The A.V. Club Revisits "Hackers"

The A.V. Club Revisits "Hackers"

 

"Hackers" has long been one of my favorite movies. Like, ever. It's the movie I watch when I'm laid up on the couch too sick to do anything but fade in and out of sleep all day. I actually paid money for the soundtrack at one point. I own it on DVD. Some day I still hope to be cool enough (and slim enough) to justify wearing a leather BMX jacket with piping without irony.
 
And I know I'm not alone, because I see references to it everywhere. In fact, an entire subset of computer nerds can be coaxed to sheepishly admit their love for "Hackers" just by judiciously dropping a reference. I once made an entire room full of Unix sysadmins break into helpless laughter by loudly proclaiming - for no reason whatsoever, in the middle of a workday - "HACK THE WORLD!!!" 
 
The A.V. Club has revisited "Hackers" and found it... still awesome!

 
I have seen viruses named "Cookie Monster." Any given forum has at least one member named Zero Cool (or some hackish variation of same, like Z3r0 c00L). And samples from Orbital's "Halcyon On and On," the hit trance song from the soundtrack, can be found in dance hits today. 
 
What is it about "Hackers" that's so appealing? First of all, the movie at least tried. Unlike many other movies about the internet at the time, its audience was the same as its subject. Movies like Sandra Bullock's "The Net" were aimed squarely at Ma and Pa Middle America. But "Hackers" was aimed at nerdish teenagers. It's a fantasy wherein the nerdiest guy gets the girl - and she's even nerdier than he is! And prettier, too.
 
It's hard to remember how unlikable nerd culture was, back in the 1990s. Today, nerd culture IS mainstream culture. The staggering attendance figures at various Comicons attests to that. (Nerd culture brought you people the internet in the first place, so be nice!) But in the 1990s, nerd culture didn't have many supporters. 
 
Having a stylish, interesting, if occasionally goofy movie like "Hackers" aimed at your own unpopular demographic was heady stuff indeed! 
 
It's also the only movie in which the hackers are both the bad guys AND the good guys. In most movies, hackers are found on only one side of the table. But "Hackers" is, true to its name, about hackers - both good and bad. And bad ones that become good. And also Angelina Jolie in an adorable pixie haircut, luring in the boys long before Trinity beckoned Neo into the Matrix.