As technology develops, so does fear. In the past few decades, humans have become afraid of things they have never before been afraid of: DNA alterations, atomic bombs, brain control, and of course, robots. The danger that new technology possesses almost makes the term ‘advancement’ a paradox. For example, in Jonah Lehrer’s “We, Robots”, a review of Sherry Turkle’s attitude towards technology in her book “Alone Together”, many advantageous and disadvantageous aspects of robots are discussed.
Such aspects are relatable to the movie Lars and the Real Girl, in which good and bad features of new technology, such as personification and beneficial usage are shown. Turkle remarks that we often use robots as “an easy substitute for the difficulty of dealing with others”, and such a statement is very much applicable to Bianca’s value to Lars in Lars and the Real Girl. Lars, who has so much trouble interacting with others, quickly accepts Bianca as the solution to what the community has deemed his short comings in society, according to social norms.
For a man who makes every excuse possible to escape socializing, like saying that his phone is ringing when it’s really not, a doll who says and demands nothing is so convenient that it can be personified to the point of being considered real. Furthermore, Lars’s “delusion” is shown to be a mere exaggeration of what is considered normal in society, such as an unexplainable attachment to inanimate objects like teddy bears, action figures, and dolls like Bianca and Roxxxy.
The challenge otherwise known as ‘Bianca’ faced in the movie, is in fact what Turkle warns is “emblematic of a larger danger, in which the prevalence of robots makes us unwilling to put in the work required by real human relationships”. The connection between Turkle’s point about personification and the replacement of human interaction by simulated, albeit convenient programming, is also very clear in Lars and the Real Girl. In John Lehrer’s “We, Robots”, and in Lars and the Real Girl, positive features of advancing technology are also discussed.
Though it is true that negative effects are present, Bianca – in Lars’s case – and the internet – in John Lehrer and Sherry Turkle’s cases – show that technology’s “effects on real-life relationships seem mostly positive, if minor”. A significant change is clear in Lars’s behavior before and after Bianca; so much so, that it can be said with certainty that the presence of Bianca in his life is a developmental stage, and very beneficial for him.
As the doctor establishes at the end of the movie, Lars is the one deciding that Bianca is sick and dying, as he is ready to let her go. In other words, he is exerting his power over the doll and has unconsciously gained whatever use he had needed from his relationship with Bianca. As John Lehrer says, Bianca (and, metaphorically, technology) is “just another tool, an accessory that allows us to do what we’ve always done: interact with one other”.