Is a Hacker a Hacker in Cyberspace?
In the film Hackers computer hackers are portrayed as peculiar super-heroes in an attempt to both obliterate old stereotypes and to elevate their status. The first scene commences with F.B.I. agents equipped with large firearms who break into a house to arrest David Murphy, who is eleven years of age at the time. The negative perception of a hacker is challenged when the viewer is shown the computer nerds side of the account. By the time the motion picture ends, several stereotypes become evident relative to the portrayal of a hacker. These stereotypes are refuted in various ways, including an attempt to portray the hacker in ways that I did not expect. The point taken is that the traditional stereotypical perceptions of the hacker need to be abandoned, and the director makes that view clear by creating his own unusual visualizations. When I imagine a hacker, I assume that the computer savvy individual is a teenage male with little or no social life, lacking an understanding of fashion and the ability to communicate with other not-so-computer-savvy teenagers. Not only does this film refute many of my preexisting notions about hackers, but the picture also tends to go to the opposite extreme. The focal characters dress as if they belong more to a biker gang than to a company of hackers. Sporting pungent leather outfits, hackers apparently party more than most college students. Attending rave-like gatherings, dancing and video game playing frequently occurs. Several women, including the lead female character, attend these parties, thus altering my original assumptions about the hackers social life. The point is that stereotyping is inaccurate, because many members of a group are different from what would be expected. Therefore, I need to amend my contention that hackers are essentially White males under 50 with plenty of computer terminal time, great typing skills, high math SATs, strongly held opinion on just about everything, and an excruciating face-to-face shyness, especially with the opposite sex, (167) as stated by John Perry Barlow, who is a member of the board of directors of the WELL
(Whole Earth Lectronic Link). Barlow created the article Is There a There in Cyberspace? which poses the proclamation that the internet is occupied by only one kind of human being. It so happens that I am not the only one who has this comparable opinion. However, one of the key characters is a Hispanic hacker, again defying Barlows and my preexisting assumptions.
David Murphy, the protagonist, places his own uncanny twist on the definition of hacker. During one scene, he wears sunglasses through his current hack of a television station. David programs the television station to play the show The Outer Limits. The juxtaposition of the visual image of David with the stereotypical image of hacker as a sci-fi freak creates an odd coupling. The wearing of sunglasses inside his New York apartment in the middle of the...