Perhaps the most absurd scene in the movie “Her” is when Theodore and Samantha have what we’ll call, for lack of a better metaphor, “phone sex.”  This scene is actually the second of its kind in the film. The first, though, earns slightly more credibility from the fact that a real human is on the other end: She is unseen and a stranger to Theodore, but she’s really a woman. The second time is with Samantha, an operating system.

About forty minutes in, as the scene unfolds, the screen fades to black, and for a minute or so, the only thing the audience hears are the voices of Theodore and Samantha describing their mutual sex fantasy. The audience has nowhere to look and must simply listen to the rising intensity in their voices, escalating until both reach fever pitch and finally “climax.”

It is as uncomfortable as it sounds, but the similarity of the two scenes makes it clear: Theodore’s sexual encounter with Samantha feels like only a small step from his earlier interaction with a real woman. Both experiences are functionally identical. There’s no bodily connection at all. To Theodore, the experience seems like a subtle shift, not a seismic one. Still, the difference couldn’t be greater: one is a woman, and one is not.

Read the rest at Second Nature Journal.