This evening a fellow film geek and I were comparing notes on the fact that Scarlett Johansson has become the go-to representative of the trans-human in American cinema.
In Her, she plays an artificial intelligence program that evolves beyond the comprehension of mere humans. In Lucy, she plays a down-and-out drug courier who evolves beyond the comprehension of mere humans.
Leaving aside the intriguing parallel between AI and drug mule (maybe somebody will one day make a film about an artificial intelligence program that becomes a down-and-out drug courier), there are questions here that touch on the limits of human intelligence — or at least on the limits of the intelligence of Hollywood screenwriters.
In particular, my friend was a little bit dismayed by the plot arc of Lucy. “She continues to evolve,” he said, “turning into successfully more powerful beings throughout the film, until finally she evolves in to a USB stick.”
I was sympathetic. Films often disappoint us, leading us on with fascinating premises, only to deliver crass and predictable Hollywood endings. Yet we continue to go to the movies, taking our seats in the darkened theater, buying our popcorn and Raisinets, hoping against hope that the next cinematic offering will meet our bright expectations.
“In a way it’s kind of poetic,” I said, hoping to make him feel better. “After all, at the end of Her, it is we humans who are the USB sticks.”