This Supercut Shows How Hollywood Thinks Hacking Works


One movie trope Hollywood just can't seem to move past? The frantic hacker. Here's how those scenes usually go: A character on the screen is shown banging away at a keyboard while a timer counts down and lines of code flash across their monitor. But how realistic is that? YouTuber elsafrickey compiled clips from various movies made between 1970 and 2000, and the resulting supercut shows that while technology has changed over the years, the misrepresentation of hacking has remained consistent.

One of the films included in the supercut is the 1995 cult classic Hackers. In conjunction with the film's 20th anniversary, the website Hopes and Fears gathered a group of real hackers together to watch and discuss the scenes that they say created a "certain mystique around hacking culture that other tech films never quite matched." The hackers took issue with several parts of the movie, from the characters' most basic actions to what the film got wrong about coding. "I think one of the most unrealistic parts is taking a floppy that you wrote on a machine, putting it in another one, and all of the files had no read errors," said someone identified only as Hacker 2, to which Hacker 4 added, "I think one of the most unrealistic things is pulling something from a Mac and putting into a PC in that era."

Still, the creative liberties filmmakers take make sense, one hacker told Hopes and Fears. "The truth is that if you were to watch a real movie about real hacking, it would be the most boring sh*t imaginable. It would be unwatchable," the anonymous source said. Eric Limer of Gizmodo has also defended these kinds of big-screen depictions, writing that "there's a whole host of problems, starting with how screens during real hacking don't necessarily have any motion, and static data display is boring on the big screen for any amount of time longer than a second ... add that to tiny text sizes that are unreadable at any reasonable filming distance, and you've got a pretty good argument for replacing it all with some flashing lights and colors."

Check out some of Tinseltown's most memorable hacker portrayals above.

[h/t: Visual News]