Watched May 13, 2012
Marcin Wichary’s review:
I’m having trouble imagining the target audience for this documentary: it seems too inaccessible/nerdy for the general audience, and perhaps a bit too obvious for hackers themselves. The main problem is not even getting to the definitions of basic words. How does it all relate to geeks? Or nerds? What’s a “hacker”? Even Wikipedia gives up, splitting the word into three largely overlapping entries; the movie talks mostly about hackers as passionate hobbyists, and if you come associating them with stolen credit cards and War Games, you will most likely end up thoroughly confused. (Hackers in this movie write anti-virus software. We have always been at war with Eastasia.)
One of the interviewees, Jason Scott, observes that “this world is not one where hard drives naturally get smaller, and printers naturally get better, and cars naturally get [faster].” Fair enough, but is that all thanks to hackers? How about engineers diligently working at their boring 8–5 jobs? And there’s no historical perspective here either… but you know what, maybe I’m too hung up on the expectations I had for this movie. So let’s try again.
Hackers are people too is a low-budget, no-pretense, mostly-talking-head documentary. I can imagine it’s not an awful watch if you’re interested in the modern hacking culture but are not part of it – and if you are, it might give you that warm feeling that you belong somewhere worthwhile.
Among the subjects covered (none too deeply, though) are: hacker’s ethos, conventions, women in technology, movies about hacking, and various popular misconceptions. No big hacker names are interviewed here, just regular folks, and that makes the movie feel more genuine. I “hacked” the Internet to get this documentary for free, but it costs only $13.37 to buy it, and I will do so – but that price easter egg made me sad none of the colourful hacker jargon and customs made it into the movie.
Sigh. Is it obvious I feel awful for not liking this movie very much? It’s clearly done with the heart in the right place and is a labour of love – but in the end I don’t think it accomplishes much of what it set out to do.