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5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do

Has your mom ever called in a panic, saying the computer was displaying a weird error message and that she hurried and unplugged it just to be safe--and then dunked it in the bathtub so it wouldn't burn the house down?

It makes you realize that, to some people, a computer is still a terrifying box of mysteries. Well, we think Hollywood writers have those people in mind when they portray laptop computers doing everything short of blowing up the moon.

After all, according to the movies...

#5.
You Can Blow Up Shit At Will With Hacking

Worst Offender: Live Free or Die Hard

What Happened:
The movie' villain, Thomas Gabriel, and his band of hackers are so good at hacking that they've gained the powers of an all-seeing and all-knowing God:

"OK, I want you to hack into that traffic light and make it red. Good. Now, I want you to hack into Kevin Smith' basement and physically move his webcam around the room. Now, hack into the brain of that fighter pilot and get him to shoot missiles into the middle of a busy freeway."

Hacking is to this movie what magic is in the Harry Potter stories: plot-hole spackle. All the gaping cracks in logic between scene A to scene C can be neatly smoothed over with the mystical power of hack. The improbability reaches critical mass, though, when the bad guys hack into the natural-gas lines near a power plant and make them spontaneously explode under the streets.

Why It's Ridiculous:
Look, we acknowledge that Bruce Willis movies take place in a universe where every object is teetering on the brink of spontaneous detonation (see Armageddon, wherein the bolt on a valve handle breaks, causing an entire space station to erupt in an enormous fireball). Still, if natural-gas safety precautions were so poor that entire city blocks could explode via broadband modem, we're certain the guys at 4chan would have done it by now.

In Real Life
Gabriel would make his insane demands to his hackers who, in turn, would snort derisively and call him a n00b. An hour later, 30 unwanted pizzas would turn up, mysteriously ordered under his name from Pizza Hut' online order form, while the hackers giggle and high-five each time the doorbell rings.

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