Gabor Mate on authenticity and attachment

Who is a pet anyway? Thoughts on “Jexi” (USA, 2019, 84 min)

Poster for Jexi

People are cats’ pets. At least how it seems from lots of memes. Never been owned by a cat (nor the other way around) I can’t form a personal opinion on the topic. In Jexi, the 2019, often hilarious comedy, a  smartphone enhanced(?) with Artificial Intelligence takes a liking of the phone’s owner to comic and tragic consequences. There are several ways to approach our communal obsessions with our phones. One of the best one is with humor and this light movie does a good job at that.

Another one is how it is done in one of the books I am reading right now. In C. Gockel’s sci fi series, “Archangel” there is a cat-like species, called werfle whose mind is taken over at one point by extremely smart telepathic alien species. Some humans kept werfles as pets. So they thought. Meanwhile the superior aliens living in the werfles considered these very same humans their pets. It is the same in this movie, where the AI is (or wants to be) the dominant in a symbiotic relationship, while the puny human is degraded to a subservient role. Many of us have already become addicted to our phones and turn to it as an emotional coping mechanism. Just a few hours ago in John Kellden’s excellent “Conversation” Facebook group I saw a poignant distillation of this, so I will leave it here: 

There’s two cults in the western world: 
f2f: consumption digital:
consumption of shiny memes
The first cult: an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, the size of France.
The second cult: a learned helplessness, a social cognition rot, reduced to a like button clicking creature of habit.

Setting is often as important to whether one likes a movie or not as the plot. In this case the outdoor scenes, all shots and depicting gorgeous San Francisco helped to ease this movie into my heart. I happen to have been to San Fran lots of time and love the city as a frequent tourist. Hence every time I saw an iconic location–or even not so iconic, just an average yet typical SF street– I got a little jolt of pleasure. 

A part of my education here was learning about Kid Cudi. I admit I don’t follow modern pop/rap music so I never heard of him. When I first saw his name in the movie I thought they just made up a famous-looking music star for the movie’s sake. Turns out he is real and seems to be really successful, including having sold 16 million records according to his wikipedia page. To learn more about him and close a hole in my pop-culture knowledge I searched on Youtube and watched the first video that came up. It was the “Pursuit of Happiness” from 2009 with close to 200million views. Its lyrics includes these lines: “Everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold (hey) I’ll be fine once I get it, get it in, I’ll be good”. 

It entails the message of the film:
A, The plot revolves around the pursuit of happiness (through reaching for the impossible and following dreams.)
And B. it is not (through) a shiny object.
OK, message is delivered, even explicitly spelled out at the end in case someone doesn’t want to take the extra step to think even for a second what the movie was about. Now go watch it and have fun.

Buy/watch it on Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray or Prime Video

Official site: IMDB: “A comedy about what can happen when you love your phone more than anything else in your life.”

Trailer:

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