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Tech in Pop Culture - Accurate or Hilarious?

Wendy Stocker
PHP code monkey.
・2 min read

It's pretty amazing to see how much technology is appearing as a star of the show rather than an extra in the entertainment world.

While watching 'Mr. Robot' I almost fell over backwards when I saw Elliot was using BitchX - an IRC shell client. Kali Linux, terminal programs, and various toolkits are realistic depictions of the things a hacker would use to attack their victim.

Rami Malek as Elliot in Mr. Robot. Photo: Virginia Sherwood/USA Network

Rami Malek as Elliot in Mr. Robot. Photo: Virginia Sherwood/USA Network

Here is a funny discussion on a subreddit about whether the hosts are actually using React or Swift: from the HBO series 'West World'.

Another HBO series, 'Silicon Valley' has its finger on the pulse of the tech industry and culture that has permeated out from the west coast. It's a fabulous depiction of the start-up entrepreneurial mentality of many tech companies, and the expedition to create the latest and greatest thing. Also,
who doesn't love Gilfoyle?

Trust me, they didn't always get it quite right. Let's look at some hilarious examples of when they didn't. Shall we?

From the show 'CSI':

Hold up, rewind the tape, what was that?

"I'll create a GUI interface using visual basic. See if I can track an IP address."
Wow, tracking the killer wasn't a pressing situation I guess.

Here's another one from the movie 'Jurassic Park':

I guess that Dennis fellow really liked the idea of organizing files in some sort of 3-D UI system. Very high tech!

From "Castle" Season 8 Episode 8:

Remember kids if you want to get root privileges on a server, all you have to do is crack the outer layer of the system, but beware of the intrusion inspection or else they'll be able to track your IP address!

As you can see the entertainment industry is now realizing they have to shell out a few extra dollars to create more realistic depictions of the tech industry if they want to avoid so many facepalms. Even in some cases tech is completely forefront, and it's nice to finally get an appreciative nod to us techies from them crazy Hollywood folks.

Discussion (20)

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rohit profile image
Rohit Awate

Here's a scene from Silicon Valley (the episode from the first season with that Carver kid) where Richard is writing Python code in a Java file! :P
SV

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rhymes

I've never watched Westworld but Mr Robot is really accurate, they sweat a lot to make it as believable as possible. From wired.com/2016/07/real-hackers-beh...

Creator Sam Esmail and staff writer and technology producer Kor Adana are committed to this level of authenticity, and 99.9-percent of the time they get it right. They put as much scrutiny into what the community says about the show as the community puts into critiquing it. "When these episodes air, I don't watch the episodes, I keep my eye on Reddit and Twitter and see what people are saying about it," Adana says

His team is composed of professional consultants, and chief among them is Marc Rogers, an old-school hacker who heads information security at Cloudflare. Rogers is well-known for pioneering hacks in the '90s. And last year he hacked Tesla’s Model S. Ryan Kazanciyan, chief security architect at security firm Tanium, and Andre McGregor and Michael Bazzell, both former FBI agents, also help out.

I would say it paid out :-)

SV is the funniest but I'm starting to loathe both Richard and Dinesh :D

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Ben Halpern

West World is sci fi, so not so much technically accurate, but I think it does a great job of capturing the spirit of computing.

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Ben Halpern

I find West World's treatment of the tech topics pretty well done. Silicon Valley is sort of accurate but pretty shallow. Like, they're poking at the right things but it's more of a prop. I like both HBO shows a lot though. 😄

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Wendy Stocker Author

Totally. I think Silicon Valley is sort of like a take on Portlandia. Their personalities are pretty on point though. Mr. Robot is definitely my favorite out of all three.

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Ben Sinclair

I really don't think it's about finding the cash to get things right. You have to go out of your way to make - for example - Windows-looking UIs on Mac hardware, custom IDEs and bits of script, etc. I think that it's usually deliberate, though I couldn't guess as to the reason.

Except that one where they have two people using the same keyboard to go faster. There's no logic there at all. I suspect drugs were involved.

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dothtm profile image
Midpoint Nerd • Edited

ENHANCE!

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Wendy Stocker Author

Chahah. So many enhancements so little time.

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Midpoint Nerd

NCIS and Numb3rs were especially bad at these tropes. I especially "love" when you can guess a show's author is older or merely annoyed at the youths.

youtube.com/watch?v=u8qgehH3kEQ

youtube.com/watch?v=O2rGTXHvPCQ

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wstocker profile image
Wendy Stocker Author

I completely forgot about that IRC one. "Gotta speak l33t" Thank you!

Never forget: Unplugging the monitor is the first line of defense against a hacker attack.

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David Muckle • Edited

From NCIS. "We collected his hard drives."

That's not a hard drive

Another egregious example is White Collar introducing IRC as this sort of dark web chatroom. Complete with an entirely inaccurate IRC client.

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Wendy Stocker Author

Of course! LOL!

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Stephanie Handsteiner

btw the subreddit itsaunixsystem collects the tech fails in pop culture.

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Wendy Stocker Author

Thank you! I literally just cried watching this off of that list.

youtube.com/watch?v=mSTO26au2z4

Looks like he opened three or four terminal windows and ran: grep -r '.' ./

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klemensek

the Net or ... Swordfish :)
youtube.com/watch?v=zfy5dFhw3ik

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Jonathan

The Jurassic Park one is actually real.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsn_(file_ma...

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Wendy Stocker Author

OMGerd it's a product placement lol!

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Kenneth Uy • Edited

Can't forget this one

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Wendy Stocker Author

So goofy!