Individualistic Narcissism of the West- Movie “Her”

It is a commentary on the movie and western society and has some spoilers

One of the first things the “liberal”, “progressive”, “cool” audiences in India notice in the Hollywood films is their portrayal of “freedom”, “sexual liberation”, “individualism” and often complain about how Indian society is not as free, or liberal or cool or progressive. This happens across the Right-Left ideological divide and you usually have very few Indians actually voicing their opinion against such liberalisation and individualism, if any at all. They all claim how India has to become more individualistic like the west, with advices about how guys should forsake their parents and live alone to pursue their careers, and how girls should forsake their family life by becoming career drones like their western counterparts. But what many of us fail to see is the actual reality of the western countries, which is actually a desperate, desolate, degenerate place where such crass individualism and narcissism has destroyed any semblance of a family. A society filled with single moms, illegitimate children living without their actual fathers and a crime infested cesspool worse than sewage pits of Cooum in Chennai.

Take the example of this movie called “Her(2013)” starring Joaquin Phoenix‎, Amy Adams and Chris Pratt. It is a movie about a guy(Joaquin phoenix) in future, who falls in love with an Artificial Intelligence(operating system) in his computer and how artificial intelligence in a futuristic western world will look like. It is a very compelling film which is fairly good to watch. What is interesting about the film , which many of us don’t look for, is the way their society functions. Though the film is set to take place in the future, it is a pretty accurate depiction of what their society is today.

In the film, Phoenix is going through a tough divorce and is in a difficult time. The reason for the divorce given in the film is very vague about how the guy is not actually there emotionally for his wife. The interesting part is the way the film makers never felt the need to give a proper justification for their separation/divorce which indicates how much divorce has become common in the western world, which is above 50% in most western countries. Phoenix works as a letter writer for a company, which writes letters for others i.e. if you are too busy to write letters for your loved ones, you can outsource it to their company and they will write it for you. If you think that is pathetic, well you are absolutely right. Imagine outsourcing your love for your parents, wives/husbands, children, friends to others. It is interesting to note that the film makers thought that this is where their future is headed to.

At that time, an Artificially Intelligent Operating System is introduced into their world by a leading company. This AI is very resourceful and quickly becomes very useful for Phoenix in arranging his day to day activities. Being an AI, it also starts to learn more about emotions and starts to be there for Phoenix. It arranges dates for him to cheer him up and they “bond” pretty quickly because being an AI, it can easily understand what he likes and what he doesn’t. We will come to the depressing aspect of their relationship later.

The guy goes on a date, as set up by the Artificial Intelligence. The date is a single mother, in her late 30s played by Olivia Wilde. They have a good time together and proceed to kiss each other and are about to take it to sex. But then, Olivia asks the Phoenix if he would call her back after sex, because most guys only want to have sex and not a meaningful relationship. It makes sense in-universe that this is the case, since western societies have completely rigged the marriage system as oppressive for women(which is being copied here too) and how women should be empowered by having sex with as many men as possible. So why would men, who on average have a far higher sexual drive than women and are not as emotionally attached to sex as women are not take advantage of a system which punishes marriages with divorces and alimonies and rewards free and casual sex? Anyway, Olivia is depressed that most men there only want sex and not any long term relationships(seems like their MGTOW movement has won) and doesn’t want that to happen with Phoenix too. Phoenix being fresh out of a very bad breakup with his wife, does not give any commitment even though their date went well.

After that, Phoenix returns to his home, alone and depressed and starts speaking with his computer, which responds well to him, seeing as it is intelligent and he and AI have sex together(not very different from masturbation). Phoenix realises that he likes the AI a lot, as it is not judgemental, free spirited and how he can be what he wants in front of it i.e. he can be as much individualistic as he wants without any consequences and still have his social needs like having a companion fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Amy Adams character, who is a friend of Phoenix and is a video game developer, breaks up with her husband, who she had been living with for 8 years because her husband was constantly asking her to do simple stuff, like removing her shoes before entering the house. She finally had it enough with the constantly annoying husband who would not adjust to her(nor is she ready to adjust to him). The important part here, which most Indians tend to miss is the way they see the world. Apparently for them, it is OK for them to break 8 years of marriage over a silly thing like husband asking her to remove shoes before entering the house. She even justifies it saying that she should not be forced to be someone she is not.

See, this individualistic narcissism- “me me me syndrome”, is the reason why their societies are so desolate and pathetic. No individual in this world is the same and we cant expect anyone to be 100% compatible with anyone. This individualistic narcissism, is the reason why they take so much time getting married and then have difficulty in staying married. They seem to forget that to be in a relationship, specially something like marriage, you need to make sacrifices for the relationship and it goes both ways- husband as well as wife. However, the narcissism, which puts the needs of the one individual above the other in the relationship, which makes them forget that the other guy is also making as many sacrifices as own, makes it easy for them to break their relationships on the flimsiest of the excuses- ranging from emotionally distant to asking to remove the shoes. Does it really surprise that majority of white women in the western world are probably going to end up alone with a cat?

Meanwhile, in the entire movie universe is filled with such misery, with almost everyone shown in the universe having made boy/girlfriends and friends, including Amy Adams, out of the AI. This is not really surprising because the AI in the universe is programmed to learn and evolve and the AIs in universe learn from their owners and can be seen as their own mirror reflection inside a computer. This movie is a perfect reflection on what a society run by individualistic narcissism will look like in presence of an AI.

Take home message:

The movie, which is one of the many examples of the pop culture from the west should teach us about the dangers of individualistic narcissism and where it will ultimately culminate. While many Hindus see these western movies and think that their societies is full of honey and milk seeing their independence, what they don’t see is the cost which comes along with such individualistic narcissism- their inability to adjust with anybody else which compromises their ability to have any meaningful ability to have long term relationships. This is why, arranged marriages, in which two random strangers, who are selected by their parents based on their ability to adapt and adjust and respect their elders, all of which are hallmarks of adaptability, are so successful in India. Is it any wonder that marriages are breaking down in India, with the advent of this notion that individual is above the family?

Many Hindu conservatives today deride feminism for spoiling culture but I doubt they understand how. Some Hindus even think that feminism, as espoused by the left, is a corrupted social movement with a positive message- about female empowerment, and that it can be made Dharmic by making it purer and about female empowerment instead of the man hating cult that it currently is. However, they both don’t seem to acknowledge that Feminism is in essence a form of individualistic narcissism, imported from the west and that no matter how hard they try, they wont be able to reform it into something positive.

The greatest disservice feminism has done to modern societies is the way it has turned the focus of the “family unit”, from being about the welfare of the families, into being about the welfare of the wife. This is why despite claiming that it is about equality, it comes across as hypocritical in its stance on property sharing and alimony laws which are incredibly biased against men. This is also the reason they always make the sacrifices women make to be great (including their careers) for having a family, while ignoring the sacrifices men make for the same family(including their inability socially to be free from going to the job if they wanted unlike women, for whom job is only an optional requirement). It ultimately wants to liberate women from their responsibilities to their families, including having and raising kids, by stroking female individualistic narcissism against the familial responsibility. While it might work in the short term, soon men will figure out that they are cheated into bearing all responsibility for having a family and will decide to walk out of it, resulting in MGTOW movements, as it happened in the west. This is also the reason why many of them think that having kids, which are about love and affection, as a job and a sign of female enslavement, because it takes away the individualistic freedom of a woman. While they are right that it reduces the individual freedom of women being reduced by kids, they are wilfully dishonest about its long term effect in increasing the happiness of women from their children and grandchildren So even the supposedly egalitarian goal of “freeing women” from slavery to family/society is not exactly a positive development which feminism brings.

The western concepts of “one night stands”, “dating” and “finding the right guy/girl”, will sound great on paper and in the American(and increasingly/depressingly becoming common in Bollywood too) TV soaps and series in which they appear. But they ultimately fail in practice because ultimately all of them are about narcissism, be it the notion that “my sex life is my own and I should face no consequences for it”(one night stands) or be it the notion that “everything is fine with me and I don’t want to adjust to anything and I will live only with the person who will put up with what I am, no matter what”(codeword for finding the right girl/guy, who would put up with him/her) . This is why Indian arranged marriages, which is more about adjusting for each other rather than expecting others to adjust for them, has more success rate than the date and “find right partner” culture of the west.

We see the degeneracy and decay in the Western society as a form of Karmic justice for all the misery they brought to the rest of Humanity. However, it also should serve as an example of what we as a society should avoid , if we wish to avoid the decay and rot in the western society. West played with their individualism and narcissism and are now paying a huge price for it, even if they don’t really realise what they have brought upon themselves. They still think their life style is superior and routinely think they have to pontificate us misguided “third worlders” on how we should lead our lives, through countless documentaries on our arranged marriages , feminism for third world and their sepoys in the media industry. They are too deep in their own ass to see the result of their culture- 50% divorces, 50% single moms, 33% children being born to “wrong fathers” and a crime rate 20 times as high as India in cases like rape, even ignoring the high crime rate and poverty associated with broken families.

But the real question is, are we going to be really that stupid to think that their way of life is superior, by not looking at the actual effect of their culture on their societies and just looking at the superficial aspects of their culture and prosperity? Bollywood certainly seems to be so, with its recent release of “One Night Stand”. But are we all? West has an excuse for its stupidity- They didn’t really have any role model on what society should be or where their individualistic narcissism will lead them to and are now too deep in their own shit to realise and do anything about it. But what excuse do we have to take the same individualistic narcissistic path they took for their fall?

  • Singh Sardar

    Malachi Martin, in his highly readable (and non-sensationalistic) ‘Three Popes and the Cardinal’, writes that the notions of personhood and the nuclear family were the two major social innovations of Christianity:

    ‘The second fundamentally and peculiarly Christian contribution was the transmutation of the Roman word familia. In its Christian sense, it meant the nuclear family as we understand it today: a man, his wife and their children. Again, neither in Greco-Roman nor in Christian Jewish thought was there ever a word for or a clear concept of the nuclear family. This was a Christian concept and it brought the Roman term familia to mean just that.” pg. 81

    People don’t understand that this is part of christianity, which is a tool to break down societies.

    Look at this picture & article: Tell me this is not liberals TODAY

  • Singh Sardar

    Christianity in India does what? Lowers tfr of converts & makes them weak ie it softens up a civilization for Islam to take over. Same thing happened in mid e/c asia/n africa now happening in europe in front of you.

  • guest

    I seriously think Bollywood should be banned in India. While you could hardly see main actors drinking in movies, today the focus is on taking ‘shots’, something we Indians did not even know about until recently. And increasingly the focus is on women taking these liqueur shots.

    There is a TV show called American Dreams (2002) which covers the loss of innocence in America and how young people just ruined their lives. We need to ban our soap operas that show multiple marriages, cheating and scheming men and women, who have no other purpose in life.

    Karan Johar is all about ruining India’s culture. He does not care, he will never have a family, so he thinks others should not be happy with theirs.

  • Chaitanya q

    Dear Yugaparivartan,

    I don’t know if you are a team or a single
    person but you do present things in a very intelligent language ! Please
    relax because whole of India will never adapt the western one night
    stands and free roaming around. Also, this free roaming around was there
    before the advent of internet and tv in India. I know a place in south
    India where you claim people have retained their culture, there was a
    free sex society back in 1956 where multiple men were brain washed into
    free sex ( despite being married at 15 or 16 ). People were having
    extra marital affairs stealthily ‘coz they were not happy with their
    spouses. This is the truth of the successful arranged marriages in
    India, they kept the kids with both parents which is a great feat
    involving lot of sacrifices.

    Also, can you please
    show me atleast few couples in India that is providing an emotionally safe
    childhood for children ? They are constantly given lot of homework and
    left with no time to bond with parents (( which the parents don’t have
    anyway ) with TV and crap. Most kids grow up watching their parents hate
    each other, fight with each other all the time, leaving the kids
    frightened & develop narcicissm or anger issues. The parents along with the kids then see these love movies (
    why doesn’t anyone want to see an arranged marriage movie where husband
    and wife act as worst enemies and how the kids feel trauma as they are
    beaten showing frustration on the spouse on the kids ) where it’s not
    love shown but hormonal attraction being called as love & everyone
    dreams they had this kind of marriage as it’s shown to end happily.
    Hormonal attractions called as love is the basis of marriages in the
    west as well, so they fail anywhere in the world. Hormonal attractions
    are short-lived.

    That doesn’t mean legalized
    prostitution a.k.a arranged marriages are the solution for safety of
    children. Where beauty(of the girl) and status ( of the boy) are the
    pillars of the relationship settled by elders. This will not create a
    strong bond that develops mentally and emotionally healthy children.
    This only paves way for extra marital affairs under the rug and weakens
    the moral fabric of the society.

    Everyone wants to be
    loved by which I mean where you stand by others in sickness, poverty or
    any circumstance, they are your best friend and be there for you and you
    do the same. Not everyone is matured enough and man/woman enough of
    being there for their spouse when things go wrong, both men and women.
    So their relationships fail whether they live together or not , whether
    it’s arranged marriage or so called “love” marriage.

    seen how arranged marriages work. The minute the husband loses in his
    business, he’s treated like shit & his existence has no meaning for
    the wife. The minute the wife falls sick, you’d make her feel it’s
    better she died ‘coz it’s too much inconvenience for you. Yet you stick
    around for society ( having extra marital relations under the rug if it
    suits your value system or suffer silently ).

    This is legalized prostitution with one person. This is not our Indian family system !

    Indian family system uses the term – vivaha – visheshena oohyathe ithi
    vivahaha meaning the one you have selected in a great way ! It’s based
    on matching on the moral values of the girl and boy which the parents
    are not bothered to match with and can be done only by the boy and girl
    in question.Please don’t ridicule the finding of the right guy/girl or
    you are ridiculing our vivaha system in sheer ignorance !

    A life partner is said to be the ashrama sthana meaning a resting place for solace after facing the real world’s cruelties and manipulations etc.Not a place where you feel like you are sacrificing yourself to be with them & turn to society to bitch about how your husband is scum or how your wife is scum , which is the present day pathetic state ! This is where our culture is getting rotten, by not getting someone who matches your values !

    arranged marriages started after the mughal and british rule when you
    had to marry children to children and since kids can’t make choices,
    parents took over. It’s foolish to brand it Indian system where beauty
    and power are matched & there’s no room for soft feelings in that
    marriage. Lord Krishna was against this when Rukmini was forced into
    marriage for status and clearly mentions a woman is not an object to be
    given away and her choice has to be honored.

    yaksha prasna, on being questioned what kind of a woman makes a man
    happy ? yudhishtir answers – the one whose code of moral system and
    yours matches, there’s heaven in that marriage.

    He did
    not answer beauty, power, youth, her fertility or the number of kids she has,
    status or the dowry she gets that supports the family or the money she
    brings by earning , nope ! These are unimportant issues. For a man who
    thinks of helping the society, a woman who goads him to amass wealth by
    cheating people ( he usually gets such a wife by arranged marriage ) will make his
    life a hell. That woman will be happy with a man who cheats people until
    they get into jail ! And the man who wants to help society will find
    heaven with a woman who is on the same page. Real love automatically
    blooms here !

    Some women and men wanted to break
    free from being in this and want to find the right guy/girl who they can
    trust can stand by them at every point of life. Again not everyone can
    be good judges of others character but atleast they can try until they
    give up and may be enter a legalized prostitution aka arranged marriage.
    This knowledge of the other person takes time and is based on
    friendship. Do not label them as gigolos/sluts who sleep around ‘coz
    they wanted to wait for the special woman/man. Not everyone single and
    waiting for the right guy/girl sleeps around ! Not even in the west where some Christians have strict codes for being virgins until marriage. I’ve friends who live by this rule both Indian and western.

    note, I’m not advocating western system of living-in and sleeping
    around until you meet the right person. Just don’t tell people to get
    into legalized prostitution arranged by parents where beauty ( which
    doesn’t last long ) and money ( which is not a constant thing ) form the
    .basis of a relationship. It won’t end in a strong family system.

    If sex is a strong need
    for a man in marriage, emotional attachment is an equally strong need
    for a woman. Go figure, no man will be happy without sex in marriage and
    no woman will be happy having sex with such a man who refuses to
    connect with her emotionally and she’ll feel dead inside if sex
    happened. So emotional attachment is not a small reason and I wish you
    luck if you treat women this way.

    No where in our
    shastras was it mentioned to force sex on a man or woman in marriage.
    You lack religious knowledge there. Ravana’s mother forced sex on her
    husband when he was not ready at an odd time which was supposed to be
    for tapas ( in the brahmi muhurtam ). She called him names like napumsaka to insult him for refusing sex and not bearing such insults, he gave in ! The result was a demonic child.

    Whenever a woman(or a man ) isn’t into sex and if it happens , the resulting
    children are not healthy in mind or body. Ambika &
    ambalika weren’t pleased with Maharshi Vyas and one closed her eyes and
    the other shivered resulting in kids who resembled that state. It’s
    important for a woman or a man to feel the partner as pleasing to their
    own tastes for forming a better society.

    Sex should be an expression of love in
    marriage, not a lustful deed for which you expect your partner to be
    always ready. This is no where in our shastras. Before you claim to be a
    torch-bearer of saving Hinduism or India, please read into our
    scriptures and don’t go by the India that’s left after mughal invasions
    as the standard to follow ‘coz that’s not our original Bharat, it was
    the anglicized and mughalized India !

    Let’s not have the english version of marriages but vivahas where our kids feel safe and secure and loved by both parents and parents don’t feel like they are sacrificing for their partners ‘coz they really love them ! Again love is not hormonal attraction but based on patience, perseverance and a real liking for the other person’s character. There’s no feeling of adjustment or sacrifice in such a marriage even if terrible storms come your way just like Sita-Ram.

    Jai Hind !!!