Hacking It -- Movies about breaking the mold.

  • Posted on: 24 April 2011
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
Sensing a trap is the first step in defeating a trap. Likewise, knowing you have a problem says that you have to find a solution. There is a string of movies where the characters in the movie figure out what’s going on and they “hack” it. They break the rules to their benefit-- they lop out bad rules, remix their reality and get what they want in the end.. When you say that you can’t do something or that there are rules in the way, maybe you just need to hack your current reality to make your circumstances align with your goals. I love movies, so here’s a short list of movies I like about people who have “hacked it.”

Fun With Dick and Jane - Dick and Jane were the classic middle class family. Their life was turned upside down when Dick lost his job at an areospace company. They were in a downward financial spiral until they realized that they could toss out the rulebook. They became robbers picking off sympathetic targets like the phone company (who’s going to help the phone company get their money back?). While the remake was good, Jane Fonda and George Segal version from the mid-1970s is a classic. I wouldn’t recommend a life of crime, but you should consider tossing out rulebooks that don’t work for you.
The Takeaway: toss out the rulebook and you can gain an unfair advantage.

Groundhog Day - Bill Murray redoes the same Groundhog Day again and again. His consciousness resets to February 2nd on an endless loop. He has periods of despondency, but has also hacks the situation. On Groundhog Day, he gathers a lot of information about Nancy Taylor, a shop girl in Puxatawney. On the next Groundhog Day, he uses all of this information to get an in with her. He finds a way to capitalize on what may be a curse and turn it into a dynamic he can milk. It’s like he has precognition, a 1000 chances to know what’s coming on Groundhog Day and turn that to his advantage.
The Takeaway: You can turn even a curse into an advantage. Oh and if you have a many chances to get things right, take those chances and turn them into something.

Office Space - The lead character is stuck in a rat race. His office is embedded in layers of bureaucracy. It’s a like a Chinese water torture of a receptionist who pops her words; and a cubicle neighbour obsessed with Swingline staplers. He gets an epiphany as a side effect of some hypnosis gone wrong. He starts living life the way he wants-- he tosses the dress code, he tosses one wall of his cubicle so that he can see the great outdoors and he guts fish on top of his TPS reports. Tossing the rules makes him look like a genius, someone who isn’t encumbered by the rules-- not because he navigates the rules well, but because he ignores them. Instead of being punished for not following the rules, he get rewarded for rising above them. It’s almost like the set of rules isn’t enjoyed by anyone but the first person to wriggle out of those rules gets a prize.
The Takeaway: there is a blurry line between being a maverick and an anarchist. If you are an anarchist, people may mistake you for being a pioneer.

Fight Club - We lived in an overly pacified civilzation where much of our rage is bottled up. Ed Norton plays the lead character. An insurance investigator who feels he has no possibilities and he cannot imagine a way to change his life. He is confused and enraged but he meets Tyler Durden. Durden, is an uberman who demonstrates how to live life, through rebellion and violence. They embark on a mission: to turn their awakening fights into a club: the fight club. Through fight club, they emancipate a generation of men bottled up by the confines of our society. In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil the climax.
The Takeaway: Break the mold.

The Matrix - The granddaddy of all “hacking it” movies. The world is an illusion-- a computer generated dreamworld meant to keep people in submissive state to serve as batteries to power the machine dominated world. One person, Neo, has the ability to bend the rules of the dreamworld-- break the rules, even. The Wachowskis rooted their themes in deep metaphysics about the nature of reality. What is reality? Is it subjective to your viewpoint? Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” formed part of the basis of the movie. Jean Baudrillard’s theory is that our current perception of reality is a super-imposed illusion. If this top layer of rules is something imposed maybe its mutable. You might not be so brave as to think that the fall from a skyscraper is an illusion; but maybe you can break the rules of prejudice, or ideas about what you need in your life. Constrast what may be considered a hard reality like sunlight or gravity-- they have lasting sustained effects-- with the concept of money. How flimsy is the concept of money that the hard toil of one person is worth a minuscule amount compared to the work of another person who’s “smarter” with how they earn their money? We live under so many fabrications that make our lives miserable. If we learn to see these illusions for what they are, we can ignore them or bend them to our will.
The Takeaway: If there is no spoon, you can bend the illusions about what you experience.

Last updated date

Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 18:35