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EPISODE 124 - Hackers

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Dive into 1995's vision of what the internet looks like as Paul, June, and Jason discuss the heavily requested film Hackers. They talk about Fisher Stevens' amazing performance as the villain "The Plague," the big computer room with Penn Jillette, the elite hackers' fashion, and the most common passwords. Plus, the HDTGM crew talks all things snacks and June shares her true fear of technology.

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Check out Blake Harris’ Oral History of Hackers over at www.slashfilm.com!

 

Los Angeles: Grab your tickets now for How Did This Get Made? LIVE from Largo at the Coronet on January 23rd, 2 shows (8pm and 10:30pm)! Go to www.largo-la.com for tickets!

 

People of the internet: The League is back on FXX 10pm on Wednesdays! A while ago, Paul and Rob Huebel did a comedy special on a 60 foot glass bus that traveled around LA and now you’ll be able to see it. Go to https://itun.es/us/3M4J9 now to buy it! You can also see Jason in Sleeping With Other People in a theater near you!

The Hotwives (Casey Wilson, Danielle Schneider, Andrea Savage, Dannah Phirman, Tymberlee Hill, Angela Kinsey, Erinn Hayes) are back and this time they are in Vegas baby! Watch The Hotwives of Las Vegas on Hulu today!

Also, check out June in Grace and Frankie available on Netflix, Paul in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp on Netflix, all the episodes of NTSF:SD:SUV:: on HULU for free, ScheeRL on YouTube here:

, and Jason in The Dictator (he’s still in it!).

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Just finished and loved the episode. I haven't seen Hackers in years but watching it and listening to the episode brought back a lot of nostalgia I was not aware I had for this movie! An amount of nostalgia on par with Masters'. I'm excited that they might coincidentally cover a string of movies I watched waaaay too many times as a kid!

 

Also, can't wait to make my website with Audible.

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OMISSION: When Paul talked about the character from another HDTGM movie I was 100% sure they will finally talk about Sally-Can't Dance from Con Air, portrayed by Renoly Santiago, the same actor who plays Phreak in Hackers! I was quite certain someone on the team would have made that connection, especially given the character's wardrobe. Alas... this tragic omission left a lot to be desired from the episode. For the record, I'd like to posit the theory that the two roles are indeed the same character and we now finally know why Sally-Can't Dance (aka Phreak) is in prison for: Elite hacking.

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This was a fun episode, the digression into snacking and vaping was a delightfully silly tangent.

 

I know this film is often mentioned in the same breath as The Net, but I lump it together with Antitrust in my head. Antitrust is also dated in a pretty fascinating way, with Tim Robbins as a morally ambiguous Bill Gates-analogue.

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First and foremost, forget my wife and two loving children - What I'm most thankful for is this podcast and June's continuing fear of robots.

 

Now on to Hackers...

 

So within the first few minutes of watching this film, I was floored by a few things:

 

1) Zero Cool, as an 11 year old boy, crashed 1,507 computers in one day. The front page of NY Times called it the "biggest crash in history. So based on this information, I think we can assume it equated to millions of dollars lost and a large amount of people losing their savings. So what's his punishment... Don't use a computer or a touch tone phone for 7 years and $45,000! $45K? I mean they should have hit his family with a $500K penalty or something that would make us feel that his punishment put the family in ruins, thus causing late night arguments between his parents and eventually leading them to divorce.

 

2) I can't get a handle on Dade's mom. We all know that on his 18th birthday, Dade is allowed back on a computer. First of all, what 18 year old is now mature enough to not cause mayhem? Be that as it may, his mom asks him on the day he is allowed back on a computer... "What are you doing?" How does Dade reply, " I'm taking over a TV Network." No concern comes from the mom. But then when she confronts him in the shower, she gets angry that he's back online. But isn't he allowed to by law and honestly, did she just think he was playing Doom or Duke Nukeum?

 

3) If Dade stayed true to his 7 year sentence of staying offline, is he a genius? After that kind of hiatus, he does he know all the ins and outs of hacking? Are we too assume there has been no advancement in security systems since he last hacked a computer?

 

- Pete, The S Man

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What is it with the secret service and how they storm a room or arrest someone?

Is it by law that they must wait quietly outside a shower or apartment window, guns drawn... and not arrest someone till the curtain is opened?

 

- Pete, The S Man

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I adore Jason and all of his horrendous thoughts, but this line in the film literally made me cringe. What is the thoughts behind this? It's so out of the blue for Cereal Killer's character. Yes he's weird and wet his nipple... but EWWWWWWW.

 

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- Pete, The S Man

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I just love that the footage the hackers are watching in Nikon's apartment (prior to blade and razor's show) is from the future arrest of Joey. Take a look below.

 

Also on Joey... he is the only legitimate actor who is a teenager (16). All of the other talent ranges from 20 (Jolie) to 25 (Lillard.)

 

21cgsue.png[/img]

 

 

2nqcwvb.png[/img]

 

- Pete, The S Man

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I'm not sure if it's the fault of the movie, or if it's down to my poor knowledge of 1995 computers and hacking, but the relationship the hackers have with paper confused me so much. When Wendell Pierce hands the police file on Dade to Eugene, he's disgusted and says "Ugh, hardcopy" as if physical media and data is the most repugnant thing to a hacker.

But the good guy hackers seem to love paperwork. The hacking montage where they discover the worm that Eugene had hidden shows more and more paper being printed off by them as the montage goes on, until pretty much the whole room is covered. When Phantom Phreak dreams he's getting arrested he tries to destroy evidence, which seems to mostly involve ripping up sheets of paper. Plus there's the whole bit where Dade is identifying books on hacking and computers at Cyberdelia. So what's the deal?

 

 

 

 

Oh, and Johnny Lee Miller was totally trying to portray someone with Asperger's, right?

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I thought when paul, june and jason were talking about all the "wheels" in this film, they would have surely called out the insanity of when Dade gave up the disc to The Plague.

 

This is beyond crazy, but the way The Plague gets the disc is by riding a skateboard along side a limo (ala Marty McFly), veer off to snag the disc, and then re-join the limo.

 

So did Eugene ride the limo all the way down to the meeting spot? Did he stop the car prior to the final turn and have a conversation that went like this....

 

Eugene: "Hey, pull over."

Driver: "Huh?"

Eugene: "I want to get out and ride along side the limo."

Driver: "Why? Just have the guy toss in the disc. I mean he is coming here to give it to you Mr. Eugene."

Eugene: "Just do it! And I'm the Plague!"

 

 

- Pete, The S Man

 

 

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317cf1y.jpg[/img]

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The outfit Zero Cool was wearing in Acid Burn dream that red latex number I've also have seen that in a cheap porno movie from Valley girl called "sexy latex lovers"

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I just love that the footage the hackers are watching in Nikon's apartment (prior to blade and razor's show) is from the future arrest of Joey. Take a look below.

 

Also on Joey... he is the only legitimate actor who is a teenager (16). All of the other talent ranges from 20 (Jolie) to 25 (Lillard.)

 

21cgsue.png[/img]

 

 

2nqcwvb.png[/img]

It's a camera that can see into the future, like the camera that looks into the past in Déjà Vu - only better!

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Unimportant correction: Gibson was the brand of supercomputer (like Cray supercomputer in real life). That is why it was a big deal to "hack a Gibson" The company that The Plague worked for was a made up oil company called Ellingson.

 

I did think while watching this movie about how much sentiment has changed in 20 years regarding the oil companies. Now I think someone whose plan it was to steal millions from an oil company would be considered a somewhat sympathetic character.

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Some notes on the DaVinci virus. The movie seems to put forward that The Plague came up with the virus as a reaction to Joey stealing the garbage file. I would say him whipping that up in a few hours is the most impressive thing in the movie.

 

Even more impressive is he took the time to program in for it to say "Help Me" when it was being destroyed.

 

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And finally I am sure that everyone involved was glad that he put leaves over the junk so it is more modest than the real Vitruvian Man. Hackers are known for being a very prudish group.

 

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After laughing out loud like a crazy person to "What is its mission?" I guess I can cross the Walgreens I was in off my list of places I can ever frequent again...

 

Also, Fisher Stevens turns 52 today. Whether this episode dropping today was by coincidence or design, I think we can all agree he couldn't ask for a better birthday present.

 

40082910c6e5b110d79b22cd8bc9c751.gif

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"What is its mission?" t-shirts, please?

 

I might have missed it earlier, but I can't believe it took them a half-hour to mention that the main character's name was DADE. They somehow managed to get bad-to-passable performances out of everyone in this movie (including some good actors), starting with Miller's telltale Brit-playing-American nasal twang. It was also really weird how they used that device of cutting away to old TV/movie footage, and then (again, unless I missed it, because I was barely paying attention through the last ~1/3) completely dropped it after the first 15-20 minutes.

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I just want to know what happened to Acid Burn's boyfriend... They seemed pretty serious the whole movie and then suddenly she's with JLM?

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Here are a few random notes of things that didn't get mentioned in the (hilarious) episode.

 

Zero Cool's defense lawyer didn't even get a chance to make a closing statement at his trial. It went straight from the prosecutor to the judge dropping the hammer.

 

I wish they had thrown in a quick statement that Zero Cool was going to be put into a detention center in the UK for a few years (make up a reason like the UK doesn't have the internet) so his accent could be explained away.

 

Johnny Lee Miller was typing so painfully slow in the TV station hacking contest scene. I think later the director figured out to tell him "Just throw your fingers at the keyboard don't worry about actually typing the right words."

 

Regarding the sprinklers on in the school prank. I have never designed a sprinkler system but I don't think I'd ever put in the option for a timed sprinkler test which, at best, will cause thousands of dollars worth of water damage.

 

This movie would have had no plot if The Plague had "emptied the Recycle Bin" of the Gibson.

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Well happy birthday, Fisher Stevens. Whose name I now always associated with Jason saying "look it up" thanks to listening to the LAKE PLACID episode a lot.

 

I love June's observation that all they do is make free phone calls from pay phones. I think that shows how NOT prescient this film was. It was made in 95 and they didn't predict cell phones? I'm pretty sure I had one in 97.

 

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the use of "elite" for hackers. I know that is sort of a thing. Everything used to be "l33t!!" (leet). I looked it up and apparently this originated with techy people in the 80s because bulletin board systems (BBS) would give you certain privliges when you reached elite status. But I don't think it was ever a level you would achieve as a hacker? Like a gold star some hacking organization sends you in the mail?

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By "You get a free domain for a year", does that mean that we get a giant room with which to fully realize our Squarespace websites in physical space?

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Jason's point about gender fluidity, boys are girls and girls are boys, I'd like to say was trying to make some point about transhumanist subculture that tech types would be more into but I feel that gives the writer too much credit.

 

The question of Nic Cage making this better is fairly redundant here since clearly he would be a better vilain than Fisher Stevens, hell I'd make a better villain than him and I'm about as threatening as cottage cheese.

 

Also, the talk about representing something deathly dull as hacking on screen reminded me of this old SMBC comic.

 

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