THE BLOG
06/13/2012 11:09 am ET | Updated Aug 11, 2012

Siri, Say It Ain't So

Something terrified me during the Tony Awards and I'm not talking about Candace Bergen's outfit.

I'm also not talking about the Tony Award show's idiocy in musically cutting off Mike Nichols' genius onstage; or anyone ever, for any reason, cutting into Mike's rare appearances when he gifts us with a live line of dialogue.

I could go on and on, but I'm forcing myself to imagine a stoned stagehand pressing the wrong button and I'll leave it there.

Today my focus is Apple iPhone's commercials during these Awards. I'm talking about the repeated multimillion dollar vignettes starring John Malkovich and introducing iPhone's new robot girl voice, Siri, who hopes to pose as a human being with whom to carry on relationships and phone conversations.

Siri is not just a voice. She is a virtual woman and a virtual woman with a mission.

'So, what's the problem?' you might ask.

Technology and commercials go hand in hand, and it's all about the smartest, quickest ways to erase antique nuisances, like real communication, human phone calls, and having to spend actual time with people.

Here's why I'm bothered.

I believe this is the first commercial to enforce the idea that you can have a relationship with a mechanized voice.

Color me annoyed, bothered, and bewildered.

I am well aware of the disconnection between people that produces today's unparalleled depths of rage and depression in our society.

Apple is leaping onto this zeitgeist of human emptiness, shoving it forward, and cashing in.

Siri is Apple's relationship answer for the lonely American.

In case you missed it, John Malkovich repeatedly appeared in two versions of Siri commercials during the Tonys, seductively hawking the latest iPhone innovation.

These languid commercials feature an uber-relaxed Malcovich lounging alone while having an intimate iPhone tete-a-tete with robot girl Siri's warm, seductive voice.

But wait! It's much more than that if you closely study the swift cultural replacement of heart and soul and humanity, as I do.

Back to the commercial. Let's put it this way. We're listening in on a private call. Malkovich's body language and voice is of a person flirting with a robot voice on a phone call with the door closed.

Yes, I know about sex; it's important; I'm a fan. And I know that sex sells. But what exactly are we buying here?

The problem is, Siri is a what, not a whom. Think blowup sex doll, only this time, imagine a device that is a vocal replacement for relationship, and you're in the right neighborhood.

It's no mystery that robot girl has the conversational depth of her older sister, the Stepford Wife.

Got a question? Talk to Siri. Full disclosure: I am not impressed with Siri. It's not just that "she" is a robot, and there are already too many people doing brilliant robot imitations in real life.

Siri is also just not smart or interesting. Voices are very important to me. I understand that the robot vocal style is wildly popular today, but not with me. If I need a weather report, I can get one with less aggravation.

When a friend introduced Siri to me over dinner, the only response Siri could come up with to a series of basic questions, was a dismissive monotone: "I've been wondering that myself."

Message to Siri: do some homework and get back to me. Even as your voice aims to personally reassure, that particular answer reveals that you have no answers. A robot with no answers is probably like a fish without a jet ski, or something like that.

Anyway, you're not for me. You're a machine. You can't help it. (See how seductive these devices are? I'm talking to a robot).

For those of you dinosaurs who are simply too busy with friendships involving people who have bodies (the remaining three or four of you) to recognize what I'm talking about, Siri has arrived; she is in the house (literally).

Kiss your screen Facebook page and its virtual "friending" movement a fast bye-bye. That was so yesterday.

Technology, always in hot pursuit of personal relationship replacement, now presents the virtuosity of virtual friends: Siri, the voice!