17 years ago a movie was released that many of you probably didn’t watch.  The movie was Hackers.  At the time the internet was still in its infancy and Windows 95 had just come out, most people didn’t even own a computer let alone go online for anything yet.  It had some young stars that have since taken off and some pretty big names at the time, Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Eli Stone, Dexter), Angelina Jolie (Do I really need to list anything here?), Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scooby Doo, , Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit, Early Edition, Lost), Alberta Watson (Le Femme Nikita tv series, 24, Nikita), Lorraine Brocco (Goodfellas, The Sopranos, Rizzoli and Isles), Marc Anthony (mainly a singer but has done some acting work) and Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller: Bull$hit, Penn & Teller tell a lie).  It also had a great elecetronic (I’m just using a generic term here) music soundtrack featuring some of the biggest names at the time, Prodigy, Orbital, Underworld and Leftfield just to name a few, the score by Simon Boswell wasn’t bad either.  In fact it spawned a total of 3 soundtracks because not all the music would fit on one disc.  The 2nd and 3rd also had music “inspired” by the movie.

Granted a lot of people didn’t care for the film, I enjoyed it.  I’ve been into computers and technology since I got my first computer, a Commodore VIC-20 back in like 1982 or 83, when I was like 4 or 5.  I knew that not all of the terms they were using were correct, I also knew that a lot of the phone phreaking things they showed and did did’t work anymore, but I didn’t care.  I also knew that mainframes weren’t made of visual columns showing every workstation at a company or that a computer worm doesnt actually look like a CGI worm.  I knew that was all done to make it more appealing, just like the stylized way the rag tag group of hackers dressed.  What I don’t think anybody knew, is that even with all the outdated equipment and lingo, how much more relevant that movie is today and how it foreshadowed today’s world.

The plot is basically about a group of late teens who enjoy breaking into mainframes, whether its a company, a bank, or even a tv station for fun and bragging rights.  Basically just to say they could do it, anything they download would be used just to show that they did it, not for profit or anything like that.  In one part, one of the Secret Service agents is reading the Hackers Manifesto, which gives a bit of incite into why they do what they do.  One night, the newest (n00b) of the group hacks into an oil companies mainframe, he starts to copy a garbage file.  As he is doing this the IT security people notice it and start a trace (not ultra realistic but whatever).  As they are tracing him his mother walks in, tells him to go to bed and turns off his computer, causing him to only have a partial copy of the file.  This file we later find out is a worm program that the head of security buried in the system to steal 20 million dollars, after he detects the hacker he then installs a virus that is going to cause oil tankers to capsize, and blames it on the hacker and his friends.  Long story short the young hackers defeat the bad guy with the help of a few thousand hackers from around the world.  There’s a lot that I left out about the movie, but thats the basics, now you’re probably wondering how this is relevant today or how it foreshadowed anything.

Well here’s how.  Lets take the group Anonymous for example.  They hack into computer systems and mainframes of large organizations,  download files then over load the server much like they did in the end of the movie hackers, only it probably doesn’t look nearly as visual.  Unlike in the movie though, they release the data for all to see, not just other groups.  Of course they say they are just doing it for fun, maybe they are maybe they aren’t, so far I haven’t heard about them taking any large sums of money or holding a companies hostage with a computer virus.  I am not agreeing or disagreeing with what Anonymous is doing.  I’m just pointing out that with the rising number of cyber attacks across the boards, maybe someone 17 years ago should’ve watched the movie Hackers, and instead of making fun of it or saying Angelina Jolie was hot, realized that this was a very real future.  Parts of the movie are probably more true today then ever, people still use simple passwords (especially non computer people), they still leave machines logged in when away from they’re desks, ships are mostly computer controlled and linked to GPS, companies both big and small get cyber attacks every day and employ IT groups that know security.  In fact the whole world today is one big network.

So I guess my point is that a small time movie that took a chance on some young stars really was ahead of its time, hell you can have Spielberg and Lucas CGI out the cordless phones, pagers and outdated machines and replace them with new equipment and the plot would still work, in fact more people would probably understand it.  Rarely do movies from the past seem relevant almost 20 years later, but to me this one does, and like I said above, it foreshadowed the world we live in today.  Thanks for reading and as always if you have the time, drop by and checkout my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/nervousdogprod or some of my work at http://www.2dayhangover.com

john

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