her love for Theodore. (We wonder and probably assume she loves those other people, while perhaps coming to them in other OS names.)
Here is a picture of God. He loves us (Deut. 23:25). He loves each of personally in a relationship that is as unique as the person involved. And he talks to us in prayer. With over 6 billion people alive worldwide and with over 2 billion of them Christians (at least in 2010 according to the Pew Forum), that means that at any time God must be having a prayer conversation with thousands at any moment. Yet each conversation and each love relationship is special and unique. We don’t need to feel jealous, like Theodore, that God does not love only us. God is infinite and has infinite love, more than enough for our finite selves.
Samantha’s God-like personhood also underscores the cost that the true God paid to have relationship with us. Knowing that we need to relate to flesh and blood humans, God became flesh in the person of Jesus (Jn. 1:14). He tasted life as we know it. He lived with us. He ate with us, he laughed, he cried. He took our sin on himself and went to the cross. In his death, our sins are paid. In his resurrection, he offers real life. Now he lives, and he lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We can experience a relationship, like that of Theodore and Samantha, with the Holy Spirit. The difference, though, is that God has known flesh.
At the end Theodore unplugs and reaches out to his lonely neighbor Amy (Amy Adams). Together they ascend (a metaphor?) to the roof to watch the sun rise over Los Angeles. Instead of walking through the city captivated by a digital voice relating to him, Theodore has come to realize the need to slow down and spend time with another person. That is what relationships are all about.
How about you? Is it time to unplug, at least for a while, to focus on real relationships?
Copyright ©2014, Martin Baggs
*** Who are you pulling for to win Best Picture this year?