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?