Film Friday: Hackers!

Hackers by Ingrid Richter on Flickr

Hackers by Ingrid Richter on Flickr

This is it, kittens. The real thing. Not the first, but the biggest (though at the time a box office failure), baddest, and possibly the best of the 90’s cyberpunk genre, Hackers is nothing less than a great movie.

As with all cyberpunk, it’s a little tacky, a little silly, a little naive, a little try-hard and a little jaded, and as with all good cyberpunk, it succeeds because of staggering, swaggering amounts of self-confidence. It buys what it’s selling, bigtime, and consequently so does the audience. Also inherent in the generally noirish, conspiracy-driven cyberpunk worldview is the limitless optimism that if only we had sufficiently great tech, we could overcome. Anything. John Lasseter of Pixar once told me, “Right now we’re working to the limits of the technology but in a few years the limits we’ll be working to are the limits of the imagination.” It’s that kind of hope that is the redemptive mylar thread in the dark tapestry that is cyberpunk.

This movie didn’t make a star out of Angelina Jolie, but it did make her an iconic hacker pin-up, a status so rarefied and secure thanks to this movie that no amount of subsequent celebutard behaviour could ever endanger it. Mention Angelina Jolie or this movie to any IT guy between the ages of 35 and 90 and his eyes will mist slightly and the faintest hint of bliss will lighten his dour countenance, if only for a second.

Go on, try it.

This movie is old enough to vote, die in Iraq, and drink legally in bars, and yet it’s still fresh. The naivete is wielded with the same brashness as the newfangled keyboards, the performances are quirky yet believable (in cyberpunk, everyone is quirky), the plot is seductive, snappy, and sneaky, and the whole thing is just a great excuse to call your friends and have a viewing party. Don what’s left of your Mad Max Halloween costume from when Beyond Thunderdome came out, throw your Burning Man duds on top, wrap some LED tube lights around for effect, add fingerless gloves, pop some past-their-sell-by date Smart Drugs, wash them down with Jolt cola (NOT Mountain Dew) and settle in for a couple of hours of flashing back to the time when computers themselves were edgy, the cool kids eschewed cars for rollerblades, and Angelina Jolie was planting the seed that would one day became the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

For our cocktail pairing, well, the authentic accompaniment would be Jolt or Smart Drugs, but good luck finding either in the 21st Century. Tschunk is a cocktail that is apparently popular at the highly-authentic and uber-hackery Chaos Computer Club, and frankly it sounds appalling. I wouldn’t put this in my mouth to taste it, but it’s not hard to believe it turns your mouth into a place old spiders go to die. Particularly the next morning.

Cut some limes into cubes. This should occupy your OCD for quite some time, Aspie Boy, as limes are curved. Enjoy. Become one with the process. You’re a hacker. Hack. Cubically.
Put a bunch of lime debris cubes into the bottom of a pint beer glass.
Add cane sugar. Not brown sugar, not white sugar. The sugar that’s brown but isn’t brown sugar. How much? How should I know how much you like? You’re the hacker. Quantity hack.
Muddle. The instructions say “squash” but that’s not a verb anyone over the age of six should be doing with anything. Muddle the limes and the sugar, like a goddam grown-up.
Add crushed ice. The recipe actually says you can sub in ice cubes and “it doesn’t matter.” That’s the kind of brute we’re dealing with here. I’m just being honest with you.
Add rum. As much as you like. They suggest “20%” which should tell you what kind of drinkers we’re dealing with. Who drinks 20% rum?
Add Club Mate. This is soda made with yerba mate. Honest to Gott, somebody in Europe tasted yerba mate and said, “mmm, tasty, but what this really needs is some artificial carbonation!” It tastes like hay crossed with blue cheese mold. With bubbles in it.
And then some other guy in Europe thought it needed lime, cane sugar, and rum.

I’ll be over here in the corner, drinking the other 80% of the rum, neat, God help me.

This year we heard the big thing at CCC Camp was grappa, which is still vile but at least you don’t have to futz around mixing it first. Honestly, people: Armagnac. It’s a thing.

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Categories: Cyber, Cyberpunk, Film Friday, Hackers, Movies, Security, Technology

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