But oh, ho ho, is he comedically and ironically wrong! As the two users—the young boss and precocious daughter of smarmy businessman Bill Pullman—talk via a service called "Naughty Chat," the camera stays in close on Stanford as he rubs his hands through his hair, bounces, gasps, pops candy into his mouth, chants "Boom!
Before long, her primitive CRT monitor is displaying a Russian exercise program, then picking up messages from a British intelligence agent trying to escape Eastern Europe with key information. " when he hits "send," and eventually masturbates while frantically typing one-handed.
And, though names (or @ mentions) are left out, comments inflict real emotional damage, as seen in the case of this brave, vocal teen that called out her subtweeters in a very public way.
Subtweeting feeds drama, conflict, and misunderstanding and causes immeasurable anxiety for teens caught in the middle of a heated exchange.
In a typical hilariously awful bit, she and a few other people with garish 16-bit icons chat online about how "No one leaves the house anymore. Leave it to Hollywood to hilariously misunderstand both trends.
The filmmakers are confused about computers too: When Weaver gets a scary e-mail, a cop says the killer "hacked into her e-mail address." But mostly, Copycat manages to make online communication interesting by making it pictorial and visual, with Weaver and her latest serial-killer stalker sending each other spoooky images instead of laboriously typed text. You've Got Mail (1998)Essentially a two-hour commercial for AOL (much like Cast Away, also starring Tom Hanks, would be for Fed Ex two years later), You've Got Mail remade the 1940 Jimmy Stewart film The Shop Around The Corner for the digital age, but instead of paper mail, Hanks and Meg Ryan communicate anonymously via e-mail and "chatting." Instead of the now-traditional close-ups of text on screen, director/screenwriter Nora Ephron mostly sticks to wider shots of the duo typing from their respective kick-ass apartments.
But a basic truth quickly emerged: No matter how resonant or culturally up-to-the-minute a given film was, images of people staring at computer monitors were tremendously boring. Looking at the other films on this list, they could have been way worse. Fear Dot Com(2002)In this so-so rip-off of The Ring, a scary website kills everyone who visits it, 48 hours after their first exposure.
War Games pioneered a whole visual language of people talking to and through computers, and that language still gets used today, whenever computer users in films read their screens out loud for the audience's benefit, saying what they're typing as the camera aggressively cuts to extreme close-ups of key words onscreen. When users first log on, the site initiates a primitive chat session, calling them by name and asking questions like "Do you want to hurt me?
More recent films usually have a live person on both ends of a chat-line, both of them reciting whatever they type; War Games instead had a tinned, eerily inhuman computerized voice simulator speaking for the world-threatening mainframe. Attempts to make computer communication exciting and cinematic have gone downhill ever since. Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)"Computers are not friendly! " A woman's seductive voice echoes everything the website says in print, but the filmmakers mostly avoid having the users respond out loud by limiting their sides of the conversation to brief questions, short and simple enough to be read off the screen.
" Whoopi Goldberg's boss barks at her when she starts actually communicating with her online customers at an international bank. Meanwhile, montages of disturbingly violent, grotesque, and sexual images flicker by at near-subliminal speeds, edgy soundtrack music plays, screams and metallic buzzes echo in the background, the point of view blurs, distorts, and reverses, and in general, the film pulls every J-horror trick under the sun in order to make viewers forget they're looking at people looking at a website. Rick (2003)In adapting Rigoletto for the modern era, director Curtiss Clayton and writer Daniel Handler are kinder than most filmmakers about assuming the audience can read, or that they can get the general idea about the mundane sex chat between "BIGBOSS" (Aaron Stanford) and "VIXXXEN" (Agnes Bruckner) just from context, and don't actually need every steamless line read to them.
Later, after a disc sent to her by a colleague gets her in trouble with a shadowy organization that erases her identity, reports her car stolen, and puts her home up for sale, she hits the chat board again to demand information about said shadowy organization.
Case in point: The Perfect Man, a surreally misconceived Hilary Duff vehicle where the plucky tween star plays matchmaker for mom Heather Locklear by wooing her online via a fictional suitor.
The two headed for the popcorn line with a fleeting sense of victory in their wake.