HackThePlanet - Love, Sex, Secrets, and Computer Gods


20 years ago in the United States our favourite film and inspiration for our site design and name was released. To celebrate Hackers we are looking at all our hacking related articles. Nate McKenzie with a look at the film that started it all here at /G-f...

This is no mere review. This is an homage.

The 1990's are an unheralded era for film. Sure, there are the pinnacles by which some of the filmmaking revolution are judged: Braveheart, Jurassic Park, Titanic, and even The Matrix, which somehow slid in just under the gun at the 1999 mark. These movies set the tech standard for the decade. Rightfully so. Titanic utilized CGI in a way that had never before been seen. Jurassic Park was an amalgam of modern innovation and old school resourcefulness. And of course, The Matrix absolutely revolutionized the way film was conceived, implemented, and perceived.

For a teenager from the countryside of Northwest Ohio, who dreamed of Hollywood and its Silver Screen ambiance, these movies were the definition of awe inspiring. These are the movies that build dreams, that stand as monuments to success and unmitigated wealth and celebrity.

But for a teenager from the countryside of Northwest Ohio (redundancy intended) there is another facet of filmmaking that tugged more firmly at the heartstrings. Sub-genre, anti-social, and anarchist to the core, some of us felt an allegiance to films that took a back seat to the Hollywood Silver Elite. Films like Kids, Go!, Trainspotting, and even oft forgotten (much like us) fare as Airborne are a sidebar in the discussion of great 90's flicks.

The film that most vividly personifies 90's teen angst might be The Crow. But for the budding tech wizards of our modern world, no film was a more astute representation of their wishes and woes than the 1996 mother-board of all cybercrime films: Hackers.


Hackers is the reason we call our website Garbage-File. But it means much more than that to many more than just us at /G-f.

You know the gist: young genius gets busted for hacking a government website, gets banned from computers until his third lifetime; genius meets up with nouveau-punks, encounters a bad guy, ends up wielding a keyboard like a lightsaber in his fight against the evils of corporate corruption, and eventually wins.

If you have seen the movie, you know the premise. If you haven't... I wonder what other horrible decisions you've made in your life.

Hackers featured a litany of 1990's teen-favorite film faces including pre-Trainspotting Johnny Lee "Hey Isn't That Sherlock" Miller, Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, and of course the iconic Angelina Jolie (whose "look" in Hackers might only be second to hers in Gone In 60 Seconds). Along with lesser-known but vaguely familiar actors such as Fisher Stevens, Lorraine Bracco, and Penn Jillette.

With a soundtrack that feels like audial MDMA that worms its way into your brain and elicits a state akin to that which fueled techno dance clubs from the decade, there really are no bugs in this software. Prodigy, Urban Dance Squad, and Stereo MC's are staples of the era and genre and compliment the visual with their perfect mixes and palpating bass. Girl Talk wishes he had that kind of talent.


Hackers was the prelude that set the landscape for movies such as eXistenZ, Johnny Mnemonic, and even The Matrix. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you. WarGames may have come before but it was clean and polished in comparison; Hackers was gritty and serenaded those of us of an anti-establishment persuasion. ZeroCool we all were. Acid Burn we all wanted. Phreak, Cereal, Nikon, and Joey we all adored. The Plague we all despised. We were the ones constantly laughed at while looking for the pool on the roof. But Hackers was digital laced solace.

The love felt for Hackers is more than a fondness for film: it was a congregation of community for those without a commune; described aptly by Cereal Killer as "the Nintendo Generation". Dade, Kate, and Co. didn't just "Hack the Planet" - they hacked the minds of an entire generation. A generation of 9,600 baud surfing computer 1337, A generation that eventually took over the world.

Mess with the best, die like the rest.

Images - Wikipedia.

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