At the Intersection of Geeky and Cool: Hackers in the Movies

By on December 5, 2013

system-failure

Despite continued efforts on the part of government coalitions and private security firms to stem their activity, hackers continue to present a significant threat to any individual or organization intent on keeping information secure. According to a 2011 survey from the Ponemon Institute, 90 percent of companies claim to have been targeted by hackers. Fortunately, the reach of individual hackers remain far less extensive than what is portrayed in the hottest hacking movies of the past 20 years, but films such as “Hackers” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” still do an excellent job of showing the potential consequences of security breaches.

Hackers

One of the earlier films starring Angelina Jolie, the 1995 cult hit “Hackers” focused on a group of high school computer geniuses attempting to bring down a group of corrupt corporate leaders. Yes, the film’s protagonists were definitely dorky, as reflected in the alias ‘Zero Cool,’ but they also retained the sort of geeky hip status later seen in such real-life figures as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. At the time of its release, the film received some flak for engaging in what many termed as ‘hacksploitation,’ but critic Roger Ebert ultimately viewed it as a valuable contribution to an increasingly prominent film genre.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Based on the hit novel by Stieg Larsson, the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie appealed to British and American audiences, with its casting of Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Although the plot failed to completely revolve around hackers, this subculture still played an essential role, allowing protagonists Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist dig up the dirt necessary to solve a deadly mystery. Expect even greater influence from Lisbeth’s hacking friends in such future releases as “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Much of the hacking plot from the novelized sequels reflected the reality of circa-2004 hackers and, assuming this subplot is retained in the upcoming films, should give audiences an inside look at the real lives of international hackers.

Live Free Or Die Hard

The fourth installment in the popular “Die Hard” series, “Live Free Or Die Hard” shifted its focus to the efforts of cyber terrorists, a growing concern among audience members in 2007. Despite the liberal interpretation of cybersecurity taken by screenwriters and film producers, many elements of the “Live Free Or Die Hard” plot were based in reality. For example, while critics deride fears concerning the diversion of natural gas as overblown, they do acknowledge the ability of talented individuals to access everything from personal bank accounts to the Social Security Administration, exemplifying the need for experts at LifeLock and identity theft protection companies at large to continue to provide fraud protection and thwart hackers.

The Matrix

In “The Matrix,” hackers are viewed not as villains but as victims of a very punitive and misleading system. But unlike their fellow sufferers, talented characters Trinity and Neo find the means to fight back, utilizing their tech talents for the good of society. Action heroes reflect society at large, which is why Neo and Trinity’s status as computer geeks proved so significant throughout the course of “The Matrix” trilogy.

Guest Post Written by Jerry Holloway

Jerry has a degree in computer science and writes about the ever-evolving world of computers.

About Sarah Sommer

Sarah is a journalist and an artist who lives in the city. She loves movies and television. She reads early and often. Sarah also helps out over at BSCkids.com and our other sites!

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