I’ve been enjoying discussing drafts and revision with everyone today, and I’m looking forward to more tomorrow. Since our work next week will be a little different, I’m putting this blog post up now, with some important scheduling details and changes included — read everything here carefully and let me know if you have any questions.
First, some practical matters: we’ll have our screening of Spike Jonze’s Her in Emerson Auditorium, Sunday Sept. 30, at 7:30pm. Come watch the film then if at all possible — come prepared to take notes and eat popcorn. If you can’t come then, make sure you watch it on your own to be prepared for this blog post and for our discussion in class next Monday — the DVD is on reserve at the library, and the film is also available online. Just make sure you plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get it and watch it before class Monday—keep in mind that even if you’ve seen it, you need to watch it again so that it’s fresh in your mind and you can view it more analytically and critically.
In order to help with that, everyone should make sure to read the short piece “Visual Rhetoric/Visual Literacy: Writing About Film” in the packet and view these three clips on “How to Speak Movie” before you watch the film.
And now on to some thinking about Her, one of the central texts for this second section of the course on “Digital Images.” Although this film is clearly set in the future, in a world that’s not exactly ours, director Spike Jonze clearly seems to want to raise questions about the nature of our digital world now — about what it means to exist and connect and feel in a world that’s constantly mediated by technology.
We so commonly hear that technology is disconnecting us from one another, making us alienated and isolated, and that online relationships aren’t “real.” But this film wants us to think more complexly about the possibilities of digital connections — so for this blog post let’s do just that. You should think carefully and specifically about what the film seems to be showing us about the possibilities and problems of digital relations. How is the relationship between Theodor and Samantha different from a human-to-human relationship, and what might that show us about our relationships online and offline? What does their narrative show us about what you can do in a digital relationship that can’t happen otherwise, and what’s impossible in their relationship — how can we weigh those things in the world of the film? Rather than thinking about which is “better” or “worse,” try to just be analytical and reflective about the issues the film brings up. You’re free to take up any number of issues or themes in the film — just make sure that you ground your post in some specific reference and analysis of it, pointing to particular scenes, characters, elements, etc., and discussing how they work to raise these kinds of issues — this is a point where some of the vocabulary in the reading and Youtube clips will prove helpful. Let’s try to get as wide a coverage of this material as possible to bring into class for our first day of discussion, so make sure you look through others’ posts before you work on yours, and if it’s clear that a particular scene or other piece has been discussed by lots of people already, try to branch out into some new material.
Reminder, with a slight scheduling change: Since our screening is so close to class time, I’m making some slight changes for this week only. Rather than Sunday night, your post is due by class time on Monday, and should be at least 250 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.