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The depiction of programming in contemporary movies

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is horrible. And I love movies as a general rule.

Most movies these days really lend too much mysticism to the craft. I mean full blown "this is smart people magic" mysticism, as opposed to the artsy depiction of science some things have which is really quite endearing.

I saw Elysium recently and I loved it in spite of its heavy handedness. Just good, fun action.

But Dio mio, the depiction of programming in that movie is absurd. In one scene the "neutral good" archetype guy with the cane who sits in his spinning plastic throne at the ragtag "hacker base" (they don't actually call it that) receives the dully named protagonist Max after he, Max, is done pulling some big heist in which he steals some data that had been somehow uploaded into this rich asshole's brain by uploading it into his own brain.

This is all accomplished by virtue of some biotechnology which I am willing to suspend my disbelief for (after all, I did it for the one-in-a-trillion-chance blue homo-sapiens from Avatar).

However, when he pulls the "data" out of Max's head and displays it on the way-too-big-monitor-surrounded-by-forty-other-monitors, nondescript code starts flashing by the screen at hundreds of lines per second in a simple console window that I can't believe they still use in the 22nd century.

I forget exactly what the neckbeard cane guy says as they show him looking at that screen, in profile, eyes glistening as through Krishna were manifest before him, but it was something to the tune of "I know exactly what this says even though the lines are flashing by at hundreds per second."

I feel like that kind of depiction of programming and anything having to do with technology alienates people from actually wanting to look into those fields. On one hand, maybe someone intimidated by Hollywood's depiction of programming isn't smart enough to be a programmer.

Perhaps.

But on the other hand, who starts out smart? Somebody impressionable could see that and go "Man, there are people on this Earth who can do that, I'm a fucking idiot." and dejected, (s)he might resign him/herself to things which are far below their actual potential.

</tl;dr>

Anyone got anything to add?
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closed account (Dy7SLyTq)
what do you mean these days? movies such as golden eye, hackers, sneakers, all use a basis of the mystic all knowing hacker. and i dont think its that it will make people feel stupid, its for the appeal. who wants to see someone just write code and hope it compiles. i tend to watch those movies and take away the ideas, not the methods techniques
What's wrong with the command line? I find it a reliable way to work with computers.
closed account (Dy7SLyTq)
no... hes saying what the "hackers" use/do. ie like the "level one hacker" from golden eye who jammed the modem when the fbi was tracking him
I find the best way to watch films is to check your brain at the door, be entertained, and pick your brain up later.

Agreed @ Grey Wolf

I'm not saying it was a great movie, but I've seen people criticize Poseidon because a set-piece was inaccurate. Criticisms like that annoy me to no end. It's the sort of thing that I might see in the movie, get a quick chuckle at, and then completely forget moments later; yet something that completely ruins the movie for others. Namely so-called "film buffs", who have got to be some of the most pretentious people on earth.

Anyway... I haven't seen Elysium yet but isn't it set in the distant future? I'm sure there was some logic behind the scrolling "code". I think depicting programming realistically might be a little boring and uninteresting to the average movie-goer, unless the movie is about programming.
Weird. This normally doesn't bother me, but Elysium did.

Without giving anything away, there's a scene where a guy writes something that looks remarkably similar to Assembly, hits a button and then a prompt comes up that reads "Compiling".

Why do we have to compile Assembly code in the future? What happened?

Off-topic, but the product placement bugged me in this film as well. A Bugatti spaceship?
I was looking at the code in that film, I was wondering if the researcher added anything amusing in it because I knew that only programmers would try and read it, it did look like assembly I reckon the researched said what do hardcore hackers code in and someone said "ASSEMBLY" I was wondering how they knew what the thing was when they were looking at it.
closed account (S6k9GNh0)
The were other "hacker" movies that actually did a good job but then goes off on a limb to find an ending. For instance, I remember a scene from one movie where they get a ladder with a laptop, take a phone line (this was the 90s), split the line, and then filter the data until they got what they wanted. That was totally realistic! I don't remember what movie that was but it kinda inspired me at that age.

But the ending sucked. It was basically a DDoS attack where tons of people used phone booths (seriously) to attack a single super-computer.
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closed account (Dy7SLyTq)
Thats called hackers. And it does have some good stuff, but it was really inaccurate with other scenes
I can't help but laugh when I see programmers getting worked up over movies with programming. The movie is designed to be entertaining and lets face it, programming isn't exactly entertaining. Sure it maybe to us, but think about it. Not very many people find it interesting outside of programmers.

You also have to take into account that the stuff they are doing normally is not really possible or is majorly glamorized. Some movies are set in a futuristic society (Elysium) or modern day worlds (Die Hard 4) and everything in between. Yet you get hung up on the programming in a fictional movie.

For example, Elysium, hung up on programming in a movie where the middle and lower class people are on the surface of earth while the rich and powerful are in a space station orbiting earth.

Die Hard 4 (Live Free or Die Hard) they have programming and the whole idea of a Fire Sale ( http://diehard.wikia.com/wiki/Fire_Sale ) but no one seems to have trouble with the fact that one guy can be in the wrong spot so many times that they spawned 5 movies. I mean, terrorists take over his wife's building while he is in it (Die Hard), terrorists take over the airport he happens to be at where his ex-wife is landing at (Die Hard 2), the brother of the villain from DH wants revenge while trying to become rich (Die Hard Vengeance), terrorists try to do the fire sale and he is pulled into it (Live Free or Die Hard), and finally he goes to visit his son and yet again is in a fight for his life (A Good Day to Die Hard). They also just announced a new sequel, Die Hardest.

All the things you can pick about in movies, and you are hung up on programming not being presented accurately (like everything else in the movies are represented accurately).

[EDIT] Fixed typos
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closed account (S6k9GNh0)
I cannot disagree more. I don't neccessarily like programming itself, I more or less just like the result, which I think intrigues everyone to some extent.

Also, you don't know the future. :D
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computerquip wrote:
I cannot disagree more. I don't neccessarily like programming itself, I more or less just like the result, which I think intrigues everyone to some extent.

No it doesn't. There are tools that can remove the programming and still get the end result, so you either like programming or you don't. As for intriguing others to some extent, I completely disagree. I worked at a job where almost everyone there were gamers and no one cared that I program, but just told me to make a game that became famous so they could say they knew me. Worked at Walmart and had the same effect. Wife rolls her eyes when I say I'm going to go program, son doesn't care, nephew doesn't care either. Only programmers or programmer wannabes care, to normal people it is a nerd thing which makes you odd.

computerquip wrote:
Also, you don't know the future. :D

Usually movies set in the 'future' are only 20 or so years into the future. At our current standing, we would have to have a huge technological jump to achieve Elysium's story. We would need to be technologically advanced to achieve almost anything done in movies set in the future.
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Hollywood movies exaggerate/glorify everything. Even things which are interesting on their own to most people. Watch any sports movie and it'll be way more epic than any actual sports game. Watch any movie about disease control/doctors and it will be way more epic than what would happen in real life.

That's just how Hollywood works. I see no reason why programming would be any different. And in my eyes, it isn't.
closed account (S6k9GNh0)
To say, "No it doesn't" means it's a right or wrong even though its your opinion...

And how do tools that take away programming make there a "yes or no" to liking programming when it has nothing to do with the interest of programming... Things aren't "black and white" like you portray, there are something I like about programming but I mostly just like the result.

Anyways, just because of how you present programming to others doesn't intrigue them doesn't mean it won't intrigue them if you don't show them what you do in-depth. I can show most people a project or two that makes some cool effects or calculations, most either at least say its cool or ask how it works.

It's like having your Dad at the front of the class about to explain what he does for a living. Even though you think your Dad's job sucks, you and your other class mates think its cool whenever he explains it in-depth.

For most jobs, I think this can be applied, at least with the assumption that the person your explaining too isn't already familiar with it.

Also, You realize that a lot of what we have in modern science today was thought of as an impossibility 20 years ago right?
computerquip wrote:
I can show most people a project or two that makes some cool effects or calculations, most either at least say its cool or ask how it works.

They aren't saying the programming is cool though. At that point they are saying the final product is cool. That is like a gamer saying GTA 4 is cool, but would be bored to death if you got into the programming aspect of it. I've seen it happen more times than I care to count. I've had people say a game did something cool, but as soon as I got into the programmer's in-depth talk about what was going on you could see they didn't care about the programming aspect. Just like movies, people love the special effects, but only those who want to learn how to do it are interested in the in-depth explanation of how it was done.

As for the Dad example, that is lost on me, my father died when I was 9 years old and was just a gas station attendant.

Yes I'm aware it was impossible 20 years ago, but problem is that space exploration is over and technological advances have slowed considerably. We would have to see a sudden jump to even see half of what is in movies now in 20 years.
It's like having your Dad at the front of the class about to explain what he does for a living.

I have seen that to happen only in Hollywood movies ...


I did watch through the seasons of SG-1. A TV series. The cast refers to "techno-babble". The exciting part was to see when TFT's did replace the CRT's on the set.
Grey Wolf wrote:
I find the best way to watch films is to check your brain at the door, be entertained, and pick your brain up later.


It's funny, because I'm usually on this side of the discussion with some of my friends.


ex. I was watching Apocalypto with them the other week, and it was their first time seeing it.

They literally wouldn't shut up the whole movie and picked out every possible cliché and historical inaccuracy they could.

I noticed these things as well the first time I watched it, but I didn't really let it ruin my experience of the movie. Honestly, I enjoyed Elysium as well and it was only in my ruminations about the movie driving home and discussing it that I really realized which parts I found especially cheesey.

The closer one analyzes in any situation, the more flaws pop up.

BHXSpecter wrote:

They aren't saying the programming is cool though. At that point they are saying the final product is cool. That is like a gamer saying GTA 4 is cool, but would be bored to death if you got into the programming aspect of it. I've seen it happen more times than I care to count. I've had people say a game did something cool, but as soon as I got into the programmer's in-depth talk about what was going on you could see they didn't care about the programming aspect. Just like movies, people love the special effects, but only those who want to learn how to do it are interested in the in-depth explanation of how it was done.


Right, blissful ignorance. People love movies and video games and works of entertainment so much as a mystical phenomena/spiritual experience/what have you that their method of appreciating it comes about as "leaving one's brain at the door" and not daring to venture into the creation process itself. I've thought of it as the "Leave it to God" logic, at times. No offense to religious or nonreligious people. It's just the balance of nature in a way.

If everyone were creators and no one were enjoyers, then the balance would be disrupted and you'd have a large number of people making entertainment for no one.

However, ideally a society would be full of more curious people willing to learn many subjects and be polymaths. A world full of intellectuals would be duller but more efficient. Trade offs, bah.
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I just saw Dredd (awful movie, original was much better) and they had a guy in there who did some computer things. He had an open terminal open, with real commands that actually were relevant to the situation :O I was so shocked.
Dredd is where I discovered the existence of nmap.

I liked the new one better by the way.
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