>How the Future Is Not Like “Hackers”

Posted: 28/08/2009 in Movies

>At the risk (certainty) of aging myself a bit, I say that one of my favorite generational movies is Hackers. It came out in 1995, when the information age was in its nascent stages and the Internet was only understood by a cunning few. The movie presented a (then) present/near future world of computers, hipster technophiles, and computer viruses scandals. It turns out the movie is now a bit of fossil (a really cool fossil, but still a fossil), as the future is not like Hackers. Here are some examples I can think off.

Technology Ages Quickly. Technology indexes the computer age. It is hard to suppress a chuckle when I see characters in the movie get excited about “RISC architecture” or a “28.8 BPS modem.” The low resolution of many of the computers also shocks modern day computer users. Those screens back then could fit into about two square inches of most monitors today –which are now all flat panel, LCD, or plasma or anything but a CRT.

Oh, and the movie had floppy discs. What the fuck?

Nobody goes to arcades. In the beginning of the movie, the characters go to some raverish establishment where they eat greasy food, play arcade games, and discuss how “1337” (leet) they are. While the greasy food and self-gratification remain intimate parts of techie culture, nobody goes to arcades to play videogames.

Instead, people set up their desktops with the latest glowly equipment in their dark apartments/relative’s basements and hook up to the internet to play World of Warcraft. Alternately, they might have several friends over to play Wii, Xbox, or similar console. These are also played on anything other than a CRT.

If arcades do exist, and they are very rare if they do, they exist as internet cafes. They are nothing like what is portrayed in Hackers.

Shows like “Hack the Planet” are not on cable-access TV. At one point in the movie, the characters sit around a couch and watch “Hack the Planet” with metro-sexual hosts Razor and Blade. While I am certain that such shows exist, I am pretty sure they are on youtube. In fact, as far as techie culture goes, I think the television is more or less a dead medium. The most tech savvy people I know only have cable if it bundles with their internet access. When they do watch TV, it is probably Netflix, downloaded movies, or TiVo. The thought of actually scheduling a time to sit down and watch Cable access is unheard of.

Pay phones do not exist. Throughout the movie, pay phones are used not only to make calls, but to dial into the internet at remote locations to do nifty works of hacking. Now, it is quite apparent that pay phones are dead. There is no need to use a tape recorder to hack yourself some long distance calls if you have skype. There is no need to dial into the internet when every third café has wireless internet. There’s no need use them to make calls if you have cell phone –which everybody does.

I suppose if you’re the kind of hacker that knows how to hack a payphone, you have some serious street credibility with hacker culture. Outside of that; who cares?

Hackers do not courageously crusade against evil corporations and government agencies, who attempt to victimize them. The situation has changed over the years. These days, hackers are working for the evil corporations and government agencies.

Thanks for reading.


  1. >Great article, I loved your insight on the movie. I myself have watched it once, but it was fun. But just because we live in the 21st century does not mean that arcades are rare … unless if you refer to the USA.In Southeast Asia PC Bangs and arcades are numerous – it's awesome.While it's technologically advanced out here, there is also a mix of new technology and old technology. For example, you will also find video and audio cassettes in addition to the CDs and DVDs.

  2. Jin-roh says:

    >I have heard of the Arcades in Korea. They are…. scary.

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