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MTV's Hacker Portrayal 286

fat_mike writes "Last night, MTV did a True Life show on Hackers. There are some interesting comments over at the Hacker News Network. " I was unable to see it, but it doesn't sound like it went very well - coverage that didn't understand the subject matter. Anyone else catch it?
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MTV's Hacker Portrayal

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  • Finally ...someone that has heard of Downtown...I don't know about the rest of you but I really -like- this show... Why are the only things worth watching anymore animated????
  • Steven Levy wrote a book that gets it right- "Hackers". It has comparatively little about phreaking and intrusion (for that read Bruce Sterling's "The Hacker Crackdown")- instead, it's very old school and illustrates the knowledge seeking obsessions of classic hackers, for which intrusions or 'lock' breaking was no more than a tool to get to other tools to learn things.
    If you want anybody to really understand what a hacker(1) is, have 'em read the Steven Levy book. If you want them to understand what a hacker(2) is, have them read the Bruce Sterling book. If you want them to understand the situation have them read both...
  • Starting a post with:

    "I am sure I will be labeled as flamebait here..."

    ... or something to that extent, is a sure fire way to get moderated up. Not to knock this post too much, but a 5!? I remember when it took close to a poet laureate to get there. Moderators need to spend more time fishing out the good 1's & 2's out there, rather than boosting the already credited posts to 4's & 5's.
  • I dunno about anyone else that watched the show but I'll tell you this much... I laughed my ass off the whole time. I mean come on... What do you really expect from MTV?
  • About the same time MTV starts showing them again, I'd imagine.
  • "TRUE LIFE: I'm a luser!"
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @02:52PM (#1613390)
    Posted by Mike@ABC:

    The l0pht, in my estimation, is a credible source of both technical and hacker-cultural knowledge. That doesn't mean that MTV actually listened to them.

    And hey, if you're looking for credible journalism, why are you watching MTV?!

  • You know, I've always thought of what I do as a sort of magic. Taking the computer (reality) and bending it to my will with incantations (code). It's a really obvious metaphor, so I guess I wouldn't mind being called a Wizard.

    Would an NT hacker be called a Warlock? A newbie an apprentice? There are a lot of cool things that could go on with that line of reasoning

    But don't call me a magician. What I do is so much deeper than slight of hand and fool the eye. I actually mold the computer to my will, instead of working within the confines of it.

  • Martha Quinn is a Godess!!!
  • Agreed. MTV used to be about the music and only the music, but now it's degraded into a cheap imitation of itself. The only few times it has shows of decent quality is around 3:00 in the morning, when they decide they want to play AMP or Beavis and Butthead. Everything else is total horsepoopy.

    It's not just MTV going downhill -- it's because music in general is going downhill. How many of the bands on the top 10 are manufactured? Probably 9 of them (last time I checked, Santana was on the top 10). It's the record companies that are telling us what WE should listen to. They're not going for the groups with the most talent. They're going for the groups that they think they can market the best. That's why we don't see too many original artists anymore, all we see in mainstream radio and music television are groups that look like they've been rehashed from earlier groups.

    (going way offtopic: am I the only one that's entirely pissed off about that song "Abercrombie and Fitch", or whatever the true name of the song is? It's a 5 minute radio advertisement, and it got played all over the damn place! Yet another example of people with too much money telling us what WE should be listening to).

    Going back ontopic, I agree totally, and Dire Straights said it best: "I want my MTV". That used to be a slogan, that used to be a lifestyle.

    We need a new slogan. "I want *MY* MTV back."
  • Most of the stuff i listen to is done by artist that write music becuase they want to. Also just becuase I don't support the cd makers don't mean i steal from the artist. Why should I buy a cd when I don't even like cd's?!?!
  • ...he ended up becoming the CTO of this new media company called Think New Ideas. I was an equity analyst back in 1996, and I attended a roadshow for an Internet start-up that was IPOing - lo and behold I saw Adam Curry the MTV veejay on the executive board. Hehehe, pretty damn funny, the company turned out to be shite anyway.

    In any event, does anyone remember that short-lived animated series on MTV about this giant, muscular rabbit super-hero that wore a purple suit, and lived in some chick's dreamworld? It was great, ranked right up there with Aeon Flux


  • there was 120 waaaaay before alternative nation, this asshole with a fake british accent hosted it, ohhh Dave Kendal :)
    I know 120 was around along time before i started watching it, he may not even have been the first host
  • I believe it's really about the corruption in the world. People have to be good people in real life, just to get by, but when they get online it doesn't matter what they do.

    I agree with this. It's the same with people who drive crazily. They feel like no one will ever figure out it was them. These people feel as if their identities are shielded by their computer/car. Once they are armed with this false sense of anonymity, they do things that if they were face to face with the other person they would never do.
  • cable boxes should come with disclaimers saying that everything on here is a half witted attempt to cater to the least intelligent people, cause they make up 99% of the worlds population

    How can 99% of the population be the least intelligent people? Least intelligent = dumbest, bottom of the barrel, etc. And 99% falls into that? Damn, that's a steep pyramid.
  • someone cant act "black" or "white". we're all people here, and if thats the way they are then they're acting like themselves...people.

    Technicaly, somone can't be black ether. most 'blacks' actualy have brown skin. I've known people who call themselves 'black' dispite the fact there skin wasn't any darker then your average asian person (They are basign this on there heratige).

    Like it or not, there are cultural diffrences between the majority of blacks and whites in this contry. Certanly I wouldn't hold the standard to everyone.

    The reason that I dislike it when 'white boys act black' is that in every instance of a white person acting 'black' They were a pathetic idiot. Instaid of embracing african-american culture, they've adopted a cartoon caracture of it as portraid in the Gangsta-rap records that are targeted at them. You don't sell 6 million CDs by selling them to black tenagers (there are only about 12 million blacks in the US). and a harverd graduate like 'puff dady' knows this (I'm not sure what he majored in, I think bussness. It sure as fuck wasn't music theory).

    I don't have a problem with black culture, my problem that when 'white boys' act black, they are invariably idiots. The real-world equivalent of a 'script-kiddy'. I havn't met LFO, but based on my real-world observations, they are ether idiots, or, more likely, pandering to them.
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • got an antecedent for "he"? (the person He stands for)
  • I won't be cutting my cable any time soon - I'd have no internet access :-)

    We do have cable TV in order to watch PBS. I like PBS because the people on there are indeed like me or are people I'd like to be like (yes, even the Teletubbies).

    I used to love MTV, back when they actually had music on that channel.
  • I think we killed it already...
  • I was refearing to the mindset of the media in the most part.

    Writing code for US is cool and fun but for the media it's dull and boring. Even showed someone a "hack"?? No? Why not? Well for me everytime I showed someone they lose intrest after the first 5 minutes.

    "What do you mean it would take you all night?!?!? You're not a good hacker then!!"


    I enjoy coding when I don't make 50 million typo's and it's one of the most rewarding things in my life, next to sex and driving a 400 hp hotrod I built.
  • There was also Alternative Nation which predated 120 minutes
  • by rde ( 17364 )
    This isn't intended as flamebait, but I didn't look out for the programme because (foolish naif that I am) I'd like MTV to be a music station and there's no point in watching it if that's what you want. Last night I turned it on, and what did I get? Jerry fucking Springer.
    Ah well. Anyone know if it's on MTV europe? I suppose if I can't expect music I might as well use the station for something
  • Heh... I have blue hair. Bright blue hair.

    As a programmer interesting in creative new solutions, I consider myself a hacker. So voila, I'm part of the %5- percent of hackers that have blue hair. Whee. When do I get to be on MTV? I can show off my mad MSG_OOB skills.

    And really, there's no point in dying your hair and having a day job. I mean, dyed hair is self-expression, day jobs are (for the most part) prisons.

    So quit your job, risk it all, and dye that hair something bright n fun.

    Also, if your hair turns green, you should bleach it twice before you do. My hair is El Indestructo, and if I bleach it once it's a really ugly orange, but if you bleach it twice or more it'll come out wonderfully. Be sure and get the kind of bleach with skin conditioner, so your scalp isn't Colonel's Secret Recipie style. You sound trained in the Art Of Making Your Hair Look Weird, so I'm guessing you've tried all this and have accepted that your hair is made out of tightly-bonded buckyballs or something.

    Remember kids, punk isn't dead... it's supposed to smell like that.
  • What were you people expecting from MTV?

    /. seems like an intelligent bunch, why does anyone here even WATCH MTV anyway? It's a piece of poo on a plate. (unless Ricky Martin throbs your nads)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • umm, it's very difficult to get "complete" privacy on the 'Net. Just ask your ISP what your favorite pr0n site is, they probably know.
  • hmm...the default ps that ships with redhat has now been used to be a BSD style ps (no -) now it doesnt have that restriction and takes a SysV style command. ps auvwwf is a helluva lot less clearer than ps -ef.
  •'s never 3 feet from me.

    If a mp3 player can store 8 gigs of mp3's, play dvd movies, replace a play station, and admin my network from the the living room of my friend's house, sure I'll take it, but until then, I'll keep my laptop.
  • It sounded like regular MTV. I don't watch MTV for journalism and so I wasn't suprised at their lackluster performance. It's good to see at least some major media like CNN are getting better at reporting on the high-tech industry and the people who make it possible. But for my money /. is still the best media source out there.
  • They had JPenis from antionline on there, I think he'd count as a pimply faced youth.
  • When headbangers ball got cancelled. Can't remember when, might have been like 95-96 Now all they show is that Backstreet boyz garbage.
  • I just checked a number of internet dictionaries for the definition of hacker. Some list it as a relatively innocent person with a deep interest in computer programming. Other's list it as someone with little training in computers (!) and some list it as a person with malicious intent. The definitions seem to vary greatly, check them out. I recommend starting at []. Try the "Special Subjects" search as well as the "General Words" search. As a result, it may seem that MTV was using one of the many varied (but apparently valid) definitions of the word "hacker". Seems this word's meaning hasn't been completely nailed down -- either that or there are a lot of bad dictionaries out there.
  • Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go read a good book.

    Yep, you hit it on the head. Cancel your Cable, because you are wasting money. Go read books or surf. There just isn't enough "Good Stuff" to justify the money, the over exposure to the advertising, the crap, etc. Cable TV just isn't a reliable medium for gathering information. I don't think it ever was.

    So I am cynical about it. Then again, that comes from the fact that I feel way more enriched mentally once I stopped using the television drug.


  • ...maybe because mp3s sound like ass...
  • Just exploring ideas, take a breath. Rape is - let's say - an unexplained isolated violent destructive act that occurs at random regardless of the identity of the survivor. Slashdoting a website is a conscious response to a negative provocation. If a guy perceives a similarity about the two, I'm interested in that. My daughter comes into prime rape age in a while, helping her understand that threat to her and how to avoid it is very big in my life. I know this is off-topic, simply exploring. acting on a website is an anger response many would call valid. Sometimes in movies etc.. seems like the same is true of rape according to some.If that's true for some, I'm better off knowing it.
  • As Mr. T so eloquently stated, I pity the fool who thinks L0pht members couldn't hack their way out of a wet paper bag. Do some homework and get a clue about the group you're bashing. Read the article on to gain some insight about the information L0pht shared with Serena. MTV presented a sensationalist view of hacking. If shit on a stick was the latest craze you'd see Serena and her MTV gang trying to profile it.
  • I acutally got falsity and untruthitude from an SNL skit. So I figured that falsity wasn't a word
  • As does Hartman-era News Radio.

    Post-Hartman is kinda strained, but when they had it going... hoo boy.

    And while some people trumpet the "90% of everything is crap" motto, I have to mention that not all crap grinds down peoples' sense of self-worth in order to sell them things.

    Bad fiction, for example, is just repellant. You think to yourself "Wow, this guy can't write for shit," put it down, and get on with reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias trilogy (GREAT READING).

    MTV's fashion hour, however, is a finely-tuned psychological tool created for the sole purpose of making you feel fat and ugly and in need of swimsuits, makeup, and crap like that.

    So while 90% of everything is crap, not everything is malicious crap. That distinction needs to be made.
  • I stand corrected. I meant to put credit card numbers, but somehow passwords slipped out in its place.
  • Bahahaha, well, I didn't know it was on, but I do know that even if I had I wouldn't have turned off Powerpuff Girls to watch it. That show r0x0rs, or something like that. Powerpuff Girls are 1337! Buttercup is my favorite!

    hooray for gratuitously silly posts...

  • There was a link from /. a few weeks ago. They testified in front of Fred Thompson, the newest Actor turned Politico.
    He, after taking a clue-by-four across the temple, called them "American heroes." (Note: the clue was the total vulnerability and shaky infrastructure our multi-trillion dollar economy is built upon)
    (i'd give it a link, but it took more than 30 seconds to find one :).
  • I don't know what post you read or what you are talking about. I did not refer to MTV in any part of my comment. I only noted that the HNN server was offline, with what appears to be a violent case of the Slashdot Effect. I in no way wish to belittle real life rape victims, or their families. I was just using the word as a figure of speach, referring to the violent and overwhelming force that their (HNN) server must have been exposed to, to bring it down in 2 minutes. Unless they took it down themselves earlier.

    I really shouldn't have to make this post, then I realized that some people don't have a life.
  • Hrmm, I havn't watched the show, but I do remember that Chameleon person from IRC many years ago. He had some gay group called InterCore and hanged on Microsoft's IRC server's of all places. I think he goes on Undernet in #InterCore occasionally, anyways, I don't think he was even a very good script kiddie, outside of php and phf exploits he never did anything else. He would also take code that other people wrote and ripped it off and claimed he wrote it. Of course all these programs were written in Visual Basic since he claimed that C/C++ had no advantages over VB (hah!). I also remember something about him running away from home among some other pathetic loser stuff, it may have went over that in the show, I dunno.
  • Having not seen the MTV "documentary", I can't coment directly on how badly the show portrayed /hackers/ but I can surmise.

    First, one has to realize that MTV is not a reliable source of fact for any thinking member of our society. Rather, it is more like a big advertisement, telling us the youth what we should be, look, and act like. Consequently, it is no surprise they f'd up the portrayal of hackers and serious computer people. They will not be reporting on what is ttrue whet is real, just on what sound like it'd sell or be cool.

    Second, we need to see that (unfortunately) this is what most people think of us. I cannot describe how annoying it is for computer-stupid and technlogy-ignorant people to come up to me and ask me about how to hack this, or do that...just because they saw that that's what people like us do (on TV) when in reality, if they bothered to get some real information, they'd see how skewed their view really is.

    It is equally annoying that some people regard our line of work as trivial or unimportant, even dangerous (evil hackers!) especialy after seeing something like the MTV show. Unfortunately that is a widespread general stereotype that cheapens who we are as well as what we do.

    I'd personally like to see a program that explores the real *computer geekdom* and portrays us as regular human beings with an interest in technology. Especially in regards to youth, who usually don't get much respect from older people, I'm sure the documentary did not help matters any. As a Web Developer for Millersville University [] (not responsible for the page design - please no flames - *grin*), I am a youth (19) with a serious computer job, with serious responsiblities, and would like to be treated by others outside the computer community with some degree of professional respect. As it is, I'll probably be viewed as a haX0r due to the way I prefer to dress and what I do.

    Anyway, sorry to get off on a tirade like that, but I just wanted to put in my 2 on this issue.

    (aka Carlos Noguera)
    "if it's not one's probably not that thing."
  • Who says I'm a guy?

    I think you are reading too much into this, adding too many variables. Rape is a violent act, Slashdotting a server in 2 minutes would be a violent act in a different sense. The analogy is not the best one and does not carry to as many decimal places as you might think.

    I do not have children yet, but when I do I will teach them never to be afraid of annother person. I hope to give them the confidence and the ability to defend oneself, whether in verbal or physical combat, that makes this so.
  • After last nights "show" i am seriously thinking of taking my cable out.

    Do IT!! tv is a evil tool of the devil brain washing people to think one way. Pawn your tv and give your kid a newpaper, a good book, music, movies, and the internet.

    You have smart kids, don't let TV take that from you.
  • Cancel your Cable...definately. When I moved into my new apartment I decided to spend the money that would have gone to cable on getting a better internet connection. I know I will use the net connection a helluva lot more than the TV.
  • The Tom Green Show! This is the reason to watch MTV. Am I the only one who likes The Tom Green Show?
  • This is way off topic now but...

    Whatever happened to listening and/or writing music for fun?

    People and record companies aren't telling us what we should listen to just as websites and television aren't telling us what we should see. You listen to what you want to. As for "Summer Girls," I think it is a catchy song that while it does not require an amazing amount of talent to play/sing/press start on a drum machine, it is what LFO likes to do. Who am I to say that this is "bad."

    IMHO, the Tom Green song is a good song also. Now from a musical standpoint the song is awful, but it is a song and it is meant, in this case, to be funny.

    If you don't like it, don't listen.
  • I agree that MTV's "journalism" is definitely crap. This show was innaccurate no matter what definition of "hacker" you use. If you use the definition in favor at /., it wasn't even close. Even if you use the more common definition (somebody who breaks into computers), it was incorrect - they had this guy talking about how he downloaded the Matrix online before it came out on DVD. That has nothing to do with hacking of any definition, it's simply movie piracy.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @08:24PM (#1613456) Homepage
    Hackers have inner-most sanctums? Boy, am I missing out...

    HACKMAN: The city's in peril! Quickly L33tl4d, to the Hackcave!

    L33TL4D: You mean your basement?

    HACKMAN: ... Yes.

    o/~ da da da da da da da da Hackman! o/~

    (log on next week as Hackman battles the mp3ster)

  • Reading the comments about this show reminded me of the comment that Jobs made in the recently posted Times interview: He said that in Hollywood engineers are considered second class citizens next to the "creative types"(its reversed in Silicon Valley).

    This strikes me as evidence to back up that claim.

    -carl cm
  • But my network is not secure, and It would invite trouble :) Plus my "owners" would kill me... HAHAHA go shopping for electronics [on the] net and you'll see what I mean
  • Holy Cow, an honest to god troll that isn't an AC!!

    Damn, now I'm going to have to give more respect to Anonymous Cowards. . .

  • Fri 15th @ 7:00pm EST
    Sat 16th @ 9:00pm EST
    ph33r! MtV 0wNz j00! is so 31337 :)
  • by MarNuke ( 34221 )
    When they drop liquid tv, head banger ball, and 120 minutes, and the daily running of music video from 1 am to 6 pm

    At one time there was only show on from 6 to 7 and 120 minutes the a few cool show beyold that

  • So you should stop caring too
  • When they got rid of the moon man. All downhill after that.

  • Yeh, the strange thing is, I first heard that song as an MP3 I randomly downloaded of ISU's network (Hail ISU's network!!!) and I thought it was kind of intresting. sort of a little 'nostalgic' song. Then I started hearing it everywhere (our "alternative" station just got baught out and turned into a "top 40 crap" station, quite sucked).

    Then I saw the MTV video and relized that they were just a bunch of lame white boys pretending to be black. I'm sorry, but that's so fucking lame I mean really. I may be a mass media whore, but I do have some standards...
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Do you really think that MTV would leave in any
    material content uttered by LOpht that would make
    them look like the cheesy cable channel that they
    really are?

    I'm sure that LOpht was very explicit on that point and if I wanted to keep MY job at MTV.. I
    most certianly would have edited it out.


    TV Sux... Cable Sux pond-scum.
    I've read more books than I've met people. (That's including off AND on-line folks)
    Sad that I prefer the books.

  • Am I the only one who likes The Tom Green Show?

    Yes, I believe you are.

    I'm sure I would have liked his show, back when I was 4 years old.


  • I haven't found that I prefer either yet - usually, I have found that the onset of vh1-liking occurs some time in the mid-20s. It's a sign of impending fogeydom. :)


    course, i don't really like tv.

  • The reason that Hackers are portayed by the media the way that they are is because it makes money. The 31337 Hacker d00d image is something that sells really easy. Like Marylin Manson. It shouldn't surprise anyone that angelina jolie (remember good old acid burn?) sells better than linux torvalds? but wait.... I've never seen a picture of the two of them together..... to the /.mobile! This is, of course, how I deal with everything; I blame the news media.
  • spelled linus wrong. speld it linux. I am stuped im tired dammit
  • mochaone:
    "hates stupid little moderators"

    Seroiusly, is it just me or is the entire moderation system broken? I mean would you like to live in a contry where leaders are chosen at random while the net result might be good, there will (and are at /.) many Aberrant effects. I think moderators should be chosen intelegently, ie by a human. but then again, it's not my website...
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Try Feria. Yes, it's expensive, but it's great stuff. And it has this really interesting quality of changing colour depending on how bright the light is.

    I use their "Chocolate Cherry" colour. My hair is one shade browner than black inside, but as soon as I step out into the Big Blue Room it turns brilliant red.

    I can get the same effect by turning on all the fluorescent lights over my desk, which usually remain off.

    I don't think they make blue, though.

  • I didn't see the MTV show but I was watching Serena Altshul (sp?) on The View the other day (it was on in my gym, seriously) and I knew from what she said that it wouldn't be accurate. She didn't once mention the word "cracker" although she was refering to them. She also mixed hacking in with spam and the y2k thing. Then she said the best way to get rid of spam was to reply to the sender and tell them to leave you alone, wrong again. When the reporter didn't learn anything, I have doubts about the program. I haven't seen too much of Ms. Altshul recently but I do remember liking her reporting on Channel 1 in high school so I was disappointed to see her stoop to this type of typical MTV reporting. That show would have been an excellent place to get the word out about the difference real hackers like the l0pht guys and lamer script kiddies but instead, they seem to have squandered the opprotunity for the same old sensationalist crap. I guess I didn't really expect any different though.
  • I agree with you 100%. The current system is lacking. I think the Slashdot crew is going to have to come up with something better. Heck, they may have to even bite the bullet and kick out a few of those IPO dollars and hire some moderators who will have to answer for their actions. And please, don't tell me about the moderation of the moderators. You can't fix a broken hack with an equally cumbersome hack.
  • Well after the show last night I can see why everyone is so paranoid over any activities with the word Hacker thrown in. Look at the idiot from the real world. Seriously were talking about a supposed real life documentary on MTV not Cnet.
  • Is anyone really surprised by this? MTV panders to their "Beautiful People(tm)" generation. MTV stopped being about music a long time ago, when they found out they could make more money this way.

    Really, watching "The Real World" (which is anything but) makes me sick. MTV is all about money, and therefore all about hype.
    And, therefore, sensationalized opinions about "hackers" that portray them as "dangerous" and "exciting," which bring the all-important "ratings." Let the little twinks follow JP.

  • I am trying to figure out just when it was that MTV really started to suck.

    Everyone will say it happened when they stopped playing music videos... but when did that happen? My memory has begun to fade on me, but I really do remember enjoying MTV at some point!

    It was pretty bad well before Singled Out ever came along.

    How many people were shocked at themselves when they started prefering VH1 to MTV!?
  • L0pht had the ear of a journalist (okay, that's debatable, but go with me) and apparently didn't even bother to emphasize how horribly the media continues to mangle the term "hacker". I personally expected better. Not from MTV, of course, but from the "community", L0pht especially. Not to mention the people they profiled aren't worthy of even the term "cracker", they're just script-kiddie web-page defacers. Serena repeated several times how these kids had broken into "some of the defense department's most secure computers". Which computers? their web servers! If those are their most secure computers, we're all fucked.


    ps- and jaypee's little performance was scraping the barrel of publicity-mongering, but a fish has gotta swim.
  • I always thought that that was an anti-Space Program move. It happened right after Challenger exploded (Challenger, incidentally, is my first memory of a Columbine-like media horror show, I remember my Dad started to get so mad when they would show the shocked and horrified people in the stands. "And now here's Jimmy Pearson one of Ms. McCullahs' students as he hears the news that the Challenger exploded," and so on, ad infinitum.)

    I'm not sure why MTV chose the moon flag logo in their early days, but I think maybe it was because they thought of themselves as pioneering spirits, like the first astronauts. But after Challenger, they decided it wasn't cool any more (sort of like similar moves by networks after Columbine, they didn't care about those kids, they just cared about presenting a homogonized message while attempting to appear hip and rebellious), the channel never really got a new symbol, except for their initials (MTV).

  • I hate to make generalizations, but everything on Television is fake, not real, untruthitudes, falsities (yes I know these last two aren't words, heh). I only ever had faith in one television programming station, the Discovery Channel. That was until they made that fake Blair Witch Documentary (or was is sci-fi?) anyway..., cable boxes should come with disclaimers saying that everything on here is a half witted attempt to cater to the least intelligent people, cause they make up 99% of the worlds population. Also... MTV is (or was) Music Television. Why are they doing stories about h(cr)ackers? I read the post a while back when they announced it, and it didn't affect me at all. Because I don't watch television (much), and I especially don't watch teenybopper nonsense like MTV. The culture of the world is going downhill.
  • by Coy0t3 ( 62077 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:28AM (#1613520) Homepage
    I unfortunately watched the program. I got what I was looking for (cheap laughs) though it still left a bad taste in my oral cavity. The best part was one of the scenes in some kids room.

    Director: We want to get a shot of you doing
    impressive. You know, lots of computer
    code and stuff on the screen.
    Kid: Um, okay. (types ps a)

    Maybe I'm the only one that found this humorous.
  • by vlax ( 1809 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:29AM (#1613521)

    "L0pht to be on MTV's True Life: I'm A Hacker


    On October 13th at 10 pm MTV will debut True Life: I'm a Hacker reported by MTV's Serena Altschul. Although most of this show will feature young hoodlums who get their kicks from breaking into other people's systems, the L0pht is also interviewed showing the more productive side of hacking."

    I'm guessing MTV wasn't really interested in the productive side of hacking. The MTV press release ( mentions it in only one sentence: "Finally, the show examines a more productive side of hacking, visiting The L0pht, a group of Boston hackers who develop security software for major companies, and act as advisors to the U.S. Government on how they can maximize security mechanisms on their own systems."

    An exerp from elsewhere in the press release:

    "Venturing into the inner-most sanctums of this cyber subculture, 'True Life: I'm a Hacker' explores how hackers communicate with one another and where they learn the tricks of the trade."

    Hackers have inner-most sanctums? Boy, am I missing out...

    Quoting one of their subjects: "It's like being God."

    Geez, and here I am wasting my time sitting in a cubicle gaining weight when I could be Godlike, just because I know what int main(int argc, char *argv[]) means.

    "Through on-line chats and talk shows cybercast to thousands of their peers worldwide, many young hackers, who otherwise would have simply blended in, have an opportunity to achieve major levels of recognition and adulation."

    I wonder if /. is what they had in mind.

  • by Galon ( 32528 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:34AM (#1613532)
    Sorry but if this comes accross as flamebait..

    I sat down last night with my kids and watched that "show"...

    To be honest, I know many people that fall into the catagory of hacker, my children tell me that they want to be hackers when they grow up.

    That "Show" was not about hackers.

    That was an attempt by MTV to capitalize not only on FUD, but it was a poor excuse for journalism. I am will to say that 95%+ of all hackers do not have blue hair(at least the ones I know), or stand out in anyway. Most of us are more concerned with being able to do our own thing, and learning as much as we can along the way.

    My 4 year old daughter summed it up best, after watching the show, she started shaking her head and asked me "Daddy, they aren't like anybody we know", I told her that there were all kinds of hackers in the world, all she could say was the ones on the show were "not real hackers, they were dumb hackers"

    (I have very bright children, so this is not added to in anyway)

    After last nights "show" i am seriously thinking of taking my cable out.

  • MTV may have once been something interesting, and bringing us interesting things that we couldn't find elsewhere--

    Ren & Stimpy, Remote Control, stuff like that.

    They had a few good shows, and they were smart enough to spin Ha! off on its own channel (which combined with Comedy Central to form The Comedy Channel). There were funny bits, with Randy of the Redwoods running for president, but it was something to go along with the music, not as a replacement for the music.

    Of course, then, in about '93 or so, that music included Mr. Big, (who I do believe was the son of some MTV exec), and about that point, people began to see that the music on MTV really wasn't that good. Metallica had sold out, and produced video after video, and things started turning into the popularity concerts like the student Goverment elections in high school, and had nothing to do with how good a song was.

    With the type of crap MTV was playing, I'm almost glad they stopped playing music, but it's a shame that they also stopped producing good shows.
  • When they stopped airing "The State"

    I know... I hit it on the fscking nail
  • For those who didn't catch the show, don't have MTV or for various other reason weren't able to see it, I have encoded and uploaded it so it's viewable over the net. Encoded at 80kb/s (dual channel isdn) anything slower looks like shit. I'll remove it if i don't see any interest in it, point your g2 player to :


    Not commenting on content, just want the information to be available.


  • by MarNuke ( 34221 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:43AM (#1613559) Homepage
    Being the "haX0r" or "computer geek" at the party, when ever I break out the laptop to play mp3's everybody start saying "hack the FBI!" "crack some software for me" "break into my school and change my grades." I just wish once I would hear from someone something like "make this program run the way i want it to" or "help me secure my computer from evil people". It really bugs me. I have morals. I wouldn't steal from someone, trash someone's house, distroy what ever, turn off their power in real life just becuase I CAN, why would I do that in "cyber space"?

    I believe it's really about the corruption in the world. People have to be good people in real life, just to get by, but when they get online it doesn't matter what they do. There's no big blue. They can do what they want and feel like a god when they DoS attack some lame server. Or setup a firewall that deny everything coming in with no services running and feel unstopable. Feeling powerful and unstopable is what people want to feel like. What is so great about spending 20 hours reading and writing code?!?! Nothing.
    Thus, you will see what hacker really are in the news.

    Of course hacker have nose rings, wear all black, listen to electrica, and are outcast of the world.

  • by choctaw ( 102631 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:45AM (#1613564)
    At the risk of creating a stereotype, I would like to think that the individuals who frequent Slasdot are usually very intelligent, well spoken people. We thirst for knowledge of any kind, and strive to teach the "masses" about our culture and tear down as many pre-conceived notions as possible. Then, when something like this comes up very little gets done (if you don't count complaining here on slashdot). I'm not trying to start a flame war, I actually have a suggestion. With as many great minds as there are visiting this site, couldn't we get together and write some sort of treatise for the masses in general explaining the differences between crackers and hackers, and essentially address the fears and misinformation that make our lives so much more difficult than need be sometimes? We write things like the jargon file, and there are a million "how to be a hacker" faqs, but none of these address the non-technical people that really need the education.
  • Knowing MTv like I do, they will be rebroadcasting the show 10 or 20 times in the next month. Does anyone know when this will be?

    I understand that it's a poor show, but I would like to know what they did wrong so that I can enlighten my mis-educated friends that actaully did see it. Can't really do that, if I don't know what went down...

    "You want to kiss the sky? Better learn how to kneel." - U2
    "It was like trying to herd cats..." - Robert A. Heinlein
  • by Wedman ( 58748 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:49AM (#1613570)

    This is how the media portrays hackers. As much as we should expect the media to dig a little deeper and get a grasp on the issues, they won't. To even try means to add a slant to the issue.

    /.ers will just have to learn to cope. A cracker will always be called a hacker. The media will always have a slant on real life.

    Just like /.ers do. :P

  • Not really. It's not that MTV lowers anyone's IQ.
    But simply that those with lower IQ's are more likely
    to accept MTV as a legitimate source of information.
    Just like the reports saying that the Internet turns
    otherwise healthy normal people into geeks and shut-ins.
    They fail to realize that geeks and shut-ins are just
    a large group of people that happen to like to use the Internet.
    That's all, nothing particularly mind-blowing.
    ----------------------------------- -----------------------
  • by Tweety Fish ( 4476 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:55AM (#1613579) Homepage
    l0pht spent a FULL DAY being interviewed by MTV, which was edited down to the 50 seconds or so you see in the final piece. I'm sure they said a lot more, and I'm sure a lot of it was extremely interesting and relevant, but there's not much they can do about the heavy hand of the MTV editor, is there?

  • by A Big Gnu Thrush ( 12795 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:55AM (#1613581)
    Normally I stay clear of the whole hacker/cracker thing, but did it ever occur to you that the guys from L0pht didn't raise the issue for a reason? Maybe L0pht doesn't give a rat's ass about the distinction and the perceived misuse by the press. Whatever the origin of either word, hacker has been in use for a relatively long time as a slang word for computer criminal. If I suddenly decide that I want people to refer to me as an Algorithm Distributor or Code Simian instead of programmer or developer, does that mean that anyone will actually start using those words? No. Not unless I found and fund a huge company of political correctness to trumpet the cause. Maybe the National Association for the Advancement of Algorithm Distributors.

    You're right of course about the web servers. An expert - from L0pht or anywhere else - should have been consulted to enlighten MTV about the relative strengths and weaknesses of web servers.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @09:57AM (#1613584) Homepage Journal
    Why should any of you (we) care what image is being portrayed of us. I mean it's not like any of us would call ourselves "hackers" or anything. It's not like any of us spend any time on computers.

    I watched the show, or I should say it was on the TV in the same room (I'm a multi-media-vore). Most of the guys on it were idiots. Shamrock was a joke, he wasn't picking up a Mysterious Disk, he was trying to hide his crystal. Ever see a group of folks with police scanners, just hanging out. Deep red eyes and shifty as hell. He was in jail for "possession with intent to distribute" and some other "information-related" stuff. It is really sad that this was one of the images portrayed, a freakin' meth dealer, nice job MTV.
    Mantis, (the black kid) was by far the most positive image. He seemed intelligent, and lo and behold, they actually showed a CLI on his screen (UNIX-type files), most of the other shots were GUI's (and mostly win). At the very least he knew how to dress and interact in "normal" life. A positive image, surprise, surprise. He also mentioned that now he was a good guy, mostly, but good and bad mean different things to different people. He was the only one quoted "information wants to be free", which he mentioned in passing.

    The other kid (Chameleon, his hair dyed blue for camo), who talked to Bin-Laden's agent and was awakened one morning with a gun in his face (his mom backs up the story So I'll give it the benny of the doubt) was the other side of the story. I'd guess he has other "issues", seemed like a pretty normal script kiddie who found something interesting, investigated and got slammed back into reality. With enough of 'em out there, one or two are bound to get into trouble.

    Serena, while attractive, was totally out of her element, had no clue, no idea what questions to ask, and a total lack of anything resembling a grasp on any single idea represented in the half-hour (with 7 min. of commercials) tidbit. At the end of the show, during the credits, she couldn't login, and started immediately blaming "hackers!, grr". How many times, as a percentage, is a user not being able to login attributable to getting cracked? 1%, maybe 2?

    I wouldn't even call it a full meal of info, just some random images, noise if you will. Unfortunately the younger generations of TV viewers often pick the signal out of the crap and this signal was crap.

    I'm not sure where this post turned into a full-on review, but I watched the show so I figured I should share.

  • Not this story excatly, but about 5 days ago or so, /. posted a story alerting it's readers that MTV would be holding the special. And so this was story was created just to give a forum to complain about the show. The original story can be found here []
  • I am trying to figure out just when it was that MTV really started to suck. Everyone will say it happened when they stopped playing music videos... but when did that happen? My memory has begun to fade on me, but I really do remember enjoying MTV at some point!

    I'd say the beginning of the decline was in the late 80s or so, when Empty Vee started the trend of "genre" video shows - a rap hour, a metal hour, etc. (Though they *did* used to have an alternative show on Sunday nights that I enjoyed, whose name I am unable to remember.) Before this, it wasn't exactly underground, but it wasn't so rigidly compartimentalized either.

    For a few years after this, the network still had its high points -- The State, Liquid Television, and Beavis & Butthead all had their time in the sun. But there was still a definite downward trend, and the arrival of the game shows was probably the final nail in the coffin.

    Despite all this, I still do have fond memories of staying up late watching Billy Idol and David Lee Roth videos introduced by Adam Curry and Martha Quinn. (Oh yeah, and I've always thought Kennedy was a hottie).

    Gimme a bottle of anything, and a glazed donut... to go...

  • agreed.


    first, just as way of introduction, i am a hacker. you know what i mean: i program computers, and play with my legos, and generally have way too much fun making electronic thingies do what i want. i've never been, nor intend to be, a cracker: i personally found the show (not to mention the movie of a few years back which was just as bad) to be comical at best.

    however: there are some of us who are fairly intelligent, understand parts of linux at the source code level, and hate mtv with a passion that fit your stereotype for mtv-genic haX0r material.

    i.e., yeah ive got long hair, which has been purple/green/blue/red/whatever at times. though its not for me, i have many competent friends in the same field with a variety of bodily adornments...blah blah blah.

    just pointing out that physical apppearance is never an indicator of someone's worth/IQ/what-have-you.

    unless you want to work for disney, but that's a different story.

    have fun

  • I'd say something on my own behalf, but I remembered a (somewhat) fitting quote from the Jargon File:

    Contrary to stereotype, hackers are not usually intellectually narrow; they tend to be interested in any subject that can provide mental stimulation, and can often discourse knowledgeably and even interestingly on any number of obscure subjects -- if you can get them to talk at all, as opposed to, say, going back to their hacking.

    The last part of that quote is key. Why doesn't anyone really bother? It's a waste of time. Eventually the media will get it (maybe), but certainly not any time soon. Remember, some newspapers still think that HTML is a programming language..

    As far as references to Slashdotters go.. A lot of Slashdotters have objected to the proper use of the term hacker, and often tell everyone to "just shut up about it".. I'd imagine that most actual hackers don't have any interest in it, most crackers call themselves hackers anyway so they probably think that the media is correct, script kiddies would certainly rather be called crackers or hackers, and most people who actually know the differences between all of these terms don't really find much interest in it either.

    If anyone is that excited about it, register a domain name (that makes sense for this purpose) and write all sorts of "hacker != cracker" propaganda, then feed the links to as many "media types" and "geek sites" (like Slashdot), and maybe something will happen. I kind of doubt it, and I for one have other, more productive ways to waste my time (at least AFAIC =P).

  • by Monica ( 16179 ) <me573 AT bard DOT edu> on Thursday October 14, 1999 @11:00AM (#1613618) Homepage Journal
    Well, I saw the show today (Thursday Oct 14 99). MTV re-aired it about noon EDT. Just so you all are more informed when you post about it, here's a synopsis/review of the show.
    It centered around three self-proclaimed "hackers": Shamrock, Chameleon, and Mantis.
    Shamrock told Serena Altschul (anyone remember her from Channel One?) that he was a "phone phreaker." One of the first shots of him in action was when he was talking on a payphone and had a cell phone laying on top of it. During the course of the program, one of his friends was arrested, and he and Serena had to make it to this guy's apartment to get a disk before the police got to it. Shamrock refused to tell what was on the disk, and while he and a friend left Serena on the street she commented to the camera that this was the most exciting news lead she had ever been on. I found that interesting. At least Shamrock carried around a scanner for police frequencies. That's kind of hacker-like, I guess. Oh, and he also sells pot, has a criminal record, and got into hacking to change his grades.
    The next guy was Chameleon, who had blue hair. His strength was breaking into military systems. He alluded to cracking NASA and DOJ websites, but never really said it out right. A guy from AntiOnline told MTV all about Chameleon's downfall. Apparently he was alright poking around, until he started downloading the programs that control satellites. The FBI raided his house, arrested him, but didn't put him in jail. Instead, he has a job writing code to keep hackers out now. Near the end of the show, they showed him at Comdex in Las Vegas. It didn't have anything to do with anything.
    The third guy, Mantis, was interesting. He's a host of the radio show Parse (with some other guys and a GIRL! Yay hacker girls!). He told Serena that he's not the stereotypical hacker at all. I've never seen a hacker in a necktie, so I guess he must be right. He talked a lot more about the culture than anything (Mantis was the source of most of the misinformation on the show).
    I think the worst part of the show was how they didn't talk about any of the equipment/OS used. Ok, so it wasn't really catered to us geeks, but it wouldn't have been that hard to say as a sideline "And by the way, none of these hackers use Windows or AOL." The L0pht was interviewed too. They talked about "good hacking" like Mantis, but then Shamrock said that everyone's good and bad, that there are no good or bad, so that's the image Serena ended on. That all hacking is bad. It reminded me of all the DOJ kids anti-hacking pages.
    I think MTV could have done more with it. Someone should make a series on good hackers and the hacker culture.
  • right?
    "when ever I break out the laptop to play mp3's"

  • I perfer much music, they tend to play music
  • An hour? The show was only 30 minutes. I guess you've stuck around for the Brittany Spears special...



  • Kind of makes you want to think twice about allowing everyone complete privacy on the internet? Perhaps if they weren't anonymous they'd think twice about many of their actions...
  • I'm sure somewhere on their site they've got a schedule listing. For now though they've got some clips of the guys. []

    Wonder if they read /.?

  • Yea that part surprised me when they showed all those kids up infront of a congressional panel. Many I wish I could find a copy of that, had to have been hallarious (note: I quite often get my jollies watching cspan and laughing at the retoric)
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Thursday October 14, 1999 @11:35AM (#1613654) Homepage
    Venture Capitalist - Backer

    Breaks into other peoples systems to damage them - Cracker

    Enjoys exploring as a learning experience - Hacker

    Picks up dead animals - Knacker

    Puts things in boxes - Packer

    Member of religious sect - Quaker

    Content to run 'setup' and use all defaults - Slacker

    That should clear things up!

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer