Transcript – Modern Technology Watches – Episode 213 – Hackers (1995)

The following is a human-made transcript of Episode 213 of the podcast Modern Technology Watches, the subject of which was the film Hackers. The discussion has been lightly edited for readability without substantially altering the content; if you need a verbatim quote for reference purposes, please confirm it from the original audio if possible.
The transcriber of this episode was Betty Sulwe.


GILA:

That’s right, this is a payphone.

GILA & ROB:

Don’t ask.

ROB:

As you can see, this is just a simple microcassette recorder. Hook it up to the phone, and drop in five bucks in quarters.

GILA:

Record the tones that the coins make, and hang up and get your money back.

ROB:

And never again have to pay for a service that would be dirt cheap,

GILA:

If it weren’t run by a bunch of profiteering gluttons.

ROB:

Remember, hacking is more than just a crime. It’s a survival trait.

(Opening theme music)

ROB:

Hey, Gila.

GILA:

Hey, Rob.

ROB:

How’s it going?

GILA:

Okay, how are you?

ROB:

I am well, and I am happy and I’m excited. And do you know why?

GILA:

I don’t know why. Why?

ROB:

Because this is episode 213 of Modern Technology Watches!

GILA:

213? We’ve arrived at the end of the second season?

ROB:

Yes, the second season finale!

GILA:

(gasps)

ROB: Of Modern Technology Watches. Gila, what do we do here?

GILA:

Modern Technology Watches is a podcast in which a married couple of film geeks, that is us, that is you, Rob Vincent,

ROB:

And you, Gila Drazen,

GILA:

Yes, we show each other films from our shared library, mostly, which the other one hasn’t usually seen before. And then we talk about it.

ROB:

And today, it is my pick.

GILA:

It is your pick.

ROB:

And I wanted to pick something suitably season-finale worthy, and follow up what I think is a pretty good season we’ve had.

GILA:

I would agree.

ROB:

So, I will be right back.

GILA:

Fantastic. I will be here and I will continue telling the story that I’ve told every time we’ve sound-checked today because I think it’s very funny. So when I was teaching, my students – I was subbing actually – my students had gotten letters from their Israeli pen pals and one of my students said to me, “Gila, what doess ICP mean?” And I said, “Why is your Israeli pen pal talking to you about the Insane Clown Posse?” And it turned out that the Israeli student in question had meant “ICQ,” she was trying to give my student her ICQ address, but had made the “q” backwards so we thought it was “ICP.”

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

It’s a good story.

ROB:

It is a good story. And I just think you’re not ready to accept the idea of juggalo eighth-grade girls in Israel.

GILA:

I think you’re probably correct, yes.

ROB:

More’s the pity.

GILA:

I know. It’s just I’m super judgy, what can I say?

ROB:

Well, speaking of super judgy…

GILA:

Oh, boy.

ROB:

I’m going to show you this episode’s movie.

GILA:

Okay. Okay. Oh my God!

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Okay, so Rob has just handed me Hackers.

ROB:

Hackers!

GILA:

Hackers.

ROB:

On Blu-ray.

GILA:

On Blu-ray… wowzers. Okay. I like Matthew Lillard, I’m excited to see him.

ROB:

Okay.

GILA:

And his name is not on the cover. I didn’t know Lorraine Bracco had anything to do with this movie, is my initial thought looking at the top because Johnny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Fisher Stevens… and Lorraine Bracco.

ROB:

A regular Scooby gang.

GILA:

Yeah, seriously… I don’t know what weird art technique they did on the picture here on the front cover, it’s sort of like a brush-over-photo type situation.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Wow, I have heard so much about this movie.

ROB:

You have!

GILA:

I have… oh, my goodness! Okay, sorry, I skipped ahead.

“While practicing the tricks of the trade, a neophyte ‘hacker’ accomplishes the nearly impossible: he hacks the highly secured computer at the Ellingson Mineral Corporation. But in doing so, he unknowingly taps into a high-tech embezzling scheme masked by a computer virus with the potential to destroy the world’s ecosystem! And when the young hacker and his pals are targeted for the crime, the group must launch a massive cyberspace attack – one that will hopefully clear their names and prevent ecological disaster.

“By launching the careers of Jonny Lee Miller and Academy-Award-winner Angelina Jolie,”

(sighs) That’s a reach.

“Hackers became an underground hit instantly, inspiring music and fashion for the brand-new Internet culture, and has been even hailed as prophetic in its use of computers and hacking.”

ROB:

Yep!

GILA:

Okay… oh, and Penn Jillette is in it?

ROB:

He is, indeed.

GILA:

…I am fascinated. I have been fascinated for a while. And knowing that a friend of ours was a consultant on this movie,

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

All the more so.

ROB:

This is true. You remember how I was getting all pissy about how you kept showing me high-school movies?

GILA:

Uh-huh.

ROB:

And ’90s movies?

GILA:

Uh-huh.

ROB:

And ’90s high-school movies?

GILA:

Uh-huh.

ROB:

Here’s a ’90s high-school movie!

GILA:

They’re high-schoolers?

ROB:

(laughing) Yes. And perhaps I’ve said too much, but yes.

GILA:

Okay. Well, I am excited.

ROB:

Be excited!

GILA:

I am excited.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Okay. So there’s a feature, right? It says “The Keyboard Cowboys: A Look Back at Hackers.” And I’m sorry, I thought the term was “console cowboy?”

ROB:

Well, only if you’re jamming with the console cowboys in cyberspace.

GILA:

Well, yeah!

ROB:

Like-

GILA:

Julia Stiles.

ROB:

Baby Julia Stiles.

GILA:

Baby Julia Stiles in Ghostwriter.

ROB:

Ghostwriter. Yes.

GILA:

I liked that show.

ROB:

It was indeed a show.

GILA:

(laughs)

ROB:

If you’ve not seen it, dear listener, look up “Julia Stiles Ghostwriter” and you will see Julia Stiles as a child actress basically doing this film, which we will talk about more.

GILA:

I’m so excited.

ROB:

So many times when I’ve been speaking with friends of ours, especially friends of ours in hacker culture, they have not understood how I have not showed you this movie yet.

GILA:

And now the time has come.

ROB:

The time has come. (laughs) Are you ready to do this?

GILA:

I suppose I am!

ROB:

All right. 1995’s Hackers.

GILA:

Let’s do it!

ROB:

(laughs)

(Interstitial music)

ROB:

Hey, Gila.

GILA:

Hey, Rob.

ROB:

Are we back?

GILA:

Oh, we are back!

ROB:

We are back.

GILA:

We are so back.

ROB:

How back are we?

GILA:

We are like “Baby Got Back.”

ROB:

And we just got back from watching 1995’s Hackers.

GILA:

That we did!

ROB:

Like, minutes ago.

GILA:

Seriously.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Rob?

ROB:

Yes, Gila.

GILA:

I have a question.

ROB:

What question is that?

GILA:

What the hell did you make me watch?

ROB:

(laughing) Well, it’s a film called Hackers. It was made in 1995, directed by Iain Softley-

GILA:

Right. No, you mentioned that. And you said to me after we turned off the mics but before we started the movie, you said that no pressure and not to deviate from the standard at all, but if I didn’t like this movie, we were going to be getting divorced. So, do I need to call a lawyer?

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And it wasn’t that I didn’t liiike it, I just didn’t like it.

ROB:

Okay, now what does that mean?

GILA:

Well, hold on. I want to talk about you and this movie first, and then we can talk about me.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

So.

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

I am fascinated that it took us this long to watch this movie.

ROB:

Mm-hm. Did you get the idea that this was a movie that I liked, orrr..?

GILA:

Well, let’s see. We’ve got the novelization… How many different copies of this movie?

ROB:

Well, we’ve got the Blu-ray, the DVD, the UMD disc, which is the little one that you can watch on a PlayStation Portable.

GILA:

We don’t have one of those.

ROB:

No.

GILA:

But we have the disc?

ROB:

Yes… I do have the novelization, yes, and, uh…

GILA:

Both volumes of the soundtrack?

ROB:

Three volumes of the soundtrack.

GILA:

Oh, pardon me. So, did you see this movie when it came out?

ROB:

I did. I was a senior in high school in 1995 and this movie came out. I watched it myself. When it came out on VHS, I had a copy. And then I had another copy. I think at least one VHS copy of mine probably lives with my mom now. I was coming up in the hacker community at the time. I was active online, although in 1995 I was mostly lurking, I was quiet. I was on some forums, BBSes, email lists, newsgroups type things.

GILA:

Had you gone to an in-person meeting yet?

ROB:

I did not. I started going to in-person 2600 meetings, which are the meetings of the local hacker community which feature in the production of this film a little bit, which we’ll go into, I went to my first one in summer of 1997. So I was still, basically, I was not any kind of social creature yet. In 1995, I would have been 17, 18, very much keeping to myself in the three-dimensional, four-dimensional physical world, just starting to poke around online and see what that whole world was all about… (laughs) You’re trying so hard to form your next question.

GILA:

I really am. I am. So… (speaking very carefully and deliberately) what is it about this movie that really speaks to you? What is it that draws you in? Is it the script? Is it the acting? Is it the cast? Is it the storyline? You know… what is it that speaks to your soul about this one, Rob?

ROB:

(laughs) To talk about that, we’d have to talk more about the general hacker community reaction to this film at the time and the reaction to this film now.

GILA:

Okay.

ROB:

Now, this movie was produced with a couple of hacker community consultants. One is a nice man called Nicholas Jarecki and the other one is a nice man who we know and work with called Emmanuel Goldstein who is the producer of Off The Hook, the talk-radio show of which you and I are both part.

GILA:

Correct.

ROB:

I joined up, uh, 13 years ago now, you joined up more recently.

GILA:

Been about a year and a half.

ROB:

Yeah. Emmanuel publishes a magazine called 2600: The Hacker Quarterly.

GILA:

Yes.

ROB:

And it is a magazine by and for the hacker community. It was 2600 magazine that came up with the idea of having 2600 meetings, which is meetings that would happen in the real world to get people in the hacker community out from behind their screens for a while. This is before we had things like mobile internet, mobile digital devices. They started in 1988, and the idea was that put down your computers, put down the gadgets, get out from behind the screens and just go and meet people, your local hacker community.

GILA:

Make some meatspace friends.

ROB:

Precisely. And just see what was going on out there, share information, be part of the community in the physical world as well as the virtual.

The producers of this movie and the main cast, Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie – and we’ll talk about them when we get into the cast section – came to a couple of meetings and talked to hackers. And of course Angelina Jolie was not internationally famous UN-ambassador household-name Angelina Jolie yet, she was a kid just starting out. She’d done a couple of really obscure things and then this. Jonny Lee Miller, same. You know, anyone could go and make a movie featuring hackers Hollywood style where it’s just (imitating typing sounds) rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat keyboards, and then “I’m in,” then action themes happen.

GILA:

“Enhance!”

ROB:

Yeah. But the the people making this movie reached out and had some conversations with members of the actual hacker community. The movie was made to kind of take the hacker culture at the time and use it to tell a story that would work in a mainstream Hollywood film.

GILA:

Mm-hm.

ROB:

Don’t grit your teeth so hard you chip something.

GILA:

(laughs) My teeth are ungritted.

ROB:

In a more realistic portrayal of hacking and how that all works on a technical level, you’ll just be looking at, like, black screens and text, especially at that point in history. And so they decided to be a little impressionistic about what they were doing and what was going on, and use the trippy computer animation and fuzzy static trip-out scenes and the psychedelic animation and stuff to represent what was going on in a way that an audience would watch, even if they weren’t, say, technical people.

So… movie came out and a lot of hackers at the time were angry. Because the hacker community was something that was going on sort of on its own little level, you know, behind the veil, underground, just below-the-surface type things, and they’re like, “oh, great. Here comes a Hollywood mainstream movie to misrepresent what we’re all about.” There were hackers that were angry. There were hackers that were like, “oh, are we all rollerblading freaks now? You know, doing handstands on subway platforms? None of us dress like models in Rolling Stone magazine.” But there were others that kind of dug it. But still, there was, like, a backlash. And there was also the sense that, “Oh, now kids are gonna see this movie and they’re gonna show up in the hacker community.” This was something that a lot of people got a hair up their ass about back then, which was the newbies. “Oh my God, the newbies are coming.”

GILA:

Eternal September.

ROB:

Eternal September, exactly. There were people who grumbled about newbies, I was never one of them. Not only because at the time I was a newbie, but even after I couldn’t really be described as that in general, I’m still a newbie about so many things.

GILA:

We all are.

ROB:

Yeah, and that’s an important part of it. There will always be people who don’t know things you know, and in a culture that’s based on information wanting to be free and the open exchange of ideas, it’s kind of hypocritical and asshole-ish to be like, “well, I’m not going to tell you what I know, and you’re stupid because you don’t know it.” And with the people who had that attitude in the hacker world when this movie came out, it was another, “oh no, this is gonna make every kid who sees a Hollywood movie want to come home and be a hacker just like their heroes in this cool movie.” And to an extent that happened just because it was another look. It was like every time a movie comes out about something, you know, Jurassic Park came out and everyone suddenly wanted to be a paleontologist and, you know?

GILA:

Pitch Perfect came out and all of a sudden everybody wanted to sing a capella.

ROB:

(laughs) Yeah. When a movie blows up on a big level, that’s gonna bring in people who see the fiction and want to be the real version of that.

GILA:

I have a question.

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

When in the year did this movie come out? Do you remember?

ROB:

This movie came out in September.

GILA:

Interesting.

ROB:

It came out in September, 1995. September 15th, 1995 in the United States.

GILA:

Hmm.

ROB:

Yeah, a lot of kids were starting a new school year and especially around this age. There is this feeling when you’re in high school – I certainly remember it, and I’m sure it’s something that’s kind of universal – you’re figuring out who the hell you are. And, so often, expressing that takes the form of throwing yourself full tilt into some subcultural thing. Certainly one of the crowds that would pop up would be hackers. I never saw another hacker in real life until I started going to meetings in 1997. Like, I felt totally alone where I was, I was in the suburbs. I was a kid who connected with all these people online, on teleconferences, phone calls, things like that, but still everyone was on the other end of a wire somewhere. They weren’t in-person, real-life attachments, associations, friendships.

And so finding the hacker community was a major deal for me. It’s how I became any kind of socially-functioning human being at all.

GILA:

Well, I’m grateful.

ROB:

And it’s also a place where I found myself able to learn things about stuff that fascinated me, but also teach the stuff I knew, try and help others find their niches and what have you. And that’s why I grew up to run the New York City 2600 meetings’ website, at nyc2600.net. It’s what led me to get involved with the HOPE conference and Off The Hook.

So the the place of this movie in hacker history, it is an event in hacker history. Some people hated it, some people liked it. Some people quietly liked it but since everyone around them was saying they hated it, they were like, “yeah, it sucks.” But nowadays, a lot of the hacker world appreciates it. Not just for the camp value and the “oh my God, look how ’90s everything is,” and “oh my God, look how Hollywood cyberpunk everything is,” and “look at baby Angelina Jolie before winning Oscars,” and whatnot.

GILA:

Yeah, this is not a movie I would have been like, “hey, this girl is gonna get nominated for an Oscar in four years.”

ROB:

(laughs) No, no. But it’s definitely got, I think, more of a warm, fuzzy place in hacker culture than it used to. And a lot of that is because the story it tells is one that really connects with the hacker attitude and also, it really illustrates well – and I’m jumping so far ahead into our discussion of this, but – it is, I think, a valid telling of what would be a hacker story.

Hacker culture at the time was a thing where not only did you connect with each other but you know, you saw how things were working behind the scenes and also you found yourself able to do things that your average person wouldn’t know could be done. But it was still very much like, it wasn’t “hackers versus the government,” it wasn’t “hackers versus the authorities.” The authorities would come along and bust you sometimes, but mostly the authorities didn’t really know the full extent of what was going on. The government wasn’t paying close enough attention. Of course, that that changed very quickly. But it was basically people sneaking around and having fun, and finding out what things could do. So when it came to have like, conflict for a Hollywood story, it wasn’t “us versus them.” It was like, you know, the FBI is a pain in the ass in this movie, the authorities are a pain in the ass, but the actual villain is just another hacker who is trying to do unethical things with what he knows, versus the kids that are just looking around and having fun.

GILA:

Hmm.

ROB:

I don’t know if I’m making much sense.

GILA:

No, you definitely are, but… so when we started the movie, I said, “I’m just curious, do you like it because it’s bad?”

ROB:

And you said that at the start of the movie, which I thought was very presumptuous of you. (laughs)

GILA:

Well, I did ask you again at the end.

ROB:

You did. And I still haven’t answered!

GILA:

No, you still haven’t answered. Are you going to?

ROB:

I wouldn’t call this a bad movie. I would call it a fun movie. It’s not like a bad movie in the sense that like, you know, watching Manos: The Hands Of Fate and the joy that’s found in it is making fun of it.

GILA:

Right.

ROB:

I don’t know… it’s not Mariah Carey and Glitter, like trying to make a wonderful movie with a great story and failing hard at it.

GILA:

Right, it’s not a train wreck.

ROB:

It’s not a train wreck.

GILA:

But it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good movie.

ROB:

What disqualifies it from being a good movie, do you think?

GILA:

Well, I would have to go with: the acting…

ROB:

Mm-hm?

GILA:

Is bad. The story is good…

ROB:

Mm-hm?

GILA:

The writing is bad! It’s not good. And the characters are just… they’re not well drawn. And there were a few plot twists that I saw coming literally 20 minutes before. Something happened immediately and I said, “oh, this is what’s going to happen.” And I mis-said one thing, like, I got somebody’s name wrong and you were like, “noo!”

ROB:

(laughs) Yeah, you asked me if Kate Libby was going to turn out to be Acid Base. And I said no, truthfully.

GILA:

Because there is no Acid Base, because it’s Acid Burn.

ROB:

Correct.

GILA:

But like, come on.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

The other thing is, having built up this base of knowledge about stuff and then seeing this movie – and I will admit, my base of knowledge is still fairly shallow – but seeing that the whole point of this is something that we talk about a lot; that there’s a difference between a hacker and a malicious actor, right? Hacker is a mindset, it’s not a behavior, and that you’re not necessarily going to – “hacker” doesn’t necessarily mean bad actor.

So the fact that the movie had the ethos of “hacker is not automatically a bad thing,” and the antagonists in the movie – or some of the antagonists, the FBI definitely was coming from that mindset – and they were like, “clearly, that’s dumb.” So I appreciated that aspect of the story. The dialogue was stilted, the acting was bad… I did really enjoy the visual design of how they made the insides of computers look like buildings. I liked that a lot. I liked all the visual representations of the stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily see. And like you said, especially in the mid 90s it would have all just been, like, black screen white text, or green text maybe. So, having that visual element of it was really nice.

ROB:

Right.

GILA:

But…

ROB:

But…

GILA:

Ehhhhh, I don’t know if I’d call it, like, a good movie, you know?

ROB:

Mh-hm.

GILA:

I’m not surprised this isn’t something that I saw on my own, you know?

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And I was 14 when it came out so I wasn’t going to be like, “hey, y’all, let’s go see Hackers.” Like, no. You know? So it’s not objectively a bad movie, but I don’t think we could say it’s objectively a good movie. In much the same way that St. Elmo’s Fire is not objectively a bad movie, but it’s not objectively a good movie. It is my favorite movie, but it’s not objectively a good movie.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

But I love it for so many reasons that go beyond its goodness or its badness.

ROB:

This is sounding a little familiar. (laughs)

GILA:

So, it’s that kind of a thing. It’s like a personal connection to it, and what it says to you about your community, and what it says to you about your life and your own personal history, and it’s not so much about whether this is just, like, objectively dumb, and one step above “you ever jammed with the console cowboys in cyberspace” Julia Stiles.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Not to mention the fact that it would probably again, not be allowed in the building to take the Bechdel test.

ROB:

I don’t think the movie is dumb. I don’t think the writing is dumb. I think the writing is fun.

GILA:

I’ve seen most of these people in other things and, again, I would not have looked at Angelina Jolie and said, “she’s gonna win an Oscar.” No. I’ve seen Matthew Lillard do other things. There’s nuance there, that he was not allowed to have. Jesse Bradford, who is a direct contemporary of mine so he’s probably 14 when they were filming this movie, I’m like, “oh my God, does he ever not smoke in this thing?”

ROB:

No, that was part of the whole gag.

GILA:

And it was also part of seeing it now and you’re like, “oh my God, he’s smoking on the concourse at Grand Central. They wouldn’t let him do that. Why is he doing that? Why is he not getting in trouble?”

ROB:

For the same reason that good cowboys in the Westerns don’t run out of bullets. (laughs)

GILA:

Fair enough.

ROB:

It wasn’t the point.

GILA:

It was not the point.

ROB:

What you said about, like, this movie portraying hackers as a culture; there are good folks in it and bad folks in it, and being the hacker doesn’t automatically make you the bad guy, that’s part of why this movie holds a place in hacker history. Because that hadn’t really been done, like, the hackers definitely weren’t the leads in a movie. You would have the evil hackers who were like, you know rat-a-tat on a keyboard and something explodes somewhere and kills people. Or you would have the support-role hacker in some action movie, hero gets on the phone to his or her buddy who’s in a van somewhere with a satellite dish on top and he’s like, “okay, go.” And the hacker rat-a-tats on a keyboard and makes something good happen for the hero, and then later they’re like, “wow, I wish I were cool like you, hero, doing bad roundhouse kicks.” That’s where hackers were in Hollywood. They were not the leads. In this one they finally got to be the leads, and it was a story sort of about the hacker world and how things could, to a degree, work in it.

GILA:

Interesting. One thing I think I will say is that – and this also may be just my grew-up-in-the-Midwest coming out again – but I would almost have been more interested to see this if it had taken place somewhere else.

ROB:

What does New York take away from it?

GILA:

I don’t know that New York takes away from it necessarily, but to kind of prove the point that this is a very portable sort of thing that you can do. And that you can do it anywhere. You know, there’s part of me that was like, “Okay, we’re starting in Seattle. That’s cool, there are major corporations in Seattle.” I recognize they couldn’t have had the final set piece at Grand Central had it not been in New York, but if we’ve learned anything it’s that there are hackers everywhere. There is hacker culture everywhere. People find each other. People work together. And this could have happened- It might have been less flashy if it had happened in Boise, but it still would have happened. And what could have been if Hackers had been set in Boise rather than New York City?

ROB:

Wow… they’d be getting admin rights on a potato if it happened in Boise.

I think it kind of had to be New York. I mean, the movie was made partially here and partially in England, and I think it had to be New York just for the idea that there would be a bunch of kids living in the same place. Like, I lived outside of New York City, not far outside, but I lived outside of New York City at the time and I felt like the only schmuck in the suburbs where I lived that was into any of this. But New York City felt like, and was, a place where you could go out and find other hackers in person. Even when I still lived on Long Island, I came into New York City to come to the 2600 meetings rather than finding one out there because this is where it was happening. And it was also a place where you could, in 1995, picture a high school where kids would have their own laptops, you know?

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

Not everyone had a desktop then yet, and laptops were kind of their own sort of science fiction for many people.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

Especially ones with color screens that somehow projected the image in reverse on your face while you typed at it.

GILA:

And a 28.8 modem. Whoah.

ROB:

Yes. One thing they actually say is, “It’s a 28.8 BPS modem,” which would be hideously slow because it was 28.8 KBPS or kilobits per second. It made it a thousand times slower than it should have been.

GILA:

(laughs)

ROB:

So to a lot of real-life hackers, the film Hackers is an important film, maybe, for the space that it holds in history. A lot of people find it a very fun film, I certainly do. On my desk here I’ve got the model of pager they used in the movie.

GILA:

Oh, dear God. Hack the planet!

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

I always wondered why you had that one.

ROB:

It’s because I found it somewhere for cheap, and it’s the one they have. Although I need to spray paint it neon green or orange, or depending on whose beeper I want to make it because they all have their own color.

GILA:

Yeah. They all have their own color, they all have their own logo. Like that scene where they’re all booting up their laptops and they’ve all got their own logo based on their handle.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

“I don’t have an identity if I don’t have a handle.”

I did think I said something pretty close to that though, before I went to my first HOPE. And I was like, “what am I gonna have people call me?” And finally I was like, “Gila. Gila will be fine.” (laughs)

ROB:

(laughs) Yes. You could have chosen another name to go on the air, but you know, a lot of us on Off The Hook have our own air names, a lot of people at WBAI have air names that aren’t their given names.

GILA:

I think right now there are five of us who were on Off The Hook on a regular basis, and there were more of us working with our real names.

ROB:

(mock sarcastically) Well, la-di-freakin’-da!

GILA:

Absolutely. So yes, I decided to go with Gila, to have people call me Gila, and that was fine.

ROB:

That’s a thing, too. This era of hacker culture, and even just online culture in general, you generally didn’t want your real name to get out there. And I say “real name,” meaning the name you went by in mundane life. For a lot of people, the name they chose is their real name, and the name they used at school or whatever not so much, so, you know, that’s a very subjective thing that I won’t get into or pass judgment on. But hacker culture at the time was somewhere where whether online or in real life at a 2600 meeting or a hacker conference or things like that, you could go up to somebody and say, “hi, I’m Ultra Laser,” or something like that and have them just take it in stride and go, “Oh, hey Ultra Laser. How’s it going?”

GILA:

Well, yeah. There are people who are very close friends of yours whose government names I don’t know, because that’s just not what you call them. And I know they have them but I don’t know what they are. Or, I mean, I technically do but don’t think about it. There are any number of places where people choose what they want to be called, you know? And it’s like in Hebrew school when they call you by your Hebrew name, and some of us don’t have that issue, because you know, my name in Hebrew is Gila like it is in English. Or, we had Spanish names in Spanish class, and we got to pick our Spanish names. In my sophomore year, my teacher refused to call me by it because she liked my name too much. Junior year, our teacher couldn’t learn two sets of names. So we didn’t have Spanish names because she couldn’t handle it.

ROB:

Interesting.

GILA:

She was the one who barely spoke Spanish, and was teaching Honors Four.

ROB:

Yep. While we’re on the subject, I’ll throw in a little plug for a project I started up on the Modern Technology Podcast Network a little while ago, I got two episodes out. It’s been a while, I may go back to it if there’s interest both from me and from others out there.

GILA:

I liked it.

ROB:

It’s called Modern Technology Knows Your Name, and it is a podcast about the names people choose for themselves. I started in the first episode with my own story and heard from some folks I know and talked with them about their naming stories. There is a third episode in production, I don’t know what kind of timeline that’ll be, but there’s a couple episodes to start with if you’re interested in such things. Search for “Modern Technology Knows Your Name” in your podcast venue of choice, or go to modern.technology/name. But coming back to this… what the hell were we talking about?

GILA:

Names, handles. I don’t have an identity if I don’t have a handle.

ROB:

Yes. So that was something else that it portrayed well. There were touches that they had to make, like none of the actual hacking techniques being used are applicable in real life.

GILA:

Were they then?

ROB:

No. Some of them they’re in the spirit of what you had to really do. Like you saw the Phantom Phreak put a micro cassette with a bunch of tones up to a payphone receiver and get a free phone call. They didn’t use the right tones.

GILA:

Right. I immediately said those aren’t the right tones, those are like random touch tones. That’s not correct.

ROB:

Mm-hm. But they got the spirit of what was happening across, and then later in the movie they actually gave you a little tutorial on how to get the real tones, which was fun.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

On the flip side, everything about breaking into stuff involves just guessing a password, you didn’t need the login, the usernames. So if you just put in someone’s password, you’d get into their account. They didn’t show how they did all that stuff to harass the FBI agent, but those were the sorts of things that people could do in the hacker world. And some people did do things like that. The gist was there, and the attitude was there.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

So.

GILA:

Yes.

ROB:

Now that we’ve taken a break and come back, in a very slick and editor-friendly manner which means our listeners will never know about it…

GILA:

They will never know this conversation has not just continued.

ROB:

Yes. So let us continue the perfect flow of the conversation by saying shall we start on the cast of the movie, Hackers?

GILA:

Let’s! Let’s start on the cast of the movie Hackers.

ROB:

Okay. I’m gonna start from the bottom here. There’s one or two maybe we can skip. But what do you think about Felicity Huffman as Prosecuting Attorney?

GILA:

I was very surprised to see her. I mean, she’s in what? Two minutes of this movie?

ROB:

Yes, but it’s an important plot point.

GILA:

It is an important plot point. It was interesting to see her, and especially now in light of everything, interesting to see her in a courtroom. Tee-hee, tee-hee.

ROB:

(laughs) Okay. This one you recognized him but couldn’t bring up his name when we were watching, Michael Gaston as U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Bob.

GILA:

I have literally no idea why I recognized him though.

ROB:

Well, Michael Gaston is an American film and television actor. Quinn on the show Prison Break, Gray Anderson on the CBS drama series Jericho, he was on Sopranos. He was on Law & Order because-

GILA:

Who wasn’t?

ROB:

Everyone’s been on Law & Order.

GILA:

He’s an actor with a pulse.

ROB:

He was also on Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order again.

GILA:

Different iterations of Law & Order?

ROB:

Law & Order, he played Wheeler on Law & Order in 1994. He played Ron Fletcher in Law & Order in 1997. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, he was on that.

GILA:

Who is he in that?

ROB:

Buddy, in the episode “A Single Life.”

GILA:

Oh! Okay.

ROB:

He was on another Law & Order in 1989. He got another Law & Order… this is like, okay, four Law & Orders so far, two SVUs

GILA:

So, he’s a New York actor?

ROB:

Yeah. He was Malcolm Field in the SVU episode “Damaged.” He was in a CSI and another Law & Order, that’s five Law & Orders plain.

GILA:

Would we say Laws & Order?

ROB:

(laughs) Five Laws & Order and two SVUs so far. I’m just scrolling down. He was in NCIS: Los Angeles… another SVU, Donald Bazinski in the episode “Catfishing Teacher.”

GILA:

I didn’t like that one.

ROB:

So, three SVUs and five regular- Oh, four SVUs! Gary Wald in the episode “The Longest Night of Rain,” which was a 2019 episode.

GILA:

Hmm!

ROB:

So yeah, he’s done lots of Laws and lots of Orders, and he looks like someone who would have done.

GILA:

Yeah. I’m just surprised he didn’t hit Criminal Intent.

ROB:

But you know, I’m glad for the big, round, bald-headed white guy representation.

But his partner was Marc Anthony as U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Ray.

GILA:

And I said, “Is that Marc Anthony?”

ROB:

And it was.

GILA:

It was. That was weird.

ROB:

Yeah, watching Marc Anthony who, at the time, was kind of at the height of his powers in 1995, dressed up in a suit and playing the awkward nerdy guy in the Secret Service who actually knew all the computer stuff.

GILA:

It did look like he was having fun when they sent him undercover and he was, like, at the party, but…

ROB:

Yeah, he was doing some special dancing there.

GILA:

Narc Anthony.

ROB:

(laughing) Narc Anthony. Oh my God! I have never heard that. I don’t know if anyone’s done that. Narc Anthony! He was totally Narc Anthony. And if we put that on a T-shirt, you’re getting at least part of the proceeds.

ROB:

Oh, thanks, honey!

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

I’m sorry, you have been watching this movie on a consistent basis for 26 years.

ROB:

That is correct.

GILA:

And “Narc Anthony” never occurred to you?

ROB:

“Narc Anthony” never occurred to me. I don’t know if it’s occurred to anybody. You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna Google.

GILA:

(laughs)

ROB:

“Narc Anthony.”

GILA:

Narc Anthony. Did I just birth something brand new?

ROB:

No, it is there a little bit, but not a lot. There’s only 15 results on Google and none of it seems to be referring to… okay, there’s… yeah, okay, so one person on IRC in 2014 seems to have made the joke.

GILA:

All right. Well, I don’t think you can be held accountable for not having heard it from one random person on IRC in 2014. And I certainly never had.

ROB:

I’m still gonna credit you with it.

GILA:

Okay.

ROB:

(laughs) Wendell Pierce as US Secret Service Agent Richard Gill.

GILA:

I love Wendell Pierce.

ROB:

Who doesn’t love Wendell Pierce?

GILA:

I know no one who doesn’t love Wendell Pierce, quite frankly.

ROB:

Now, where do you know Wendell Pierce from?

GILA:

It’s weird, because I know he was on The Wire but I never watched that show. But he’s been around. I can’t even think of what it was, but he’s in the… cinematic multiverse.

ROB:

Yeah, he’s been a “that guy,” I think. What do you think of him in this movie?

GILA:

What a dick! I mean, I know that was the point but is that why they named that character Richard?

ROB:

Oh, it might have been.

GILA:

Am I just coming up with new stuff that’s just blowing your mind right now?

ROB:

(laughing) You have your moments.

GILA:

Oh, thank you dear. But no, I mean, what an a-hole! And no, it’s very much like, “Hackers are bad.” He said that like four or five times.

ROB:

Yeah, the fun thing is there is – Well, I say fun, but his little speech about “hackers infiltrate public and private computer systems, inserting viruses and stealing sensitive data for their own ends,” you know, when he says something to that effect. (laughs)

GILA:

Which time?

ROB:

Well, he says it a few times. And it’s actually pretty close to something that Bill Clinton once said. (laughs) So yeah, it was demonstrating the attitude. Oh, Wendell Pierce was in the latest attempt to do The Odd Couple with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.

GILA:

That’s where I recognized him from most recently! I actually kind of enjoyed that.

ROB:

He was Teddy.

So, Penn Jillette as Hal.

GILA:

What a waste. What a waste of Penn Jillette.

ROB:

(laughing) You want he should be doing magic tricks, playing a sysadmin?

GILA:

I don’t know, I want he should be doing something that allows him to be funny. He said one funny thing, and it was, “okay, Mr. The Plague.”

ROB:

(laughs) Which was a running gag.

GILA:

Yes, it was.

ROB:

He was having fun. He was visibly enjoying himself.

Alberta Watson as Lauren Murphy, Dade’s mom.

GILA:

Ah, yes. Okay, I had a lot of issues with her. A lot of them are plot issues.

ROB:

You have Dade’s Mother issues?

GILA:

Mh-hm.

ROB:

Okay.

GILA:Yes, I have Dade’s Mother issues. First of all, I don’t know if she has her own living space in that apartment. So my question would be; if you have just moved your child across the country – your recently off-federal-probation child – and only one of you gets a room with a door, why are you going to give your child who, again, just got off of federal probation and you’re concerned he’s not sleeping, and you don’t want him staying up all night on the “internets” or whatever they were calling it then, on the computer phone.

ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

So A, why did he get the bedroom? B, then what the hell was that speech that she gave at the end of the movie? She was just there propping shit up for most of the movie, and then she was like, “my son’s a genius, and he’s the best and I love him and he’s amazing.” I mean, good for you! Good for you for believing in your kid, but where the fuck was that for the previous hour and 40 minutes?

ROB:

(laughs) Well, we do not have children. We are not parents.

GILA:

We do not have children. We are not parents.

ROB:

We have both had younger children in the family. I’m going to say it’s probably a good thing if you have a teenage high-school-age boy bursting into manhood, you give him the room with the door. There are things you do not want to see, there are things you do not want to be party to in any way, shape, or form.

GILA:

And probably things you don’t want to smell.

ROB:

Yeah, there are definitely things you don’t want to smell. I say this having been at one point a teenage boy and having known other adolescent, pubescent, whatever, young males. You don’t want to deal with any of that any closer than you have to. And, God willing, he’s doing his own laundry.

GILA:

We can only hope.

ROB:

Especially in this movie because that’s a lot of dry-clean-only, like, pleather type stuff going on.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

Imagine the smells that build up.

GILA:

I hope he was laundering his own crossing-guard vests.

ROB:

Right. (laughs) We’ll talk about the fashion in this movie. But yes, Alberta Watson, you pointed out that she passed away in 2015.

GILA:

She did.

ROB:

She died young, which is sad.

All right. Hollywood actor Lorraine Bracco as Margo Wallace.

GILA:

So the first thing I noticed was that, God bless her, Lorraine Bracco is not built for blonde hair.

ROB:

Yeah, I’m willing to agree with you there.

GILA:

It just looked wrong. I did get the sense she was having fun playing sort of a hammy evil character, because Margo is a hammy evil character. I didn’t know what her role was until the end of the movie, I mean, I didn’t know what Margo’s responsibility was at the place.

ROB:

Well, she was “God.”

GILA:

Yeah, I guess so. But I was like, “Is she the CEO?” No. I had no idea what her job role was. I also had no idea what the relationship between the two of them was. For a while I thought maybe they were siblings, and I’m really glad to find out that was not the case.

ROB:

No, they were not siblings.

GILA:

They were emphatically not siblings but, you know, it was kind of hard to tell for a while. But I also didn’t know that her name was Margo for a long time too.

ROB:

The thing with Lorraine Bracco in this movie, I’ve seen Lorraine Bracco in things that I liked. In this movie, (speaking with exaggerated stilted delivery) her de-liv-er-y of ev-er-y line sounds like she’s read-ing it for the first time out of a text-book that’s may-be an old book and the words are fa-ding a lit-tle. “You’re gon-na cause an ec-o-log-ic-al dis-a-ster.” (speaking normally) I don’t know what’s going on with Lorraine Bracco in this movie. In my estimation, she probably does the worst acting in it.

GILA:

Well, that is saying something!

ROB:

Well, I generally like the acting in this movie.

GILA:

The sense that I got was this was a departure in terms of the kind of material she normally works with. So she was just like, “yeah, whatever, man.” You know, she was having fun, I thought. The character was supposed to be kind of ruthless, and vapid, and just kind of a beat behind, you know?

ROB:

Yeah, she was like the amoral corporate stuffed shirt who was relying on her partner in crime to mastermind this whole thing. I think it was her high level of whatever at the company, plus his computer skills was what got them the access to do the thing they were going to do with 25 million dollars.

Which brings us up to Fisher Stevens as Eugene Belford, also known as Mr. the Plague.

GILA:

(laughs) “Mr. the Plague?”

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

Which reminds me for no reason I can specifically speak to of, there’s this joke that Dana Carvey did in his stand-up special in ’94 about Sting. He was like, “this man is such a badass he named himself a verb, present tense.”

ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

And that was kind of what I was thinking when he’s like, “Call me the Plague. Not just Plague, call me the Plague. Mr. the Plague.”

ROB:

Yes. He’s going around in this movie riding a skateboard, you know, he’s got that slicked back long hair thing going on, and he’s obviously the dark-side hacker who is older than the protagonist, so he’s also kind of the evil adult.

GILA:

He’s definitely the evil adult. And the first moment we saw that character, all you see is a lump of blankets. He has not spoken, you can’t see any of his identifying features, and all of a sudden one arm sticks out the blanket and I go, “oh, that’s Fisher Stevens.”

ROB:

(laughing) You recognize the arm lank?

GILA:

Apparently. I’m trying to think of when I’ve seen Fisher Stevens play a pleasant character. Kind of a sideline in jerks. It’s not even a sideline, like a line.

ROB:

He was supposed to be a nice guy in the Short Circuit movies, but he was also in brownface, which is not a good look at all. It was wrong then, it’s wrong now. I think on the show- did you ever see the show Early Edition?

GILA:

No, I knew that it existed. I just never saw it.

ROB:

It was, I think, a weekly drama sometime in the ’90s. The concept is that there’s a guy, and it’s kind of a Quantum Leap-y thing, where there’s a guy who gets the following day’s newspaper every morning, somehow, magically. Every episode is him getting the newspaper and seeing the bad news that’s going to happen that day, and go and try and help with it, and Fisher Stevens was like his sidekick pal guy. I remember that show being okay, but I don’t remember a hell of a lot about it beyond the concept.

GILA:

He was also, he did a few episodes of SVU and, ooh, he was bad on that show.

ROB:

Of course he was.

GILA:

Because he’s a known actor, so of course he was bad.

ROB:

But was he not playing Asian?

GILA:

He was not playing Asian.

ROB:

Okay, good. He’s the single reason that I won’t show the Short Circuit movies to the kids in my family, even though it was a big-deal movie when I was a kid. There’s just too much racism to justify looking at the cool puppetry and fun robot.

GILA:

Yeah, I get that. Absolutely. Even Ally Sheedy did not cancel out the racism.

ROB:

Yeah. Maybe they thought since he was pretending not to be white, but like she’s extra white, and then Steve Gutenberg was there, and then all that whiteness might compensate- I don’t know. And even though his sidekick in the second movie is Michael McKean.

GILA:

Even then.

ROB:

Even then.

Renoly Santiago as Ramόn Sánchez, aka the Phantom Phreak.

GILA:

Okay. So. I have continuously and continually confused Renoly Santiago with Reni Santoni.

ROB:

Who’s Reni Santoni?

GILA:

Reni Santoni was a “that guy” actor. And he’s dead now, he died last year. He’s a lot older than Renoly Santiago. Someday I’m going to show you 28 Days, and he’s in that. That’s the rehab movie.

ROB:

(laughs) Not 28 Days Later.

GILA:

No.

ROB:

Which is the zombie movie.

GILA:

Yes. And you know that that is the cause of one of the best jokes ever told on The Office.

ROB:

I didn’t watch The Office.

GILA:

So, it’s season three and Jim is working in another city and Jim and Pam are talking on the phone briefly. And you hear him say, “I can’t believe you saw that movie, you hate zombies.” And she said, “I just kept waiting for Sandra Bullock to turn up.” That’s the entire joke. But if you get it, you got it.

ROB:

Oh, ’cause-

GILA:

28 Days and 28 Days Later have nothing to do with each other.

ROB:

And Sandra Bullock is in 28 Days.

GILA:

Yes, Sandra Bullock is the lead in 28 Days.

ROB:

Okay. Good to know.

GILA:

Yeah. The Phantom Phreak. And this seems like as good a time as any to say that I am glad that I saw this movie once I had a certain base of knowledge to work from. Because, obviously, we watched the movie with captions on because we watch everything with the captions on because I have told you that that is the way I like to watch movies, and you agreed with me. You let me turn the captions on.

ROB:

Sure.

GILA:

So when I saw this guy introduced himself as Phreak with a “PH,” I’m like, “oh, that’s why he was on the phone when we first met him with Venezuela! I get it.”

ROB:

Yes, he was a phone phreak.

GILA:

He was a phone phreak.

ROB:

Just like I used to be at one point in my misspent youth.

GILA:

We were talking about the characters and the characterizations in this movie. And it’s weird to me; everybody’s very clearly delineated, but there’s not a lot of depth there. So, like, why is he interested in phone phreaking, you know? Are we supposed to infer that he’s got family in Venezuela and that was the thing that did it, is that what it is? I mean, I’m just drawing this my own conclusion because he was on the phone to Venezuela in the very beginning when Dade bumped into him. Right? And his mother addresses him as Ramόn and then when they have the warrant for him, they call them Ray.

ROB:

Yeah.

GILA:

So there are so many questions of, like, identity, identification that never got addressed. Because like, it’s Phreak! Also, I think we have the same haircut.

ROB:

(laughs) Looks better on you.

GILA:

Well, thanks, dear. Well, you know, I’m not twitchy. ‘Cause that’s the thing, he was fucking twitchy.

ROB:

Yeah. Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen him in many things.

GILA:

Nope.

ROB:

That’s kind of his deal. Were you there when he stopped at HOPE? Were you there with me?

GILA:

Umm…

ROB:

We were down by the ticket desk and he showed up and Emmanuel got to talk to him for a bit.

GILA:

I don’t think so. I think in 2016, the poster was up and was like, “hey, remember when he showed up?” So I think that was before my time.

ROB:

It might be. I mean, you’ve been to-

GILA:

Two and a half.

ROB:

Two and a half. He also turned up at the… There was a Hackers anniversary party – well, there were a couple of them actually – a little rave that a fan threw in this city.

GILA:

I’ve seen pictures from that event, haven’t I?

ROB:

You have, yeah. I met him briefly at that.

Anyway, Laurence Mason as Paul Cook, aka Lord Nikon.

GILA:

The thing that was never entirely established to my satisfaction, and understanding that these were Hollywood teenagers, none of them with the exception of Jesse Bradford were actually- well, how old do we think Renoly Santiago was?

ROB:

He was born in 1974.

GILA:

Okay, so he was 20 when they were filming?

ROB:

Yeah.

GILA:

20, 21. Jesse Bradford is my age. So despite the fact that they were Hollywood teenagers, was Lord Nikon the Matthew McConaughey?

ROB:

(laughs) Well, he did have his own place.

GILA:

Right. Why are these high schoolers hanging out with this random dude, if we’re going to make Hackers the Dazed and Confused analog?

ROB:

(laughs) I didn’t like Dazed and Confused.

GILA:

I didn’t love it. But to say that Nikon is the Wooderson, I think would not be unfair.

ROB:

Maybe. Although I don’t think he was perving on any of them.

GILA:

No, but in terms of his being the older guy who’s hanging out with these high school kids.

ROB:

Yeah. Although in Dazed and Confused, he was supposed to be kind of sad for hanging out with the high-school kids still.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

In this movie, and it’s one thing that I found when I started hanging out in hacker culture crowds in person, I was 19. And I quickly made friends that were my age, that were younger than me, that were older than me, and at 2600 meetings we all hung out together. And we’d all, like, go out to dinner in different combinations, end up at parties, whatever.

GILA:

Absolutely.

ROB:

So it is a thing that happened.

GILA:

I’m not questioning any of that. But it’s just that he had this one pack of friends who all went to the same high school.

ROB:

They don’t specify it in the film but they go to Stuyvesant High School, which is a gifted high school. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that all the hackers in town would be – especially the ones that are worried about what colleges they get into and whatnot – would be all attending the same gifted school.

GILA:

I do have a question about that, and I’m assuming we’ll get to this character on the cast list probably soon, I’m guessing.

ROB:

Okay.

GILA:

Cereal. Was he actually a high school student?

ROB:

(laughs) Well, he looked like Matthew Lillard, who is actually next on our list.

GILA:

Oh my god, I’m good!

ROB:

Matthew Lillard as Emmanuel Goldstein, also known as Cereal Killer.

GILA:

I know that every high school movie needs it’s burnout. Yeah. And I enjoy Matthew Lillard, I even enjoyed the episode of SVU where he was super creepy.

ROB:

Oh, yeah. You showed me that one.

GILA:

I did, yeah. Super creepy. I enjoyed him in She’s All That, and you’re not supposed to enjoy him in She’s All That, in which his character is named Brock Hudson and has the tattoo of his own face.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

I enjoyed Matthew Lillard in Wing Commander.

ROB:

(laughing) Dude, you saw Wing Commander?

GILA:

I was in college, the trailer for The Phantom Menace was on it. We went and saw it, because my friends wanted to see the trailer for Phantom Menace.

ROB:

I would not have had you pegged as a Wing Commander audience member, but we learn about each other all the time.

GILA:

We certainly do. The funny part was we were in Westwood and there was a movie premiere happening across the street. Forces of Nature with Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock was premiering across the street, and we accidentally set off the car alarm. (laughs) We were getting gas and somebody hit the wrong button and all of a sudden the Saturn we were in started honking. It was hilarious.

I have to say I didn’t quite get Cereal. I’m always down to watch Matthew Lillard in literally anything, but just… what, man? Asking people if he could crash at their place,

ROB:

And brushing his teeth in the bathroom at high school,

GILA:

And getting kicked out of classes that he was not on the list for.

ROB:

Right. He was just kind of breezing through life, and selling bootleg tapes.

GILA:

(laughing) The mixtape featuring only artists who had asphyxiated on their own vomit?

ROB:

Mh-hm.

GILA:

I gotta give points for that.

ROB:

The “Greatest Zooks album.”

GILA:

Mh-hm.

ROB:

There is a novelization of the film Hackers, which like many film novelizations, was written while they were making the movie so there are subtle differences, you know, stuff in there from earlier versions of the script or whatever, stuff that the novelizer just added. And one of them is that he’s also out there selling bootleg videotapes that he edited together. So he’s got, like, “Serpico versus Scarface, who’s the baddest Al Pacino?” Which is a thing people would end up doing on YouTube 20 years later. I thought that was a neat touch.

Matthew Lillard was born in 1970, so he was an elder statesman when they were making this. I like him in stuff, and I like him in this. And his name is an inside joke for the hacker community.

GILA:

Ah, yes.

ROB:

Jesse Bradford as Joey Pardella.

GILA:

Jesse Bradford.

ROB:

His name popped up and you immediately were like, “oh, Jesse Bradford!” And I didn’t realize you were a Jesse Bradford fan, I wondered if maybe you were a Swimfan fan.

GILA:

I’m not particularly a Swimfan fan. I am a Bring It On fan. I am a My Blue Heaven fan.

ROB:

Are you a Clockstopper-er?

GILA:

Negatory. But he’s such a little baby in this movie. (laughs)

ROB:

Which adds to the gag that he’s supposed to be the the little newbie. Born in 1979.

GILA:Like I said, he’s trying so hard to fit in and be part of the action and smoking two cigarettes at once at one point. And I did bust a gut laughing when the Secret Service – I believe it was the Secret Service – were carrying him out of his apartment building, and they just lifted him up and carried him down the stairs. His feet weren’t even touching the ground.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

I don’t know if that was intentional, but I enjoyed it.

ROB:

Good in the role?

GILA:

Good in the role. Definitely seemed like a freshman in high school. Yeah. There was bravado there.

ROB:

Right, uh… unknown actor Angelina Jolie as Kate Libby / Acid Burn.

GILA:

Okay. So you know what you were saying about Lorraine Bracco’s performance in this movie?

ROB:

Mm-hm.

GILA:

Yeah, (stilted delivery) I kind of got that read from Angelina.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

(stilted) Every line reading was just kind of there and “I hope you don’t screw like you type.”

ROB:

Yeah, but it was all downtalk, though. Everything she said. She was trying for Daria, I think.

GILA:

Probably. And, “ooh, I’m edgy because I have short hair. I’m going to stop making out with my boyfriend and go talk about computers.” I did not, for even the briefest of moments, believe Angelina Jolie as a hacker. Could not do it. Wasn’t working for me.

ROB:

Not even when she was rollerblading?

GILA:

Even then. Even then.

ROB:

Well, I’ve known a hacker or two who looked and presented and dressed like her character in this movie.

GILA:

I have no issue with her appearance, I have no issue with her presentation, and I certainly have no issue with her gender presentation. I just… I don’t know, she’s kind of flat-affecting like a sociopath to me. Also… two first names. Who fucking does that?

ROB:

(laughs) So, you know, for a young actor at the start of her career. I was reading some other stuff about her much later in life, a recent article about her, and every time you read an article about her, and it talks about her career as a greater thing at all, they always mention Hackers. It wasn’t her very first movie, but it’s always like, “and after starting as a child in Hackers…” That’s where she was born, I guess.

GILA:

Yeah. I mean, the thing for me, is that it literally could have been any actor in that role, any woman of the correct age. Literally any. And part of my issue that I just I’m not a huge fan of Angelina Jolie? Maybe. But… eh, you know?

ROB:

Okay, fair enough.

GILA:

Like when she was playing the video game, no she wasn’t.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And I say this as a person who is shitty at video games. It’s called “acting,” honey! Just try! Just pretend!

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And yes, I just “honeyed” Angelina Jolie on our podcast.

ROB:

All right. Well, if she ever hears about it, she’ll never be a guest. But I guess these are the trade offs we make for our hard-hitting journalism here on this program.

GILA:

(laughing) Exactly. Yes, exactly.

ROB:

All right. Jonny Lee Miller as Dade Murphy, also known as Zero Cool, furthermore known as Crash Override.

GILA:

He’s British, right?

ROB:

He is very British.

GILA:

Okay. So, kudos to him for not sounding bad.

ROB:

Yeah.

GILA:

He faked it pretty well.

ROB:

He did. There’s one or two moments where he slips a little. Adherents of this movie might wince a little when he’s like, (in suppressed British accent) “She’s just my girlfriend.” But yeah, the accent’s good.

GILA:

The accent’s good, and there was a certain sort of “flazéda” sense there. You know, he was the one who had any real conflict to work with, and it was like, “do I sell out my friends? Do I protect my mom? Do I use these skills that I have, or do I stay out of trouble?” Watching him balance all those things. Also, his first day at school when he was in computer class, and it was just like, “okay, I know how to do these things and I don’t really care who knows.”

And not to self-aggrandize in any way – okay, maybe a little – we had a Computers course when I was in middle school, one quarter of Computers, and our teacher was talking us through how to program BASIC. I knew how to do that. He was like, “okay, do this, do this, do this,” and I had zipped ahead and written a program that played a song and turned the screen 15 colors and flew a heart around. It’s not quite hacking into somebody’s schedule and changing all my classes to the same ones as theirs, but it was my own little style. I was 11- no, I was 12. Regardless.

ROB:

Cool.

GILA:

Do they ever explicitly say that they’re students at Stuyvesant?

ROB:

They don’t call it Stuyvesant, they’re just students at this big fancy high school.

GILA:

So I was having a hard time grokking the fact that this big fancy high school, like, they couldn’t find a computers teacher who had any sort of classroom-management ability.

ROB:

(laughs) This is true, but it’s a teenage movie and the adults are not supposed to be all that savvy.

GILA:

Okay, I’ll agree to that.

ROB:

If Ferris Bueller had a good principal, he would’ve had to get left back and repeat the year.

GILA:

That’s true. Although, I would assume that the secretary would’ve vouched for him.

ROB:

But then Ferris Bueller was a massive prick and that movie ages terribly, anyway.

GILA:

Can I tell you something at the risk of losing all of my cred?

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

I don’t really care for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I never did.

ROB:

See, this is where we differ on Ferris Bueller. I used to love it when I was a kid and thought he was awesome. Then I got a little older than the character of Ferris Bueller and realized, wait, he’s a privileged little prick.

GILA:

Mm-hm.

ROB:

He was just screwing around for no good reason, and his parents are idiots and so is his principal.

GILA:

Yeah. I never liked Ferris Bueller. I just went straight to, oh, privileged prick.

ROB:

His sister is the hero of that movie.

GILA:

Absolutely.

ROB:

But anyway, Jonny Lee Miller. Not bad?

GILA:

Not bad.

ROB:

All right. My favorite fact about this being baby Angelina Jolie, just born, trying to figure out this whole acting thing, is her and Jonny Lee were both unknowns when this movie came out. And the first version of the VHS, I encourage people to look this up, go onto sites that have pictures of VHS tapes or you could go to HackersCurator.com, which I’ll talk more about in a little bit, but I encourage people to look up the first VHS cover of Hackers, which is the two-shot of Jonny Lee and Angelina right next to each other, there’s a computer under them, some effects, whatever, but both of their heads are the same size.

Then Angelina’s career broke open, and she started being a household name and really known for stuff and super-famous more than anyone else in this movie. Suddenly, the VHS cover for Hackers was “Angelina Jolie in Hackers!” And then she’s way up front and all the other hackers are these really little guys way behind her in this fisheye-manipulated photo just so we could have a big old picture of Angelina on the cover to entice people who want more Angelina.

I had both versions of the VHS. (laughs)

GILA:

Of course.

ROB:

Before we get onto the plot, I want to give a huge shout out to HackersCurator.com, which is a fansite that some fans of this movie put up. It’s mostly the work of two people known as Nandemoguy and TeenPrez who are both very, very cool people, and it is a fansite in the old way in which you used to get comprehensive fansites for things. They put together this site with a whole bunch of info on every piece of costuming, every prop, they do research on the different computers that were used in the movie, it’s obsessive, the locations, they have interviews with people involved, and it is a huge site and a whole lot of fun for anybody into this movie. So check it out, HackersCurator.com.

Shall we go on to the plot section from the Wikipedia article for Hackers, the movie, the film?

GILA:

The experience.

ROB:

The flamethrower. “Hackers the lunchbox!” I would’ve loved a Hackers lunchbox.

“In August 1988, 11-year-old Dade ‘Zero Cool’ Murphy’s family is fined $45,000 for his crashing of 1,507 computer systems causing a seven point drop in the New York Stock Exchange.”

GILA:

A whole seven points, huh?

ROB:

A whole seven points.

GILA:

(sarcastically) Wowww.

ROB:

They didn’t have r/wallstreetbets and GameStop stock back then, so that was a big deal.

GILA:

So he fucked up the stonks?

ROB:

He fucked up the stonks.

“He is banned from computers and touch-tone telephones until he is 18 years old.”

GILA:

Now, was that a specific homage to Kevin Mitnick?

ROB:

I think it very well might have been, because it was a big deal when he was sentenced. Even before he was sentenced, he was not allowed to use a touch-tone phone. Even after his release and his probation, I don’t think he was allowed to use a touch-tone telephone, that was just too computery for the jittery authorities.

GILA:

So how was he supposed to communicate with people? Were they allowed to call him on a rotary phone?

ROB:

I mean, people could call him on whatever they wanted, but he couldn’t use the push-button phone, he needed to get a rotary one. He couldn’t dial out with buttons… because that’s too much like a computer, if you’re the authorities and also an idiot.

GILA:

Yeah. So that was my first thought. But when they were on the plane, I was like, “if he can’t use a phone and he can’t use a computer, how did he get a plane ticket?” And then I realized he was with his mom and it was a moot issue.

ROB:

Also, it was 1995, so you could still walk into the airport and just buy a ticket with money, and no one cared.

GILA:

Truth.

ROB:

“On his 18th birthday, he hacks into a local television station and changes the broadcast to an episode of The Outer Limits. Another hacker-“

GILA:

Well, can we talk about what he interrupted? Because it would’ve been fine now, the America First show. (sarcastically) It’s not bad to be racist because there are different races and you’re just noticing that there are different races.

ROB:

Yeah, and there’s also a line about so on and so on sorts of people coming from genetically inferior stock. It was a knockoff of Rush Limbaugh, things like that, and this brings up one of my issues with this movie that’s never been explained. Going on,

“Another hacker, handle ‘Acid Burn,’ counters Dade’s attack. Dade identifies himself as Crash Override.”

There’s that cute little scene where they’re both hacking against each other, and the robots are fighting over the tapes.

GILA:

I thought that was cute.

ROB:

That was very cute. Also the hack itself used social engineering, which is legit and was then as a method of getting things done. But.

GILA:

But.

ROB:

He hacked in to get rid of the racist guy and put on a cool show like The Outer Limits and Acid Burn kicks him out, which means Acid Burn was the one watching the racist guy? She didn’t like him changing that? So maybe that’s a little fact about the character of Kate Libby that didn’t get addressed.

GILA:

Or, maybe,

ROB:

Maybe?

GILA:

It’s just, you know, she was there and she didn’t want anybody else fucking with it.

ROB:

That’s a possibility too, because she was claiming it as her turf.

GILA:

Exactly.

ROB:

And you know how important turf is because I’ve taken you to see The Warriors.

GILA:

Yeah. It’s not like she was like, “you’re interrupting my show,” it’s “you’re on my turf.” Who knows what she was actually doing.

ROB:

This is true.

“At school, Dade becomes part of a group of hackers; Ramόn ‘The Phantom Phreak’ Sánchez, Emmanuel ‘Cereal Killer’ Goldstein, Paul ‘Lord Nikon’ Cook, named for his photographic memory,”

GILA:

Who does not go to school with them.

ROB:

Who does not go to school with them, Wikipedia.

“Joey Pardella, a novice hacker without an alias, and Kate ‘Acid Burn’ Libby, the hacker who kicked him out of the TV network earlier.”

GILA:

So it was his first day at school and Kate says, “oh yeah, there’s a pool on the roof.” And it was another one of those references that I recognized, that I had no idea came from this movie, but I’ve heard people talk about “the pool on the roof,” the “Olympic-size swimming pool on the roof.”

The number of references in the world that refer to this movie that I didn’t know refer to this movie, but that I’ve heard a million times, you know, there are people that we know who have usernames that are in reference to this movie, and people who talk about things that are in reference to this movie, and I didn’t know any of that. So I was like, “hey! Hey!” You can’t see me pointing, listeners, but I’m pointing. “Hey!”

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

Little light bulb was just going off in my head the whole time. It was not entirely dissimilar to watching Metropolis and being like, “wait a second!”

ROB:

Yeah!

GILA:

“I know where all this is from now!”

ROB:

Yeah, seeing the origin of the memes after you’ve seen the memes is always an experience, and it’s fun because as you’ve gotten more familiar with deep-cut hacker culture, and this movie also references bits of deep-cut hacker culture from the time, it’s fun to watch you recognize this stuff as we go.

GILA:

Yeah, it’s pretty great. And apparently they still pull the “Olympic-size pool on the roof” trick on freshmen at Stuyvesant on their first day.

ROB:

Yeah. How could you be a freshman at Stuyvesant and not have seen Hackers already? You gotta see it coming, now.

“Joey, out to prove his skills, breaks into the Gibson, an Ellingson Mineral Company supercomputer.”

GILA:

When they basically goaded him into doing that, but he was like, “I did this thing and I’m super proud of it,” and they were like, “that was really fucking stupid.” I enjoyed that. And we have not even talked about Cyberdelia!

ROB:

Cyberdelia! Yes. Cyberdelia is the hacker nightclub, apparently, slash-youth center-slash-skatepark-slash, uh-

GILA:

Arcade.

ROB:

-Arcade, yes, and it would’ve been nice had there been a real place like that around, but alas. They filmed it in England in a pool, in an empty pool.

GILA:

Okay, that’s very cool.

ROB:

Yeah. The Gibson, of course, was a supercomputer that was named after real-world author William Gibson, who is the one that coined the phrase “cyberspace” and is basically a foundational cyberpunk fiction writer.

GILA:

Neuromancer.

ROB:

Neuromancer, yes.

GILA:

I almost said necromancer which is a whole different thing.

ROB:

Right, “neuromancer” is a riff on necromancer. But yes, the computer in this thing is named after William Gibson.

GILA:

I just assumed it was after Les Paul.

ROB:

(laughs) Less Paul than what? Who’s got more Paul?

GILA:

Haha, pallbearers.

GILA & ROB:

(laughing)

ROB:

Shoutout to my friend the Gibson who runs hackers.town, rules it with an iron fist. A delightful demagogue.

GILA:

Also before, when they were talking about hacking, when they were sitting outside, and Cereal was stealing the fries and they were talking about the most common passwords, I just thought it was really cute that Joey was like, “so, ‘secret’, ‘love’,” and then he looked around and half whispered the word “sex” because he was supposed to be a 14-year-old kid. I love that.

ROB:

That whole scene, too, was like… you’ve been to 2600 meetings.

GILA:

I certainly have.

ROB:

Yeah, it’s I think a safe bet that that scene was based on what the producers and cast saw when they came to 2600 meetings.

GILA:

Yeah, I mean it absolutely tracks.

ROB:

“While downloading a garbage file as proof of his feat, his mother disconnects the computer leaving him with a fragmented file. However, his intrusion has been noticed and brought to the attention of computer security, officer Eugene ‘The Plague’ Belford, a former hacker. Plague realizes the garbage file being downloaded is a worm he himself inserted to defraud Ellingson. Claiming the file is the code to the ‘da Vinci’ computer virus that will capsize the company’s oil tanker fleet, and pretending the hackers are to blame, he enlists the US Secret Service to recover the file. In fact, The Plague had inserted the ‘da Vinci’ virus as a red herring to cover for his worm.”

GILA:

What a dick.

ROB:

The da Vinci virus, it’s called Leonardo da Vinci because a big one in the news around the time this movie was made was the Michelangelo virus.

GILA:

Ahhhh!

ROB:

So, of course, they make theirs Leonardo da Vinci, but then they make the mistake that always pisses me off when people refer to Leonardo da Vinci as “da Vinci.”

GILA:

Yeah, that’s not his name.

ROB:

It’s not his name.

GILA:

He’s Leonardo, from Vinci.

ROB:

Right, and so his name was “Leonardo” and that was it, he didn’t have a last name like people do in the modern sense in our Western society.

GILA:

It would be like if they called us “Rob and Gila Queens.”

ROB:

Right, “Rob and Gila from Queens.” (laughs) Although, shoutout to “Tom from da Bronx,” frequent caller to our radio program.

GILA:

Yes indeed.

ROB:

And a heck of a nice guy. But you can’t call him “From da Bronx.”

GILA:

No.

ROB:

Hey “From da Bronx,” how you doing?

GILA:

“Hey Mr. From da Bronx.”

ROB:

There’s the one scene where the Plague has that meeting with the oil company CEO, and some other corporate people, and Margo. They introduce the virus and drop all that info, and you see how he’s treating the CEO of the megacorp that he’s working for, being the snotty guy and, like, “yeah, I sure am a jerk.”

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

(as the Plague) “The little boat tipped over.”

GILA:

I mean, very archetypal Fisher Stevens.

ROB:

What was the name of the character that Jimmy Fallon played who was the IT guy?

GILA:

“Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy.”

ROB:

That’s the one, yeah. That’s the Plague basically. (as Nick Burns) “Move!”

GILA:

(as Nick Burns) “You’re welcome.”

ROB:

“Joey is arrested and his computer searched, but he had hidden the disc containing the file.”

GILA:

In the air shaft with his porn.

ROB:

Right, which is funny because apparently the Secret Service arrests him and takes his computer and everything, and you got to assume they trashed his room and did a deep search but they didn’t find the disc that was placed just inside an easily removable air-vent cover where a kid would stash things.

GILA:

Yeah, because they were thinking. I mean, the Secret Service do not come off well in this movie.

ROB:

(laughs) This is true. They’re basically the Boss Hoggs with suits.

GILA:

They’re the Keystone Kops.

ROB:

Really effective police force, except for little Marc Anthony running around all excited. (as Agent Ray) “We don’t think he had a chance to erase his computer files! We got an uncorrupted hard drive!”

GILA:

(as Agent Gill) “In English, in English.”

ROB:

“Dade and Kate make a bet, with Dade choosing a date with Kate should he win, and Kate having Dade perform menial computing tasks if she prevails.”

GILA:

So the part that I didn’t understand, they’re just like, “let’s bet. If I win…” and I was like, “what are you betting on?”

ROB:

(laughs) This was one of the many, many times during this movie that a question formed in your head and you either asked me it or were about to ask me it, and the movie immediately answered the question.

GILA:

I need the movie to answer the questions in the order in which I have them!

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

It just felt like there was something missing, something had gotten cut out.

ROB:

(laughing) That’s okay.

GILA:

Like there’s a page missing from the script.

ROB:

(laughing) …I love you.

GILA:

I love you.

ROB:

“The hacking duel is to harass Secret Service Agent Richard Gill who was involved in Joey’s arrest.”

One funny thing about Joey’s arrest, there is a blooper in this film. Oh, and this bit doesn’t even mention Hack the Planet with Razor and Blade.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

They go to Lord Nikon’s house and watch Hack the Planet, which is apparently public-access TV with Razor and Blade, these two young men in makeup and feather boas who teach hacking on their show. And in this case, they’re teaching red boxing. So while they’re watching TV, they’re watching a clip of Richard Gill talking to the reporter saying, “hackers infiltrate public and private computer systems, inserting viruses,” and he is on a big staircase. Later when Joey is arrested, you see Richard Gill get interviewed on that same staircase. And in fact, if you go back and rewind it, you’ll notice that before it happens in the movie, on the TV in the movie, they’re using that same clip and Joey’s getting arrested in the background.

GILA:

Oh yeah!

ROB:

It’s a bit of a temporal discontinuity because Joey gets arrested on-screen before he gets arrested in the movie.

GILA:

Wow!

ROB:

Nice little blooper.

GILA:

Hmm. Literally being carried bodily down the stairs.

ROB:

Yes. And the hacking duel is to harass Secret Service Agent Richard Gill who was involved in Joey’s arrest. It was a known thing in the hacker community to use hacker skills and methods and things to just do irresponsible petty stuff, like harass somebody who was bothering you, in technical ways.

GILA:

I just felt like it escalated very quickly.

ROB:

It did, and in real life I don’t know that people would necessarily have been doing this to a Secret Service agent who was investigating them.

GILA:

Also, I would assume that you would start smaller.

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

Like, you know, charge them for some out of state phone calls, and then cut off his credit card, and then tell the Secret Service he’s dead.

ROB:

Yeah. I mean, there are things that people used to do that were more on the playful side of things, more on the surreal side of things, just on the prank side of things really. Say you picked up the phone in your house and heard a recording saying “please deposit 25 cents” before it would let you make a call and of course you’re holding your non-payphone telephone, it was that sort of thing.

GILA:

So, would you have to redbox your own phone?

ROB:

Theoretically, yes.

GILA:

Wow.

ROB:

Someone would’ve changed your phone number’s status in the phone company system from a consumer line to a payphone line. A big one was just shutting off someone’s phones, which wasn’t even hacking usually, it was just calling the phone company, social engineering them, saying, “hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m moving out of my house now, and you can shut off the phone,” stuff like that. They escalated for the lulz in this movie.

One thing that does not age well at all in this movie is one of the harassment methods they use, is listing him in the personal ads under non-hetero things…

GILA:

Yeahhhh.

ROB:

And then making a big comedy beat, him being disgusted by what people are saying to him as they call him on the phone in response to this ad.

GILA:

I mean, I feel like there were ways that that could have been done that didn’t have to be like… I’m wondering if there was a line to be walked between, like… could there have been a way for him to get these explicit calls without it being like, “ew, it’s guys.” And the line about, like, “transvestites welcome,” was that the last line?

ROB:

Yeah. Yeah, it was. So that bit, oof.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

As an audience member, I will say, I was a kid when I watched this and I thought that was funny at the time. I would later grow a little, thank goodness. I no longer think it’s funny.

GILA:

The part that I thought was funny was that he was getting these increasingly explicit phone calls at work. That part was funny. What they were saying specifically, not as funny.

ROB:

Yeah, no, there is the framework for a better joke in that joke.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

“After various hacks including canceling Gill’s credit cards, creating a personal ad in his name, fabricating a criminal record, and changing his payroll status to ‘deceased,’ the duel remains a tie.”

GILA:

For the record, by the way, when they said “cancel the card,” does that actually happen in real life where they cut your credit card up in front of you?

ROB:

I’ve never known that to happen in real life, but it’s a trope, it happens all the time in TV shows and films.

GILA:

Shelley Long gives a talk about, she mentions it happening in Troop Beverly Hills.

ROB:

Yes. I’ve worked retail in my time, I’ve had credit card transactions decline. I never felt that my crappy wage in those jobs justified my taking someone else’s property and cutting it in half in front of them.

GILA:

Yes. Also, just that’s a really demeaning and humiliating kind of thing to do, especially to take the scissors and just do it in front of you.

ROB:

I would never have felt right destroying someone’s credit card when I worked credit-card-bearing jobs. (laughs) Find me on LinkedIn, I’m looking for work.

GILA & ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

Credit cards optional.

ROB:

Yes.

“Released on parole, Joey reveals the disk to Phreak, who is arrested the next day and informs Kate the disk is hidden in a bathroom at school.”

Or as he put it, (as Phreak) “it’s in that place where I put that thing that time?”

GILA:

I did enjoy how he managed to use his phone phreaking skills to get a call out in jail.

ROB:

Yeah. They take him to the phone and say, “you’ve got one phone call,” and just to throw a little racism on, the guy leans in and goes, “uno.” They lock the phone’s keypad, put a hinged cover over it and lock that, and hand him the receiver. So apparently, he’s supposed to ask someone else to dial a number for him, and…

GILA:

Or is he supposed to call collect?

ROB:

Or is he supposed to call collect? Maybe. But he hangs up and ends up flicking the switch-hook on the phone, which is a way to do pulse dialing. I used to do this at Kinko’s, before they were FedEx Kinko’s. There were phones which also they would come and unlock the phone for you if you paid them money, but if you just picked up the phone you still got a regular dial tone, and if you flick the switch hook fast enough, (energetic tapping of a few digits) it mimics the same thing that turning a rotary dial would be doing and you would be able to, if you timed it right, dial by rotary by just flicking the switch-hook. That was a great trick then, and I think it still works now if you manage to find a phone that’s a landline. I don’t think it’ll work on VoIP phones or things like that, you certainly can’t do it on a mobile phone, but it’s a fun bit of phreaking methodology that is shown being used the way it’s used. And he uses that to get outside the prison’s system and talk to a regular operator and then just say, “hi operator, I’m having trouble dialing a number,” and that was known as “operator diverting” or “op diverting,” and there were so many reasons you might want to do that, basically get an operator to dial a phone number for you instead of you having to dial it yourself.

“Kate and Cereal Killer ask for Dade’s help, which he refuses as he has a record.”

GILA:

They don’t know who he is.

ROB:

They don’t know that he’s Zero Cool who crashed 1,507 computers and dropped the Dow seven points, because he started up a new nickname and decided to be Crash Override.

GILA:

Yeah, because you can see him at that weird hacking tango when Acid Burn’s like, “identify yourself,” and you can see him start to say “Zero C-” and then he backs it up and he’s like, “Crash Override.”

ROB:

Yeah. That was something that people used to be able to do so easily. You could abandon your identity and start off fresh again. And in the days before your face was attached to your screen name, or your legal name was attached to your screen name, you could do that. You could just say, okay, either I’ve screwed something up, or I just want to do something differently, I want to present differently, whatever… You could just stop using the old one, start using a new one, and no one would be the wiser. That’s a thing that I think it’s sad that we’ve lost, really. You can still do it, but it’s a lot more nuanced, it’s a lot more difficult now, and everyone expects what you do online to be connected with your greater identity.

I think the chance for kids to do something stupid and mess up and learn from that and start fresh, that’s gone. And that’s really, really sad.

GILA:

Hmm.

ROB:

Because I know I abandoned so many handles in the old days, long before I became any kind of known for anything, just because I was doing that. I was finding my way, I was blundering about, and picking up what I could, and then I’d say something stupid and be ridiculed for it and decide, you know what, fuck that, I don’t want to be fighting that battle anymore. I’m going to be something else. And I really appreciate the chance I had to grow and to find my way and to do that without the long-term consequences there would be if, like, shit I did when I was 14 was still following me around.

GILA:

Yeah, we are kind of missing the ability now to fuck around and find out.

ROB:

Yeah. And I think there’s really value in that.

GILA:

I would agree.

ROB:

…Now I’m sad.

GILA & ROB:

(laughing)

ROB:

“Dade copies the disk so they have untampered evidence. Determining that Dade did not hack into Ellingson, the Plague sends him a powerful laptop with a request that he join him.”

That’s not exactly right because the Plague knows that they didn’t hack into Ellingson. He’s playing it as though he’s working with the Secret Service to investigate these hackers to find out who did the thing when it was really he himself who did the thing.

GILA:

But that was… he sends Dade the laptop after he comes and threatens Dade.

ROB:

Right, he threatens Dade, he threatens Dade’s mother, which was pretty heavy for a teenage movie. He talks about changing the mom’s records so that she’s a wanted felon, and he’s like, “your mom will be arrested at work. She will be strip-searched.” You know, that’s how he gets to him.

GILA:

Yeah, and that was after he came and physically intimidated him in his bedroom with a baseball bat. Like, Fisher Stevens with a baseball bat?

ROB:

Well, Fisher Stevens does not cut a threatening figure without the baseball bat.

GILA:

That’s true.

ROB:

But then he commits a wanton and unwarranted assault on Dade’s stereo.

GILA:

Yeah. Which, in a teen movie?

ROB:

Yeah, you do not mess with a guy’s stereo.

GILA:

I mean, good move not to destroy the computer though. There’s some sort of hacker code, right?

ROB:

(laughs) Yeah.

GILA:

What was that that he said? There were interesting snippets of the Plague’s philosophy that we got, right? “There’s no good or bad, there’s just fun or boring.” “Hackers don’t have friends and we don’t have family.”

ROB:

Yeah. “We have temporary alliances, I want to make a treaty with you.” You would hear of people like that, but you would hear of people like that, you know, in any walk of life; sociopaths, narcissists, which you know, that’s the Plague.

GILA:

Whoah, is the Plague narcissism?

ROB:

Whoa! (laughs)

GILA:

(vocalizes a head-explodey “pow” noise)

ROB:

You have once again blown my mind, my mind is now blown.

GILA:

Is that why he’s called “the Plague,” because he is?

ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

You know, everybody else has these fun names like “Crash Override” and “Acid Burn” and “Cereal Killer,” man.

ROB:

Yeah, Cereal as in Froot Loops.

GILA:

As in. And poor Joey’s like, “I don’t have an identity if I don’t have a handle.” And the Plague is like, (whispering) “the Plague… is bad.”

ROB:

(laughing)

“He later threatens to have Dade’s mother incarcerated with a manufactured criminal record. At this, Dade agrees to deliver Kate’s copy of the disk.”

Now, this doesn’t explain that The Plague wants the disk because he wants to know how much of the garbage file Joey got.

GILA:

Right.

ROB:

Because he sees that it’s the garbage file with his worm in it and so he wants the disk because he wants to know how much of this garbage file the kid got and therefore, can he and Margo be implicated in what they’re about to do.

GILA:

Right.

ROB:

As it says in the article here,

“Kate, Lord Nikon, Cereal Killer, and Dade learn that the code is a worm designed to salami-slice $25 million from Ellingson transactions.”

Salami-slicing is the actual term in the infosec world for what this is doing – which was also used in the movie Superman III which I still say is the best Christopher Reeve Superman movie, fight me – but it’s the idea that you would have a program take a negligible amount from a large amount of transactions and stash that money somewhere.

They explain, “It shaves a few cents off every transaction from a zillion-dollar thing to the 10 bucks some guy pays for gas,” is how they describe it.

You know, a penny here, a penny there adds way up and they have $25 million stashed, and that’s known as salami-slicing. And if you’re a cat, you can have a little salami,

GILA & ROB:

As a treat. (laughing)

ROB:

“They learn the code is a worm designed to salami-slice $25 million from Ellingson transactions, and that the da Vinci virus is set to capsize the oil fleet the next day to provide cover and distract from the worm.”

So this is the point where it becomes more than just the Plague wants to steal a bunch of money and run, because he’s actually going to cause a worldwide ecological disaster to cover his own tracks. They show earlier in the movie that he made the virus, threatened to do that, but he’s like, “oh yeah, I can cancel it at any time and I’ll just shut it off.” Later, when he realizes what’s at stake because the hackers know about the worm now that Dade gave him this disc, he’s like, “okay, I have to really do it.”

GILA:

Mm-hm.

ROB:

“Dade confesses that he gave Plague the disk and reveals his hacking history as ‘Zero Cool.’

“Dade and Kate seek out Razor and Blade, producers of Hack the Planet, a hacker-themed TV show. Lord Nikon and Cereal Killer learn that warrants for their arrest are to be executed at 9:00 AM the next day.

“The next morning, Nikon and Cereal roller-blade from Washington Square Park, evading the Secret Service by hacking the traffic lights. At Grand Central Terminal, they use payphones and acoustic couplers to hack the Gibson.”

GILA:

The thing I really enjoyed about this bit, by the way, was when they’re all lined up in different payphones and they’re all starting up their laptops. Basically, it is, like, the hacker Care Bear Stare.

ROB:

(laughing) Explain for people unfamiliar.

GILA:

Absolutely. So the Care Bears each had a little insignia on their stomach and when the Care Bears needed to accomplish something, they would all stand together, and they would stick out their stomachs, and they would glow, and they would shoot off light. The Care Bear Stare. The Care Bear Stare did amazing things.

ROB:

Yes, and each bear’s light was in the shape of their emblem.

GILA:

Who’s your favorite Care Bear?

ROB:

…I don’t remember having a favorite Care Bear. Maybe… who was the one with the rain cloud? Was he called Grumpy Bear?

GILA:

I believe so.

ROB:

Yeah, I think maybe him.

GILA:

Do you know there was a Laugh-a-Lot Bear? He’s part of the second wave, orange bear.

ROB:

Laugh-a-Lot Bear?

GILA:

Laugh-a-Lot Bear.

ROB:

Also known as Joaquin Phoenix’s the Joker.

GILA:

Laugh-a-Lot Bear had a winking orange star,

ROB:

A winking…?

GILA:

A winking star, and Laugh-a-Lot was an orange bear. I had a Laugh-a-Lot key chain on my backpack

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

When I was in graduate school. Umm… I’m an adult. (laughs)

So as they’re each flipping open their laptops and firing them up to try to do whatever to send in the viruses to the Gibson, they each had their own little sort of insignia, right, their own little logo that reflected their handles. And it was like, “yeah, it’s the Hacker Care Bear Stare.” That was what it was. Dade’s said “Crash Override,” and Kate’s had a picture of a flame because “Acid Burn,” and Nikon’s had a fucking camera.

ROB:

Well, you know, we like to personalize our equipment.

GILA:

Understood.

ROB:

As we say while speaking into microphones with modern.technology stickers on them and… (laughing)

GILA:

Touché. And these beautifully personalized mic balls.

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

Is that what they’re called? Mic balls?

ROB:

They are microphone balls. The grills on our microphones, which if you know microphones, these are SM58s. They’re kind of a standard microphone, you’ve seen stand-up comedians and singers and everyone use them, and they’ve got that silver grill on top that’s in the shape of a sphere. I painted the grills on these in various green and purple patterns, which I think are very cool.

GILA:

I think so too.

ROB:

You can see them on our Twitter @MTPodcastNet. Also, this says “Nikon and Cereal roller-blade from Washington Square Park,” but everyone roller blades. It’s a whole bunch of them except Joey. Joey, they meet up at Grand Central with him.

GILA:

And Phantom Phreak because he’s in jail.

ROB:

Phantom Phreak is in jail, yes, he’s still in jail.

GILA:

Right, not everybody was there because Phantom Phreak was in jail.

ROB:

Right.

“At Grand Central Terminal, they use payphones and acoustic couplers to hack the Gibson. At first, their attempts are easily rebuffed by the Plague, who calls Dade to taunt him. Razor and Blade have contacted hackers around the world, who lend their support and distract Plague long enough for Joey to download the file.”

The catchphrase they use is “hackers of the world, unite,” and then you see hackers all over the world picking up their phones and going, “Okay, let’s go.” In England, it’s Dave Stewart from Eurythmics in a nice little cameo as a businessman-looking hacker at his laptop. There are hackers in Japan, there are hackers in Italy. There are all these different hackers from all these places who are throwing in on another sort of Care Bear Stare.

GILA:

And Penn Jillette is just sitting there watching it happen.

ROB:

This is also the famous spinning-phone-booth scene where they’re tripping out and doing their hacking, and you see the commuters and people just walking around them in the background, but the phone booths are literally spinning in place while they’re in there.

GILA:

Like a revolving door of phone booths.

ROB:

It’s a nice little cinematic conceit.

GILA:

I did like a lot of the visual effects in this movie.

ROB:

The computer animations, when you see everything dissolving into numbers and equations, and then later worms to signify that they found the worm, it’s awesome.

“After crashing the Gibson, Dade and company are arrested. Dade surreptitiously informs Cereal Killer that he’s tossed the disk into a trashcan.”

GILA:

I loved that.

ROB:

It’s a great bit. You see his handcuffed hand behind him frisbee the disc perfectly into the trashcan near where they were. Then because Cereal Killer had gone off to “fix the phones,” as they say, so he’s not being arrested with them, you see him in the crowd eating a hot dog as they’re being arrested-

GILA:

It’s 10:30 in the morning and he’s eating a hot dog.

ROB:

Hey, sometimes you need a hot dog. The pushcarts in the city have the best hot dogs, fight me. For me, they’re the best hot dogs.

GILA:

(laughs)

ROB:

They’re not necessarily your thing.

GILA:

I’ll take your word, dear.

ROB:

I don’t know, is there such thing as a kosher hot dog cart in the city?

GILA:

I don’t know.

ROB:

Even if there were, would you be up for a dirty-water hot dog? (laughs)

GILA:

Ehh.. just the phrase “dirty-water dog” just skeeves me out in a really significant way.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

As Cereal is eating his hot dog, Dade begins shouting about how “they’re trashing…” what?

ROB:

Yeah, “they’re trashing our rights! They’re trashing the flow of data! Trashing! Trashing!”

GILA:

And then he screams out, “hack the planet,” and somehow this gets through Cereal’s swiss-cheese stoner brain,

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And he goes and starts digging through the garbage can. Because there’s only one garbage can in Grand Central?

ROB:

Well, I think it’s logical to go to the garbage can closest to where the hackers were set up.

GILA:

I’ll give you that.

ROB:

You see him picking gum and junk off of it.

“As Dade and Kate are being interrogated, Razor and Blade jam television signals and broadcast live video of Cereal Killer revealing the plot and Plague’s complicity.”

There’s that great “broadcast signal intrusion” trope that’s used so often in fiction, sci-fi, whatever, where somebody can just take over every channel that people are watching out there somehow, and they do that with Cereal Killer and his big old Matthew Lillard face

GILA:

Were Razor and Blade on legit public access or did they…

ROB:

Did they broadcast-signal intrude to make their show?

GILA:

That’s my question. I thought they just had some sort of guerilla intrusion thing because everybody in the apartment yelled, “it’s showtime,” and then all of a sudden the screen went fuzzy and then there were Razor and Blade.

ROB:

That’s a very interesting question. It’s reasonable to suspect that they’re on public access, but it would also be reasonable – not in real life, this is where fiction would take a jump, but in the world of this movie – if Razor and Blade’s thing was jamming the public airwaves and just putting their show on, it could be that they were doing that. That’s kind of a neat thought, but thinking about that with my knowledge of the laws and regulations regarding broadcasting, the fact that if you managed to do that on TV once, they will be looking hard for you, let alone have a regular show and also be dancing out in public at your nightclub where you have a whole setup. (laughs)

GILA:

Yeah, okay, you make a good point. But they try to make it look like that, I think.

ROB:

Yeah, and they do mention during their meeting with Kate and Dade that “a network which is to remain nameless, has expressed interest in our show.” So they’re feeling good, they’re about to sell out.

GILA:

Oh, I didn’t think they actually meant it. I thought they were just trying to pump themselves up, like, “we’re very busy, we don’t necessarily have time for this.”

ROB:

That’s an interesting interpretation, I hadn’t thought of that. I figured a network would be interested. But then if a network wished to remain nameless, eventually their name would come out when they started broadcasting this show.

GILA:

Right. It’s like, “I’ve heard people say…” well, who said it?

ROB:

Yes…! Now, this is why I like watching movies with you, even ones I’ve seen a zillion times. You have a new look at things.

GILA:

This is why we would do this show.

ROB:

It is.

GILA:

This is exactly why we do this.

ROB:

Also, it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.

GILA:

Well, that too, I mean…

GILA & ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

My husband’s a street urchin.

ROB:

(mockney accent) “Shine yer shoes, luv?” (laughs)

GILA:

(as the Beadle from Oliver Twist) “Moooore!?”

GILA & ROB:

(laughing)

ROB:

“Plague is arrested while attempting to flee to Japan.”

Which, you know, great makeup job on Fisher Stevens to make him look like a sysadmin who’s put on a makeup job. (laughs)

GILA:

(laughs) Looked like he basically glued a Brillo pad to his face.

ROB:

Yeah. He was “Mr. Babbage,” which is another little inside joke because Babbage was a figure in early computer design and theory.

GILA:

Yeah, there was a computer store in my hometown called Babbage’s.

ROB:

There were Babbage’s computer stores everywhere. He gets arrested on… the plane that they show stock footage of is one that couldn’t make the transatlantic journey to Japan, that’s another little blooper, but there we go. Agent Gill is on the plane behind him and handcuffs him as he hands him a pillow, which is cute and which is also a nice example of like, okay, they were screwing around with the Secret Service guys through the whole thing, but the Secret Service guys were not the villains. The Plague was the villain, and the Secret Service guys were just being manipulated by him. And so in the end, the bad guy gets caught by the Secret Service. There’s a nice little Hollywood ending of like, oh no, the authorities got their man in the end, and also let the hackers go, I guess?

GILA:

Because of course this all happened while they were all at the police station being interrogated,

ROB:

(overlapping) Yeah, the Secret Service… place.

GILA:

The Secret Service office, wherever.

ROB:

Wherever it was.

Apparently, another thing that exists in the novelization – you can see photos from this scene, but there’s no copies of it going around out there – is apparently they filmed a much more brutal scene of the Secret Service interrogating Joey when they arrested him. It’s not brutal like in violence, but apparently it got to, they’re shouting at him and he’s crying, snot dripping and all this stuff. Maybe that would’ve been a bit dark for what’s ultimately a pretty lighthearted film.

GILA:

Yeah.

ROB:

And I’m sure you didn’t want to see Jesse Bradford like that.

GILA:

No. So they let everybody go, because Cereal has come on TV and announced that…

ROB:

Yeah, “here’s the real plot that was going on.”

GILA:

“Here’s the real thing that was happening, and the Plague and Margo were in charge of the whole thing, and they made this happen.” Nikon and Dade and Kate and everybody, they start hugging, and they’re all free, and they’re all fine, and they left Phreak to rot in jail.

ROB:

Yes! (laughs) You do not see Phreak again in this movie. There’s only one more scene, but still it’s left up in the air. What happens to Phreak who’s in jail? Maybe he grows up to be the convict who ends up on a plane with Nicolas Cage in Con Air, who knows. That is also, if you watch the special features and the featurette on the Blu-ray with our friend and colleague Emmanuel Goldstein talking about this, he also raises that point that they never say, “what happens to Phreak? Is Phreak still in jail? Phreak is still in jail!” I saw him say this to Renoly Santiago when Renoly stopped by HOPE.

GILA:

Okay, that’s funny.

ROB:

Yeah. But in any case, the article concludes,

“Their names cleared, Dade and Kate begin a relationship.”

And that’s how they put it here. You see them on their date that they were betting over.

GILA:

Because the arbiters, who are their friends, gave the win to Dade, because she says, “I can’t believe they decided you won,” and he said, “I never would’ve gotten a date otherwise.”

ROB:

Yeah, of course there is that dodgy trope, okay, the hero of the movie wins the woman as a reward.

GILA:

Mm-hm. But it’s okay, he got the buildings to light up with their names. So.

ROB:

In my own personal canon, I like to imagine when the lights and the skyscrapers are blinking “Crash and Burn” as this nice little gift to Crash and Burn who are swimming in a pool on a roof somewhere, I like to think that maybe those buildings, at least one of them is a hospital with people on life support and the power is turning on and off and people are going into cardiac arrest just so they can have their nice little hack.

GILA:

Yeah, but that’s too dark for what is ultimately a lighthearted little movie.

ROB:

(laughing)

So that’s Hackers. In the novelization there’s another little scene after that where everyone is hanging out at Cyberdelia again, including Phreak. If you are really into this movie and are interested in a look at a little alternate-universe version of events, dig up the novelization, you could probably get it for a few dollars on Amazon or something, because it’s just a little askew from what ended up on screen, and it’s interesting to see where things might have gone had they made the movie slightly differently.

But yes, that is Hackers.

GILA:

That is Hackers.

ROB:

Okay. So.

GILA:

Yes.

ROB:

We started this episode with “what the hell did I just make you watch?”

GILA:

(laughs)

TOB:

Now that we’ve revisited it and gone over it, what are your feelings basically?

GILA:

Well… (sighs) I’m not sorry that I saw it, in no small part because there are a lot of references that I get now that I hadn’t necessarily gotten before. People at HOPE talk about there being an Olympic-size swimming pool on the roof, there’s no pool at the Hotel Pennsylvania.

ROB:

(laughing)

GILA:

Ugh. But there’s an Olympic-size swimming pool on the roof, because there’s an Olympic-size swimming pool on the roof.

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

I know that this movie means a lot to you in a lot of different ways, so thank you for trusting me to watch it along with you. Is this necessarily something that’s going to be in, like, frequent rotation for me? No. But if I flip past it on TV, would I stop? Sure. Although, you know, there’ve been a couple of times where I’ve been flipping channels, I’m like, “ooh, The Warriors is on,”

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

And I have watched it, of my own volition.

ROB:

Good heavens.

GILA:

I know.

ROB:

The things that happen as a result of what we’re doing here.

GILA:

Yeah, I mean… marriage changes you, man.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

It’s goofy. I’m not saying it’s a great work of cinema.

ROB:

No, it’s definitely goofy.

GILA:

It’s goofy, it’s silly, and in thinking about it again, I think the thing that really stands out for me is that it humanizes hackers in a way that was certainly uncommon in 1995 and is still pretty uncommon today. You know, that hackers are not just somebody like quirky Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

They’re not just people like creepy Fisher Stevens. They’re cool, they’re aspirational, and they’re nice people who are doing good things either to better themselves or to better the world. I think that’s a really valuable message.

I still think this movie is ridiculous.

ROB:

Oh yeah.

GILA:

So you never actually answered my question.

ROB:

Which was?

GILA:

Do you like it because it’s not good? (laughs)

ROB:

It being not good is not why I like it.

GILA:

Okay.

ROB:

I like it because I think it’s great!

GILA:

Okay!

ROB:

I think it’s a great time, I think it’s an adorable piece of film, even separating it from the place it has in my particular life, and one of the cultures I ended up in, and something that’s become such a big part of my life, I appreciate it for all that. But also just as a work itself, it’s a delight to look at. Production design, the costuming, all pleasantly goofy. The music, which we didn’t really talk about, I think kicks ass. This is definitely something that I’ve so often had just running in the background while I’ve been cleaning the house, or doing work on my computer, or drawing, or painting, or just doing whatever. It’s one of those listen to it, quote it along. This is one of those movies that I had to bite my tongue so I wasn’t quoting the whole thing along with it while you were watching. I just think everything about this movie just comes together into something that’s really delightful for me as a viewer, and as a fan of movies, and as a fan of fun chunks of hacker culture and hacker culture history.

GILA:

Okay, I’ll take that.

ROB:

And yeah, good music.

So!

GILA:

Yes.

ROB:

Where’s your firefly?

GILA:

My firefly is climbing to the top of building to plug into a payphone to do some weird social-engineering shit.

ROB:

(laughs)

GILA:

No, my firefly is I’m going to go with, like, north-northeast.

ROB:

North-northeast?

GILA:

North-northeast.

ROB:

Okay. I will happily accept that, and I am grateful you got at least that much enjoyment out of it.

GILA:

(laughs) You know, it’s ridiculous, and fun. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s goofy.

ROB:

Uh-huh. I agree. It’s fun and silly and goofy, and it also speaks to bits of me that not a lot of movies do. So, my firefly is firmly way up.

GILA:

Well, of course it is.

ROB:

And that is our season finale of the second season of Modern Technology Watches!

GILA:

Second season finale! 26 episodes.

ROB:

26 episodes of this program, which really seems to strike a chord not just with us, but with- we have an audience and we appreciate them.

GILA:

We do.

ROB:

But you know what we don’t do a lot?

GILA:

What don’t we do a lot?

ROB:

We don’t hear directly from them.

GILA:

That is very true.

ROB:

We have people in our lives who listen to this and tell us over the phone or messaging or whatever that they liked such-and-such a thing, but we don’t get a lot of listener mail. We’ve gotten one piece of listener mail in two seasons.

GILA:

One piece of listener mail, which was amazing. It was international listener mail, it was great.

ROB:

Yes. But we would like to invite you. Yes, you. You right there.

GILA:

Me?

ROB:

No no no, not you. The “you” listening, them.

GILA:

Them.

ROB:

When I say “you,” I mean them. So you who are listening to this podcast, you should contact us. You should let us know what you thought of this movie or what you thought of any of the movies we’ve covered in our 26 episodes of this program.

GILA:

There are several ways in which you can get a hold of us. The first way is you can go on the old Twitter and you can find us. Our handle is @MTPodcastNet.

ROB:

Yep. M for modern, T for technology, podcast net, @MTPodcastNet. We are also on SoundCloud at the same username. You can find us on YouTube as well, just search for “Modern Technology Podcast Network.” But what we would love you to do is contact us directly by sending an email to,

GILA:

Watches at modern dot technology!

ROB:

Yep! You can send us a good old fashioned email, textual content, or you could call us on the telephone.

GILA:

The telephone?

ROB:

Yes.

GILA:

Whoah!

ROB:

Yes, you can call us on the telephone, and you do not even need to social engineer our phone number because I’m-a give it to you right now. It is United States phone number 1-929-399-8414, and that is the number of the Modern Technology Podcast Network’s voicemail at which you can leave us a recorded message for us to play on a future installment of this program. If you would like to email us or if you would like to voicemail us but you didn’t write down that email address, you didn’t write down that phone number, you don’t know what to do with yourself…

GILA:

You’ve completely forgotten anything, all you need to remember is,

ROB:

Modern.technology/contact. Go to that page on the web, modern.technology/contact, and there will be a box that you could type into email us or there will be a telephone number that you could click on on your mobile phone or you could copy and paste or look and poke buttons or do whatever you want to do because the phone number is on that page as well.

GILA:

Basically the only way that that page does not help you contact us with is semaphore, and we don’t understand semaphore, so please don’t do that.

ROB:

I only understand some semaphore. I understand some-aphore.

GILA:

You understand semi-semaphore?

ROB:

(laughs) I’m semi-fluent in semaphore.

Modern.technology/contact.

GILA:

Modern.technology/contact.

ROB:

If you would like to check out more of this show, or more of our other shows, or more of the things we do, go to modern.technology, you can find every episode of this program in MP3 and in FLAC, and you can find every episode of the other stuff we do and you can find more information about us. It is all there on modern.technology.

GILA:

We are cooking up some really exciting stuff for season three of Modern Technology Watches. My God, honey, season three.

ROB:

Season three!

GILA:

We cannot wait to share with you what we are planning. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be great!

ROB:

It is! And just one more shout out to HackersCurator.com, the premier fansite for all things regarding this movie. Costume info, prop replications, lots of cool stuff, lots of cool interviews, and cool people involved. Check them out, HackersCurator.com.

For Modern Technology Watches. This is Rob Vincent.

GILA:

And Gila Drazen.

ROB:

We will see you in the future.

GILA:

We will see you at the movies, but not in a movie theater in New York City anytime soon.

ROB:

Hack the planet.

GILA:

Hack the planet!

(Ending theme music fades in)

ROB:

You’ve been listening to Episode 213 of Modern Technology Watches with Gila Drazen and Rob Vincent. Go to modern.technology on the web for more info on this show, our other work, and our social media garbage file. Our music is “The Promise” by Torley Wong, released Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. Find more from Torley at torley.com. Thank you, Torley!

Content from wikipedia.org is used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. This podcast is released under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0, and is a production of Joyful Firefly, LLC. Email us at watches at modern.technology and if you like us, come back for season three!

(Ending theme music concludes)

GILA:

And by the way, (mockingly) they call him “Nikon” because he has photographic memory.

ROB:

Mm-hm. There are people who choose their handles based on talents they have, or weird things they can do.

GILA:

Yeah, I know. You chose yours because your butt lights up. (laughs)

ROB:

Exactly! (laughing)